PEACEABLE FRUIT, by Gertrude Hoeksema; Reformed Free Publishing Association, 1974; 310 pp., $5.95.
There is a great lack of good material on covenant instruction and child-training which is written from the perspective of Scripture, which is suitable for covenant parents who are dedicated to “bringing up their children in the fear of the Lord” and who are aware of the difficult task this really is. This book can and will go a long way towards filling that lack.
As far as the general contents of the book are concerned, the author treats first of all the important questions of who and what is the child, discussing this from a spiritual and psychological viewpoint. With chapter three, the book divides the life of the child into specific periods and treats each period rather extensively. The divisions however, are not arbitrary, for each time the author discusses what characteristics are uniquely those of the child during each period of his physical, psychological and spiritual development, and how covenant training must be directly adapted to these characteristics. There are chapters on “Preparation for the Child,” “Birth of the Child,” “From Birth-to Nine Months,” “From Nine Months to Two Years,” “From Two to Five Years,” “The kindergartner,” “Early Primary Years,” “Later Primary Years,” “Early Adolescence,” “High School Adolescence.” The author uses an imaginary child by the name of Timothy to bring the book more down to earth and practical.
It is uniquely characteristic of the Reformed faith that the beautiful truth of God’s covenant is taught and emphasized in such a way that it pervades the whole confession of those who hold to the Reformed faith. The doctrine of the covenant is however, not objective and cold theory, but is warm and vibrant, filled with practical implications for the whole life of the child of God. This book proceeds to describe covenant instruction. The truth of God’s covenant pervades the whole of the book and affects every part of it. It will give to those who love this doctrine a greater appreciation for this glorious truth and a greater realization of its profound and awesome implications for covenant instruction in the home.
The book is also filled with practical suggestions of a very concrete kind. It is not merely fine-spun theory, but brings instruction into the every day problems of life in a way which can be of use to Godly parents. It has been said that the book is somewhat idealistic and loses considerable value because it does not reckon sufficiently with the reality of sin both in the child and in the parents who are called to engage in this difficult task. There probably is some truth to this assertion; but there are two matters which come to mind in this connection. In the first place, Scripture also holds before our eyes the ideal. Scripture does this fully aware of the fact that we are sinful people and that we shall never attain perfection on this side of the grave. But the ideal is nevertheless held before us so that we may continue to strive for it, for this is our calling. In the second place, I read both the original manuscript and the final product, and it was my experience that the second reading of the book was more fruitful than the fast. I think therefore, that the book is valuable for repeated reading and for study. Parents can and should consult the book often and refer to it again and again as they face the concrete problems of raising a family. From this point of view, it is somewhat too bad that the book does not include an extensive index of subjects.
The format of the book is excellent and makes for easy and enjoyable reading. We recommend this book highly to all our readers and to all such as engage in the high calling of covenant training. May God bless the use of the book in many covenant homes.