Spurgeon on provoking our children

Sometimes, men get to be partakers of others’ sins by provoking them. When fathers provoke their children to anger, who has the chief blame of that sin? Surely the father has.

And then, you parents, “do not sin against the child by being so very soon angry. I have frequently heard grown-up people repeat that verse, “Children, obey your parents in all things.” It is a very proper heart, very proper text, and boys and girls should carefully attend to it. I like to hear fathers and mothers preach from it; but there is that other one, you know; there is that other and,- “Likewise, ye fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Do not pick up every little thing against a good child, and throw it in his or her teeth, and say, “Ah, if you were a Christian child, you would not do this and you would not do that!” I am not so sure about that; you who are heads of families do a great many wrong things yourselves, and yet I hope you are Christians; and if your father in heaven were sometimes to be as severe with you as you are with the sincere little ones when you are out of temper, I am afraid it would go, very hard with you. Be gentle, and kind, and tender, and loving.

Some fathers do; they expect more of children than they will ever get, and more than they ought to expect; and they lay heavy burdens upon them, which are grievous to be borne; and for little faults there are severe chastisements. This also is wrong.

The duties are mutual. Scripture maintains an equilibrium. It does not lay down commands for one class, and then leave the other to exercise whatever tyrannical oppression it may please. The child is to obey, but the father must not provoke.

A young friend has written me a letter, asking me to preach a sermon on, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger.” Well, will you kindly consider that I have preached it? I fear I could not make a long sermon of it; but it is necessary to tell some of you parents that I suspect you are not quite so considerate as you ought to be. I do not know the man for whom the word is intended, but I wish he would take the sermon as if I had preached it to him. Now, fathers and mothers, your children do rest themselves upon your words, if you are fathers and mothers worth having. Be careful, then, of what you say. I like that boy who said, “I know that it is true, for mother said it. Whatever mother says is true, and it is true if it is not true,
if mother said it.” It is a blessed thing when boys and girls can feel such confidence in their parents that they are sure that their word is beyond all question. It is so much easier for them to have faith in God in the days to come, if first they have been able to have faith in their father and mother. Faith of any kind is so tender a plant, that is should be carefully nourished wherever it is found; and as children often, and rightly too, rest themselves upon the words of their parents, it behoves the parents to give them words whereon they may rest safely

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