We are pleased to present an updated version of Robert Abbot's work, A Family Built by God, in updated, modern English. You can access a free preview below. If you'd like to support our work, please consider buying the book on Amazon or browsing other updated books.

Book Summary

Robert Abbot was a 17th-century Puritan clergyman known for his writings that embraced the religious and societal views of the Puritan community. One of his notable works is "A Christian Family Built by God," where he discusses the principles of building and maintaining a Christian family.

We have updated this timeless work into modern, updated English so you can understand exactly what Abbot wrote hundreds of years ago!

In this work, Abbot emphasizes the importance of piety, obedience, and the strict adherence to Christian doctrine within the family unit. He explores the roles of each family member, particularly focusing on the duties of parents to raise their children in fear and admonition of the Lord. His views support the idea that a strong, disciplined family structure is fundamental to a pious life and that family is a microcosm of a godly society.

Abbot’s prescriptions include practical advice on religious education, moral upbringing, and the daily management of household duties in a way that aligns with Puritan ethics. The overarching theme of "A Christian Family Built by God" is the notion that God’s hand should be evident in every aspect of family life, from individual conduct to the interactions between family members.

A Family Built by God

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To my dear congregation, the wonderful people of Augustine's near Paul's stump in London, I, Robert Abbott, your humble and undeserving pastor, wish you all the happiness in the world - in your external lives, your internal hearts, and for all eternity.

Dearly beloved in Christ our common Savior.

I'm not sure how much time I have left with you, or when I'll be called home and no longer be visible to you. I'm not talking about moving to a different place (I'm tired of all the upheaval), or about not being seen among you here. Rather, I'm referring to the inevitable journey we all must take, and not being seen in the way the living are. The Jews, even in their worst struggles (except for the final one), lamented that they had no Prophet, no one to tell them how long they had. I don't complain about this, because I see it as a blessing not to know when my time will come. It keeps me on my toes, ready and preparing for it every day. But I'm certain that no one, unless God chooses to reveal it, can predict how long I'll stay in this earthly body. I've now lived for two years beyond the significant climacteric year. It amazes me that despite so many frustrations and deep sorrows of the mind, so many physical struggles and weaknesses of body and temperament, I've managed to live up to this moment.

But it's God's will, who always has some tasks lined up for me. I'm humbly satisfied and willingly accept the plans of our benevolent God. Even though I crave some downtime, I won't turn down work if it's His command or if it's part of His guiding providence.

I have to admit, there are three things that could make my heart soar and yearn to be with my Christ; the weight of personal struggles, the pain of the Church's suffering, and the burden of old age. Additionally, there are two things that could discourage me from continuing my work here on earth; the lack of respect for the Ministry, and the minimal encouragement that Ministers receive from most of their congregation.

When I reflect on the place where God has unexpectedly placed me, and the wonderful people (for the most part) over whom God has appointed me as a leader, I find joy in working for the benefit of your souls every Sunday, as well as at other private opportunities to do good. I am eager to leave some evidence of my love for you and my care for you, even when I am no longer here. If our gracious God, who holds our days and ways in His hands, grants me more years to my life, I hope to demonstrate my love in a more spiritual and valuable way with His blessed help. In the meantime, this little book that I present to you is a reflection of who I am. If it can help you climb even one step or rung higher on the ladder of life, bringing you closer to your blissful journey's end, I will rejoice greatly for you and with you.

You know, the very first government that ever existed in this world was in a Family. And, interestingly enough, the first chaos that ever occurred also happened within a family. In fact, all the disorder that has ever happened since then has its roots in families. If families had been more harmonious, churches and societies would have thrived all along. Take the ancient city of Athens for example. There, the child was in charge of the mother, the mother ruled over the father, and the father governed the entire city. This led to a lot of chaos, which made people of that time really fed up, to the point of complaining. This pattern has been repeated throughout history, and I'm certain it's been the case in our era too. All of us living here are still suffering under it, even to the point of more than just complaining.

If young and old had been properly prepared before they became part of a family; if the family had been founded on a marriage in the Lord; if the relationships between wife and husband, children and parents, servants and masters had been conducted in a holy manner according to Christ's teachings; if the household had been led by a wise, holy, and careful father and mother; if it had been characterized by fair earning and giving, then the Church, the community, and the family would have been in a much better state than they are now. That's why I've taken the time to write this little treatise for you, my fellow Christians. I first preached it, and now I'm writing it down. I encourage you to read it carefully, in the presence of God and with your own soul in mind. If any part of it resonates with you, consider what you can do to improve your family, and then do it. Perhaps you were not the best person when you joined your family. If so, pray that the Son of Righteousness would come and bring healing. Or maybe, whether you were young or old, you didn't align yourself with God's Word. If that's the case, pray that He would now inscribe His Law in your hearts, bringing about change through the work of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you didn't lay a good foundation for your family by marrying in the Lord, but instead married for money or lust. If so, pray that God would overlook that and provide a later establishment to what was initially done in wickedness. Or perhaps you've behaved unfaithfully or unjustly in your relationships. If that's the case, pray for union with Christ, to cleanse the wickedness of nature. With sincere regret for the past, you can then uphold your relationships in the future.

