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mily, undertaketh to be their governor; and it is no small sin or folly to undertake such a place, as you are utterly unfit for, when it is a matter of so great importance. You could discern this in a case that is not your own; as if a man undertake to be a schoolmaster that cannot read or write; or to be a physician, who knoweth neither diseases nor their remedies; or to be a pilot that cannot tell how to do a pilot's work; and why cannot you much more discern it in your own case?
Direct. 1. To get the skill of holy governing, it is needful that you be well studied in the Word of God:' therefore God commandeth kings themselves that "they read in the law all the days of their lives;" and that "it depart not out of their mouths, but that they meditate in it day and night. And all parents must be able to "teach it their children, and talk of it both at home and abroad, lying down and rising upi." All government of men is but subservient to the government of God, to promote obedience to his laws. And it is necessary that we understand the laws which all laws and precepts must give place to and subserve.
Direct. 11. Understand well the different tempers of your inferiors, and deal with them as they are, and as they can bear; and not with all alike.' Some are more intelligent and some more dull: some are of tender, and some of hardened dispositions; some will be best wrought upon by love and gentleness; and some have need of sharpness and severity: prudence must fit your dealings to their dispositions.
Direct. III. You must put much difference between their different faults, and accordingly suit your reprehensions.' Those must be most severely rebuked that have most wilfulness, and those that are faulty in matters of greatest weight. Some faults are so much through mere disability and unavoidable frailty of the flesh, that there is but little of the will appearing in them. These must be more gently handled, as deserving more compassion than reproof. Some are habituate vices, and the whole nature is more desperately depraved than in others. These must have more than a particular correction. They must be held to
Deut. xvii. 18, 19.
h Josh. i. 8.
i Deut. vi. 6, 7. xi. 18, 19.
such a course of life, as may be most effectual to destroy and change those habits. And some there are upright at the heart, and in the main and most momentous things, are guilty but of some actual faults; and of these, some more seldom, and some more frequent; and if you do not prudently diversify your rebukes according to their faults, you will but harden them, and miss of your ends: for there is a family-justice that must not be overthrown, unless you. will overthrow your families: as there is a more public justice necessary to the public good,
Direct. IV. Be a good husband to your wife,, and a good father to your children, and a good master to your servants, and let love have dominion in all your government, that your inferiors may easily find, that it is their interest to obey you.' For interest and self-love are the natural rulers of the world. And it is the most effectual way to procure obedience or any good, to make men perceive that it is for their own good, and to engage self-love for you; that they may see that the benefit is like to be their own. If you do them no good, but are sour, and uncourteous, and closehanded to them, few will be ruled by you.
Direct. v. If you would be skilful in governing others, learn first exactly to command yourselves.' Can you ever expect to have others more at your will and government than yourselves? Is he fit to rule his family in the fear of God and a holy life, who is unholy and feareth not God himself? Or is he fit to keep them from passion or drunkenness, or gluttony, or lust, or any way of sensuality, that cannot keep himself from it? Will not inferiors despise such reproofs which are by yourselves contradicted in your lives? You know this true of wicked preachers; and is it not as true of other governors?
III. Gen. Direct. You must be holy persons, if you would be holy governors of your families.' Men's actions follow the bent of their dispositions. They will do as they are. An enemy of God will not govern a family for God: nor an enemy of holiness (nor a stranger to it) set up a holy order in his house, and in a holy manner manage his affairs, I know it is cheaper and easier to the flesh to call others to mortification and holiness of life, than to bring ourselves to it but yet when it is not a bare command or wish that is
necessary, but a course of holy and industrious government, unholy persons (though some of them may go far) have not the ends and principles which such a work requireth.
Direct. 1. To this end, be sure that your own souls be entirely subjected to God, and that you more accurately obey his laws, than you expect any inferior should obey your commands.' If you dare disobey God, why should they fear disobeying you? Can you more severely revenge disobedience; or more bountifully reward obedience, than God can do? Are you greater and better than God himself is?
