Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction
shall drive it far from him. Prov. 22:15.
But whence the origin of this foolishness? “Look unto the rock whence we are hewn.” Look unto “Adam” our father, and unto “Eve that bare us.” (Isa. 51:1, 2.) As is the root, so are the branches. As is the fountain, so are the waters. Our nature was poisoned at the spring. Our sinful parent, having lost God’s image, could only “beget a son after his image” -a sinner begetting a sinner. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6), and could be nothing else. Now “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” The creature therefore is produced into being with a radical enmity to God;–“by nature” therefore “a child of wrath.” (Eph. 2:3.) The entail is held from “our first father,” and can never be cut off. There is no division of this sad inheritance. Each of his children has the whole. His Maker testifies, that he is “a transgressor from the womb, that his heart is evil from his youth.” In shame he acknowledges the testimony–“Behold! I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Ps. 51:5.) If the joy of a child’s birth blot out the remembrance of its pain and sorrow, yet must not this joy be chastened in the humbling recollection of what the child brings into the world–foolishness? That self-will, that proud independence, that shakes the very foundations of society, is the birth-sin of our fallen nature. Nor does it lie only on the surface, like some childish habits, easily corrected. It is bound in the child’s heart,’ held firmly there by chains invincible to human power.’ It is incorporated into his very nature. And so various are its forms, so subtle its workings, that the wisest parent is often at a loss how to detect and treat the evil.
The prescribed remedy, however, is clear. It is vain to bid the foolishness depart. And little inclination is there in the child himself to drive it far away. The rod of correction is distinctly named, and repeatedly inculcated, as God’s own means for this important end.
And surely the thought of having been an instrument of producing nature envenomed against a God of love must constrain the parent to use the means thus divinely appointed for destroying the deadly poison.
Only let the child see, that, as with our heavenly Father, love is the ruling principle; that we follow the example of the wisest and best of parents, that we use his rod for driving men from foolishness; that, like him, we “chasten, not for our pleasure, but for our child’s profit” (Heb. 12:10); not from caprice or passion, but from tenderness to his soul. Use the Lord’s means, and we can then, what otherwise we cannot do, wait in faith for the promised blessing. Many a stirring movement of the flesh will be restrained. Man’s will will be put down, and God’s will gain the supremacy. Shame of sin will issue in abhorrence; and in this sorrow and humiliation the path of wisdom will be chosen, loved, and followed.