The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
If we have conscientiously performed any particular duty, no failure in the object to which it has been directed can inflict disgrace. We may do our part, and do it well, but we cannot command success by our best contrivances and our utmost diligence. It is not every child who is trained up in the way he should go that walks in that way. In such cases, deplorable as they are, no disgrace attaches to the parent, the instructor, the guardian. It is when the duty imposed by God and enforced by natural feelings has been neglected that the ignorant, the vicious, or the worldly character becomes the just reproach upon those to whom it is in that case justly to be ascribed. "A child left to himself." How many ideas of compassion are suggested by these words! A child, however carefully nourished and guarded, left to himself in regard to his soul, his intellect, his tempers, habits, and character, is no uncommon case. A child left to himself is a child untaught. For them to be grounded in the languages, informed in history, and embellished with every usual branch of knowledge and accomplishment is not enough. To know God alone is life eternal. Too often children are practically left to themselves to gather their notions of religion from the opinions around them and the current literature of the day. They ought to have been trained from childhood to know the Holy Scriptures; they should have been taught their ruined state, the love of God in the gift of His Son, and the love of Christ in giving Himself to the death upon the Cross. The child untaught is often undisciplined and unrestrained. The twig which might have been bent becomes firm as the gnarled oak. Habits of self-will, habits of self-gratification, habits of idleness perhaps, prepare for everything that is bad. When a child has been thus left to himself what can be expected but vice, want of honourable principle, a character passionate, headstrong, reckless? It cannot be a surprise that, in such a case, disgrace is thrown back upon the parents. The parent and the child are allied as long as recollection can associate them, and honour or dishonour they reflect, and cannot but reflect, upon each other. If parents neglect the soil and suffer it to be overrun with weeds what can they expect to be the harvest? The shame and discredit that come will be shared by both parents, but the feeling is fastened upon the heart of the mother in a manner and degree which are peculiarly severe. This is partly the case because so much depends on a mother's care, and partly because of the keener sensibilities of her sex. To the mother her domestic scene is the whole world. The shame which comes upon her as the punishment of neglected duty gathers intensity by its perpetual concentration of the reflection. Let me urge upon you as parents to encounter your arduous and responsible duty with the firm resolve that you will, heaven's grace assisting you, vigorously discharge it. They are beings to eternity, and for eternity it is your duty to prepare them.
(T. Kennion, M.A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.