Direct. 11. 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 all things else with which you are intrusted.' Devote yourselves and all to God, and do all for him: do all as passengers to another world, whose business on earth is but to provide for heaven, and promote their everlasting interest. If thus you are separated unto God, you are sanctified: and then you will separate all that you have to his use and service, and this, with his acceptance, will sanctify all.
Direct. 111. Maintain God's authority in your family more carefully than your own.' Your own is but for his. More sharply rebuke or correct them that wrong and dishonour God, than those that wrong and dishonour yourselves. Remember Eli's sad example: make not a small matter of any of the sins, especially the great sins, of your children or servants. It is an odious thing to slight God's cause, and put up all with 'It is not well done,' when you are fiercely passionate for the loss of some small commodity of your own. God's honour must be greatest in your family and his service must have the pre-eminence of yours; and sin against him, must be the most intolerable offence.
Direct. v. 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.' Be first careful to provide them a portion in heaven, and to save them from whatsoever would deprive them of it; and never prefer the transitory pelf of earth, before their everlasting riches, Never be so cumbered about many things,
as to forget that one thing is necessary; but choose for yourselves and them the better part *.
Direct. v. Let your family be neither kept in idleness and flesh-pleasing, nor yet overwhelmed with such a multitude of business, as shall take up and distract their minds, diverting and unfitting them for holy things.' Where God layeth on you a necessity of excessive labours, it must patiently and cheerfully be undergone: but when you draw them unnecessarily on yourselves for the love of riches, you do but become the tempters and tormentors of yourselves and others; forgetting the terrible examples of them, that have this way fallen off from Christ, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows'.
Direct. vi. As much as is possible, settle a constant order of all your businesses that every ordinary work may know its time, and confusion may not shut out godliness.' It is a great assistance in every calling to do all in a set and constant order: it maketh it easy: it removeth impediments; and promoteth success: distraction in your business causeth a distraction in your minds in holy duty. Some callings I know can hardly be cast into any order or method; but others may, if prudence and diligence be used. God's service will thus be better done, and your work will be better done, to the ease of your servants, and quiet of your own minds. Foresight and skilfulness would save you abundance of labour and vexation.
Special Motives to persuade Men to the holy Governing of their Families.
If it were but well understood what benefits come by the holy governing of families, and what mischiefs come by its neglect, there would few that walk the streets among us, appear so odious as those careless, ungodly governors that know not nor mind a duty of such exceeding weight. While we lie all as overwhelmed with the calamitous fruits 11 Tim. vi. 10.
* Luke x. 42.
of this neglect, I think meet to try, if with some, the cause may be removed; by awakening sluggish souls, to do their undertaken work.
Motive 1. Consider that the holy government of families, is a considerable part of God's own government of the world, and the contrary is a great part of the devil's government.' It hath pleased God to settle as a natural, so a political order in the world and to honour his creatures to be the instruments of his own operations: and though he could have produced all effects without any inferior causes, and could have governed the world by himself alone without any instruments (he being not as kings, constrained to make use of deputies and officers, because of their own natural confinement and insufficiency), yet is he pleased to make inferior causes partakers in such excellent effects, and taketh delight in the frame and order of causes, by which his will among his creatures is accomplished. So that as the several justices in the countries do govern as officers of the king, so every magistrate and master of a family, doth govern as an officer of God. And if his government by his officers be put down or neglected, it is a contempt of God himself, or a rebellion against him. What is all the practical atheism, and rebellion, and ungodliness of the world, but a rejecting of the government of God? It is not against the being of God in itself considered, that his enemies rise up with malignant, rebellious opposition: but it is against God as the holy and righteous governor of the world, and especially of themselves. And as in an army, if the corporals, sergeants, and lieutenants, do all neglect their offices, the government of the general or colonels is defeated and of little force; so if the rulers of families and other officers of God will corrupt or neglect their part of government, they do their worst to corrupt or cast out God's government from the earth. And if God shall not govern in your families, who shall? The devil is always the governor where God's government is refused; the world and the flesh are the instruments of his government; worldliness and fleshly living are his service: undoubtedly he is the ruler of the family where these prevail, and where faith and godliness do not take place. And what can you expect from such a master?