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To the Clergy of the Diocesan Synod of Dun
blane, by Bishop LEIGHTON.
1. Bishop Leighton's Charge to his Clergy,
IRST, That all diligence be used for the
repressing of profaneness, and for the advancement of solid piety.
Secondly, That not only scandals of unchastity, but drunkenness, swearing, cursing, filthy-speaking, and mocking of religion, and all other gross offences, be brought under church-censure.
Thirdly, That scandalous offenders be not absolved, till there appear in them very probable signs of true repentance.
Fourthly, That inquiry be made, by the minister, not only into the knowledge, but the practice and track of life, of those who are to be admitted to the holy communion; and all profane, and evidently impenitent, persons be secluded, till their better, conversation, and obedience to the gospel, be more apparent.
Fifthly, That family-prayer be inquired after; and they that can be exhorted to join with it reading of the Scriptures.
First, That, instead of lecturing and preaching both at one meeting, larger portions of the Holy Scriptures, one whole chapter at least of each TestaVOL. II.
ment, and psalms withal, be constantly read; and this not as a by-work, while they are convening, but after the people are well convened, and the worship solemnly begun with confession of sins and
prayer, either by the minister or some fit person by him ap- : pointed. . Secondly, That the Lord's prayer be restored to more frequent use; likewise, the doxology and the creéd.
Thirdly, That daily public prayer, in churches, morning and evening, with reading of the Scriptures, be used, where it can be had conveniently, and the people be exhorted to frequent them; not so as to think that this should excuse them from daily private prayer, in their families and in secret, but rather as a help to enable them, and dispose them the more for both these: and let the constant use of secret prayer be recommended to all persons, as the great instrument of sanctifying the soul, and of entertaining and increasing in it the love of God.
Fourthly, That the younger sort, and the ignorant, be diligently catechised, at fit times, all the
year through; and that work not wholly laid over on some days or weeks before the celebration of the communion; but that the inquiry, at that time, be rather of their good conversation, and due disposition for partaking of that holy ordinance, as was said before in an article touching discipline.
Fifthly. That ministers use some short form of catechism, such as they may require account of, till a common form be agreed on.
Sixthly, That preaching be plain, and useful for all capacities; rot entangled with useless questions and disputes, nor continued to a wearisome length. The great and most necessary principles of religion, most frequently treated upon; and oftentime larger portions of Scripture explained, and suitable instructions and exhortations thence deduced ; and let that be the sermon at that time; which will doubtless be as truly preaching and useful, if not more son than insisting, for a whole sermon or more, upon one short verse or sentence.
The Bishop propounded to the brethren, that it was to be reminded, by himself and them both, to how eminent degrees of purity of heart and life their holy calling doth engage them; to how great contempt of this present world, and inflamed affections toward Heaven, springing from deep persuasions within them of those things they preach to others, and from the daily meditation of them, and fervent prayer: and that we consider how ill it becomes us to be much in the trivial conversation of the world; but, when our duty or necessity involves us in company, that our speech and deportment be exemplarily holy, ministering grace to those with whom we converse; and, (to add but this one thing, so suitable to ministers of the gospel of peace), that we be meek and gentle, and lovers and exhorters of peace, private and public, amongst all ranks of men; endeavouring rather to quench, than to increase, the useless debates and contentions that abound in the world; and be always more studious of pacific than polemic divinity; that certainly being much diviner than this, for the students of it are called the sons of God.
II. The Bishop's Address after the business was
over, October 1665.
AFTER the affairs of the Synod were ended, the Bishop shewed the brethren he had somewhat to impart to them that concerned himself, which, though it imported little or nothing, either to them or the church, yet he judged it his duty to acquaint them with: and it was, the resolution he had taken of retiring from this public charge; and that all the account he could give of the reasons moving him to it, was briefly this: the sense he had of his own unworthiness of so high a station in the church, and
his weariness of the contentions of this church, which seemed rather to be growing than abating; and, by their growth, did make so great abatements of that Christian meekness and mutual charity, that is so much more worth than the whole sum of all that we contend about. He thanked the brethren for all their undeserved respect and kindness manifested to himself all along; and desired their good construction of the poor endeavours he had used to serve them, and to assist them in promoting the work of the ministry, and the great designs of the gospel, in their bounds; and if, in any thing, in word or deed, he had offended them, or any of them, he very earnestly and humbly craved their pardon : and having recommended to them to continue in the study of peace and holiness, and of ardent love to our great Lord and Master, and to the souls he hath so dearly bought, he closed with these words of the Apostle: “Finally, brethren, farewell: be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, and live in peace; and the God of peace and love shall be with you."
III. The Bishop's Charge, October 1666.
1. It was enacted, That all the ministers do endeavour to bring their people to a high esteem of the Holy Scriptures, and of the reading of them in public; and to give evidence thereof, by reverent and attentive hearing, none being permitted to stand about the doors, or lie in the kirk-yard, during the time of reading; and if, after warning given them of this, any shall be found to continue in the same disorder, they are, by due rebukes and censures, to be brought to obedience.
2. That the ministers be careful to direct the readers what parts of the Scriptures are most frequently to be read : as, the histories of the gospel, and the epistles; and of the Old Testament, the most intelligible and practical parts, particularly, large portions of the Psalms at all times, being both so excellently instructive, and withal so divine forms of prayers and praises, and therefore have been so much used by the Christian churches in all ages, and always made so great a part of their public service.
3. That no readers be permitted, but such as are tried and approved by the Presbytery,
4. That, besides the reading betwixt the second and third bell, which is but as in the interval for those that are come, till the rest do convene, some part of the Scriptures be read after the last bell is rung out, and the congregation more fully met, and the minister is come in; either by himself, or by the reader at his appointment; one chapter at least, together with some of the Psalms, one or more, as they are of length, and of which some part afterwards may be sung, and so the people shall the better understand what they sing. Thus shall this so useful ordinance of public reading of the Scriptures be performed with more solemnity, and brought into greater respect and veneration, and the people be more universally and plentifully edified by it. But, together with this, the reciting of the ten commandments, and the belief, according to the acts of former Synods, is no Lord's day to be omitted ; nor is this only or mainly meant as a help to the peoples learning the words of them, and so being able to repeat them, but as a solemn publication of the law of God, as the rule of our life, and a solem profession of our believing the articles of our Christian faith, and for the quickening of our affections towards both.
And as to that exercise of reading the Scriptures, it cannot be imagined that any well-instructed and solid-minded Christian can question the great expediency and usefulness of it for all ranks of
people: for, besides that many of our commons cannot read, and so cannot use the Scriptures in private, and too many that can, yet do neglect it, even they that use them most in private, will not only no whit