As with all 17th century puritan writers, this is no 'easy' read, especially the introductory chapters. But when Baxter gets to the applications of Scripture you find real gold.
I am going to list some of the best parts of this fine book, but it is almost like getting a rib bone without meat.
For each point I list, Baxter has an exhaustive list of Biblical passages that he applies and uses to thoroughly back up each point of application. He also goes into amazingly minute detail in explaining the issues.
As you read over this you may feel like I do: My home does not measure up. But let us cheer God's grace and pray to improve in any area that His Spirit points out. "Oh Lord, revive our homes today! May we receive from You the reminders and the motivations and the perseverance and the power and the grace to accomplish these crucial principles in our lives."
I will call this list:
Richard Baxter's Advice for Building a Godly Home
It starts with marriage:
"If God calls you to a married life, expect various troubles and make particular preparation for each temptation, cross, and duty that you must expect. Do not think that you are entering into a state of mere delight, lest it prove to be a fool's paradise to you."
"Take notice of the helps and comforts in marriage as well as the hindrances, that you may cheerfully serve God in it."
"Let your marriage covenant be made understandingly, deliberately, heartily, in the fear of the Lord, with a fixed resolution to keep it."
"Be sure that God is the ultimate end of your marriage- heartily devote yourself and your family to the Lord. Those who do so aim at His glory and do it to please Him and (end up)
finding God owning it and blessing it."
Growing as a Family in Private Worship:
"Worship is the honoring of God- giving Him blessed works of praise and thanksgiving- (and in doing so) receive more largely from God and enjoy more fully our happiness in Him."
Families are obliged to seek opportunities for worship and bound to improve them faithfully.
Worshiping God in the home will not only allow members to live in the presence of God, they will also "apprehend that presence".
Godly homes should include private worship, family worship, and corporate worship in a local congregation.
We all should desire to grow in this area: "It is a dead, graceless, carnal heart that must be cured before these men will be satisfied"- "a better appetite would help their reason"-
"That which men love not but are weary of, they will not easily believe to be their duty."
The Holy Government of Families:
The head of the house should maintain authority. "For if that is lost, and you are despised by those you should rule, your word will be nothing to them- you are riding without a bridle."
"Your authority over your children is great, yet only such as, joined with love, is needful for their good education and happiness."
Teach your family that your authority is from God and they are obliged to obey you in the Lord.
The more God appears to be with you- in your knowledge, holiness, and blameless life- the greater will your authority be in the eyes of those you are leading.
Do not lose your authority by not using it.
Seek to improve in your leadership skills- study God's Word, and study your family.
Be a good husband and father and your family will find it easier to obey you.
If you seek to rule others, you must first learn to command yourself.
"Men's actions follow the bent of their dispositions. They will do as they are."
It is much 'cheaper and easier' to call others to strict disciple than to bring ourselves to it.
Let your family see you:
Devote yourself to God
Lay up treasures in heaven and make the enjoyment of God in glory to be the ultimate end.
Never making a small matter of any sin
Being full of love
Never being kept in idleness and flesh-pleasing nor overwhelmed with such busyness that distracts the mind
Motives for a Holy and Careful Education of Children:
God is the owner of your children
Consider how great a comfort it will be to have your children know God: to love and serve Him
Mutual Duties of Husbands and Wives:
Husbands should love wives with a true, entire, married love. Take more notice of the good in your wife than the evil.
Husbands and wives must take delight in the love, company, and conversation with one another.
It is their duty to live in quietness and peace and seek to resolve wrath and discord by patiently enduring when one is (overcome by temper, etc), confessing faults, asking forgiveness, praying together for pardon.
Specific Duties for Husbands:
Husband must take up his duty to lead his family.
He must exercise and work to maintain a united authority and love
He must protect/preserve the authority of the wife over the children
He must seek to improve in knowledge and be the principal teacher of the family
He should be able to pray and have a praying heart- he is the mouthpiece of the family.
Specific Duties for Wives:
Be loving and submissive to the husband with a softness and yieldedness.
Speak well of your husband.
Develop a cheerful disposition with your condition and take heed of murmuring or complaining.
Do not teach your children to have a gaudiness of apparel or a troublesome curiosity.
Duties of Parents to Children:
Understand your child is a sinner (which they received from you) and thankfully accept the covenant offers of a Savior.
Dedicate yourselves to God and give Him everything, including your children.
Teach your children,as soon as they are capable,the beautiful covenant blessings.
Train them up in exact obedience- "and break their wills... do not allow them to act irreverently or contemptuously toward you" do not give them everything they want- tell them often and lovingly of the joy of obedience and how it pleases God.
Labor to possess their hearts with a fear of God and reverence for the Scriptures.
Speak with great honor and praise of authority figures (ministers, teachers, magistrates).
Though we labor diligently for spiritual health, we also work for the health of their bodies- appetites, sports, and recreations- but no so much that it carries away their minds from better things.
Speak disgracefully of the gallantry, pomp, and riches of the world- speak against pride, selfishness, and covetousness.
Keep a watch on their tongues: especially lying, unclean talk, and the Lord's name in vain.
Keep them away from ill company.
Duties of Children to Parents:
Dearly love your parents.
Honor them in your thoughts, speeches, and behavior.
Obey them- have in your mind a desire to please them and be glad when you please them.
Consider that your parent's rule is good for you and, even when in discipline, it is love.
Be content with your parent's provision.
Humble and submit yourselves to any labor that your parent's appoint you.
Be willing and thankful to be instructed by parents and teachers, especially in matters of God and salvation.
Patiently submit to correction.
Choose good company.
Take care of your parents at that time that you are able and they are unable.
Imitate your parents in all that is good, both when they are living and when they are dead.
Learn to understand your covenant vow to God and when you do- renew that covenant with God and deliver yourself to Him as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, Owner, Ruler, Father, and delight.
Take heed of loving the flesh too much- eating too much or drinking, or play. "Do not set your hearts upon your belly or your sport; let your meat and sleep and play be moderate."
Subdue your will and desires to the will of God and those in authority over you.
Take heed of a custom of foolish, filthy, lying, or other sinful words.
Take heed of friends who entice and tempt you to sin.
Take heed of pride and covetousness. Do not desire to be glamorous.
Love the Word of God and all good books that would make you wiser.
Remember to keep the Lord's Day holy. Reverence the ministers and mark what they teach you.
When you grow up, with the guidance of your parents, choose a trade or calling that allows you the greatest helps for heaven and the fewest hindrances in which you may be the most serviceable to God.
A Few Practical Tips of a Parenting Pattern:
Teach stories of the Bible
Teach them to pray
Put good books before them
Get them to teach each other
Do not tire them with too much at once
Labor to provide sweetness and pleasant experiences
Encourage them with kindness and rewards
Be kind to your children when they do well
If all of this seems too much to do: "I ask them to ask Christ, who died for them, whether souls are not precious and worth all of this labor. It is a small labor compared to the everlasting end."