IF thou art a parent, a father or a mother, then thou art to consider thy calling under this relation. Thy children have souls, and they must be begotten of God as well as of thee, or they perish. And know also, that unless thou be very circumspect in thy behavior to and before them, they may perish through thee: the thoughts of which should provoke thee, both to instruct, and also to correct them.
Ah! when children can think of their parents, and bless God for that instruction and good they have received from them, this is not only profitable for children, but honorable and comfortable to parents: "The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him." (Prov. 23:24,25).
Now, The duty of correction:—
- 1. See if fair words will win them from evil. This is God's way with his children. (Jer. 25:4,5.)
- 2. Let those words you speak to them in your reproof, be both sober, few, and pertinent, adding always some suitable sentence of the scripture therewith: as, if they lie, then such as Rev. 21:8,27; if they refuse to hear the word, such as 2 Chron. 25:14-16.
- 3. Look to them, that they be not companions with those that are rude and ungodly; showing with soberness a continual dislike of their naughtiness; often crying out to them, as God did of old unto his, "Oh, do not this abominable thing that I hate." (Jer. 44:4.)
- 4. Let all this be mixed with such love, pity, and compunction of spirit (pricking of conscience or heart), that if possible they may be convinced you dislike not their persons, but their sins. This is God's way. (Psa. 99:8.)
- 5. Be often endeavoring to fasten on their consciences the day of their death, and judgment to come. Thus also God deals with his. (Deut. 32:29.)
- 6. If thou art driven to the rod, then strike advisedly in cool blood, and soberly show them, (1) their fault; (2) how much it is against thy heart thus to deal with them; (3) and that what thou dost, thou dost in conscience to God and love to their souls; (4) and tell them that if fair means would have done, none of this severity should have been. This, I have proved it, will be a means to afflict their hearts as well as their bodies; and it being the way that God deals with his, it is the most likely to accomplish its end.
- 7. Follow all this with prayer to God for them, and leave the issue to him: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him." (Prov. 22:15.)