DIRECTIONS OF THE GENERALL ASSEMBLY Concerning Secret and Private VVORSHIP, and mutuall edification, for cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schisme and Division.

WITH An Act for observing these Directions, and for censuring such as use to neglect FAMILY VVORSHIP. AND An Act against such as withdraw themselves from the Publike Worship in their own CONGREGATIONS.

EDINBURGH, Printed by Evan Tyler, Printer to the Kings most Excellent Majestie. 1648.

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 triall, whether the saids Directions be duly observed in their bounds, and to reprove or censure (according to the quality of the offence) such as shall [Page 4]be found to be reprovable or censurable therein. And to the end that these Directions may not be rendered ineffectual and unprofitable among some through the usuall neglect of the very substance of the duty of Fa­mily Worship, The Assembly doth further require and appoint Ministers and Ruling Elders, to make dili­gent search & enquiry in the Congregations commit­ted to their charge respectively, 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 be first admonished privately to amend this fault, And in case of his con­tinuing therein, he is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the Session. After which reproof, if hee be found still to neglect Family Worship, Let him be for his obstinacy, in such an offence, suspended and debarred from the LORDS Supper, as being justly esteemed un­worthy to communicate therein till he amend.

A. Ker.

DIRECTIONS OF THE Generall Assembly, concerning Secret and Private Worship and mutuall edification, for the cherishing piety, for maintaining unity, and avoiding Schisme and Division.

BEsides the publike 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 benefit whereof is best known to them who are most exerci­sed therein: This being the mean whereby in a spe­ciall way communion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained: And therefore it becometh not only Pastours, within their severall Charges, to presse persons of all sorts to per­form [Page 6]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 be daily diligent herein.

II. The ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of Piety, which should be in Familes when they are conveened to that effect, are these: First, Prayer and Praises performed, with a speciall reference as well to the publike condition of the Kirk of GOD and this Kingdom, as to the present case of the Fa­milie, and every member thereof. Next, Rea­ding of Scriptures with Chatechizing in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the bet­ter enabled to profit under the publike 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 Autho­rity in the Familie.

III. As the Charge and Office of interpreting the holy Scriptures, is a part of the Ministeriall Calling, which none (howsoever otherwise qualified) should take upon him in any place, but he that is duely 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 [Page 7]in the Word read, use may be made thereof, to make all the Familie circumspect and watchfull 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 stirre up [...]hem­selves 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 Family may propone ane 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 Familie-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 stirre up such as are lasie, and train up such as are weak, to a fitnesse for these exercises. It being alwayes free to persons of Qualitie to entertain one approuen 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 Familie, it is re­quisite, that at no time he conveen a part of the Fami­lie [Page 8]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 perform 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 re­quiring, inviting, nor admitting persons from divers Families: Unlesse it bee 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 disaproved, as tending to the hinderance of the Religious exercise of each Family by it selfe, to the prejudice of the publike Ministery, to the renting of the Families of particular Congregations, and (in progresse of time) of the whole Kirk: besides ma­ny offences which may come thereby, to the hard­ning [Page 9]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 publike worship, and to blesse to them the publike Ordinances; The Master of the Family ought to take care that all within his charge repair to the publike Worship, that he and they may joyn with the rest of the Congregation; And, the publike 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 may spare, in Catechising and in spirituall conferences upon the Word of God; Or else (going apart) they ought to apply themselves to reading, meditation, and secret prayer, that they may confirm and increase their communion with God; That so the profit which they found in the publike Ordinances may be 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 these who are rude and weaker may begin at a set form of Prayer; But so, as they be not sluggish in stirring up in themselves (ac­cording to their daily 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 ferven and frequent in secret Prayer to God, for en­abling of their hearts to conceive, and their tongues to [Page 10]expresse convenient desires to God for their Family. 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 Majesty; 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 poure out their souls to God, in the Name of Christ, by the Spirit, for forgivenesse of sins, for Grace to repent, to beleeve, and to live so­berly, righteously, and godly; and that they may serve God with joy and delight, walking before him.

They 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 bee 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 Christ; for all our Superiours, The Kings Majesty, the Queen, and their Children, for the Magistrates, Ministers, and whole body of [Page 11]the Congregation whereof they are members, as well for their Neighbours 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 excepted, 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 mocking 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 eminencie (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, when the Lord by extraordinary oc­casions (private or publike) calleth for them.

XII. Seing the Word of God requireth, That we should consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; Therefore, at all times, and specially [Page 12]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 speciall 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 be 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 and publike, have their addresse 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 a godly grave and secret friend to be present with them in their said distresse, it is expedient that such a friend be present.

[Page 13] 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 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 & scope of all these Directions is no other but that upon the one part, the power and practise of godlinesse among all the Ministers & Members of this Kirk, according to their severall places and vocations, may bee cherished and advanced, and all impiety 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, scandal, schisme, con­tempt or mis-regard of the publike 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 publike worship in their own Congregation.

SInce it hath pleased GOD of his infinite goodnesse to blesse his Kirk within this Nation, with the riches of the Gospel, in giving to us his Ordinances in great purity, liberty, and withall, a comely and well-eshablished 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 with-drawing themselves from their own Congregations, Doth charge every Minister to bee diligent in fulfulling his Ministry, to be holy & grave in his conversation, to be faithfull in Preaching, declaring the whole counsel of GOD, and as he hath occasion from the Text of Scripture, to re­prove the sins & errours, and presse the duties of the time; & 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 Presbytery. As also ordains every member in every congregation, to keep their own [Page 15]Paroch Kirk, to communicate therein the Word andSacraments; And if any person or persons shall hear after usually absent themselves from their own Con­gregations, except in urgent cases made known to, and approven by the Presbytery, The Ministers of these Congregations whereunto they resort, shall both in publike 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, and their detestation of any thing that may tend to Separation, or any of the above-mentioned evils: Hereby their own Flock will be confirmed in their stedfastnesse, and the unstable spirits of others will be rectified. Like as 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 Pastor, do not amend, in that case the Pastour shall dilate the fore­said persons to the Session, who shall cite and censure them as contemners of the comely order of the Kirk And if the matter be not taken order with there, It is to be brought to the presbyterie: For the better ob­serving whereof, the Presbyteries at the Visitation of their severall Kirks and Provincial Assemblies, in their censure of the severall Presbyteries, shall inquire here­anent: Which inquiry and report shall be registrate in the Provincial Books, that their diligence may be seen in the General Assembly.

A. Ker.

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