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the less, but so much the more, be well satisfied and edified with hearing them read in public, and will more reverently and religiously attend to them, and, with the blessing of God upon them so doing, not fail to find (what others can say they have often found) divers passages and sentences falling frequently in upon their hearts in public reading, with particular warmth and divine force, nothing below, if not sometimes beyond, what they usually find in private.
If the minister think fit to make his sermon for the time, upon some part of what, by himself, or by his appointment, hath been read, it may do well; and possibly so much the better, the longer the text be, and the shorter the sermon be; for, it is greatly to be suspected, that our usual way of very short texts, and very long sermons, is apt to weary people more, and profit them less.
But, whatsoever they do in this, they would be ware of returning to their long expositions, besides their sermon, at one and the same meeting; which, besides the tediousness and other inconveniences, is apt to foment in peoples minds, the foolish prejudice and proud disdain they have taken against the Scriptures read without a superadded discourse, in which conceit, for all their zeal against Popery, they seem to be too much of the Romish opinion, as accounting the Holy Scriptures so obscure in themselves, that it is soineway dangerous, or at least altogether unprofitable, to intrust the common people either with reading or hearing any part of them at any time, unless they be backed with continual expositions.
5. That ministers do endeavour to reduce the people from the irreverent deportment they have generally contracted in the public worship; particularly, from their most indecent sitting at prayer; to kneel or stand, as conveniently they may, that we may worship, both with our bodies and with our souls, Him that made both, and made them for that very end. Oh! how needful is that invitątory to be often rung in our ears, that seem wholly to have forgot it, “Oh! come, and let us worship, and bow down and kneel before the Lord our Maker."
6. That people be frequently and earnestly exhorted to morning and evening prayer in their families, especially the prime families in parishes, as most exemplary.
7. That the way of catechising be more adapted to the capacity of our rude and ignorant people; and that our sermons, particularly those of the afternoon, may be more frequently bestowed on the most plain and intelligible way of explaining some point of catechetical doctrine.
8. It was recommended, That convenient utensils be provided in every kirk, for the administration of the holy sacraments.
9. That, according to our great and standing duty, we be still more and more zealous and careful, by doctrine and discipline, to purge out all profaneness; particularly, the most common and crying sins, as drunkenness, cursing, swearing, railing, and bitter speaking, and rotten filthy speaking, so usual amongst the common sort, in their house or field labour together, particularly in harvest: and that it be by all ministers recommended to the owners of the crops, and overseers of the reapers, to range them so to their work, and in such divisions, as may give least occasion to any thing of that kind.
10. That, as we ourselves would be exemplary in holiness, we would endeavour that our seniores plebis, or elders of the people, be so too: and, for that end, rather to have them well chosen, though fewer, than a great number of such as too often they
11. That the Presbyteries do inquire of each one of their number concerning the celebration of the communion, that at least our usual returns of it be neglected by none; for, it is one of the great defects and reproaches of our church, that that great ordinance, being so useful for the increase of holiness, should be so seldom administered, as with us it is, even where it is oftenest. For the
For the way of examination in order to it, somewhat is set down in our first Synod, which may be looked at, if possibly it may prove to be of any use.
IV. Paper given in by the Bishop to the Synod,
I Confess that my own inactive and unmeddling temper may be too apt to prevail against the known duty of my station, and may incline me rather to inquire too little than too much into the deportment of others; and rather to be deficient, than to exceed in admonitions and advices to my brethren, in matters of their duty: and, besides this natural aversion, the sense of my own great unworthiness and filthiness, may give me check, and be a very strong curb upou me, in censuring others for what may be amiss, or in offering any rules for the redress of it: And there is yet another consideration, that bends still further that way; for I am so desirous to keep far off from the reach of that prejudice, that abounds in these parts, against the very name of my sacred function, as apt to command and domineer too much, that I may possibly err on the other hand, and scarce perform the duty of the lowest and most moderate kind of moderator; so that I am forced to spur and drive up myself against all these retardments, to suggest any thing, how useful soever, beyond our road or accustomed way, especially, finding how little any thing of that kind takes, and prevails to any real effect.
However, when any thing appears to me of evident reason and usefulness, and that easily joins in, and paceth with, our standing custoins, I judge it my duty to offer it to you; and I hope, if that ye shail find it of any use, ye will not reject it, but ra
ther improve it to somewhat better, that by occasion of it may arise in your own thoughts.
Something of this kind I have formerly moved, concerning the way of dealing with persons fallen into scandalous sin: frequent speaking with them in private, to the convincing and awakening their consciences to a lively sense of sin, and directing them in the exercises of repentance, and exhorting them to set apart some time for the solid humbling of their souls in fasting and prayer; and not to admit them to public confession, until they have to our best discerning, some real heart-sense of sin, and remorse for it, and serious purposes of newness of life.
Likewise, I suggested somewhat touching the way of examining of all persons, toward their admission to the holy communion, besides the ordinary way of catechising the younger and more ignorant sort; and some other particulars much like these, that now I will not repeat.
That which I would recommend at this time, relates to the business of Privy trials (as they are called) of ministers in their Presbyteries, toward the time of the Synod; in which I have perceived, in some places, (if I may be pardoned that free word), very much of superficial empty form; for the belp of which, besides other ways which
be thought on, that which occurs to me at present, is this: that some certain questions be asked of every minister before he withdraws; and these be much the same with those that usually are, or fitly may be, propounded to the elders and people concerning their minister, at the visitation of particular kirks. For, though, in the case we now speak of, we can have nothing but every man's own word concerning bimself, yet this does not render it an useless thing; for, besides that divers of the questions will be of things so obvious to public knowledge, that no man will readily adventure to give an untrue answer, where it may be so easily traced, there is much to be given to the presumed ingenuity and veracity of a minister. especially in what is solemnly and punc
tually inquired of him; and whatsoever, formerly, hath been, or hath not been, his former degree of diligence in the particulars, the very inquiry and asking concerning them, will be apt to awake, in every man, a more serious reflection upon himself touching each point; and the drawing forth such an express answer to each before his brethren, will
probably excite and engage him to higher exactness in all of them for the time to come.
The particulars I conceive may be these, and such others, like them, as may be further thought fit.
1. Whether he be constantly assiduous in plain and profitable preaching, instructing, and exhorting, and reproving, most expressly and frequently, those sins that abound most among his people; and in all things, to his best skill, fitting his doctrine to the capacities, necessities, and edification of all sorts within his charge?
2. Whether he be diligent in catechising, employing throughout the year such seasons and times for it, as may be easiest and fittest for the people to attend it, and not wholly casting it over upon some few days or weeks near the time of the communion ?
3. How often in the year he celebrates the holy communion ? for I am ashamed to say, whether, at least, once every year?
4. Whether he does faithfully and impartially exercise discipline, and bring all known scandals to due censure; and does speak privately, and that oftener than once, with the persons convicted, and admits them not to public acknowledgment, till he sees in them some probable signs of true repent
5. Whether he be diligent, by himself and his elders, in all convenient ways, to know the deportment of the several families and persons of his flock; and do frequently visit the families, and not only ask, but do his best certainly to inform himself, whether they constantly use morning and evening prayer, together with reading of the Scriptures, if