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Sermons & Study Guides

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God Pt. 2 - Of The Assembling Of The Congregation, And Their Behaviour In The Publick Worship Of God.

James Dodson

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God

Of The Assembling Of The Congregation, And Their Behaviour In The Publick Worship Of God. 

Question  1.—Ought the people to prepare their hearts prior to meeting for the public worship of God? Answer.—Yes.    Job  11:13.    First  prepare  the  heart,  then  stretch  forth  thy  hands  in prayer.  This duty of heart preparation is held forth in the following considerations: 1.) The fixing  or  preparing  of  the  heart  is  that  which  precedes  the  service  of  God,  Ps.  57:7,  8; Judges  5:12.    2.)  This  work  or  preparing  or fixing  the heart is  a  note  whereby  Scripture does distinguish between an upright man and an hypocrite, cf. 2 Chron. 19:3 w/ 2 Chron. 12:14.  3.) The hearts of men are of different tempers, but the apostle enjoins a readiness which  supposes  this  preparation  or  fixing  in  every  good  work,  Tit.  3:1.    But  is  not  this matter of worship amongst the great works done by Christians?  4.) This heart preparation calls  the heart out  of  the  world  and  makes  it  fit  to receive  the  manifold  wisdom  of  God, Prov. 18:1.  5.) God will pass by great imperfections in the service offered in his worship, when the hearts of his people have been prepared, 2 Chron. 30:18, 19.  6.) This work of heart preparation, which relies upon the grace of God, fits those so prepared to do much in a little time, Ps. 10:17. Question 2.—Ought all to come and join therein, not absenting themselves from the public ordinances through negligence, or upon pretense of private meetings? Answer.—Yes.    Heb.  10:25.    God  gives  clear  preferment  to  public  worship  over  that which  is  private,  Ps.  87:2.    This  is  confirmed  for  the  following  reasons:  1.)  The  Lord  is more glorified by public worship than private, Ps. 29:9.  Conversely, the Lord complains that he has no honor from his people when his public worship is neglected, Mal. 1:6-8, 11.  2.)  There  is  more  of  the  Lord’s  presence  in  public  worship  than  in  private,  Ex.  20:24.  Thus, Christ is said to be in the midst of his churches, Rev. 1:13.  God’s walking amongst his  people  is  predicated  upon  them  having  his  tabernacle,  or  public  worship,  amongst them, Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Cor. 6:16.  The removal of public ordinances is a removal of the glory of the Lord’s presence, 1 Sam. 4:21, 22.  3.) There are clearer manifestations of God in  the  public  worship  than  the  private,  Ps.  27:4;  63:1,  2.    4.)  There  is  greater  spiritual advantage  to  be  gotten  in  the  use  of  public  ordinances  than  private,  Eph.  4:11-15;  Ps. 73:16, 17.  5.) Public worship is more edifying than private, Ps. 34:3; Zech. 8:21, 22.  6.) Public worship is a better security against apostasy than private, Eph. 4:14; 1 Sam. 26:19.  7.) Public worship is that which procures the greatest mercies and prevents and removes the greatest judgments, Acts 4:31; 12:5; 2 Chron. 20:2, 3, 9, 15, 17.  8.) The promises of God are more to public than private worship, Ex. 20:24; Isa. 4:5. Question  3.—Should all enter the assembly, not irreverently, but in a grave and seemly manner, avoiding all superstitious observances? Answer.—Yes.    Ps.  89:7;  Jer.  8:19.    It  behooves  those  called  by  God’s  name  and separated by his grace to approach him with due reverence and godly fear, Heb. 12:28.  Superstitious  observances  are  rather  to  be  corrected  by  true  conceptions  of  the  God  of Scripture  than  by  suffering  them  to  continue,  Acts  17:22,  23.    Those  former  rites  and ceremonies which prevailed under Romanism ought to cease, 2 Kings 18:3-5, 22. 
Question  4.—Should the minister, after solemn calling on the people to worship, begin with prayer? Answer.—Yes.  Joel 1:14; Rev. 22:9.  Having stirred up the people of God to worship him, the apostolic order is, first, prayer, then ministration of the word, Acts 6:4; Phil. 4:6. Question  5.—Ought  the  matter  of  this  prayer  to  contain  a  reverent and  humble acknowledging of the incomprehensible greatness and majesty of God? Answer.—Yes.  Ps. 104:1.  This great matter of prayer is one of lifting up our hearts and souls to the Lord, Lam. 3:41; Ps. 25:1; acknowledging that his majesty is far beyond our ability to comprehend, Ps. 86:8, 10; Neh. 9:5. Question  6.—Ought the matter of this prayer to contain an acknowledgment of the vileness and unworthiness of such as approach God? Answer.—Yes.    Jer.  14:7,  8.    Recognition  of  the  vile  nature  of the  human  heart  is necessary to an acceptable approach unto God, 1 Kings 8:38, 39. Question  7.—Ought the matter of this prayer to contain petitions for pardon, assistance and acceptance in the whole service to be performed? Answer.—Yes.  Prov. 28:13.  Proper recognition of our vile corruption ought to lead to cries for pardon and mercy at the hand of God, Rom. 7:24; Ps. 32:5, 6; 25:16-18. Question 8.—Ought the matter of this prayer to crave God’s blessing on that portion of his Word to be read? Answer.—Yes.    1  Cor.  2:14.    Apart  from  God’s  blessing,  the  word  of  God  remains  a dead letter to those who hear only outwardly, 1 Thess. 1:5. Question 9.—Ought this prayer to be in the name and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ? Answer.—Yes.    John  14:13.    To  do  anything  in  the  name  of  another  is  to  claim authority  from  that  person,  Jer.  14:14,  15.   The  basis for  believers  trusting  that God  will hear the prayers of his people rests solely upon the mediatorial work of Christ, 1 Tim. 2:1-5. Question  10.—Are the people wholly to attend upon the public worship, forbearing all activities and behavior which may disturb the minister or people, or hinder themselves or others in the service of God? Answer.—Yes.  1 Cor. 7:35.  Whether it be reading something other than that which the minister is reading or citing, or private whisperings, conferences, salutations, etc., or gazing,  sleeping,  and  other  indecent  behavior,  these  things  all  tend  to  the  greater distraction of those involved in the public ministrations.  They are a distracting about many things, while the one great thing is left undone, Luke 10:41, 42.  The hearts of believers ought to be engaged, not distracted, when approaching God, Jer. 30:21. Question 11.—Should those who, through necessity, are hindered from being present at the beginning, avoid acts of private devotion, but rather reverently to compose themselves to join with the assembly in the ordinance of God which is then at hand? Answer.—Yes.  1 Cor. 14:33, 40.  The express purpose of public worship being to join together  with  others  in  acts  of  devotion  to  God,  those  who  are  hindered  from  being punctual in their attendance ought to refrain from any additional disorderliness in attending to the public worship of God.