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DIRECTORY ; : . POR :. ::. FAMILY-WORSHIP,
APPROVED BY THE
; E NERAL ASSEMBLY
CHURCH of SCOTLAND,
Tety and UNIFORMITY in Secret and Private WORSHIP,
and mutual EDIFICATION.
An Act of the General Assembly, Anno 1647, for observing the same.
Assembly at Edinburgh, Aug. 24. 1647. Seff. 10.
Act for observing the Directions of the General Assembly,
for secret and private Worship, and mutual Edification, and censuring such as neglect Family-worship.
THE general Assembly, after mature deliberation, doth approve the
I following rules and directions, for cherishing piety, and prevent. ing 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 enquire and make trial, whether the faid directions be duly observed in their bounds; and to reprove or censure (according to the quality 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 ineffectual and unprofitable among fome, through the usual 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 and 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 the family is to be first admonished privately to amend his fault; and, in cafe of his continuing therein, he is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the session : after which reproof, if he be found still to neglect family-wortip, let him be, for his obstinacy in such an offence, suspended and debarred from the Lord's supper, as being justly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.
Concerning Secret and Private Worship, and mutual Edi
fication; for cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schism and Division.
DESIDES the publick worship in congregations, merci.
D fully established in this land, in great purity; it is expedient and necessary, that secret worship of each person alone, and private worship of families, be pressed and set up: That, with national reformation, the profession and power of godliness, both personal and domestick, be advanced.
I. 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 known to them who are most exercised therein; this being the mean whereby, in a special way, communion with God is entertained, aud right preparation for all other duties obtained: and therefore it becometh not only pastors, within their several charges, to press 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 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 conveen-. ed to that effect, are these; First, Prayer and praises performed, with a special reference, as well to the publick 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 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 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 otherwise qualified) fhould 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 circumspect and watchful against the same; or if any judgment be threarned, or mentioned to have been inflicted in that portion of scripture which is read, use may be made to make all the family fear, left the same or a worse 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 aniy 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, che minister is to stir up such as are lazy, and train up such as
are weak, to a fitness to these exercises; it being always free to persons of quality, to entertain one approved by the presbytery for performing family-exercise. And in other families where the head of the family is unfit, that another constantly residing in the family, approved by the minister and session, may be employed in that service; wherein the minister and session are to be countable to the presbytery. And, if a minifter by divine providence be brought to any family, it is requisite, that at no time he conveen a part of the family for worship, secluding the rest, except in singular cases, especially 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 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, nor admitting persons from diverse families, unless it be those whoare lodged with them, or at meals or otherwise with them upon some lawful occasion.
VII. Whatsoever have been the effects and fruits of meetings of persons of diverse families, in che times of corruption or trouble (in which cases many things are commendable, which otherwise are not tolerable) yet, when God hath blessed us with peace and purity of the gospel, fuch meetings of persons of divers families (except in cases mentioned in these directions) are to be disapproved, as tending to the hindrance. of the religious exercise of each family by itself, to the prejudice of the publick 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,