Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
Of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures.
Question 1.—Is the reading of the word in the congregation a part of the public worship of God wherein we acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him?
Answer.—Yes. Isa. 66:2; Jer. 23:29; Rom. 10:17. It is a mark and sign of dependence and subjection to God noted throughout the Scriptures, Ex. 24:7.
Question 2.—Is the reading of the word a means sanctified by God for the edifying of his people?
Answer.—Yes. Luke 16:29. Thus it appears: 1.) It was the practice of the Jewish church, Acts 13:15. 2.) It was the practice of the Lord Jesus, Luke 4:16. 3.) It was enjoined by the apostolic church, 1 Thess. 5:27; Col. 4:16.
Question 3.—Ought the reading of the word to be performed by the pastors and teachers?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 31:9-11; Neh. 8:1-3, 13; 1 Tim. 4:13. The public reading of the Word of God was committed to such officers under the Old Testament dispensation, Jos. 8:34, 35; Neh. 9:3. Christ, by entitling officers of the New Testament by the names of teachers of the Old, Isa. 66:21; Matt. 23:34, shows that the duty (being of a moral nature) is to continue in the persons of pastors.
Question 4.—May such as intend the ministry, occasionally both read the word, and exercise their gift of preaching in the congregation, if allowed by the presbytery thereunto?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 4:13, 14. Reading, together with the preaching of the word, being ordinances committed to the ministry, 1 Tim. 4:13; those who are making trial must allow (license) those who intend the ministry to read and exercise their gift of preaching occasionally, in order to determine whether or not such are truly qualified, 1 Tim. 3:10; 5:22.
Question 5.—Shall all the canonical books of the Old and New Testament be publicly read in the vulgar tongue, in the best allowed translation, distinctly, that all may hear and understand?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 14:6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 24, 27, 28. There is no profit taken from an uncertain sound. The New Testament shows evidence that the Septuagint, which was a Greek translation of the Hebrew approved by the Jewish church, was sometimes used when quotations are taken from the Old Testament.
Question 6.—Should those books commonly called Apocrypha be read in the public worship of God?
Answer.—No. Rev. 22:18. Such are to be excluded because: 1.) These books were not listed in the divisions used by our Saviour while on earth, Luke 24:27, 44. 2.) The oracles of God were committed to the Jews, Rom. 3:2, but there is no evidence that they considered them Holy writ. 3.) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, 2 Pet. 1:21; however, the very origin of those books called apocryphal stands in doubt. 4.) We are forbidden to give heed to such fables as contained in those books, 1 Tim. 1:4.
Question 7.—Is how large a portion shall be read at once, left to the wisdom of the minister?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 14:40. Christ himself demonstrated this principle in the synagogue, during his ministry, Luke 4:16-20.
Question 8.—Is it convenient, that ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Cor. 12:19. It is most convenient for the taking away of the “vail” which remains over the Gospel revealed in the Old Testament to present the “unvailed” Gospel of the New Testament in close proximity, 2 Cor. 3:12-16.
Question 9.—Is it requisite that all the canonical books be read over in order, that the people may be better acquainted with the whole body of the Scriptures?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Tim. 3:15, 16. Such is the interdependence of the Old and New Testaments, that we ought to be careful to be instructed out of both that the fulness of redemption might made out to us, 1 Cor. 10:1-4.
Question 10.—Should those portions of Scripture be more frequently read that the minister thinks best for the edification of his hearers?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 14:26. It is a great part of the work of the ministry to seek the edification of those entrusted to its care, Eph. 4:12, 29. It was to the end of edification that authority is committed to ministers to make decisions affecting the flock, 2 Cor. 10:8.
Question 11.—Should the minister, if he judge it necessary to expound any part of what is read, wait until the whole chapter or psalm be ended?
Answer.—Yes. Luke 4:20, 21. It is most convenient that the ordinance of the reading of Holy Scripture be concluded before the sense of the place read be given, Neh. 8:8.
Question 12.—Should regard be had unto time, that no other part of the ministration of ordinances be hindered or rendered tedious?
Answer.—Yes. Neh. 9:1-3; Luke 4:16-22; Eph. 3:1-4. The reading of the Scriptures ought to occupy an amount of time that will not hinder the performance of other religious duties or ordinances, Acts 13:15.
Question 13.—Besides the public reading of Scripture, ought every person, who is not otherwise disabled, to read the Scriptures privately, and to have a Bible?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 6:6-9. That every person is to give diligence to read the book of God is cleared from the following considerations: 1.) The command of God for all to read the Bible privately reaches even unto those highest in dignity upon earth, Deut. 17:19. 2.) It is a part of the character of every really good man, Ps. 1:2. 3.) The word of Christ should dwell richly in every Christian, Col. 3:16. 4.) It is the path to all wisdom, Prov. 2:2-6.