Saturday, August 26, 2017

2017.08.18 (and 25) Family Friday - Developing a Holy Vision for Family Life, Preface, Biographical Sketch, and part of Chapter 1

On Family Fridays, I'm reading William Gouge's Building a Godly Home vol 1, A Holy Vision for Family Life.

In these first two sessions, I was able to get through the Preface, the Biographical Sketch, and most of Chapter 1, which is on "Serving Each other for the Fear of the Lord."

Preface and Biographical Sketch
The Preface is a note encouraging us to read Gouge:
In these pages, we hear the voice of a wise and loving mentor, calling us to the old paths laid out for the family in the Bible. Reading it is like sitting down to coffee with a gentle grandfather and wise pastor.
(Location 53)
It makes the case (quoting Gouge) for how very important the family is for both church and the culture, and also that the family itself ought to be a display of the effective working of the grace of God.

Then, the Biographical Sketch basically says that Gouge came from and presided over just such a family. Without citation, it is difficult to know how the author knows the following, but I would be thrilled if this is how I were remembered:
Gouge led his household with great patience and kindness. He was quick to humble himself, and brokenhearted in his confessions of sin.
(Location 96)
Chapter 1, part 1: Serving each other
Gouge begins by pointing out that although we are all called to love the Lord, obey Him, know, believe, repent, etc., that each of us also has particular callings that the Lord has assigned to us by His providence.

The text from which he is working is Ephesians 5:21, which really belongs grammatically as the conclusion of what precedes, concerning the praises of God. Still, this preferring of others to the self and always seeking the good of others, belongs to the essence of corporate praise.

Gouge rightly points out the closeness of this relationship:
This shows the hypocrisy of those who make great pretense of praising God, and yet are scornful and disdainful to their brethren, and slothful to do any service to man.
(Location 143)
He then proceeds to discuss two different kinds of submission. One is the submission of respect, where we are subordinate to others in their authority, and show this both by obedience and by special expressions of honor and deference. The other is the submission of service, where everything we do aims at the good of others. The latter "is a duty which even superiors owe to subordinates" (Location 165).
a work of superiority and authority, in the manner of doing it may be a work of submission, that is, if it is done in humility and meekness of mind.
(Location 172)
He also notes several things about authorities in this life.

  • Even the highest authorities in every sphere have someone to whom they must submit. 
  • Every authority is put in his place by God, and it is never merely for himself, but especially for the good of others, namely those "over" whom he is placed. 
  • Since God has called authorities to their places for the good of others, those authorities will give an account for whether that was done and how well.
  • However this is also the reason that those in authority must not allow subordinates to ignore or usurp it. This certainly harms those under authority and rebels against God, who established it.

Chapter 1, part 2: for the fear of the Lord
The second part of the chapter begins to treat the rest of the verse.
Gouge defines the fear of God as an awe-filled respect that moves us to please God and avoid what displeases Him. He discusses the difference between filial (son-like) fear and servile (slave-like) fear. Very helpfully, he quotes from Romans 8, where these two very things are tied together.
distinction of a filial, or son-like, fear, and a servile, or slavish fear. This distinction is grounded on these words of the apostle, “ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear [this is a servile fear]; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father”
(Location 241)
Gouge also notes that God alone is the proper object of our fear, and that our fear of the Lord ought to be so great that Scripture often describes it as the condition of other duties. The Lord even sometimes refers to the whole of our duty to Him as "the fear of the Lord."

Gouge suggests that since our love is dull and cold after the Fall, the Lord has providentially made us fearful creatures so that by this fear He might encourage us beyond where our limited love would have gone.
God has fast fixed this affection of fear in man’s heart, and thereby both restrains him from sin, and also provokes him to every good duty.
(Location 273)
That's as far as I got. I look forward to beginning next Friday at the heading "The Fear of God Moving Us to Do Service to Men"

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