... for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?—Canticles 1.7.
Articles or Directions
For Keeping the Greater UNIFORMITY
In the Church of Scotland,
In the Practice of the DIRECTORY for
TrueCovenanter.com Editor’s Introduction.
The following articles were prepared by a committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1645, in order to define and regulate practices within the Church of Scotland so that the receiving of the Directory for Public Worship as part of our covenanted uniformity would not be an occasion for confusion about settled practices that were not particularly determined by the said Directory. It presents to us some of the reformed practices of the Church of Scotland, especially about the proper administration of the Lord’s Supper, and suggests an example of what liberty might remain to each Nation and Church as the Directory and covenanted uniformity were received and practised throughout Scotland, England, Ireland, and any other churches which would thereafter enter into “the same or like association and covenant, to the glory of God, etc.”
The opinion of the Committee for keeping the greater Uniformity in this Kirk, in the practice and observation of the Directory in some points of publick Worship.
IT is the humble Opinion of the Committee for regulating that Exercise of reading and expounding the Scriptures read upon the Lord’s Day, mentioned in the Directory, That the Minister and People repair to the Kirk, half an hour before that time, at which ordinarily the Minister now entereth to the publick Worship; And that, that Exercise of reading and expounding, together with the ordinary Exercise of Preaching, be perfected and ended at the time which formerly closed the Exercise of publick Worship.
In the Administration of Baptism, it will be convenient, That, that Sacrament be administered in face of the Congregation, that what is spoken and done, may be heard and seen of all, and that it be administered after the Sermon, before the Blessing.
In the Administration of the Lord’s Supper, it is the judgment of the Committee;
That Congregations be still tried and examined before the Communion, according to the bygone practice of this Kirk.
That there be no reading in the time of communicating; but the Minister making a short Exhortation at every Table, that thereafter there be silence during the time of the Communicants’ receiving, except only when the Minister expresseth some few short sentences, suitable to the present condition of the Communicants in receiving, that they may be incited and quickened in their Meditations in the Action.
That distribution of the Elements among the Communicants be universally used: And for that effect, that the Bread be so prepared, that the Communicants may divide it amongst themselves, after the Minister hath broken, and delivered it to the nearest.
That while the Tables are dissolving, and filling, there be always singing of some portion of a Psalm, according to the custom.
That the Communicants both before their going to, and after their coming from the Table, shall only join themselves to the present publick Exercise then in hand.
That when the Communion is to be celebrate in a Parish, one Minister may be employed for assisting the Minister of the Parish, or at the most two.
That there be one Sermon of Preparation delivered in the ordinary Place of publick Worship, upon the day immediately preceding.
That before the serving of the Tables, there be only one Sermon delivered to those who are to communicate, and that in the Kirk where the Service is to be performed. And that in the same Kirk there be one Sermon of Thanksgiving, after the Communion is ended.
When the Parishioners are so numerous, that their Parish Kirk cannot contain them, so that there is a necessity to keep out such of the Parish as cannot conveniently have place, That in that case the Brother who assists the Minister of the Parish, may be ready, if need be, to give a word of Exhortation in some convenient place appointed for that purpose, to those of the Parish, who that day are not to communicate; which must not be begun until the Sermon delivered in the Kirk be concluded.
That of those who are present in the Kirk where the Communion is celebrate, none be permitted to go forth while [until] the whole Tables be served, and the Blessing pronounced, unless it be for more commodious order, and in other cases of necessity.
That the Minister who cometh to assist, have a special care to provide his own Parish, lest otherwise while he is about to minister comfort to others, his own Flock be left destitute of preaching.
That none coming from another Parish, shall be admitted to the Communion, without a Testimonial from their own Minister: And no Minister shall refuse a Testimonial to any of his Parish, who communicates ordinarily at their own Parish Kirk, and are without scandal in their life for the time. And this is no ways to prejudge any honest Person, who occasionally is in the place where the Communion is celebrate; or such as by death, or absence of their own Minister, could not have a Testimonial.
It is also the judgment of the Committee, That the Minister’s bowing in the Pulpit, though a lawful custom in this Kirk, be hereafter laid aside, for satisfaction of the desire of the Reverend Divines in the Synod of England, and for uniformity with that Kirk so much endeared to us.
The Assembly having considered seriously the judgment of the Committee above-written, Doth approve the same in all the Articles thereof, and Ordains them to be observed in all time hereafter.