Monday, July 19, 2010

The Directory for the Publick Worship of God: Part 3 of 16

Of Publick Reading of the Holy Scriptures.

READING of the word in the congregation, being part of the publick worship of God, (wherein we acknowledge our dependence upon him, and subjection to him,) and one mean sanctified by him for the edifying of his people, is to be performed by the pastors and teachers.

Howbeit, such as intend the ministry, may occasionally both read the word, and exercise their gift in preaching in the congregation, if allowed by the presbytery thereunto.

All the canonical books of the Old and New Testament (but none of those which are commonly called Apocrypha) shall be publickly read in the vulgar tongue, out of the best allowed translation, distinctly, that all may hear and understand.

How large a portion shall be read at once, is left to the wisdom of the minister; but it is convenient, that ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting; and sometimes more, where the chapters be short, or the coherence of matter requireth it.

It is requisite that all the canonical books be read over in order, that the people may be better acquainted with the whole body of the scriptures; and ordinarily, where the reading in either Testament endeth on one Lord's day, it is to begin the next.

We commend also the more frequent reading of such scriptures as he that readeth shall think best for edification of his hearers, as the book of Psalms, and such like.

When the minister who readeth shall judge it necessary to expound any part of what is read, let it not be done until the whole chapter or psalm be ended; and regard is always to be had unto the time, that neither preaching, nor other ordinances be straitened, or rendered tedious. Which rule is to be observed in all other publick performances.

Beside publick reading of the holy scriptures, every person that can read, is to be exhorted to read the scriptures privately, (and all others that cannot read, if not disabled by age, or otherwise, are likewise to be exhorted to learn to read,) and to have a Bible

Comments and reflections: This article commends the public reading of the Scriptures as an element in Christian worship (cf. 1 Tim 4:13). It indicates that such reading is the primary duty of the ministers or others considering the ministry. Readings should be “in the vulgar tongue” from “the best allowed translation.” The Directory suggests reading a chapter from both the Old and New Testaments at each worship service. In a 52 Sunday year, assuming two services per Lord’s Day, this would mean the church would read aloud 208 chapters per year. It also suggests a continuous reading through books and the repeated use of some Scriptures, particularly the Psalms. The minister might also add comments, but it is suggested that this follow the reading. Private reading is also encouraged. This is indeed an element that needs to be reclaimed. Many churches claim a belief in the authority of Scripture, but it is little read aloud publicly. How might our people grow more quickly if they were the more exposed to and even saturated in the public reading of the Word of God?


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