Gouge (1575-1653): Adding Admonition to Discipline

From Domestical Duties. 

Some headings are not the author’s.  There have also been some minor updating of old English words and punctuation.


Join admonition to your correction

The means of helping forward the good work of nurture are especially two; namely:

  1. frequent admonition, and
  2. due correction.

Both of these helps are implied in this text [i.e., Eph 6:4]: one in the word translated admonition, which (according to the notation of the Greek word) is a putting of a thing into the mind, an urging and pressing of it; the other is the word translated nurture.

Now both these are to be joined together, as being very helpful to each other. For admonition without correction is like to prove [i.e., produce] but mere vanity, and correction without admonition will be [result in] too much austerity.

Instruct but also admonish your children

The duty which the first of these sets forth is this: parents must oft whet [i.e., often sharpen/grid] instruction upon their children.  They [i.e., parents] may not think it enough to tell their children what they ought to do, but to instruction they must add admonition, and, as it were, beat into their children’s heads the lessons they teach them, so that they may make a deeper impression in their hearts. Admonition will secure instruction, being like the words of a wife which are as nails fastened (Eccl 12:11), or fast knocked-in.  Such words remain firm where they are once fastened, and cannot easily be plucked out (for as many blows knock a nail “up to the head”, as we speak, so many admonitions settle good instructions in a child’s heart, and cause the heart to be established in that which is taught, which is a thing to be laboured after Heb 13:9). The general exhortation of being “instant in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4:2) may be applied to this purpose.  Even more pertinent is that direction which is given to parents of whetting God’s words upon their children (Deut 6:7).

Consider the book of Proverbs

To this purpose Solomon uses to “double” his instructions, urging them again and again in instruction.  For example:

  • forsake not the law (Prov 1:8):
  • receive my words,
  • hide my commandments within thee,
  • incline thine ears,
  • apply thy heart (Prov 2:1-2), etc.

Yea, he often repeats the very same precepts.

The apprehension of children is fickle and their memory weak.  If they are but once, or seldom, or slightly, instructed, that which is taught will soon slip away, and [will] do little or no good.

Consider your children’s dispositions

For the better performing of this duty, parents must think of the best means they can to fasten their instructions upon their children. [They should] observe their [children’s] inclination and disposition and see with what they are most moved [by].

Constant exhortations and powerful persuasions are comprised under admonition, which in their kinds, as occasion requires, are to be used.