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1. Nothing is plainer, than that while the conjugal relation remains, the wife has a real part in the government of the family. That is plainly enough asserted in 1 Tim. 4: 14. The governing power must be solely in her, in the absence or failure of her husband; and that must by no means be abandoned. And whereas all power and all order is from God, it cannot be denied or laid aside without injury.
2. Hereupon, if there be in the family a prudent pious son, who may be assigned to this work, it may fitly enough be done by such a one, by the appointment of the female head. And so the authority that belongs to her in her station is preserved, and the duty is performed.
3. It is possible, there may be families that entirely consist of females; and concerning them there is no question.
4. Where the family is more numerous, and consists of the male sex, of whom none are fit or willing to undertake this solemn duty, and it cannot be done by the governess with decency or to edification ; in that case she is to follow the example of Esther,-a very laudable one,—and with her maidens and younger children still keep up the worship of God in her family.
THE HOLY GOVERNMENT OF THE FAMILY.
Christians should govern their families. That father will be involved temporally, and for ever, in the curse of Eli, who does not govern and maintain authority over his children. Christians should govern their families in a holy manner, and upon holy principles, and in a holy spirit.
1. The holy government of the family is a considerable part of God's holy government of the world; and when it is neglected, the devil governs in his stead.
2. To leave a family ungoverned and ungodly, is a powerful means to secure the damnation of all its members.
3. A holy and well governed family tendeth 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 tends to make a holy posterity, and to propagate the fear of God from generation to generation.
5. A holy and well governed family is the preparation for a holy and well governed church.
6. Well governed families help to make a happy state and commonwealth, because they tend to make good men.
If the governors of families did faithfully perform their duties, it would be a great assistance to the pastor; it would very much supply his deficiencies, and that of his elders ; and preserve and propagate religion in times of great coldness and laxity.
8. The neglect of this duty is less excusable than any other, for parents have every possible advantage for it put into their hands.
9. Well governed families are honorable and exemplary to others.
10. Holy and well governed families are blessed with the special presence and favor of God.
HOW TO GOVERN WELL A FAMILY.
1. Let your family understand that your authority is from God, and that in obeying you, they obey him.
2. Your authority will be proportioned to your knowledge, holiness, and unblameableness of life.
3. Show not your weakness by passion, or imprudent words or deeds; by fretfulness or murmuring impatience; either towards children or servants.
4. Lose not your authority by neglecting to urge it.
8. Be a good husband to your wife, and a good father to your children, and a good master to your servants, and let all things be done in love.
9. To govern others, you must learn to govern yourself.
10. To govern your family in a holy manner, you must be holy yourself.
11. Subject your own soul to God. Be sure you lay up your treasure in heaven. Maintain God's authority in your family more carefully than your own. Let spiritual love to your family predominate, and let your care be greatest for the saving of their souls, and your compassion greatest for their spiritual miseries.
12. It is of great importance that you should arrange your business and your family, so that there will be a system and regularity. No family was ever governed in a holy manner which was not governed in an orderly manner.
THE RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF A FAMILY.
Parents and masters of families are expressly commanded to teach the substance of religion to those who are under their care. Deut. 6:6,7, 20—25. Gen. 18: 19. 2 Tim 3: 15. Eph. 6:4. Prov. 1:8. Prov. 22: 6. Tim. 3:4–12.
THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY'S CATECHISM,
FOR THE USE OF CHRISTIAN FAMILIES.
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
A. The word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.
Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Q. 7. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
Q. 8. How doth God execute his decrees? A. God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence. Q. 9. What is the work of creation ? A. The work of creation is, God's making all things of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
Q. 10. How did God create man?
A. God created man, male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.
Q. 11. What are God's works of providence ?
A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created ?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
Q. 13. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created ?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.
Q. 14. What is sin ?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.
Q. 15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created ?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was, their eating the forbidden fruit.
Q. 16. Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression ?
A. The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression.
Q. 17. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind ?
Q. 18. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Q. 19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. All mankind, by their fall, lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell for ever.
Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God having, out of his mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of salvation by a Redeemer.
Q. 21. Who is the Redeemer of God's elect?
A. The only Redeemer of God's elect, is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continued to be God and man, in two distinct natures, and one person, for
Q. 22. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body and a reasonable soul, being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her, and yet without sin.
Q. 23. What offices doth Christ execute as our Redeemer ?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the office of a Prophet, of a Priest, and of a King, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a Prophet ?
A. Christ executeth the office of a Prophet in revealing to us, by his word and spirit, the will of God for our salvation.
Q. 25. How doth Christ execute the office of a Priest?
A. Christ executeth the office of a Priest in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us.
Q. 26. How doth Christ execute the office of a King ?
A. Christ executeth the office of a King in subduing us to himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all his and our enemies.
Q. 27. Wherein did Christ's humiliation consist ?
A. Christ's humiliation consists in his being born, and that in a low condition, being made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried, and continuing under the power of death for a time.
Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ's exaltation?
A. Christ's exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.
29. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by the Holy Spirit.
Q. 30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling
Q. 31. What is effectual calling? Å. Effectual calling is a work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ freely offered to us in the gospel.
Q. 32. What benefits do they that are effectually called partake of in this life?