A rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
I. THERE MUST BE THE FORCE OF EXAMPLE. (Ver. 12.) Especially in regard to truthfulness. Nothing is more easily caught than an example of untruthfulness, evasion, hypocrisy. Servants' manners reflect their masters' characters. The more conspicuous the station, the further the influence of the example extends.
II. THERE MUST BE RESPECT TO THE RULER AND JUDGE OF ALL. (Ver. 13.) He is no Respecter of persons; but he is the Protector of all, and the Judge between man and man. The distinctions of ruler and subject, of rank and rank, of class and class, are temporary; the common relation of all to God is spiritual and eternal.
III. THERE MUST BE REGARD TO THE LOWLY. (Ver. 14.) Must not the test of every government be at last this - What did it accomplish for the poor, for the burdened, for the slave and the oppressed? "Glorious" wars and additions of territory can never compensate for injustice at home; the renown of arms for a people's misery. The throne that is not propped by bayonets, but built upon a people's gratitude and loyalty, may defy the storms of revolution.
IV. DOMESTIC GOVERNMENT TEACHES THE SAME TRUTHS ON A SMALLER SCALE. (Vers. 15-17.)
1. There is the same need of firmness and discipline. Absolute liberty is licence. All our freedom is bounded by necessity. The good of the whole demands fixed law; and this must be observed in the household as in the body politic. A weakness in the administration of acknowledged law is fatal to the purity of the home, to the welfare of nations. Evil doers must be kept down; if their character cannot be changed, their power to work mischief must be taken from them by the unflinching administration of law. And lastly, firmness, so far from alienating, really wins the good will, the respect, and obedience of subjects in the petty commonwealth of home and in the larger sphere of the state. - J.
I. THE AFFECTING OBJECT: "A child left to himself." Allusion is probably intended to the natural impetuosity of a horse.
The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.I. LOOK AT THE CHILD LEFT TO HIMSELF. That is, without reproof, and that grave advice which gives wisdom. The original term is applied to the unbridled impetuosity of an animal. The child, if not held in by the bit and bridle of a religious education — if left to the impetuosity of his own passions — will be ruined. Appeal to the nature of things. What is there left to itself that comes to any good? What is land without inclosure and cultivation? Appeal to experience as to the effect of a neglected education. Who are the pests of society? Appeal to Scripture.
II. THE EFFECT OF THIS NEGLECT. Look at the parent. "Bringeth his mother to shame." This is only one result. Other things follow. Ruin to the child's principles. All the consequences of his conduct to a neighbourhood. Tendencies to sap the foundations of morality and justice between man and man. In all this there seems to be a remarkable feature of the retributive justice of God in His moral government. The education of children in the fear of God is one of the first and self-evident duties, the foundation of all moral good. But it is implied that a child carefully trained for God and religion shall not bring his mother to shame.
III. THE MOTIVES FLOWING FROM THESE CONSIDERATIONS.
1. Enforce this duty on our own hearts.
2. See it in reference to the children of the poor.
3. The need of guarding children against the evil influence of the press. Show what religion you possess by your endeavours to educate your children religiously.
(Daniel Wilson, M.A.)
1. A child left without religious instruction. Parents are enjoined to "train up a child in the way he should go": not the way he would go. Education must have its foundation in Scripture. The spirit of the age requires that parental instructions should be of a decidedly Scriptural character. The work of instilling Divine truth must be commenced early. Train them to early habits of industry, to diligent reading of the Scriptures, and to constant prayer.
2. A child left without fervent prayer. Do you know the way to a throne of grace, and can you forget the child of your affections? If you do not pray for him it is not likely that you will pray with him.
3. A child left without a good example. Children understand actions better than words. The parent who, by his ungodly example, betrays the confidence of his child by leading him in the way of sin when he should guide him in the paths of piety and peace is guilty of a species of cruelty difficult to be described.
4. A child left to himself is one without salutary restraint. Instruction should be enforced by authority. If you lose your influence, the child will assume it and rule you, when you should govern him. In compelling obedience the happy medium should be observed between too much harshness on the one hand and too great laxity on the other. Eli does not appear to have failed either in instruction or example, but he is censured for withholding restraint. Let there be energy of character, efficient discipline, the tenderness of love blended with firmness of decision, and there will seldom be a necessity for adopting any painful or severe measures.
II. THE PARENT'S DISGRACE. The duties and responsibilities of parents are mutual. It must, however, be admitted that a mother's influence is more powerful, her appeals more touching, her access to the heart more easy. But how many parents have passed days of sorrow and nights of sleeplessness in consequence of the misconduct of their offspring! Much of your future happiness is in the hands of your children. Look at the nature of things. A field without cultivation would speedily be overgrown by noxious weeds. Appeal to experience. Who are the Sabbath-breakers, the drunkards, the lawless and disobedient, the scoffers at Divine things? Are they not the persons who, in their childhood and youth, were left to themselves? Examine facts. David was brought to shame by Absalom and Adonijah. Hophni and Phineas brought Eli to shame.
1. A word of expostulation. You are leaving your children to themselves because you have never felt the value of your own soul. Think of your own comfort. Think of your country's welfare. Think of the approbation of heaven.
2. A word of exhortation. Your danger is great. Repent and believe the gospel.
3. A word of encouragement. The Christian parent has much to animate him in the conscientious discharge of his duty. All the promises of God, the experience of the past, and the hope of the future encourage his affectionate endeavours to train up his children in the fear of the Lord. He must not; however, expect harvest in spring.
(James Cottle, B.A.)
(T. Kennion, M.A.)
(W. H. Nauben, M.A.)1. Left to himself, he will not fully know right or wrong.
2. Left to himself, he will grow proud and self-confident.
3. Left to himself, he will take up with bad companions.
4. Left to himself, he will think more about his pleasures than his duties.
5. Left to himself, childish follies will develop into man's vices.
(Robert Tuck, B.A.)
(Coleridge's Table Talk.)
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