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Sermons & Study Guides

Directory For The Publick Worship Of God Pt. 1 - The Preface

James Dodson


The Preface.


 Question 1.—Is greater reformation to be endeavored to root out all that is vain, erroneous and superstitious in the public worship of God?

Answer.—Yes. Phil. 3:12, 14.  Though great efforts were put forth during the times of the kings to effect reform, yet the vestiges of idolatry were often left untouched.  It is noted as a defect in the reform wrought in the days of the kings that there was left some place wherein the people could conceal their idolatry, 1 Kings 15:9-15; 22:41-43; 2 Kings 12:2, 3; 14:1-4; 15:1-4, 32-35.  In contrast, Hezekiah’s reformation reached all the high places in a way unparalleled and God blessed his efforts as such, 2 Kings 18:1-7.

Question 2.—What ought we to understand by the word liturgy?

Answer.—The word liturgy, in the Greek λειτουργία, is used several times in the New Testament.  It is sometimes translated ministration, Luke 1:23; sometimes ministry, Heb. 8:6; sometimes service, Phil. 2:17; and sometimes of the office of teaching, Acts 13:2; of the legal service of the temple, Luke 1:23; and of the liberality to those in need, by the care of church officers, Rom. 15:27.  However, the term as used in the context of our reformers, as appropriated by their opponents, refers to the “form of prayers, and other pieces of public religious devotion.”

Question 3.—Is a liturgy of prayer something to be desired?

Answer.—No. Rom. 8:26.  Utterance, especially in this great matter of prayer, is wrought in God’s people by his Spirit.  It is the duty of ministers to give voice to the prayers of God’s people, Acts 6:2-4.  Can any believe that Paul used a prescribed form of prayers when he took leave of the people of Ephesus? Acts 20:36.

The plea for such usages taken from the example of the Lord’s prayer fails for the following reasons: 1.) Jesus commands that we prayer “after this manner,” not “in these words,” Matt. 6:9.  2.) The accounts given by the evangelists differ as to the words used, Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4.

Question 4.—What is wrong with the imposition of the forms and ceremonies of the prayer book?

Answer.—The forms and ceremonies of the English prayer book were objectionable for the following reasons: 1.) They were concerned with establishing an outward splendor and pomp, which did resemble that of the Heathens and Papists, rather than studying the simplicity and singleness of the apostolic rule, John 4:23, 24; Col. 2:18, 23.  2.) Much of the prelatical conformity consisted in things which were in themselves and in their own nature unlawful and contrary to the word of God, Rom. 2:22, 23; 3:8.  3.) They did in many things conform to the Papists, and deviated from the best reformed Churches, 1 Tim. 4:12; which thing is as different as she that is dressed like other honest women differs from her that is dressed like a whore, Prov. 7:10.  4.) The prelatical conformity is mostly made up of those rites and sacred ceremonies, which had been grossly and notoriously abused either to idolatry or superstition.  These having no necessary use in themselves ought to be abolished, 2 Kings 18:4.  5.) These impositions, acknowledged by many of them to be merely indifferent, yet were looked upon by many of the most godly people as unlawful and contrary to the word of God, and this to the great scandal and offence of their brethren.  But things indifferent ought not to be practiced with the scandal and offence of the godly, Gal. 2:4, 5.  6.) Their way was destructive to true Christian liberty, both of conscience and practice, James 4:12; Rom. 14:4; Acts 4:19; 5:29; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 23:8–10; 2 Cor. 1:24; Gal. 5:1.  7.) The prelatical ordinances were after the commandments and doctrines of men, contrary to the apostle, Col. 2:22, 23; Matt. 15:9.

Question 5.—Wherein was the Book of Common Prayer particularly objectionable to our reformers?

Answer.—Besides it misuse of scripture contrary to the divine rule, 2 Tim. 2:15; and its teaching of certain popish doctrines contrary to the Scripture, Col. 2:23; there remain many things highly offensive.  They include: Saying of the Gloria Patri, saying of the Apostle’s Creed, standing up at the reading of the Gospel, preaching on Christmas and other holy days, funeral sermons, churching of women, saying of the three Creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, Athanasian), after reading of Scripture, and the people’s responsals.  The reformers’ position was as follows: That which is man’s device, and has been an idol in God’s worship, must of necessity be an idol still in God’s worship.  But the ceremonies mentioned in the service book have been idols in God’s worship; as cross, surplice, etc.  Ergo, they must be idols still in the worship of God.

The first proposition is proved from Abraham’s grove, Gen. 21:33; which being abused to idolatry, 2 Kings 17:10; Jer. 17:2; Isa. 57:5; then God forbids his people the usage of it, because it was an idol; indeed, he commanded to destroy it, Deut. 12:13.  So too, then our reformers add the foul abuses of the sacraments, and that ill conceived piece of work called confirmation.

Question 6.—Why is uniformity to be desired in matters of divine worship?

Answer.—Uniformity in those things which are themselves in conformity to the word of God, 2 Tim. 3:15-17, and the general rules of the word, 1 Cor. 14:26, 40, is a duty made plain by the following considerations: 1.) Nature itself displays a uniformity, Gen. 8:22; Matt. 16:2, 3; whereby those who observe may be instructed, Eccl. 1:9; Jer. 8:7.  2.) The Old Testament holds forth a great uniformity in the matters of divine worship, Num. 9:3; Ex. 12:49; Acts 15:21; Luke 1:8, 9.  3.) The Church of the New Testament was prophesied to be of one heart and mind in matters of religion, Jer. 32:39; Zech. 14:9.  4.) The apostle exhorts us to study uniformity, not diversity, in those things agreed upon to be good and right, Phil. 3:16.  5.) The apostle plainly intimates and commends a uniformity in the worship of God, 1 Cor. 14:27, 33, 40.  In fact, he establishes a rule for the limiting of the prophets, 1 Cor. 14:29.  6.) Do not the dictates of nature form a great part of uniformity, when Paul would have every man who prayed, or prophesied, to have his head uncovered, and every woman covered? 1 Cor. 11:4, 5.  7.) Likewise does the apostle establish a uniformity in the matter of setting aside their collections for charity, 1 Cor. 16:1, 2.

Question 7.—What rule is to be observed concerning the ordinances and directions set forth?

Answer.—The word of God is the only rule given to direction us how to glorify and enjoy Him.  God has reserved unto Himself the right to be worshipped only in the way appointed by Him, Deut. 12:32; Matt. 15:9; Acts 17:25; Matt. 4:9, 10; Deut. 15:1-20; Ex. 20:4-6; Col. 2:23.  Thus our Directory seeks to establish all of its ordinances upon the unerring word of God.  Additionally, any circumstances concerning the worship of God, common to human actions and societies, are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed, 1 Cor. 11:13, 14; 14:26, 40.