Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
Of the Sanctification of the Lord’s Day.
Question 1.—Is the Lord’s day so to be remembered before-hand, that all worldly business of our ordinary callings may be so ordered, and so timely and seasonably laid aside, as they do not become impediments to the due sanctifying of the day when it comes?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 20:8; Isa. 56:2, 6. The Lord requires us not only to take heed of the matter of our duties, but also to the manner of them. As we must seek God in due ordinances, so we must seek Him in due order, 1 Chron. 15:13. We must, therefore, remember the sabbath before it come so as to provide for it. So, Moses calls the people of God to mind that the next day was the sabbath, Ex. 16:23. If we consider our natural unfitness for sabbath work, preparation will be found very needful. For holy performances God requires us to make holy preparations, Ps. 26:6. Under the law, the latter part of the day preceding the sabbath was called “the day of preparation for the sabbath,” Luke 23:54. This intimates that it is our duty to prepare for the sabbath before it come, and to do it on the day preceding. Additionally, we find that Nehemiah ordered the gates of Jerusalem to be shut when it began to be dark before the sabbath, Neh. 13:19. This teaches us to give over our trafficking and worldly business on the evening before the Lord’s day, and not to follow business too late, lest our thoughts be embarrassed with secular affairs and we become indisposed for the religious duties of the sabbath day.
Question 2.—Ought the whole day to be celebrated as holy to the Lord, both in public and in private, as being the Christian sabbath?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 20:10. The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by a holy resting all the day. The people of God, having made due preparation, celebrate the whole of the sabbath day by engaging in an holy rest, Luke 23:54, 56.
Question 3.—To this end, is it requisite that there be a holy cessation from all unnecessary labours, and an abstaining, not only from all sports and pastimes, but also from worldly words and thoughts?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 31:14-16; Lev. 23:3. Worldly employments and recreations which are lawful on other days must cease, Neh. 13:15-22. Additionally, we must cease from worldly words and thoughts and give ourselves over to holy meditation upon this holy day, Isa. 58:13; Ezek. 33:30-32; Amos 8:5; Mal. 1:13.
Question 4.—Should the diet on that day be so ordered, that none be unnecessarily detained from the public worship, or hindered from the sanctifying of that day?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 16:23-30. Care ought to be taken that none be hindered in the attendance upon the ordinances of God’s worship by the excessive carefulness of diet. The chief concern of the people of God ought to be feeding upon Christ in His word by His Spirit.
Question 5.—Should there be private preparations of every person and family, by prayer for themselves, and for Gods assistance for the minister, and a blessing upon the ministry?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 5:14. God ranks the state of prayerless families with that of the heathen, Jer. 10:25. Each ought to beseech God to make the affairs of the day to profit, for the assistance of God for the minister and a blessing upon the ministry, Ps. 3:8.
Question 6.—Is it proper by other holy exercises, as may further dispose them to communion with God in his public ordinances, to make preparations?
Answer.—Yes. 2 John 8. Whether by meditation, reading, self-examination or other holy exercises, God’s people ought to seek to dispose themselves to a right communion with God in His ordinances. They should seek to be “in the spirit,” Rev. 1:10.
Question 7.—Is it proper for the people to meet so timely for public worship, that the whole congregation is present at the beginning, joins together in all parts of the public worship, and does not depart until the blessing?
Answer.—Yes. Zech. 8:21. This was the practice of the ancient people of God, and David was much taken with it, Ps. 122:1. The people should study to be present at the beginning of worship that they might imitate that saying of Cornelius, Acts 10:33. They should be diligent to join in all the parts of the public worship, Luke 19:48; Col. 3:16. They should not depart until they receive the blessing, 1 Kings 8:14; Ps. 133:3. God allows none, great or small, to go out before His worship is ended; both prince and people must meet and part at the same time, Ezek. 46:10.
Question 8.—Should the vacant time, between or after the solemn meetings of the congregation in public, be spent in reading, meditation, or repetition of sermons?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 11:18, 19. We are not only commanded to lay up the word of God, but to speak of it when we walk by the way. This was the practice of Christ’s disciples, Luke 24:32. The psalmist relates how what we have heard through the day ought to be the matter of our conversation and meditation, Ps. 62:11.
Question 9.—Should the time be especially spent in calling their families to account of what they have heard, catechizing of them, holy conferences, prayer for a blessing upon the public ordinances and singing of psalms?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 20:10; Gen. 18:19. It is the duty of families to reflect upon the things heard, Deut. 11:19. Catechizing is another branch of domestic duty on the Lord’s day. Children should be trained up in the way they should go and educated in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4. Godly conference is also a great means of seasoning our speech with grace, that our lips like the righteous might feed many, Mal. 3:16. Prayer for the blessing of God upon the ordinances is always appropriate for it is God that gives the increase, 1 Cor. 3:6, 7. The singing of Psalms is another appointed means of increasing grace, Eph. 5:18, 19; and they have been given for the sabbath day, Ps. 92 title.
Question 10.—May it also be taken up with visiting the sick, relieving the poor, and such like duties of piety, charity and mercy?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 16:1, 2. Works of mercy and necessity may be engaged in on the sabbath day. It is part of the true religion, pure and undefiled, that it makes account of those in need, James 1:27.
Question 11.—Should all that is done be done accounting the sabbath a delight?
Answer.—Yes. Isa. 58:13. The best way to prevent sabbath-breaking, and to honor God on His own day, is to learn to “call the sabbath a delight.” We do this when we make due preparation in anticipation of its approach and delight to seek God our chiefest joy, Ps. 62:1; 43:4. We also make it our delight when we become dissatisfied with those things which hinder us from the right keeping of the sabbath; when we count and order each moment as precious; and when we are glad to see it honored by those around us.