Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JDFM 5:1 (Fall 2015) p. 83
A Holy Vision for Family Life, vol. 1 of Building a Godly Home. By William Gouge, edited and modernized by Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2013. 200 pp., $18.00
On the subject of marriage, Solomon’s ancient warning could certainly be applied — “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). With so many volumes on the subject lining the shelves of Christian bookstores, it is tempting to commit what C. S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery” by assuming that the latest word on the subject is unquestionably the greatest. Such assumptions ignore the treasuries of wisdom lying dormant in the archives of church history. Biblical exegesis and practical theology have a certain timeless quality and many of our contemporary conversations could be strengthened by a healthy dose of perspective from the past.
For those looking for some historical input on married life, the Building a Godly Home series from Reformation Heritage Books will prove to be a helpful resource. The series introduces modern readers to William Gouge (1575 – 1653), whose family handbook, Of Domesticall Duties (1622), was one of the most influential Puritan works on the subject. Gouge (pronounced like gooj) pastored the Blackfriars congregation of London for over forty-five years and helped write the influential Westminster Confession of Faith (1646). In addition, he was a devout husband to his wife, Elizabeth (1586–1625), with whom he fathered thirteen children.
In updating Gouge s original work, editors Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke have modernized the Puritan’s language, trimmed less relevant sections, and divided the original 700-page work into three smaller volumes. The first volume, A Holy Vision for Family
JDFM 5:1 (Fall 2015) p. 84
Life, provides a general exegesis of Ephesians 5:21‒6:4 divided into twelve chapters.
Gouge begins his treatment of domestic duties by focusing on the fear of the Lord as a foundation for serving one another. Following the text of Ephesians, he then moves into the wife’s particular calling where several memorable quotations set forth his vision for the family. According to Gouge, the family is “a seminary of the church and nation” (19), “a beehive … out of which are sent many swarms of bees” (19), and “like a school where the first principles and grounds of government and subjection are learned” (20). With such high stakes, Gouge is careful to affirm that family life is a unique calling and should be taken as seriously as public vocations.
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