Sean, a friend of ours from church, is stationed in Iraq for a year-long deployment. He asked me to write to him, to help him keep his sanity. He asked for anything I found helpful in my reading. Maybe others will find them helpful too …
Excerpts from … George Swinnock (a Puritan) – The Christian Man’s Calling
“Every master of a family is a priest, and his whole family should be a royal priesthood offering at least morning and evening sacrifice to God, acceptable through Jesus Christ” (337).
“A foundation well laid by the master of a family is a great help to the minister when he goeth to rear and raise the building” (337).
“If children and servants were accustomed to religious exercises at home, sermons would not be so tedious nor Sabbaths so tiresome as they are” (338).
“Prayer and praise are like the double motion of the lungs; what we suck in by petition we breathe out in thanksgiving, and without this, religion cannot live in a family” (338).
In urging fathers to read the Word of God to their families, Swinnock writes: “The weeds of sin grow of themselves; but the ground must be ploughed, and sown, and harrowed, and watered, before good corn will spring up” (340).
“Oh, how few Abrahams are there in England [or America]! Many teach their families the works of the devil, but few teach them the way of the Lord; many lop their trees, prune their plants, break their horses, train their hawks, yea, teach their dogs, yet never instruct their children” (340).
“Our tongues are called our glory, not only because by our speech we excel beasts, but chiefly because therewith we should glorify God” (341).
“Set a good pattern [of life] to thy family … Precepts teach, but examples draw” (342).
“He that ruleth others must not others, must not be unruly himself” (343).
“Plutarch observeth of Cato that he was very wary not to speak an uncomely word in the presence of his children. This heathen will condemn many Christians, who will curse and swear, and drink and roar, and that in the presence of their children. Reader, avoid sin, both for thine own and others’ sake. As a stone thrown intot he water makes but one circle at first, but that one begetteth many; so though the sin in thee at first be but one, yet it may cause many both in thy children and servants” (343).
“He that would reprove others’ dimness, and make them shine brightly with the light of holiness, had need to be irreprovable himself” (345).
Speaking of discipline – “Let thy reproofs against sin be mingled with, and so managed that they may manifest, love to their souls … Though thy words should be soft, yet thine arguments should be hard against the sin committed. To this end let thy reproofs be as near as may be in Scripture phrases, that the offender may see it is not so much man as God, who rebuketh him for his fault” (348).
“We perpetrate those sins which we may and do not prevent; we shall answer one day for sins of communion as well as for sins of commission” (348).
(All quotes from The Works of George Swinnock, vol. 1.)