Page images
[ocr errors]


ASSEMBLY, concerning Secret and Private Worship, and mutual Edification ; for cherishing Piety, for maintaining Unity, and avoiding Schism and Division.


ESIDES che publick Worship in Con

gregations, mercifully established in this Land in great Purity, it is expedient and necessary, thác Secreţ Worship of

each Person alone; and private Wotship of Families, be presled and set up; that with National Reformation, the Profession and Power of Godliness both Personal and Domestick be ada vanced:

I. And first for secret Worship: It is most necessary, that every one apart and by themselves be given to Prayer and Meditation, the unspeakble Benefit whereof is best known to them who are moft exerčised 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 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 conveened 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 Scriptures, with Catechising in a plain way, that the Understandings of the Simpler may be the better inabled 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

til. As the Charge and Office of interpreting the holy Scriptures is a Part of the Ministerial Calling, which none (howsoever otherwise 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


[ocr errors]

read; use may be made thereof, to make all the Fai mily circumspect and watchful against the fame; or if any Judgment 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, left the same or a worse Judgment befal them, un lels 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 upthemfelves to imploy Christ for Strength to enable themi 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 propound a Question of Doubt for Resolution:

IV. The Head of the Family is to take care that hone of the Family withdraw himself from any part of Family Worship. And feeing 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 for 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 Sellion; may be imployed 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 a part of the Family for Worship, secluding the rest ; except in finguiar


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Cases, fpecially concerning these Parties, which (in Christian Prudence ) need not, or ought not to be imparted to others

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 Divilion, may be ready (after that Manner)to creep into Houses, and lead Captive filly and unstable Souls.

VÍ. At Family Worship a special Care is to be had, that each Family keep by themselves; neitherrequiring, inviting, nor admitting Persons from divers Families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at Meal, or otherwise with them upon some lawful Occasion.

VII. Whatsoever hath been the Effeâts 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 where God hath blessed us with Peace and the Purity of the Gospel, fuch 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 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 hardning of


[ocr errors]

the Hearts of Carnal Men, and Grief of 'ths Godly

VIIT. On the Lord's Day, after every one of the Fam mily apart, and the whole Family together, have fought the LORD (in whose Hands the Preparation of Mens Hearts are), to fit them for the publick Worship, and to blefs 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 join with the rest of the Congregation: And, the publick 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 fpare, in Catechising, and in spiritual Conferences àpon 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 fo the Profit which they found in the publick Ordinances, may be cherished and promoved, and they more cdified unto eternal Life.

IX. Şo-many as can conceive Prayer, ought to make Use of that Gift of God; albeit thofe who are rude and weaker may begin at a set Form of Prayer; but fo, as they be not sluggish in stirring up in themselves (according to their daily Neceflities) the Spirit of Prayer , which is given to all the Children of God in some Measure ; to which Effe& 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 express convenient Desires to God,


G g 3

« PreviousContinue »