Religious Worship and Ordinances

Notes from Thomas Boston’s Commentary on the Shorter Catechism:boston2

1. Prayer, whereby we tender to him the homage due from a creature to his Creator, acknowledging our dependence on him as the Author of all good. The parts of it are petition, confession, and thanksgiving. And that public in the assemblies, Acts 2.42; private in lesser societies, particularly in families, Jer. 10.ult; and secret, every one by himself, Mat. 6.6. none of them to justle out another. In these we are tied to no form.

2. Praises in singing psalms, whereby we give him the praise due to him. And this is appointed, both publicly, Psalm 149.1. and privately, Jam. 5.13. This is to be done in all simplicity becoming the gospel, singing them with grace in the heart, Col. 3.16; not playing them on musical instruments, of which there is not one word in the New Testament.

3. Reading God’s word, and hearing it read, both publicly, Acts 15.21. and privately, John 5.39; whereby we honour God, consulting his oracles.

4. The preaching of the word, and hearing it preached, 2 Tim. 4.2. 2 Kings 4.23. And consequently the ministry is an ordinance of God, Rom. 10.15. Eph. 4.11,12. and the maintenance thereof, 1 Cor. 9.14. by an ordinance of God, though there should be no ordinance of the state for it.

5. Administration and receiving of the sacraments, to wit, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Matt. 28.19. and the Lord’s supper, 1 Cor. 11.23, &c. both which are left us in much gospel-simplicity. By these we solemnly avouch ourselves to be the Lord’s, and receive the seals of the covenant, getting our faith of covenant-blessings confirmed.

6. Fasting, or extraordinary prayer with fasting, when the Lord by his providence calls for it, as when tokens of his anger do in a special manner appear. And this is public, in the congregation, Joel 2.12,13. and private too, as in families, 1 Cor. 12.5. and secret, Matth. 6.17,18. See Zech. 12.12,13,14. The same is to be said of extraordinary prayer, with thanksgiving.

7. Church government and discipline. Christ has appointed a government in his church, and has not left it to men to dispose of it, Heb. 3.5,6. 1 Cor. 12.28. He has appointed his officers, which are pastors and doctors, Eph. 4.11. ruling elders and deacons, 1 Cor. 12.28. And besides these the scripture knows no ordinary church-officers. The three first are, by his appointment, church-rulers. They have the power of discipline, Matth. 18.17,18. to rebuke scandalous offenders publicly, 1 Tim. 6.20. to excommunicate the contumacious, 1 Cor. 5.4,5. And amongst these officers of the same kind there is a parity by divine appointment, excluding both Pope and Prelate, Matth. 20.26. There is also a subordination of judicatories, Acts 15. which is the government we call Presbyterial.

8. Instructing and teaching in the ways of the Lord, not only by ministers, but by masters of families, who are to teach their families, Gen. 18.19. Deut. 6.6,7.

9. Lastly, Spiritual conference, Mai. 3.16. Deut. 6.7. and swearing, of which we shall treat in the third commandment.



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