Verses 12–16

Here is, 1. A parent instructing his child. He is here brought in persuading him to give his mind to his book, and especially to the scriptures and his catechism, to attend to the words of knowledge, by which he might come to know his duty, and danger, and interest, and not to think it enough to give them the hearing, but to apply his heart to them, to delight in them, and bow his will to the authority of them. The heart is then applied to the instruction when the instruction is applied to the heart. 2. A parent correcting his child. A tender parent can scarcely find in his heart to do this; it goes much against the grain. But he finds it is necessary; it is his duty, and therefore he dares not withhold correction when there is occasion for it (spare the rod and spoil the child); he beats him with the rod, gives him a gentle correction, the stripes of the sons of men, not such as we give to beasts. Beat him with the rod and he shall not die. The rod will not kill him; nay, it will prevent his killing himself by those vicious courses which the rod will be necessary to restrain him from. For the present it is not joyous, but grievous, both to the parent and to the child; but when it is given with wisdom, designed for good, accompanied with prayer, and blessed of God, it may prove a happy means of preventing his utter destruction and delivering his soul from hell. Our great care must be about our children’s souls; we must not see them in danger of hell without using all possible means, with the utmost care and concern, to snatch them as brands out of everlasting burnings. Let the body smart, so that the spirit be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 3. A parent encouraging his child, telling him, (1.) What was all he expected, nothing but what would be for his own good, that his heart be wise and that his lips speak right things, that he be under the government of good principles, and that by those principles he particularly maintain a good environment of his tongue. It is to be hoped that those will do right things when they grow up who learn to speak right things when they are young, and dare not speak any bad words. (2.) What a comfort it would be to him if herein he answered his expectation: “If thy heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, shall rejoice in thee, even mine, who have taken so much care and pains about thee, my heart, that has many a time ached for thee, for which thou shouldst study thus to make a grateful requital.” Note, The wisdom of children will be the joy of their parents and teachers, who have no greater joy than to see them walk in the truth, 3 John 1:4. “Children, if you be wise and good, devout and conscientious, God will be pleased with you, and that will be our joy: we shall think our labour in instructing you well bestowed; it will be a comfortable answer for the many prayers we have put up for you; we shall be eased of a great deal of care, shall not need to be so strict and severe in watching over you, and shall consequently be the easier both to you and to ourselves. We shall rejoice in hope that you will be a credit and comfort to us, if we should live to be old, that you will bear up the name of Christ in your generation, that you will live comfortably in this world and happily in another.”