Today I stumbled on a great chapter in The Godly Home, which is a slightly edited republication of a work by Richard Baxeter from 1693 by a much longer and typically puritan seventy-two word title. Since titles also served as a table of contents he gets a pass. The Godly Home is actually one section of Baxter’s, A Christian Directory, a practical theology that summarized all this pastor wanted to tell his people concerning how to live.
Here’s an outline from the chapter, “Directions for the Holy Government of Families”:
I. Let governors maintain their authority in their families.
1. Let your family understand that your authority is from God, who is the god of order, and that in obedience to him they are obliged to obey you.
2. The more god appears to be with you, in your knowledge, holiness, and blameless life, the greater will your authority be in the eyes of your inferiors who fear God.
3. Do not show your natural weakness by passions or imprudent words or deeds.
4. Do not lose your authority by not using it.
5. Do not lose your authority by too much familiarity.
II. Labor for prudence and skillfulness in governing.
1. To get the skill of holy governing, it is needful that you be studied in the Word of God.
2. Understand the different tempers of your inferiors, and deal with them as they are and as they can bear, and not with all alike.
3. You must recognize difference between their different faults, and accordingly suit your reprehensions.
4. Be a good husband to your wife and a good father to your children, and let love have dominion in your governing, that your inferiors may easily find that it is in their interest to obey you.
5. If you would be skillful in governing others, learn first to command yourselves.
III. You must be holy persons if you would be holy governors of your families.
1. To this end, be sure that your own souls are entirely subjected unto God and that you more accurately obey his laws than you expect any inferior should obey your commands.
2. Be sure that you lay up your treasure in heaven and make the enjoyment of God in glory to be the ultimate commanding end, both of the affairs and government of your family and of all things else with which you are entrusted.
3. Maintain God’s authority in your family more carefully than your own.
4. Let spiritual love to your family be predominant, and let your care be greatest for the saving of their souls, and your compassion greatest in their spiritual miseries.
5. Let your family neither be kept in idleness and flesh-pleasing, nor yet overwhelmed with such multitude of business as shall take up and distract their minds, diverting them from and unfitting them for holy things.