Amanda asked me the other night, “What are you reading?”

“A 17th century Puritan volume on the home.”

“Where did you even find that?”

I had heard of Cotton Mather, but I hadn’t heard details concerning A Family Well-Ordered until I read Voddie Baucham’s Family Shepherds.  Baucham referenced it enough to perk my curiosity, and I was thankful he did.

This volume, written in 1699, seeks to explore these two areas:

  1. What are the duties to be done by pious parents to promote piety in their children?
  2. What are the duties that must be paid by children to their parents that they may obtain the blessings of the dutiful?

It is a short read, but it packs a Puritan wallop like only those from that era can.

Favorite Quotes

  1. Parents, if you don’t first become pious yourselves, you’ll do nothing to purpose to make your children so (3).
  2. Do you not know that your children have precious and immortal souls within them (4)?
  3. How often in a week do we divert ourselves with our children in our houses?  There they stand before us.  There is nothing to hinder our saying some very profitable thing for them to think upon (11).
  4. Parents, be exemplary.  Your example may do much towards the salvation of you children; your works will more work upon your children than your words; your patterns will do more than your precepts, your copies more than your counsels (18).
  5. It will be impossible for you to infuse any good into your children if you appear voice of that good yourselves (18).
  6. Carry the child with you into the secret chambers; make the child kneel down by you while you present it unto the Lord, and implore His blessing upon it.  Let the child hear the groans and see the tears, and be a witness of the agonies wherewith you are travailing for the salvation of it.  The children will never forget what you do; it will have a marvelous force upon them (21).
  7. The heavy curse of God will fall upon those children who make light of their parents (24).
  8. After your parents are dead and gone, the effects of their prayers will yet live (35).
  9. Children, you set light by your parents if your minds are not struck with some awful apprehension of their superiority over you, if you don’t see an awful image of God in their superiority, if you don’t look upon them as the very deputies of God in their several families (36).

Book Overview

This rare and classic book from 1699 details the relationship between parents and children and the authors view on the duties between them. Cotton Mather was an influential Puritan Minister from Boston Massachusetts who lived from 1663 to 1728. In ‘A Family Well Ordered’, Cotton Mather attempts to promote peace and harmony between parents and children by referring to biblical instructions. He goes into great detail in explaining the benefits of salvation and harmony and warns of an inevitable wrath when the parents or the children or both neglect their spiritual obligations to each other.

 

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.