Thursday, February 1, 2007

On A Neglected Document (2)

Some leads in the motives for composing The Directory for the Public Worship of God (1645):

“…that we may in some measure answer the gracious providence of God, which at this time calleth upon us for further reformation, and may satisfy our own consciences, and answer the expectation of other reformed churches, and the desires of many of the godly among ourselves, and withal give some publick testimony of our endeavours for uniformity in divine worship, which we have promised in our Solemn League and Covenant…” (Preface to The Directory)

Here’s a snippet from the detailed and lengthy section, "Of Preaching of the Word":

"But the servant of Christ, whatever his method (of preaching), is to perform his whole ministry:

1. Painfully, not doing the work of the Lord negligently.

2. Plainly, that the meanest may understand; delivering the truth not in the enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; abstaining also from an unprofitable use of unknown tongues, strange phrases, and cadences of sounds and words; sparingly citing sentences of ecclesiastical or other human writers, ancient or modern, be they never so elegant.

3. Faithfully, looking at the honour of Christ, the conversion, edification, and salvation of the people, not at his own gain or glory; keeping nothing back which may promote those holy ends, giving to every one his own portion, and bearing indifferent respect unto all, without neglecting the meanest, or sparing the greatest, in their sins.

4. Wisely, framing all his doctrines, exhortations, and especially his reproofs, in such a manner as may be most likely to prevail; shewing all due respect to each man's person and place, and not mixing his own passion or bitterness.

5. Gravely, as becometh the word of God; shunning all such gesture, voice, and expressions, as may occasion the corruptions of men to despise him and his ministry.

6. With loving affection, that the people may see all coming from his godly zeal, and hearty desire to do them good. And,

7. As taught of God, and persuaded in his own heart, that all that he teacheth is the truth of Christ; and walking before his flock, as an example to them in it; earnestly, both in private and publick, recommending his labours to the blessing of God, and watchfully looking to himself, and the flock whereof the Lord hath made him overseer: So shall the doctrine of truth be preserved uncorrupt, many souls converted and built up, and himself receive manifold comforts of his labours even in this life, and afterward the crown of glory laid up for him in the world to come. "

The entire document is well worth reading and can be found here.

On A Neglected Document (1)

For some relaxation, I've recently read a moving article by Iain Murray: “The Directory for Public Worship” (in John L. Carson and David W. Hall, eds. A Commemoration of the Westminster Assembly, pp. 169-191).

The opening paragraph raises an important question which I believe is worth pondering at length:

“The meetings of the Westminster Assembly were held in the midst of a Civil War and at a time of great unrest in almost all parts of Britain. That being so, it is perhaps surprising that one of its first concerns was with the subject of the worship of God – dedicating over seventy sessions to this matter – and that its first publication was The Directory for the Public Worship of God. I am inclined to believe that the Directory is now one of the least read of the documents bound up with the Confession of Faith. Indeed many may wonder why it ever achieved such attention and priority in the critical years 1643-44. How was it that, with cities under siege and men dying on battlefields, so many of the land’s spiritual leaders could be engaged in discussing how God is to be worshipped?”


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