DIRECTIONS OF THE GENERALL ASSEMBLY CONCERNING Secret and Private Worship, and mutuall edification, for cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schism and Division.

WITH An Act for observing these Directions, and for censuring such as use to neglect FAMILY WORSHIP.

AND An Act against such as withdraw themselves from the Publike Worship in their owne CONGREGATIONS.

EDINBƲRGH, Re-Printed by Evan Tyler, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majesty, 1650.

Act for observing the following Directi­ons, and for censuring such as use to neglect Family Worship.

THe Generall Assembly after mature deliberation, doth approve the following Rules and Directions, for cherishing Piety and preventing Division and Schisme, and doth appoint Ministers and Ruling El­ders in each Congregation, to take speciall care that these Directions be observed and followed; As likewise that Presbyteries, and Provinciall Synods enquire and make tryall, whether the saids Directions be duely obser­ved in their bounds, and to reprove or censure (accor­ding to the qualitie of the offence) such as shall be found to be reproveable or censurable therein. And to the end that these Directions may not be rendered ineffectuall and unprofitable among some through the usuall neglect of the very substance of the duety of Family Worship, The As­sembly doth further require, and appoint Ministers and Ruling Elders, to make diligent search and inquiry in the Congregations committed to their charge respectivly, whether there be among them any Family or Families which use to neglect this necessary duty; And if any such Family be found, the head of that Family is to bee first admonished privately to amend this fault; And in case of his continuing therein, he is to bee gravely and sadly reproved by the Session. After which reproof, if he be found still to neglect Family Worship, Let him bee for his obstinacy, in such an offence, suspended and debar­red from the Lords Supper, as being justly esteemed un­worthy to communicate therein till be amend.

A. Ker.

DIRECTIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY Concerning Secret and private Worship, and mutuall edification, for cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schisme and Division.

BEsides the pulick Worship in Congregations, mercifully established in this Land, in great purity; It is expedient and necessar, that Se­cret Worship of each person alone, and Private Worship of Families be pressed and set up: That with Nationall Reformation, the profession and power of godlinesse both Personall and Domestick be advanced.

I. And first for secret worship; It is most necessar, that every one apart and by themselves be given to prayer and Meditation, The unspeakable benefite whereof is best known to them who are most exercised therein: This being the mean whereby in a speciall way, communion with God is inter­tained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained: And therefore it becommeth not onely Pastours within their several Charges, to presse persons of all sorts to perform this duty Morning and Evening, and at other occasions, but also it is incumbent to the head of every Familie, to have a care that both themselves and all within their charge bee day [...]y diligent herein.

[Page] 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 speciall reference as well to the publick con­dition of the Kirk of God and this Kingdome, as to the present case of the Familie, and every member thereof. Next, reacing of Scriptures with Catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the Publick Ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the Scriptures when they are read; Together with godly conferences, tending to the edification of all the members, in the most holy Faith: As also, admo­nition and rebuke upon just reasons from these who have Au­thoritie in the Family.

III. As the Charge and Office of interpreting the holy Scriptures, is a part of the Minesteriall Calling, which none (howsoever other wise qualified) should take upon him in any place, but he that is duly called thereunto by God and his Kirk: So in every Familie 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 of conference make some good use of what hath been read and heard: As for example if any sin be reproved in the Word read, use may be made thereof, to make all the Family circumspect and watchful against the same; Or, if any judgement be threatned or mentioned to have been inflicted in that portion of Scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the Family fear, lest the same or a worse judgement befall them, unlesse they beware of the sin that pro­cured it. And finally, if any duty be required, or comfort held forth in a promise use may be made to stir up themselves to imploy Christ for strength to enable them for doing the commanded duty, and to apply the offered comfort; In all which the Master of the Family is to have the chief hand; And any member of the Familie may propone a question or doubt for resolution.

IIII. The head of the Family is to take care that none of the Family withdraw himself from any part of Family [Page] 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 lasie, and train up such as are weake to a fitnes for these exercises: It being alwayes free to persons of qualitie to entertain one approven by the Presbyterie for performing Family Exercise; And in other families where the head of the Family is unfit, that another constantly residing in the Family approven by the Minister and Session, may be imployed in that service; Wherein the Minister and Session are to be countable to the Presbyterie. And if a Minister by divine providence be brought to any Family it is requisit, that at no time he con­veen a part of the Family for Worship secluding the rest; ex­cept in singular cases, specially concerning these parties, which (in Christian prudence) need not, or ought not to be imparted to others.

