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PIETY and UNIFORMITY in Secret and Private WORSHIP

and mutual EDIFICATION,

W I TH

An Ad of the Ceneral Affcmbly, anno 1647, for observing the same. Afsembly at Edinburgh, August 24. 1647. Seff. 10.

ACT for observing the directions of the Genera! Asembly, for secret and

private worship, and mutual edification, and cenfuring such as neglect family-worship.

HE General Assembly, after mature deliberation, doth approvę T

the following rules and directions, for cherishing piety, and preventing division and schism; and doth appoint Ministers and ruling elders, in each congregation, to take special care that these directions be observed and followed; as likewise, that presbyteries and provincial Synods inquire and make trial, whether the faid directions be duly observed in their bounds : and to reprove or cenfurę (according to the quality of the offence) such as shall be found to be reproveable or cenfureable 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 Mi. nisters and ruling elders to make diligent search and inquiry, 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 the family is to be first admonished privately to amend his fault; and in case of his continuing therein, he is to be gravely and fadly reproved by the feffion ; after which reproof, if he be found still to neglect family.worship, let him be, for his obstinacy. in such an offence, sufpended and debarred from the Lord's supper, as 'being juftly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.

D I R E C

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Secret and private Worship, and mutual Edification ; for

cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schism and Division.

,

Efides the public worship in congregations, mercifully establifhed

in this land, in great purity; it is expedient and necessary, that secret worship of each perfon alone, and private worship of families, be pressed and set up ; that, with national reformation, the profeffion and power of godliness, both personal and domestic, be advanced.

I. And first, for secret worship, it is moft neceflary, that every one apart, and by themselves, be given to prayer and meditation, the un. speakable benefit whereof it is best known to them who are most ex. ercised therein; this being the mean whereby, in a special way, communion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained and therefore it becometh not only paftors, within their several charges, to press perfons of all sorts to perform this duty morning and evening, and at other occasions, but also it is incumbent to the head of every family to have a care that both them. felves, 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 special 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 fcriptures, with catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the fimpler may be the better enabled to profit under the public ordinances, and they made more ca

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pable to understand the scriptures, when they are read : together with godly conferences tending to the edification of all the meinbers in the most holy faith : as also admonition and rebuke, upon just reasons, from those who have authority in the family.

III. As the charge and office of interpreting the holy fcriptures, is a part of the ministerial calling, which none (however otherwife qualified) should take upon him in any place, but he that is duly called thereunto by God and his kirk; so 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 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 circunfpect and watchful against the same; or if any judgment be threatened, or mentioned to have been inflicted in that portion of fcripture which is read, use may be made to make all the family fear, lealt the same 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, use may be made to stir up

themselves to employ 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 a question or doubt for resolution.

IV. The head of the family is to take care that none of the fami. ty 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 up such as are weak, to a fitness to the le exercises; it being always free to perfons of quality, to entertain one approved by the presbytery for performing family-exercife. And in other families, where the head of the family is unfit, that another constantly residing in the family, approved by the minister and feffion may be employed in that service wherein the minister and feffion 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 convene a part of the family for worship, secluding the rest, except in singular cases, especially concerning these parties, which (in Christian prudence, need not, nor ought not, to be imparted to others.

V. Let no idler who hath no particular calling, or vagrant perfon under pretence of a calling, be suffered to perform worship in families, to or for the same ; seeing persons tainted with errors, or aiming at division, may be ready (after that manner) to creep into houses, and lead captive filly and unstable fouls

VI. At family-worship a special care is to be had that each family keep by themselves; neither requiring, inviting, or admitting perfons from divers families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at meals, or otherwise with them upon some lawful occafion.

VII. What

VII. Whatsoever have 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 conimendable, which otherwise are not tolerable,) yet when God hath blested us with peace and purity of the gospel, fuch meetings of persons of divers families (except in cafes mentioned in these directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hinderance of the religious exercise of each family by itself, 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. Besides 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 thie Lord (in whose hands the preparation of mens hearts are) to fit them for the public worthip, and to bless to theni the public ordinances; the master of the family ought to take care that all within his charge repair to the public worship, that he and they inay join with the rest of the congregation. And the public worlhip being finished, after prayer, he fhould take an account wliat they have heard: and thereafter, to fpend the rest of the tiine, which they may fpare, in catechifwg, and in fpiritual conferences upon the word of God: or else (going apart) they ought to apply themselves to reading, meditation, and fecret prayer, that they may confirm and increase their communioni with God: that fo the profit which they found in the public ordinances may be cherished and promoted, and they more edified unto eternal life.

IX. So matty as can conceive prayer, ought to make use of that gift of God; albeit those who are rude and weaker may begin at a fet form of prayer, but so as they be not sluggish in stirring up in themselves, (according to their daily necessities) the fpirit of prayer, which is given to all the children of God in some' measure. To which effect, they ought to be more fervent and frequent in secret prayer to God, for enabling of their hearts to conceive, and their tongues to express convenient desires to God for their family. And in the mean time, for tlieir greater encouragement, let these materials of prayer be meditated upon, and made use of, as followeth.

“ Let them confefs to God how unworthy they are to come in his presence, and how unfit to worship his Majesty i and therefore “ earnestly ask of God the spirit of prayer.

They are to confess their fins, and the fins of the family ; aces cusing, judging, and condemning themselves for ther, till they

bring their fouls to fome measure of true humiliation.

“ They are to pour out their souls to God, in the name of Christ, « by the Spirit, for forgiveness of sins; for grace to repent, to be« lieve, 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.

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