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Piety and UNIFORMITY in Secret and Private WORSHIP,
and mutual EDIFICATION:
An Act of the General Assembly, Anno 1648, for observing the Same.
Printed in the Year, M.DCCLV.
Asembly at Edinburgh. Aug. 24, 1647, sel 10. ACT for obierving the Directions of the General Assembly, for secret
and private Worship, and mutual Editication and cen urieg fuch as
Degled Family Worthip. THE General Asembly, after mature deliberation, doth approve the
following rules and directions, for cherisbing piety and preventing division und senism; and dath appoint ministers and ruling elders
, in cach congregation, to take special care that these directions be observed and followed; as likewise, that presbyteries and provincial synods enquire and make trial, wbether the said airections be daly observed in their bounds; and to riprove or cenjure (according to the quality of the effence) such as Jould be found to be reproveable of centureable therein. And, to the end that these directions may not be rendered ineffectual and unprofitable among some. through the usual neglect of the very substance of the duty of family worship; the affembly doth further require and appoint ministers and ruling elders to make diligent fear h and enquiry, in the congregations committed to their charge respectively, whether there be among them any family cr families, which use to negle&t this necessary duty; and, if any such family be found the bead of the Jamily is to be first admonijbed privately to amend his fault ; and, in case of his continuing therein, he is to be gravely and ladly reproved by the fellion: after which reproof, if he be found ftill to neglect fumily worfbip let bim be, for bis obftinacy in fuch an ofince, suspended and debarred from the Lord's fupper, as being juftly ejieemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.
DIRECTIONS of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY, concerning
Secret and Private Worship, and mutual Edification; for cherishing Piery, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding
Schism and Division. B
ESIDES the public worthip in congregations, mercifully estary, that secret worship of each perlon alone, and private worihip of families, be pressed and set up: That, with national refoi ination, the profession and power of godliness, both personal and domestic, be advanced.
1. And First, For secret worship, it is most necessary, that every one apart, and by themselves, be given to prayer, and meditation, the unspeakable benefit whereof is best knowo to them who are most exercited therein; this being the mean whereby, in a special way, commuoion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained: and therefore it becometh not only pastors, within their feveral charges, to press persons of all forts to perform this duty, morning and evening, and at other occasions ; but also it is incum
bent to the heads of every family to have a care that both themselves, and all within their charge, be daily diligent herein.
II. The ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of piety, which should be in families, when they are conveened to that effect, are these ; First, Prayer and praises performed, with a 1pecial reference, as well to the public condition of the kirk of God, and this kingdom, as to the present case of the family, and every member thereof. Next, reading of the scriptores, with catechising in a plain way, that the underlandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the public ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the scriptures, when they are read ; together with godly conterences tending to the edification of all the members in the most holy faith : As allo, admonition and rebuke, upon just reasons, from those who have authority in the family.
Ill. As the charge and office of interpreting the holy scriptures, is a part of the ministerial calling, which done (however otherwise qualified) should take upon him in any place, but he that is duly called thereuato by God and his kirk; fo in every family, where there is any that can read, the holy scriptures should be read ordinarily to the family; and it is commendable, that thereafter they confer, and by way ot conference make fome good use of what hath been read and heard : as for example, if any lip be reproved in the word read, ufe may be made thereof to make all the family circumfpect and watchful against the fame: or if any judgment be threatened, or mentioned to have been in icted in that portion of scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the family fear, leit the fame or a worfe judgment befal them, unless they beware of the sin that procured it. And finally, if any duty be required, or comfort held forth in a promise, ule may be made to stir up themselves to employ Christ for Itrength to enable them for doing the cominaoded duty, and to apply the offered comfort. In all which, the master of the family is to have the chief hand; and aby member of the family may propone a question or doubt for resolution.
IV. The head of the family is to take care that none of the family withdraw himself from any part of family-worship, and, seeing the ordinary performance of all the parts of family worship belongeth properly to the head of the family, the minister is to stir up such as are lazy, and train upruch as are weakto a froels to these exerciles ; it being always free to perfoos of quality, to entertain one approved by the prelbytery for performing family exercise And in other families where the head of the family is unfir, that another confently residing in the family, approved by the minister and teslion, may be employed in that service; wherein the minister and fellion are to be countable to the presbytery. And, if a minister by divine providence be brought to any family, it is requisite, that at no time he conveen a part of the family for worship, fecluding the rest, except in fingular cases, especi
z ally concerning thele parties, which (in Ch:istian prudence) need not, or ought not, to be imparted to others
v. Let no idler who hath no particular calling, or vagrant persoa under pretence of a calling, be fuffered to perform worship in families, to, or from the fame ; feeing perfons caiated with errors, or aiming at division, may be ready (atat that manner) to creep into houles, and lead captive filly and unftab e fouls.
