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