God described Abraham as a man who would command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice (Gen. 18:19). The importance of heads of households training their children is repeated throughout Scripture.
One way this command can be implemented is by utilizing this recent reprint of William Jay’s discourses. Jay served as pastor of Argyle Chapel in Bath, England for more than sixty years. This pastorate provided ample opportunity for Jay to know the spiritual needs of families and individuals in the flock he was called to serve.
The first discourse is addressed to those who will be leading family devotions. It is very practical, encouraging and thus a foretaste of the remaining discourses. There is much in the opening address to help a father apply Scripture to family life. He reminds the family head that application is not just for others but for oneself also. God is to be exalted and viewed as the reason for and focus of living out the Word of God, by God’s grace. This is a good antidote for using portions of Scripture as moralisms.
All the discourses stand alone and can be read in any order. Although adults can profit greatly from reading this volume, the reader must understand that applications will be made to family units and to children. This is an added bonus, not a detriment to the volume.
The author did not take his sermons and employ them as family discourses. Instead these writings had the purpose of being directly used in family instruction. They cover a wide range of subjects as well as selections that are seasonal such as “Our Ignorance of Futurity” which although useful for anytime of the year was written with New Year’s Day in mind. Familiar and unfamiliar Scriptures are employed usefully for these discourses.
Selections are applicable for Christians and also relevant to nonchristians. By directing application to hearers in both camps Christians are constantly reminded that readers are not just to be concerned with one’s own and one’s family’s sanctification. Christians are also to be reaching out to others evangelistically in the context of daily life. Such regular evangelistic reminders as these discourses offer are important lessons even in covenant homes. It is easy for the Christian to be so comfortable with one’s salvation that he does not have a burning desire to present the gospel of grace to the lost.
Additionally, the solid application of God’s Word to individual and family life cannot help but strengthen readers and hearers of these discourses.
The publisher has brought two volumes of these discourses first published in 1805 into a single sturdily bound volume. Each discourse is several pages in length. Each can be read in one sitting or perhaps broken down for use and review over several days.
- Byron Snapp
Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia. He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina. He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren.