In studying this week for Sunday’s sermon on the value of our children and the divine ordinance to teach our children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, I’ve come across a list of Sixteen Rules written by Susannah Wesley over 200 years ago. Susannah Wesley was the mother of 19 children, including the great John and Charles Wesley. She made it a point to openly dedicate each of her children to God, to whom they do actually belong. And she parented all her children by these Sixteen Rules. As I review her rules, I’m struck at once by the antiquated nature of the guidelines and, at the same time, the deep, eternal truths in them. Each of the rules has a big-picture world view behind it, a lasting set of life time values within it, and a future vision of godly living ahead of it. Reflecting on these rules individually and as a whole has shown me where Carrie-Anne and I are doing pretty well with our three girls and some other areas we should probably work on.
I also can’t help but notice that over half these rules could be—should be—applied broadly and forcefully to children and adults in our churches.
1) Eating between meals not allowed.
2) As children they are to be in bed by eight p.m.
3) They are required to take medicine without complaining.
4) Subdue self-will in a child, and thus work together with God to save the child’s soul.
5) Teach a child to pray as soon as he can speak.
6) Require all to be still during Family Worship.
7) Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that which they ask for politely.
8) To prevent lying, punish no fault which is first confessed and repented of.
9) Never allow a sinful act to go unpunished.
10) Never punish a child twice for a single offense.
11) Commend and reward good behavior.
12) Any attempt to please, even if poorly performed, should be commended.
13) Preserve property rights, even in smallest matters.
14) Strictly observe all promises.
15) Require no daughter to work before she can read well.
16) Teach children to fear the rod.
Upon further reflection, Jerry Wayne could probably stand to enforce these among most of his players in the Cowboys locker room, too.