Sunday, December 28, 2008

0 A Family Well Ordered

The title of this post is borrowed from a little work by Cotton Mather, though I'm continuing to refer to Matthew Henry's fine work, Family Religion.

His first two exhortations to fathers in regard to their households were to make a regular practice of reading the Holy Word of God in their families, and to keep up sound doctrine in the home through the practice of catechesis of their children. These two fruitful practices both glorify God and edify the church as a holy seed is raised up to Him, and cannot be too strongly recommended to heads of households as part of their duty before God Almighty.

The third admonition Henry raises involves the fostering of a godly conversation (speaking in the old Puritan way) among the members of the house. This focus on an active setting apart of the home unto holy and godly conduct is a natural companion to the first two admonitions Henry sets before us. He writes,
Keep up family discipline, that so you may have a complete church in your house, though in little. Reason teaches us that 'every man should bear rule in his own house' (Esth. 1:22). And since that as well as other poewr is of God, it ought to be employed for God; and they who so rule must be just, ruling in his fear. Joshua looked further than the acts of religious worship when he made that pious resolution, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord' (Josh 24:15). For we do not 'serve him in sincerity and truth', which is the service he there speaks of (v. 14) if we and ours serve him only on our knees, and do not take care to serve him in all the instances of a religious conversation. Those only who have clean hands, and a pure heart are accounted 'the generation of them that seek God' (Ps. 24:4,6). And without this those who pretend to 'seek God daily' do but mock him (Isa. 58:2).

The authority God has given you over your children and servants is principally designed for this end, that you may thereby engage them for God and godliness. If you use it only to oblige them to do your will, and so to serve your pride; and to do your business, and so to serve your worldliness, you do not answer the great end of your being invested with it; you must use it for God's honour, by it to engage them as far as you can, to do the will of God, and mind the business of religion. Holy David not only blessed his household, but took care to keep good order in it, as appears by that plan of his family discipline which we have in the 101st Psalm, a psalm which Mr. Fox tells us that blessed martyr Bishop Ridley often read to his family, as the rule by which he resolved to govern it. You are made keepers of the vineyard; be faithful to your trust, and carefully watch over those who are under your charge, knowing that you must give account. (p. 44, Family Religion, Matthew Henry)
God's will for us (need we look any further than this?) is clearly spelled out in His Word. All men are to worship Him and serve Him in all things - to seek His glory and honor above all else. As fathers and husbands, the service, glorification and honoring of God starts at home, and involves the whole family - not simply us as individuals. We are to seek Him and serve Him in every vocation we have been endowed with - the specific needs as fathers and husbands in this regard is to lead and guide them in God's ways, through His Word. May the Lord bless you (and me) in this Holy undertaking



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