§. 46. Of correcting children.
The latter and more proper kinde of correction which is by stripes and blowes is also a meanes appointed by God to helpe the good nurture and education of children. It is the last remedy which a parent can vse: a remedy which may doe good when nothing else can.
It is by the holy Ghost both expresly commanded, and also very oft pressed vnder these and such like phrases, bCh•sten thy sonne:ccorrect thy sonne:dwith-hold not correction from the childe:ethou shalt smite him with the rod. Were there no other motiue, this were sufficient. Gods charge was such a motiue to Abraham, as at it he would haue sacrificed his sonne: * and wilt not thou at Gods command correct thy childe?
It is further commended by Gods owne example, which is not only set forth in some particular instances, but by his ge∣nerall constant dealing with all, and that as an especiall token and fruit of his loue. For whom the Lord loueth he chasteneth,*and scourgeth euery sonne whom he receiueth. If ye be without chastisement wherof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sonnes. Let this example of God be well weighed, for it is of great weight. Who can better tell what kinde of dealing is fittest for children then God? Who can better nurture chil∣dren then God? Who doth more truly aime at, and procure the good of children then God? Yea who doth more tender children then God? If God the father of spirits in wisdome and Page 553 loue thus deale with his children, fathers of the flesh may not thinke by the contrary to shew wisdome or loue. Their wisdome will be folly, their loue hatred. Vpon these grounds it is taken for a thing granted, that parents (who tender the good of their children as they should) doe chastise their children as need requi∣reth: for it is said, that the h Lord correcteth whom he loueth, as a father the sonne in whom he delighteth. If parents vsed it not, this were no good inference to say, as a father: againe, as a thing without controuersie it is said, iwe haue had fathers of our flesh which corrected vs.
The grounds of the equitie of this dutie, respect partly the * children corrected, and partly the parents that correct. In regard of children, it freeth them from much euill, and worketh in them much good.
Correction is as physicke to purge out much corruption * which lurketh in children, and as a salue to heale many wounds and sores made by their folly. In which respect Solomon saith, that kFoolishnesse is bound in the heart of a childe, but the rod of corre∣ction shall driue it farre from him: and againe, lThe blewnesse of a wound is a purging medicine against euill: so doe stripes the in∣ward parts of the belly. In regard of the inward operation of this physicke, correction is further said to preserue a childe from death, (mif thou beatest him he shall not die) and that not only from temporall death (as many children are thus preserued from the Magistrates sword) but also from eternall death (nthou shalt de∣liuer his soule from hell.) Note this ye cockering parents, whose ouer-much lenitie is very great crueltie. For may we not iustly count him a cruell parent, that should suffer diseases, boiles, sores, and wounds to remaine, increase, and fester in his childe, and giue him no physicke, nor apply any plaisters, or medicines to him? Nay rather who seeth his sonne running into a flaming fire, or deepe water, and would not hold him backe? Euen so cruell, and more cruell are they, who suffer their children to runne on in euill, rather then correct them.
Obiect. Who can endure to make his owne childe smart, and to put him to paine?
Answ. The future fruit is more to be considered, then the present paine. Potions, pills, and corasiues, are fulsome, bitter, Page 554 and painfull; but because there is a necessitie of vsing them, and great mischiefe is preuented by the vse of them, wise parents will not forbeare them for the sensible bitternesse, and paine. Fitly doth the Apostle thus answer that obiection, No chastning for the*present seemeth to be ioyous, but grieuous; neuerthelesse, afterward it yeeldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousnesse. This may be ap∣plied to parents corrections as well as to Gods.
The good which correction bringeth to children, is by Solo∣mon noted in this and such like phrases, The rod giueth wisdome:* for it maketh children obserue, what is good, and what euill; what commendable, and what blame-worthy: and accordingly to doe the good, and leaue the euill, which is a great point of wisdome.
Obiect. Instruction will better doe this.
Answ. Instruction may giue them more knowledge, but it is correction which bringeth them to practise what they know, which is the q chiefest point of wisdome.
In regard of parents, due correcting of their children both freeth them of many inconueniences, and also bringeth to them * much quiet.
1. It spareth them much paines. For many admonitions oft repeated, and inculcated againe and againe, will not make many children so much to heed wholsome and good aduice, as a little correction. They are much more sensible of smart, then of words.
2. It preuenteth much griefe, shame, and vexation: for ra foo∣lish sonne is a griefe to his father, and bitternesse to her that bare him. But it issthe rod of correction that driueth away foolishnesse, and so preuenteth that griefe and bitternesse.
3. It freeth them from the guilt of their childrens sinne, so as they are not accessarie thereto, as tEli was. For correction is the last remedie that a parent can vse: if by that he can doe no good, it is presupposed that he hath done his vttermost endeuour: in which respect, though the childe die in his sinne, yet the parent hath deliuered his owne soule.
The quiet which is brought to parents by correcting their chil∣dren, is thus noted out by Solomon,uCorrect thy sonne, and he shall giue thee rest, yea he shall giue delight vnto thy soule. For children well nurtured, and by correction kept in a filiall awe, Page 555 will so carrie themselues, as their parents may rest somewhat se∣cure, and not disquiet themselues (as they doe with children set at libertie) yea, as trees well pruned, and ground well tilled, they will bring forth pleasant and abundant fruit; and so their parents will haue iust cause to reioyce in them.