Volume 7, Issue 5: The Puritan Eye
Holy Family Government
If it were only understood what benefits come through the holy governing of families,
and what mischiefs come by its neglect, there would be few that walk the streets
among us who would appear so odious as those careless, ungodly governors who
do not know or mind a duty of such exceeding weight. We lie overwhelmed with
the calamitous fruits of this neglect; I think meet to try, with some, to remove
the cause by awakening sluggish souls to do their undertaken work.
Motive I: Consider that the holy government of families, is a considerable
part of God's own government of the world, and the contrary is a great part of
the devil's government. It has pleased God to honor his creatures to be the instruments
of his own operations. As the several justices in the countries do govern as
officers of the king, so every magistrate and master of a family also govern
as an officer of God. And if his government by his officers be put down or neglected,
it is a contempt of God himself, or rebellion against him. What is all the practical
atheism, and rebellion, and ungodliness of the world, but a rejecting of the
government of God? It is not against the being of God in itself considered, that
his enemies rise up with malignant, rebellious opposition; but it is against
God as the holy and righteous Governor of the world, and especially of themselves.
And if God shall not govern in your families, who shall? The devil is always
the governor where God's government is refused; the world and the fles h are the
instruments of his government; worldliness and fleshly living are his service:
undoubtedly he is the ruler of the family where these prevail, and where faith
and godliness do not take place. And what can you expect from such a master?
Motive II: Consider also that an ungoverned, ungodly family is a powerful means
to the damnation of all the members of it: it is the common boat or ship that
hurrieth souls to hell. He that is in the devil's coach or boat is like to go
with the rest, as the driver or the boatman pleases. But a well-governed family
is an excellent help to the saving of all the souls that are in it.
Motive III: A holy, well-governed family tends not only to the safety of the
members, but also to the ease and pleasure of their lives. To live where God's
law is the principal rule, and where you may be daily taught the mysteries of
his kingdom, and have the Scriptures opened to you, and be led as by the hand
in the paths of lifewhat a sweet and happy life is this!
Motive IV: A holy and well-governed family tends to make a holy posterity,
and so to propagate the fear of God from generation to generation. It is more
comfortable to have no children, than to beget and breed up children for the
devil. Their natural corruption is advantage enough to Satan, to engage them
to himself, and use them for his service: but when parents shall also take the
devil's part, and teach their children by precepts or example how to serve him,
and shall estrange them from God and a holy life, and fill their minds with false
conceits and prejudice against the means of their salvation, as if they had sold
their children to the devil; no wonder then if they have a black posterity, that
are trained up to be heirs of hell.
Motive V: A holy, well-governed family is the preparative to a holy and well-governed
church. If masters of families did their parts, and sent such polished materials
to the churches, as they ought to do, the work and life of the pastors of the
church would be unspeakably more easy and delightful; it would do one good to
preach to such an audience, and to catechize them, and instruct them, and examine
them, and watch over them, who are prepared by a wise and holy education, and
understand and love the doctrine which they hear.
Motive VI: Well-governed families tend to make a happy state and commonwealth;
a good education is the first and greatest work to make good magistrates and
subjects, because it tends to make good men. Though a good man may be a bad magistrate,
yet a bad man cannot be a very good magistrate. The ignorance, or worldliness,
or sensuality, or enmity to godliness, which grows up with them in their youth,
will show itself in all the places and relations that ever they come into. When
an ungodly family has once confirmed them in wickedness, they will do wickedly
in every state of life: when a perfidious parent has betrayed his children into
the power and service of the devil, they will serve him in all relations and
conditions. But oh! what a blessing to the world would they be, that shall come
prepared by a holy education to places of government and subjection! And how
happy is that land that is ruled by such superiors and consists of such prepared
subjects, as have first learned to be subject to God and to their parents.