Family and Catechesis

Dear friends and church family,

I have often remarked that the family is the foundation for all ministry. We see this in the requirements for pastor and deacon in the church. On Wednesday night, I read a portion from the Westminster shorter catechism on the Lord’s prayer and spoke of a short treatise written by Thomas Manton on the importance of using catechisms in raising children. I thought this morning I would provide some short portions from it to give you a flavor for the puritan view of the home and the need to not only provide an example for our children, but also provide them a method for understanding the scriptures. I hope that this will be encouraging to you as you seek to raise your children. To those of you who no longer have children in the house, or have older children and feel that you have failed, please know that there is no failure in the Christian life. If up to now you have not raised your family spiritually, start today. There is no condemnation for you, only opportunity. No matter the make up of your current home situation, I pray that you make it a strong scriptural Christian home, a light on a hill. I find that I myself need these aids in understanding the scriptures often.

 

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“The devil hath a great spite at the kingdom of Christ, and he knoweth no such compendious way to crush it in the egg, as by the perversion of youth, and supplanting family-duties. He striketh at all those duties which are publick in the assemblies of the saints; but these are too well guarded by the solemn injunctions and dying charge of Jesus Christ, as that he should ever hope totally to subvert and undermine them; but at family duties he striketh with the more success, because the institution is not so solemn, and the practice not so seriously and conscientiously regarded as it should be, and the omission is not so liable to notice and public censure. Religion was first hatched in families, and there the devil seeketh to crush it; the families of the Patriarchs were all the Churches God had in the world for the time; and therefore, (I suppose,) when Cain went out from Adam’s family, he is said to go out from the face of the Lord, Gen. 4:16. Now, the devil knoweth that this is a blow at the root, and a ready way to prevent the succession of Churches: if he can subvert families, other societies and communities will not long flourish and subsist with any power and vigor; for there is the stock from whence they are supplied both for the present and future.”

“For the present: A family is the seminary of Church and State; and if children be not well principled there, all miscarrieth: a fault in the first concoction is not mended in the second; if youth be bred ill in the family, they prove ill in Church and Commonwealth; there is the first making or marring, and the presage of their future lives to be thence taken, Prov. 20:11. By family discipline, officers are trained up for the Church, 1 Tim. 3:4, One that ruleth well his own house, etc.; and there are men bred up in subjection and obedience. It is noted, Acts 21:5, that the disciples brought Paul on his way with their wives and children; their children probably are mentioned, to intimate, that their parents would, by their own example and affectionate farewell to Paul, breed them up in a way of reverence and respect to the pastors of the Church.”

“I do therefore desire, that all masters of families would first study well this work themselves, and then teach it their children and servants, according to their several capacities. And, if they once understand these grounds of religion, they will be able to read other books more understandingly, and hear sermons more profitably, and confer more judiciously, and hold fast the doctrine of Christ more firmly, than ever you are like to do by any other course. First, let them read and learn the Shorter Catechism, and next the Larger, and lastly, read the Confession of Faith.”

So, friends, in light of Manton’s recommendations I would like to offer these resources for your aid. These are the catechisms and confessions that I appreciate the most:

A Short Catechism on Baptism ( http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/tcat.htm )

John Bunyan’s Catechism ( http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/ifti.htm )

Spurgeon’s Baptist Catechism ( http://www.spurgeon.org/catechis.htm )

Heidelberg Catechism ( https://www.ccel.org/creeds/heidelberg-cat.html )

London Baptist Confession 1689 ( http://www.1689.com/confession.html )

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