Saturday, February 4, 2012

"Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church"

"We have had great disputes how the church ought to be regulated; and indeed the subject of these disputes was of great importance: but the due regulation of your families is of no less, and in some respects, of much greater importance. Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means of grace. If these fail, all other means are like to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be like to prosper and be successful.
"Let me now therefore, once more, before I finally cease to speak to this congregation, repeat and earnestly press the counsel, which I have often urged on heads of families here, while I was their pastor, to great painfulness, in teaching, warning and directing their children; bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; beginning early, where there is yet opportunity; and maintaining a constant diligence in labors of this kind: remembering that, as you would not have all your instructions and counsels ineffectual, there must be government as well as instructions, which must be maintained with an even hand, and steady resolution; as a guard to the religion and morals of the family, and the support of its good order. Take heed that it ben't with any of you as it was with Eli of old, who reproved his children, but restrained them not; and that by this means you do not bring the like curse on your families, as he did on his."

     Jonathan Edwards, "A farewell sermon preached at the first precinct in Northampton, after the people's public rejection of their minister…on June 22, 1750," Application VI (Directions), First.  The works of Jonathan Edwards, ed. Perry Miller et al., vol. 25 (Sermons and discourses, 1743-1758, ed.Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven:  Yale University Press, 2006)), p. 484. 
     According to The Works of Jonathan Edwards Online as consulted on 4 February 2012, Edwards used for the family the phrase "little church" twice else:  in The great awakening (WJE 4, p. 487), and in the sermon "Living to Christ" (on Phil 1:21; WJE 10, p. 577). 

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