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WORSHIP OF GOD IN THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,*
AS AMENDED AND RATIFIED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
In May, 1821.
OF THE SANCTIFICATION OF THE LORD'S DAY.
I. It is the duty of every person to remember the Lord's day; and to prepare for it, before its approach. All worldly business should be so ordered, and seasonably laid aside, as that we may not be hindered thereby from sanctifying the Sabbath, as the Holy Scriptures require.
II. The whole day is to be kept holy to the Lord; and to be employed in the public and private exercises of religion. Therefore, it is requisite, that there be a holy resting, all the day, from unnecessary labours; and an abstaining from those recreations which may
*The Scripture-warrant for what is specified in the various articles of this directory, will be found at large in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms, in the places where the subjects are treated in a doctrinal form.
be lawful on other days; and also, as much as possible, from worldly thoughts and conversation.
III. Let the provisions for the support of the family on that day, be so ordered, that servants or others be not improperly detained from the public worship of God; nor hindered from sanctifying the Sabbath.
IV. Let every person and family, in the morning, by secret and private prayer, for themselves and others, especially for the assistance of God to their minister, and for a blessing upon his ministry, by reading the Scriptures, and by holy meditation, prepare for communion with God in his public ordinances.
V. Let the people be careful to assemble at the appointed time; that, being all present at the beginning, they may unite, with one heart, in all the parts of public worship: and let none unnecessarily depart, till after the blessing be pronounced.
VI. Let the time after the solemn services of the congregation in public are over, be spent in reading, meditation, repeating of sermons, catechising, religious conversation, prayer for a blessing upon the public ordinances, the singing of psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs;visiting the sick, relieving the poor, and in performing such like duties of piety, charity, and mercy.
OF THE ASSEMBLING OF THE CONGREGATION, AND THEIR BEHAVIOUR DURING DIVINE SERVICE.
I. WHEN the time appointed for public worship is come, let the people enter the church, and take their seats in a decent, grave, and reverent manner.
II. In time of public worship, let all the people attend with gravity and reverence; forbearing to read any thing, except what the minister is then reading or citing; abstaining from all whisperings, from salutations of persons present, or coming in; and from gazing about, sleeping, smiling, and all other indecent behaviour.
OF THE PUBLIC READING OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.
I. THE reading of the Holy Scriptures, in the congregation, is a part of the public worship of God, and ought to be performed by the ministers and teachers.
II. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, shall be publicly read, from the most approved translation, in the vulgar tongue, that all may hear and understand.
III. How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the discretion of every minister: however, in each service, he ought to read, at
least, one chapter; and more, when the chap ters are short, or the connexion requires it. He may, when he thinks it expedient, expound any part of what is read: always having regard to the time, that neither reading, singing, praying, preaching, or any other ordinance, be disproportionate the one to the other; nor the whole rendered too short, or too tedious.
OF THE SINGING OF PSALMS.
I. It is the duty of Christians to praise God, by singing psalms, or hymns, publicly in the church, as also privately in the family.
II. In singing the praises of God, we are to sing with the spirit, and with the understanding also; making melody in our hearts unto the Lord. It is also proper, that we cultivate some knowledge of the rules of music; that we may praise God in a becoming manner with our voices, as well as with our hearts.
III. The whole congregation should be furnished with books, and ought to join in this part of worship. It is proper to sing without parcelling out the psalm, line by line. The practice of reading the psalm, line by line, was introduced in times of ignorance, when many in the congregation could not read: therefore, it is recommended, that it be laid aside, as far as convenient.
IV. The proportion of the time of public
worship to be spent in singing, is left to the prudence of every minister: but it is recommended, that more time be allowed for this excellent part of divine service than has been usual in most of our churches.
OF PUBLIC PRAYER.
I. It seems very proper to begin the public worship of the sanctuary by a short prayer; humbly adoring the infinite majesty of the living God; expressing a sense of our distance from him as creatures, and unworthiness as sinners; and humbly imploring his gracious presence, the assistance of his Holy Spirit in the duties of his worship, and his acceptance of us through the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
II. Then, after singing a psalm, or hymn, it is proper that, before sermon, there should be a full and comprehensive prayer. First, Adoring the glory and perfections of God, as they are made known to us in the works of creation, in the conduct of providence, and in the clear and full revelation he hath made of himself in his written word. Second, Giving thanks to him for all his mercies of every kind, general and particular, spiritual and temporal, common and special; above all, for Christ Jesus, his unspeakable gift, and the hope of eternal life through him. Third, Making humble con