V. Let no Idler who hath no particular calling, or vagrant person under pretence of a calling, be suffered to performe Worship in Families, to or for the same: Seeing persons tainted with errours or aiming at division, may be ready (af­ter that manner) to creep into houses and lead captive silly and unstable souls.

VI. At Family worship a speciall care is to be had that each Family keep by themselves; Neither requiting, invi­ting, nor admitting persons from divers Families; Unless it be these who are lodged with them, or at meal, or other­wise with them upon some lawfull occasion.

VII. Whatsoever hath been the effects, and fruits of mee­tings of persons of divers Families in the times of corruption or trouble (in which cases many things are commendable, which otherwise are not tollerable) Yet when God hath blessed us with Peace and the purity of the Gospel, such meetings of persons of divers families (except in the cases mentioned in these directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hinderance of the Religious exercise of each Family by it self, to the prejudice of the publick Ministe­ry, to the renting of the Families of particular Congregati­ons, and (in progresse of time) of the whole Kirk: besides [Page] many offences which may come thereby, to the hardning of the hearts of carnall men and grief of the godly.

VIII. On the Lords, day after every one of the Family apart, and the whole Family together have sought the Lord, in whose hands the preparation of mens hearts are) to fit them for the publick worship, and to blesse to them the pub­lick Ordinances; The Master of the Family ought to take care that all within his charge repair to the publick Worship, that he and they may joyn with the rest of the Congregation; And, the publick Worship being finished, after prayer, he shall take an account what they have heard; and thereafter to spend the rest of the time which they may spare, in Catechising and in spiritual conferences upon the word of God; Or else (going apart) they ought to apply themselves to reading, me­ditation, and secret prayer, that they may confirme and in­crease their Communion with God; That so the profite which they found in the publick Ordinances maybe cherished and promoved, and they more edified unto eternall 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 set forme of prayer; But so, as they be not sluggish in stirring up in themselves (according to their dayly necessities) the spirit of Prayer, which is given to all the children of God in some measure. To which effect, they ought to be the more fervent and frequent in secret Prayer to God, for enabling of their hearts to conceive, and their tongues to expresse convenient desires to God for their Fa­milie. And in the mean time, for their greater encourage­ment, let these materials of Prayer be meditated upon, and made use of, as followeth:

Let them confesse to God how unworthy they are to come in his presence, and how unfit to worship his Majestie; and therefore earnestly ask of God the spirit of Prayer.

They are to confesse their sins, and the sins of the Family, ac­cusing, judging, and condemning themselves 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 [Page] Christ, by the spirit, for forgivenes of sin, for Grace to repent, to believe, and to live soberly, righteously, and Godly; and that they may serve God with joy and de­light, walking before him.

The are to give thanks to God for his many mercies to his people, and to themselves, and especially for his love in Christ, and for the light of the Gospel.

They are to pray for such particular benefits, Spirituall and Temporall, as they stand in need of for the time, (whe­ther it be Morning or Evening) as health or sicknesse, prosperity or adversity.

They ought to pray for the Kirk of Christ in generall, for all the reformed Kirks, and for this Kirk in particular, and for all that suffer for the Name of Chrst; for all our Superiours, The Kings Majesty, the Queen, and their Children, for the Magestrates, Ministers, and the whole body of the Congregation whereof they are members, as well for their neighboures absent in their lawfull affairs as for those that are at home.

The prayer may be closed with an earnest desire, that God may be glorified in the comming of the Kingdome of his Son, and in the doing of his will; And with assurance that themselves are accepted, and what they have asked according to his will shall be done.

X. These exercises ought to be performed in great sin­cerity, without delay, laying aside all exercises of worldly businesse or hinderances, Notwithstanding the mockings of Atheists, and profane men. In respect 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 themselves and their Families to diligence herein; But also to concurre effectually, that in all other Families, where they have power and Charge, the said Exercises be conscionably performed.

XI. Besides the ordinary duties in Families which are abovementioned, extraordinary duties both of humiliation and thanksgiving are to be carefully performed in Families, [Page] when the Lord by extraordinary occasions (private or publick) calleth for them.

