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The General Assembly
Church of Scotland,
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.
Afsembly 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 uriag fuch as
Deglea Family Worthip. THE General Asembly, after mature deliberation, doth approve the
following rules and directions, for cherising piety and preventing division und senism; and doch appoint ministers and ruling elders, in each congregation, to take special care that these directions be observed and followed; as likewise, that prefbyieries and provincial synods enquire and make trial, wbether the said airections be duly observed in their bounds; and to reprove or censure (according to the quality of the offence) fuch as foould be found to be reproveable or censureable therein. And, to the end that these directions may not be rendered ineffe&tual and unprofitable among fome, through the usual neglect of the very substance of the duty of family worsbip; the affembly doth further require and appoint mwisters and ruling elders to make diligent fear. b and enquiry, in the congregations committed to their charge respeceively, whether there be among them any family - families, which use to neglect this necessary duty; and, if any such family be found the head of the Jamily is to be first admonisbed privately to amend his fault; and, in case of his cintinuing therein, he is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the session: after which reproof, if he be found ftill to neglexi fumily worship let bim be, for bis obftinacy in such an offince, suspended and debarred from the Lord's fupper, as being juftly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.
DIRECTIONS of the General ASSEMBLY, concerning
Secret and Private Worship, and mutual Edification; for
ry, that secret worship of each perlon alone, and private worship of families, be pressed and set up: That, with national refor:nation, the profesion and power of godliness, both personal and domestic, be advanced
1. And Firft, For fecret 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, communion with God is entertained, and right preparation for all other duties obtained and therefore it becometh not only pastors, within their several charges, to press persons of all forts to perform this duty, morning and evening, and at other occafions; but alio 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 compreheoded 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 kisk 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 plaio way, that the understandings 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 also, admonition and rebuke, upon just reafons, from those who have authority in the family.
Ill. As the charge and office of interpreting the holy fcriptures, 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 io 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 coofer, and by way of conference make some 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 fcriptúre which is read, use may be made to make all the family tear, leit the same or a worse judgment befal them, unless they beware of the lin 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 empiuy Christ for strength to enable them for doing the cominanded 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 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 Jazy, and train upruch as are weak to a firaels to these exercises ; 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 unfis, that another conftantly residing in the family, approved by the minister and tession, may be employed in that service ; wherein the minister and sellion 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 part
of the family for worship, fecluding the rest, except in fingular cales, especi
ally e ally concerning thele 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 persoa under pretence of a calling, be fuffered to perform worship in families, to, or from the fame ; seeing perfons cajored with errors, or aiming at division, may be ready (ditet that manner) to creep into houles, and lead captive filly and uostab e fouls.
VI. At family worthip, a social care is to be had 'that each family keep by themselves. Neither requiring inviting, nor admitting perfoos from diverfe families, unless it be thole who are lodged with them, or at meals or otherwise with them upon fome lawrul occasion
VII. Whatsoever have been the eff.&ts and fruits of meetings of persons of diverse families, in the times of corruption or tiouble (in which cafes many things are cominendable, 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 families (except in cales meo. tioned in these directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hinderance of the religious exercise of cach family by itfelt, to the prejudice of the public ministry, to the renting of the farailies of particular congregations, and (in progrels of time) of the whole kirk. Belides 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 whole haods the preparation of mens hearts are) to fit them for the public worship, and to bless to them the public ordinances; the matter 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 spead the rest of the time, which they may spare, id catechising, and in spiritual 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, that fo 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 set form of prayer, but fo as they be nut Muggith in itirring up in themselves (according to their daily necessities the Spirit of prayer, which is given to all.che children of God in some neature: to which effect, they ought to be more fervent and frcqucnt in fecret prayer to God, for enabling of their hearts to couceive. and their toogues to express convenient desires to God for their family: and 10 the mean time, for their greater encouragement, let these materials of prayer be meditated upa, and made ule of, as followeth.
• Let them confess to God how unworthy they are to come in his preteoce, and how unfit to worship his majelty: and therefore earnestly alk of God the spirit of prayer • They are to confess their fins, and the fios of the family; accuf
ing, judging and condemning themielves for them, till they bring • their souls to fone measure of true humiliation.
They are to pour out their souls to God, in the name of Chrift, • by the Spirit, for forgiveness of Gns; for grace to repeat, to believe, • and to live soberly, rightcoully, and godly; and that they may ferve • God with joy and delight, walking before hiin
• They are to give thanks to God for his many mercies to his peo• ple and to them elves, and especially for his love in Christ, and for • the light of the gospel.
• They are to pray for luch particular benefits. fpiritual and temporal, as they land in need for the time (whether it he morpiog, or • evening) as anent health or fickness prosperity or adversity
• They ought to pray for the kiik of Christ in general, for all the • reformed kirks, and for this kirk in particular, and tor all that faffer • for the name of Christ ; for all our fuperiors, the king's majesty, the • queen, and their children ; for the magiftrates, ministers, and whole
body of the congregation whereo: they are inembers, as well for • their neighbours ablen: io tii la wiul affairs, as for thote that are • at home.
prayer may be closed with an earnest desire that God may be glorified in the conoz of the kingdom of his Son, and in doing of • his will, and with surance that the nelves are accepted, and what • they have alk 4 acco diag to his will had be Jone.'
X These exercites ought to be performed in great fincerity, without delay, laying aside all exerciies of worldly business or hinderances, notwithtanding the mckings of atheists and profane men ; in repret of the great mercies of God to this land, and of his fevere corrections wherewith lately he hath exerciled us. And, to this effect, persons of eminency (and all elders of the kirk) not only ought to stirop theinfelves and families to diligence inereio ; but also to concur effectually, 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 thanksgiviag, 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 could consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; therefore, at all times, and specially in this time, whereio protanity abounds, and mockers, walking after their own luits, think it strange that others run Dot with them to the fame excess of riot; every member of this kirk ought to lir up themelves, and one another, to the duties of mutual