For years, William Gouge’s Domestical Duties has stood as the foremost Puritan treatment of Christian family life. Yet due to its size and antiquated expression, it has become almost unknown among current generations of believers. To help revive the usefulness of this classic book, Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke divided Gouge’s work into three manageable volumes, updated the language to modern standards, and have given it the title Building a Godly Home.
Volume 1: A Holy Vision for Family Life
In the first volume, A Holy Vision for Family Life, we hear the voice of a wise and loving mentor, calling us to the old paths laid out for the family in the Bible. Here is Gouge’s helpful exposition of Ephesians 5:21–6:4, where he lays out the wife’s voluntary submission to her husband, the husband’s sacrificial love for his wife, the child’s obedient honoring of parents, and the parents’ nurturing leadership of their children. Reading it is like sitting down to coffee with a gentle grandfather and wise pastor. Come and allow your family to benefit from such wise counsel.
Volume 2: A Holy Vision for Happy Marriage
In the second volume, A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, we find detailed counsel about the most important relationship in the family—husband and wife. Gouge carefully addresses what a fit marriage is and the proper way to enter into one. He then discusses the mutual duties married couples share in order for marriage to survive and thrive, as well as the duties specific to men and women respectively. Not only does he give detailed treatment of how these responsibilities are best expressed and too often hindered, but he also provides ample biblical motivation to set us on the right course. Christian husbands and wives will find much encouragement in this book.
Volume 3: A Holy Vision for Raising Children
In the third volume, A Holy Vision for Raising Children, Gouge offers wise and practical advice to both children and parents on how to relate to each other with love and honor. Drawing from a wealth of biblical principles and examples, he fleshes out how a household of affectionate authority provides for children and prepares them to live as God’s servants in the world. Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters will find much here to challenge and guide them.
William Gouge (1575–1653) was a Puritan minster who served for forty-five years at St. Ann Blackfriars in London and was a member of the Westminster Assembly. He and his wife, Elizabeth, had thirteen children.
“Few issues spell countercultural Christianity as does a biblical view of the home and its various relationships and responsibilities. Those like the seventeenth-century Presbyterian William Gouge, who attempted a lengthy exposition of domestic life as outlined in Scripture, got themselves into trouble with those who viewed biblical teaching burdensome (Gouge was vilified by wealthy city women, for example). But domestic reform is essential if we are to reflect godliness in the home, and Gouge’s once enormously popular Of Domestical Duties is without equal in describing what it looks like. A masterful guide, Gouge is pastoral, clear-headed, thoughtful, and eminently Bible-focused as he writes about the tasks, ideals, and problems of Christian family life. Once as popular as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Gouge’s Of Domestical Duties deserves a central place in the modern Christian home.” — Derek W. H. Thomas, Minister of Preaching and Teaching, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina