Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

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 cenfures, 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, pårticularly, large portions of the Psalms at all times, being both so excellently instructive, and withal fo divine forms of prayers and praises, and therefore have been so much used by the Christian churches in all ages, and always made fo great a part of their public service.

3. That no readers be permitted, but such as are tried and approved by the Presbyterý.

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 fo the people shall the better understand what they fing. Thus shall this so useful ordinance of public reading of the Scriptures be performed with more folemnity, 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 solemn profeffion

01

[ocr errors]

of our believing the articles of our Christian faith, and for the quickening of our affections toward 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, belides 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 whịt the less, but so much the more, be well satisfied and edified with hearing them read in public, and will more reverently and religiousy attend to them, and, with the bleiling of God upon them so doing, not fail to find (what others can say wey have often found) di: vers 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 fermon 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 thort texts, and very long sermons, is apt to weary people more, and profit them less.

But, whatsoever they do in this, they would beware of returning to their long expositions, besides their sermon, at one and the same meeting ; which, besides the tediousness and other inconveniencies, 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 fomeway dangerous, or at least altogether unprofitable, to intrust the common people either with read

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ing or hearing any part of them at any time, unless they be backed with continual expofitions.

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 fitting at prayer; to kneel or ftand, 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 invitatory 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 facraments.

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 fins, as drunkenness, cursing, swearing, railing, and bitter speaking, and rotten filthy speaking, fo usual amongst the common fort, 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 occafion to any thing of that kind,

10. That,

10. That, as we ourselves would be exemplary in holiness, we would endeavour that our seniores plebis, or elders of the people, be fo too: and, for that end, rather to have them well chofen, though fewer, than a great number of such as too often they are.

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 feldom adminiftered, as with us it is, even wbere it is oftenest. 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,

April 1667.

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 upon me, in censuring others for what may be amiss, or in offering any rules for the redress of it: And there is yet another confideration, 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 facred 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;

1

[ocr errors]

moderator; so that I am forced to fpur and drive up
myfelf against all these retardments, to suggest any
thing, how useful soever, beyond our road or accuf.
tomed 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 evi-
dent reason and usefulness, and that easily joins in,
and paceth with, our standing customs, I judge it my
duty to offer it to you ; and I hope, if that ye shall find
it of any use, ye will not reject it, but rather 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 perfons. fallen into scandalous fin : Frequent speaking with them in private, to the convincing and awakening their consciences to a lively sense of fin, and directing them in the exercises of repentance, and exhorting them to set apart some time for a folemn humbling of their fouls in fasting and prayer; and not to admit them to public confeffion, until they have, to our best difcerning, some real heart-sense of fin, 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 catechifing the younger and more ignorant fort ; 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 help of which, besides other ways which may be thought on, that which occurs to me at present, is this : That fome certain questions be asked of every minister before he withdraws; and these be much the same

« FöregåendeFortsätt »