Sirach 16:3

Deuterocanon (Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus)

1 Do not desire a multitude of worthless children, and do not rejoice in ungodly offspring. 2 If they multiply, do not rejoice in them, unless the fear of the Lord is in them. 3 Do not trust in their survival, or rely on their numbers; for one can be better than a thousand, and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children. 4 For through one intelligent person a city can be filled with people, but through a clan of outlaws it becomes desolate. 5 Many such things my eye has seen, and my ear has heard things more striking than these. Source

Date: 195-175 B.C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)

John Chrysostom Homily 24 on Acts

Patristic

For say, what profit is it, that there should be hay in plenty, when there might be precious stones? The amount consists not in the sum of numbers, but in the proved worth. Elias was one: yet the whole world was not worth so much as he. And yet the world consists of myriads: but they are no myriads, when they do not even come up to that one. Better is one that does the will of God, than ten thousand who are transgressors: for the ten thousands have not yet reached to the one. Desire not a multitude of unprofitable children. Such bring more blasphemy against God, than if they were not Christians. What need have I of a multitude? It is (only) more food for the fire. This one might see even in the body, that better is moderate food with health, than a (fatted) calf with damage. This is more food than the other: this is food, but that is disease. This too one may see in war: that better are ten expert and brave men, than ten thousand of no experience. Source

Date: 387-400 C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)
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