Crossway has done families a great favor in making available an important section on ministry in the home from Puritan pastor Richard Baxter’s “Christian Directory.” The Godly Home is a complete guide to the home that begins with Baxter’s biblical directions for marriage and then goes right into the worship of God within families. Richard follows the structure of families in Ephesians 5 to set forth duties of fathers, mothers, children and youth and concludes with a section on “right directions for teaching children.”
Though Baxter’s directory was originally written for a 17th century audience, it provides proof that God’s timeless truth as it relates to family transcends the passage of time. Here is one a brief example of the excellent advice that Baxter gives to parents with regard to teaching children: “Cause your children to learn the words (of a catechism or Scripture), though they are not yet capable of understanding the matter. Do not think as some do that this is to make them hypocrites and to teach them to take God’s name in vain; for it is neither vanity nor hypocrisy to help them first understand the words and signs in order to [develop] their early understanding of the matter and signification.” Whether you are newly married, married and raising children or thinking about getting married and rearing a family, Baxter’s text in this accessible format provides a solid foundation upon which to build.
Included in the work, is Baxter’s 10 motives for providing spiritual leadership for their wives and children. Recently, Gender Blog reprinted the 10 motives, but we publish them here again slightly edited format to contemporize the language:
1. The holy government of families (by fathers) is a considerable part of God’s own government of the world, and the contrary is a great part of the devil’s government.
2. An ungoverned, ungodly family is a powerful means to the damnation of all the members of it.
3. A holy, well-governed family tends not only to the safety of the members, but also to the ease and pleasure of their lives.
4. A holy and well-governed family doth tend to make a holy posterity, and so to propagate the fear of God from generation to generation.
5. A holy, well-governed family is the preparative to a holy and well-governed church.
6. 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 good subjects, because it tends to make good men.
7. If the governors of families did faithfully perform their duties, it would be a great supply as to any defects in the pastor’s part, and a singular means to propagate and preserve religion in times of public negligence or persecution.
8. The duties of your families are such as you may perform with greatest peace, and lease exception or opposition from others.
9. Well-governed families are honorable and exemplary to others.
10. Holy, well-governed families are blessed with the special presence and favor of God.
Fathers, hear and heed the wise pastor Baxter.