The language of the eighteenth century sounds a bit stern. We rarely call our children “untoward and viciously inclined,” but we see other people’s children–in the supermarket, in church, in our own newly decorated living room–who fit that description exactly.
Here is what he had to say:
- “Proverbs 19:18, ‘Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.’ Parents are here cautioned against a foolish indulgence of their children, that are untoward and viciously inclined, and that discover such an ill temper of mind as is not likely to be cured but by severity.
- Do not say that it is all in good time to correct them, no, as soon as ever there appears a corrupt disposition in them, check it immediately, before it takes root and is hardened into a habit. Chasten thy son while there is hope, for perhaps if he be let alone awhile, he will be past hope, and a much greater chastening will not do that which now a less would effect. It is easier plucking up weeds as soon as they spring up, and the bullock that is designed for the yoke should be betimes (before it is too late) accustomed to it….
- Do not say that it is a pity to correct them, and, because they cry and beg to be forgiven, you cannot find it in your heart to do it. If the point will be gained without correction, well and good; but it often proves that your forgiving them once, upon a dissembled (pretended) repentance and promise of amendment, does but embolden them to offend again, especially if it be a thing in itself sinful, as lying, swearing, ribaldry, stealing or the like. In such a case put on resolution, and let not thy soul spare for his crying. It is better that he should cry under thy rod than under the sword of the magistrate or, which is more fearful, than under divine vengeance.