Perhaps your family has lacked good order due to the absence of a good master and mistress, either on a daily basis or on the Lord's day. Pray that God would rule in their hearts, so that He may rule in their house, until they can be greeted as, "The Church that is in your house." Or maybe your house still bears the wages of iniquity due to a lack of true justice in lending, borrowing, buying, selling, letting, hiring, and giving. Pray that there be no self-seeking, deceit, hidden greed, or any form of harmful evil among you. If God blesses you through this book or any other means, do what you can to build a Godly family. In doing so, God will bless the work of His hands upon you, and bring blessings from your families to the Church and the community, as well as to you. This is what God requires; this is what I aimed for among you, and for this, as long as I live, you will have my prayers, fellow Christians.

As your caring pastor, appointed by Christ and for His sake, Robert Abbott.

Chapter 1

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. - Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord is the one building the house, the builders are just wasting their time. There are fifteen Psalms known as the Psalms of Degrees, and this is one of them. They come right after the 119th Psalm and are incredibly useful for various occasions.

There were various stairways leading up to the Temple, and the Priests and Levites would stand on some of them, higher than everyone else. This was done to better guide and educate the people when they sang the Psalms. It's said that these Psalms got their names from this practice.

This Psalm essentially emphasizes the importance of God's blessings in all our endeavors. It suggests that no matter how hard we work, without God's blessings, our efforts will be in vain. The Psalmist illustrates this through various examples and promises. He categorizes all human efforts into two types: public and private. He suggests that in both these spheres, success is impossible without God's blessing. He contrasts the most diligent worker, who, without God's blessing, is actually cursed. The Psalmist also promises peace and contentment to those who work with God's blessing. He says in verse 2 that they will enjoy sleep and rest as God's beloved. In verse 3, he uses the example of children, who are the future of the Church, the Commonwealth, and the Family. Yet, no amount of effort can guarantee their well-being without God's blessing. Therefore, the Psalmist emphasizes that we must seek God's blessing first and foremost in all our endeavors, whether it's building a house or raising a family.

God's people initially formed a family, then they evolved into a church, and finally, they established a commonwealth. So, the first thing mentioned is the construction of a house.

Question: You might be wondering, has God become a carpenter? 

Answer: Well, I have to say no. But it's through these kinds of questions that we come to understand God's goodness and deepen our knowledge about things we don't yet understand. You see, the term "house" is often used metaphorically to represent everything that makes up and supports the honor and comfort of a family. This includes a wife, children, servants, and all kinds of possessions, both inside and outside the house. Similarly, the act of "building" symbolizes everything that helps to grow and expand a family through honest and good means. This could be a supportive wife, promising children, loyal servants, and wealth and inheritances that have been earned honestly. In this context, when we say that God "made houses" for the Egyptian midwives or "built a house" for David, we're referring to God's role in helping to establish and grow their families and fortunes.

Chapter 2

Doctrine: Here's the principle that I want to share with you, if it's God's will. If we want our families to be blessed, we need to let God be the architect. Husbands, wives, children, and servants shouldn't be like decaying posts or flimsy materials on a solid foundation. Instead, they should be constructed and completed by God. Take Nabal, for example. He was the head of a family, but he was a drunk and a hedonist, so he wasn't built by God. Jezebel was a key part of her family, but she was a deceitful and persecuting woman, so she wasn't built by God either. Cain, Esau, Adonijah, and Absalom were all important parts of their families, but they were murderers, disrespectful, and rebellious, so they weren't built by God. Ziba was a member of Mephibosheth's family, but he was a dishonest and unfaithful servant, so he wasn't built by God either. Dives had a house filled with wealth, but he only cared about living a luxurious life and didn't care about Lazarus's suffering. So, he wasn't built by God either. 

Use: So, my fellow believers, I urge you to let God be the architect, the builder, and the craftsman of your families. Otherwise, you won't experience the comforting blessings He provides. Jesus Himself said, "Without me, you can do nothing." And we've seen this truth play out in our own families. Take Abraham, for example. God built his family, and look at what God said about him: "I know that my servant Abraham will instruct his family in my ways." Then there's Joshua, another man whose family was built by God. He declared, "My family and I will serve the Lord." Consider Naomi, too. God built her family, and you can see her faithful care for Ruth. And don't forget about Esther. God built her family, and listen to her words: "My maids and I will also fast." Then there's Eleazar, whose family was also built by God. Notice his godly dedication in serving his master.

So, imagine if an entire family is built this way, serving God together. Husbands and wives are loyal to each other, servants are diligent, children are obedient, and everything you own is blessed. Then, like Paul said, you can greet the church that exists within your own home. Unfortunately, many people complain, and they have good reason to, that husbands can be drunkards and tyrants, wives can be stubborn, children can be unruly, and servants can be disloyal. They also complain about the lack of kindness, the abundance of arguments, the constant brawls, the excessive drinking, and the endless swearing. The root of all these problems is that these families are not built by God. So, what should you do? Allow yourselves to be built by God. He will tear down the old, crumbling structure of sin. He will shape you with His own tool, His Word. He will place you on the solid foundation that is Christ. He will help you grow into a holy structure in the Lord. And then, when the Lord builds the house, your efforts will not be wasted.