But my family is ungodly and unruly, touching all that is good. What shall I do?
1. Though this be true, yet thou must rule them, and not they thee! Thou are set over them of God, and thou art to use the authority which God hath given thee, both to rebuke their vice, and to show them the evil of their rebelling against the Lord. This did Eli, though not enough; and thus did David (1 Sam 2:24, 25; 1 Chron 28:9). Also, thou must tell them how sad thy state was when thou wast in their condition, and so labour to recover them out of the snare of the devil (Mark 5:19).
2. Thou oughtest also to labour to draw them forth to God’s public worship, if peradventure God may convert their souls. Saith Jacob to his household, and to all that were about him, ‘Let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress’ (Gen 35:3). Hannah would carry Samuel to Shiloh, that he might abide with God for ever (1 Sam 1:22). Indeed a soul rightly touched, will labour to draw, not only their families, but a whole city after Jesus Christ (John 4:28-30).
3. If they are obstinate, and will not go forth with thee, then do thou get godly and sound men to thy house, and there let the word of God be preached, when thou hast, as Cornelius, gathered thy family and friends together (Acts 10).
You know that the jailor, Lydia, Crispus, Gaius, Stephanus, and others, had not only themselves, but their families, made gracious by the word preached, and that some of them, if not all, by the word preached in their houses (Acts 16:14-34; 18:7, 8; 1 Cor 1:16). And this, for ought I know, might be one reason among many, why the apostles taught in their day, not only publicly, but from house to house; I say, that they might, if possible, bring in those in some family, which yet remained unconverted, and in their sins (Acts 10:24; 20:20, 21). For some, you know how usual it was in the day of Christ, to invite him to their houses, if they had any afflicted, that either would not or could not come unto him (Luke 7:2, 3; 8:41). If this be the way with those that have outward diseases in their families, how much more then, where there are souls that have need of Christ, to save them from death and eternal damnation!
4. Take heed that thou do not neglect family duties among them thyself; as, reading the word and prayer; if thou hast one in thy family that is gracious, take encouragement; nay, if thou art alone, yet know that thou hast both liberty to go to God through Christ, and also art at that time in a capacity of having the universal church join with thee for the whole number of those that shall be saved.
5. Take heed that thou suffer not any ungodly, profane, or heretical books, or discourse in thy house. ‘Evil communications corrupt good manners’ (1 Cor 15:33). I mean such profane or heretical books, &c., as either tend to provoke to looseness of life, or such as do oppose the fundamentals of the gospel. I know that Christians must be allowed their liberty as to things indifferent; but for those things that strike either at faith or holiness, they ought to be abandoned by all Christians, and especially by the pastors of churches, and masters of families; which practice was figured out by Jacob’s commanding his house, and all that was with him, to put away the strange gods from among them, and to change their garments (Gen 35:2). All those in the Acts set a good example for this, who took their curious books and burned them before all men, though they were worth fifty thousand pieces of silver (Acts 19:18, 19). The neglect of this fourth particular hath occasioned ruin in many families, both among children and servants. It is easier for vain talkers, and their deceivable works, to subvert whole households, than many are aware of (Titus 1:10, 11). Thus much touching the spiritual state of thy household. And now to its outward