Puritan Reformed Conference – Friday, August 23, 2013
Joel Beeke is President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, a pastor of the Heritage Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, editor of Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth, editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books, president of Inheritance Publishers, and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed Translation Society. He has written, co-authored, or edited seventy books (most recently, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine unto Life, Living for the Glory of God: An Introduction to Calvinism, Meet the Puritans, Contagious Christian Living, Calvin for Today, Developing a Healthy Prayer Life, and Taking Hold of God), and contributed fifteen hundred articles to Reformed books, journals, periodicals, and encyclopedias. His Ph.D. is in Reformation and Post-Reformation theology from Westminster Theological Seminary. He is frequently called upon to lecture at seminaries and to speak at Reformed conferences around the world. He and his wife Mary have three children.
Living in the Family: Thoughts from William Gouge
No better example of the beauty and glory of Christian living than the lives of the Puritans at home. The Puritan view of marriage was Biblical, positive and lavish. Marriage is sacred because it is a covenant.
The Puritans have bequeathed to us the concept of a well-ordered happy home where love abounds between husbands and wives and children and parents.
No one was more important for the fostering of a well-ordered Christian home than William Gouge: The Domestical Duties. 700 pages on how to be a good husband, wife, parents.
William Gouge: articulates the concept of “companionable marriage.”
A skilled expositor who draws practical application in instructing families in how to walk in the Christian life.
Gouge had 13 children. He was a godly example of what he writes about. He maintained the habit of reading 5 chapters of the Bible in the morning, 5 at noon, and 5 in the evening. He studied much to magnify Christ and debase himself.
Gouge’s View of the Beauty and Glory of a Happy Marriage
The foundation of Puritan teaching on marriage is the Bible.
1. God’s Purposes for Marriage
Medieval view of marriage was the reproduction of children. Puritans said that Scripture sanctifies marriage for three purposes:
a. Procreation of Children
WSJ: Cost of raising a child $250,000
The Puritan’s never considered the expense of child bearing and rearing. They thought in terms of producing children who feared God for the good of society, large families to populate the earth with God-fearing people.
b. A Remedy against sin
c. Mutual society and help and comfort and each other: Ephesians 5
1) Love your wife purposefully – to present her to God – to assist our wives spiritually that they might be sanctified
2) Love your wife absolutely
4) Love your wife sacrificially
This headship is leadership built on love.
2. God’s Principles (Duties) for Marriage
a. Mutual Duties
1) Guard the oneness of your marriage. Two people are made one to share life together.
2) Enjoy the sexual purity of your marriage – matrimonial chastity. “Due benevolence” is a euphemism for sexual love.
3) Love your spouse and live in harmony: Ephesians 5; Titus 2
4) Build up each other’s souls with prayer: a mutual duty which one owes to the other.
b. Husband’s Duties
1) Delight in their wives and esteem them and seek to please them
2) Provide for his wife in sickness and in health
3) Reprove in tender love – in private with humility
4) Accept the functions his wife performs with gratitude
c. Wife’s Duties
1) Content with her husband’s work and social standing
2) Willing to relocate and follow her husband
3) Manage the household effectively
4) Help her husband establish Christ’s kingdom in their home
Gouge’s View of the Beauty and Glory of Child Rearing
Children are an index of our sanctification. Holiness and the beauty of Christian living begins at home and then extends to all areas of life. Children are a gift of God.
1. The Spirit of Parenting: Authority and Affection
Father and Mother are equal authorities over the children; children owe equal respect to both parents.
The Puritans stressed that Christian obedience from the children to the parents must come from the heart. Not enough to have just outward obedience.
The fountain and source of all that parents must do is love.
2. The Task of Parenting: The Provident Care of Body and Soul (providing care with prudent foresight)
Parents must care not just for the immediate needs of their children, but also for their future.
Duties of Parents Toward Their Children
1. Pray for your children – before they are born; when they are infants, and all their lives. The goal shold be to leave behind for their children a treasury of prayers rather than a treasury of gold and silver.
2. Walk in godliness for God’s blessing on your children. The most powerful book your children will ever read besides the Bible is your life.
3. Care for your child in the womb. Tender care for a pregnant woman.
4. Nurture your children in infancy. The woman takes the primary role in this.
5. Have your children baptized. No inherent power to save sinners, but baptism on covenantal lines – not presumptive regeneration.
6. Provide your children with necessities for health: food, clothing, health care, recreation. Not too much food, fancy clothing, etc.
7. Give your children a good moral education: the outward beauty of a well-ordered life.
8. Give your children a good vocational education: to help the poor and serve society, to be trained well and content in their job.
9. Train your children in godliness and true piety. Teach the Bible through family worship. Deut 6:7
10. Discipline your children with rebuke and the rod. The rod is the last remedy a parent can use when rebuke does not work. Love, compassion, and self-control.
11. Provide your children with the means to get started with a vocation.
12. Help your children make all the major decisions of life, including the decision of finding a spouse.
The Puritans did not worship the family but they recognized the central place of the family for God’s purposes and God’s glory.
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