VI. At tamiiy worthip, a locial care is to be had 'that each family keep by themselves. Neither requiring inviting, por admitting perfons from diverfe families, unlels it be those who are lodged with them, or at meals or otherwise with them upon fome law!ul occasion
VII. Whatloever have been the effets and fruits of meetings of persons of diverse families, in the times of corruption or trouble (in which cases many things are cominen jable, which otherwi'e are not tolerable) yet, when God hath blessed us with peace and purity of the gospel, such meetings of persons of divers ta nilies (except in cales men. tioned in these directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hinderance of the religious exercite of cach family by ittelt, to the prejudice of the public ministry, to the renting of the families of particular congregations, and in progress of time) of the whole kirk. Befides many offences which may come thereby, to the hardening of the hearts of carnal men, and grief of the godly.
VIII. On the Lord's day, after every one of the family apart, and the whole family together, have fought the Lord (in whose hands the preparation of mens
hearts are) to fit them for the public worship, and to bless to them the public ordinances ; - the malter of the family ought to take care, that all within his charge repair to the public worship, that he and they may join with the reit of the congregation; and the public worship being finished, after prayer, he should take an account what they have heard ; and thereafter, to spend the rest of the time, which they inay fpare, in catechising, and in fpiritual conferences upon the word of God: or elte (going apart) they ought to apply themfelves to reading, meditation, and lecret prayer, that they may confirm and increase their communion with God, ihat so the profit which they found in the public ordinances may be cherished and promoved, and they more edified unto eternal life.
IX. So many as can conceive prayer, ought to make use of that gift of God; albeit those who are rude and weaker may begin at a fer form of prayer, but fo as they be not suggith in itirring up in themselves (according to their daily necessities thc Ipirit of prayer, which is given to all.che children of God in some meature: to which effect, they ought to be more fervent and frcqucnt in fecret prayer to God, for enabling of their hearts to coyceive and their tongues to express convenient desires to God for their family: and in the mean time, for their grester encouragement, let these materials of prayer be meditated up09, and made ule of, as followeth.
• Let them confess to God how upworthy they are to come in his
preteace, and how uofit to worship bis majesty: and therefore ear• Deftly ask of God the spirit of prayer
• They are to confess their fins, and the fios of the family; accufing, judging and condemning themielves for them, till they bring • their souls to some measure of true humiliation.
They are to pour out their souls to God, in the name of Christ, • by the Spirit, for forg/veness of Gins; for grace to repeat, to believe, . and to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and that they may ferve • God with joy and delight, walking before him
' They are to give thanks to God for his many mercies to his peo• ple and to them elves, and efpecially for his love in Chrift, and for • the light of the gospel.
• They are to pray for such particular benefits fpiritual and temporal, as they ftand io need for the time (whether it be morniog, or evening) as aneat health or sickness prosperity or adversity
• They ought to p: ay for the kiik of Christ in general, for all the • reformed kirks, and tor this kirk in particular, and tor all that fuffer • for the name of Chrilt ; for all our luperiors, the king's majesty, the • queen, and their children; for the magiftrates, minifters, and whole • body of the congregation where they are members, as well for • their neighbours ablen in tii la wtul affairs, as for thote that are • at home.
The prayer may be closed with an earnest desire that God may be 'glorified in the coming of the kiugdom of his Son, and in doing of • bis will
, and with assurance that the níelves are accepted, and what they have alk: d acco diag to his will thuil he Jone.'
X These exercises ought to be performed in great sincerity, without delay, laying aside all exerciles of worldly busine's or hinderances, notwithstanding the mockings of atheists and profane men; in reipect of the great mercies of God to this land, and of his severe corrections wherewith lately he hath exercised us. And, to this effect, persons of eminency (and all elders of the kirk) not only ought to stir up theinfelves and families to diligence herein ; but also to concur effcctually, that in all other families, where they have power and charge, the laid exercises be copícionably performed.
XI. Besides the ordinary duties in families, which are above-mentioned, extraordinary duties, both of huniliation and thanksgiving, are to be carefully performed in families, when the Lord by extraordinary occasions (private or public) calleth for them.
XII. Seeing the word of God requireth, that we should coolider one another to provoke unto love and good works; therefore, at all times, aod fpecially in this time, wherein profanity abounds, and mockers, walking after their own lults. think it strange that others run not with then to the fame excess of riot ; every member of this kirk ought to Itir up themselves, and one another, to the duties of mutual