Don’t provoke your children
‘And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.’ Ephesians 6:4
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Corinthians 1:23–3:6
Provoke them not to wrath, lest they be discouraged. God has given you a great power over them. I have said do not be remiss in using it, but you must likewise beware of the other extreme. Let your children be guards upon your own conduct. Avoid all passionate [volatile] behaviour and harsh language—all severity. And if correction is necessary, let it be accompanied with reasonings, persuasions and endeavour to show them that it is not to gratify your own passions, but from a regard to their welfare. Consider they are but children, therefore especially while they are unawakened, lay not too much upon them. Some good people have wearied their children by expecting conduct from them as if they were experienced Christians, and have thereby given them a disgust and distaste for religion, and made them look upon it as a burden. If you can keep them from sinful ways, and in attendance upon the means of grace, you have reason to be thankful. For the rest—a little advice now and then, always in a spirit of love and not too much at a time, is the best course. They must, they will, have something to engage their thoughts till the Lord shall be pleased to open the eyes of their minds. In a word, parents … I must say of your duty as of my own, Who is sufficient for these things? [2 Corinthians 2:16].
FOR MEDITATION: The other day I was at Deptford and saw a ship launched … my thoughts turned from the ship to my child. It seemed an emblem of your present state: you are now, as it were, in a safe harbour; but by and by you must launch out into the world, which may well be compared to a tempestuous sea. I could even now almost weep at the resemblance; but I take courage; my hopes are greater than my fears. I know there is an infallible Pilot, who has the winds and the waves at his command. Under his care I know you will be safe; he can guide you, unhurt, amidst the storms, and rocks, and dangers, by which you might otherwise suffer, and bring you, at last, to the haven of eternal rest. I hope you will seek him while you are young, and I am sure he will be the friend of them that seek him sincerely.
John Newton to his niece [adopted daughter], 15 October 1782
SERMON SERIES: RELATIVE DUTIES, NO. 4 [4/4], EPHESIANS 6:4