XII. Seeing the Word of God requireth, That we should consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; Therefore, at all time, and specially in this time wherein profanity abounds, and mockers, walking after their own lusts, think it strange that others run not with them to the same excesse of riot, Every member of this Kirk ought to stir up themselves and one another to the duties of mutuall Edification, by instruction, admonition, rebuke exhor­ting one another to manifest the Grace of God, in de­nying ungodlinesse and worldly lusts, and in living godly, soberly, and righteously in this present world, by comfor­ting the feeble minded, and praying with, or, for one ano­ther: Which duties respectively are to be performed upon special occasions offered by divine providence; As namely, when under any calamity, crosse or great difficulty, coun­sell or comfort is sought, Or when an offender is to be re­claimed by private admonition, and if that bee not effectu­all, by joyning one or two more in the admonition, accor­ding to the rule of Christ; that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

XIII. And because it is not given to every one to speak a word in season to a wearied or distressed conscience, It is expedient, that a person (in that case) finding no ease af­ter the use of all ordinary means private & publick, have their redresse to their own Pastour, or some experienced Christi­an: But if the person troubled in conscience, be of that con­dition, or of that sex, that discretion, modesty, or fear of scan­dal, requireth agodly, grave and secret friend to be present with them in their said addresse, It is expedient that such a friend be present.

XIV. When persons of divers Families are brought to­gether by divine providence, being abroad upon their par­ticular Vocations, or any necessary occasions, As they would have the Lord their GOD with them whithersoever they go, they ought to walk with GOD, and not neglect the duties of Prayer, and Thanksgiving, but take care that [Page] the same be performed by such as the company shall judge fittest: And that they likewise take heed that no corrupt communication proceed out of their mouth, but that which is good, to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.

The drift and scope of all these Directions is no other but that upon the one part, the power and practise of godli­nesse among all the Ministers and Members of this Kirk, according to their severall places and vocations, may be cherished and advanced and all impietie and mocking of Re­ligious exercises suppressed: And upon the other part, that under the name and pretext Of Religious Exercises, no such meetings or practises be allowed as are apt to breed errour, scandall, schisme, contempt or misregard of the publick Or­dinances and Ministers, or neglect of the duties of par­ticular Callings, or such other evils as are the works not of the Spirit, but of the flesh, and are contrary to Truth and Peace.

A. Ker.

Act against such as withdraw themselves from the publick worship in their own Congregation,

SInce it hath pleased GOD of his infinite goodnesse to blesse this Kirk within this Nation, with the riches of the Gospel, in giving to us his Ordinance in great purity, liberty, and with all a comely and well established order: the Assembly in the zeal of God, for preserving or­der, Unity, and Peace in the Kirk, for maintaining that re­spect which is due to the Ordinances and Ministers of Jesus Christ, for preventing Schisme, noisome Errours, and all unlawfull practises, which may follow on the Peoples with­drawing themselves from their own Congregations, Doth charge every Minister to be diligent in fulfilling his Mini­stery, to be holy and grave in his conversation, to be faith­full [Page] in Preaching, declaring the whole Counsel of GOD, and as he hath occasion from the Text of Scripture, to reprove the sins and errours, and presse the duties of the time, and in all those to observe the rules prescribed by the Acts of Assembly; wherein if he be negligent he is to be censu­red by his own Presbyterie. As also ordains every member in every congregation, to keep their own Paroch Kirk, to communicate there in the Word and Sacraments; And if any person or persons shall hereafter usually absent them­selves from their own Congregations, except in urgent cases made known to, and approven by the Presbyterie, The Mi­nisters of these Congregations whereunto they resort, shall both in publick by Preaching, and in private by admonition, shew their dislike of their with-drawing from their own Minister, That in so doing, They may witnesse to all that hear them, their due care to strengthen the hands of their fellow-labourers in the work of the Lord, their detestation of any thing that may tend to Separation, or any of the abovementioned evils: Hereby their own Flock will be con­firmed in their stedfastnesse, and the unstable spirits of o­thers will be rectified. Likeas the Minister of that Congre­gation from which they do withdraw, shall labour first by private admonition to reclaim them: And if any after private admonition given by their own Pastour, do not a­mend, in that case the Pastour shal dilate the foresaid per­sons to the Session, who shall cite & censure them as con­temners of the comly order of the Kirk; and if the matter be not taken orderwith there, It is to be brought to the pres­byterie: For the better observing whereof, the Presbyteries that Visitation of their several Kirks and Provincial Assem­blies, in their censure of the severall Presbyteries, shall en­quire hereanent: which inquiry and report shall be regi­strate in the Provincial Books, that their diligence may be seen in the Generall Assembly.

A. Ker.
FINIS.

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