Reviewed by: John P. Jambura
Date posted: 10/19/2008
Of Domestical Duties, by William Gouge (1575—1653). Reprinted by Solid Ground Christian Publishers, 2006. Large hardback, 524 pages, list price $50.00 ($34.99 at www.solid-ground-books.com). Reviewed by ruling elder John P. Jambura.
As a pediatrician, I have felt it a duty to keep up with what is being written on child rearing and family life. For three decades I have been mostly frustrated, reading the various admixtures of worldly wisdom and questionable exegesis that make up the bulk of Christian parenting literature. When I saw that Solid Ground Christian Books had reprinted Gouge’s Of Domestical Duties, I was skeptical. However, I thought the Puritans did a lot of things right, and Gouge was known for the unusually good quality of his family life, so maybe…
As I started to read, a growing sense of excitement grew. Here was someone bringing together good scriptural teaching, solid exegesis, and deep insight into human beings. Here was a hook that was full of gold, whether read straight through or piecemeal. Reading it through it will lead one to a thorough and systematic view of the family, while dipping at points of need will provide a consultation with a master in Israel. The sweep of the logic and the lucid insights were sufficiently exciting that I hardly noticed the many times when I was convicted for the errors in my own parenting experience; this book is guaranteed to humble anyone w ho reads it seriously.
What are some of the topics Gouge considers? He promotes breast-feeding, explains why children should work harder at loving their parents, finds the middle ground between severity and spoiling, and offers tough practical advice to men about loving their wives. This volume is not for the fainthearted or those who wish to get “attaboys” sprinkled with holy water!
Every pastor should have a copy of this book in his library. Any course in family life and covenant nurture, whether formal or informal, would benefit from it. Christian colleges could do far worse than this book as a textbook for their marriage and family courses. Seminaries could use this as a sourcebook for practical theology. Better yet, get this book as wedding or anniversary present for every couple you know.