Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-day

Westminster Confession of Faith

CHAPTER XXI.

Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-day

The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is good, and doeth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might.a But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible re presentation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy scripture.b

II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone:c not to angels, saints, or any other creature:d and, since the fall, not with out a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.e

III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,f is by God required of all men;g and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,h by the help of his Spirit,i according to his will,k with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance;l and, if vocal, in a known tongue.m

IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful,n and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter;o but not for the dead,p nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.q

V. The reading of the scriptures with godly fear;r the sound preaching,s and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence:t singing of psalms with grace in the heart;v as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:w besides religious oathsx and vows,y solemn fastings,z and thanksgivings upon special occasions,a which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.b

VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is, now under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by, any place in which it is performed or towards which it is directed:c but God is to be worshipped every whered in spirit and in truth;e as in private familiesf daily,g and in secret each one by himself;h so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by his word or providence, calleth thereunto.i

VII. As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:k which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,l which in scripture is called the Lord's Day,m and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.n

VIII. This sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts and ordering of their common affairs before-hand, do not only observe a holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations;o but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.p

a Rom. 1:20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse. Acts 17:24. God, that made the world, and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands. Psal. 119:68. Thou art good, and doest good: teach me thy statutes. Jer. 10:7. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee. Psal. 31:23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Psal. 18:3. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies. Rom. 10:12. For there is no difference betwixt the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. Psal. 62:8. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Josh. 24:14. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt: and serve ye the Lord. Mark 12:33. And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.

b Deut. 12:32. What things soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. Mat. 15:9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Acts 17:25. Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. Mat. 4:9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Ver. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. [Deut. 15 to the 20th Verse.] Exod. 20:4. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Ver. 5, Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: Ver. 6. And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my com mandments. Col. 2:23. Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

c Mat. 4:10. (See before in letter b.) With John 5:23. That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. And 2 Cor. 13:14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

d Col. 2:18. Let no man beguile you of your reward, in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. Rev. 19:10. And I fell at his feet to worship him: and he said unto me, See thou do it not; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rom. 1:25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

e John 14:6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me. 1 Tim. 2:5. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:18. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Col. 3:17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

f Phil. 4:6. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

g Psal. 65:2. O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.

h John 14:13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Ver. 14. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. 1 Pet. 2:5. Ye also, as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

i Rom. 8:26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spilt itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

k 1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.

l Psal. 47:7. For God is the king of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. Eccl. 5:1. Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Ver. 2. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. Heb. 12:28. Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. Gen. 18:27. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. James 5:16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed: the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 1:6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Ver. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. Mark 11:24. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Mat. 6:12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Ver. 14. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Ver. 15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Col. 4:2. Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Eph. 6:18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

m 1 Cor. 14:14. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

n [1 John 5:14. See letter k.]

o 1 Tim. 2:1. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men: Ver. 2. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. John 17:20. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word. 2 Sam. 7:29. Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it; and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever. Ruth 4:12. And let thy house be like the house of Pharez, (whom Tamar bare unto Judah) of the seed which the Lord shall give thee of this young woman.

p 2 Sam. 12:21. Then said his servant unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? Thou didst fast and weep for the child while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. Ver. 22. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live? Ver. 23. But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. With Luke 16:25. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Ver. 26. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot: neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Rev. 14:13. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write; Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

q 1 John 5:16. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

r Acts 15:21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath-day. Rev. 1:3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

s 2 Tim. 4:2. Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.

t James 1:22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Acts 10:33. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Mat. 13:19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart: this is he which received seed by the way-side. Heb. 4:2. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Isa. 66:2. For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.

v Col. 3:16. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Eph. 5:19. Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord. James 5:13. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

w Mat. 28:19. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [1 Cor. 11:23. to Verse 29.] Acts 2:42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

x Deut. 6:13. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. With Neh. 10:29. They clave to their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our God, and his judgments and his statutes.

y Isa. 19:21. And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it. With Eccl. 5:4. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it, for he hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed. Ver. 5. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

z Joel 2:12. Therefore also now, saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. Esth. 4:16. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day; I also and my maidens will fast likewise, and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish. Mat. 9:15. And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. 1 Cor. 7:5. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

a [Psal. 107 throughout.] Esth. 9:22. As the days wherein the Jews rested from their enemies, and the month which was turned unto them from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day: that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.

b Heb. 12:28. Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.

c John 4:21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

d Mal. 1:11. For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles, and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. 1 Tim. 2:8. I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

e John 4:23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Ver. 24. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

f Jer. 10:25. Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate. Deut. 6:6. And these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart: Ver. 7. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Job 1:5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt-offerings, according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. 2 Sam. 6:18. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of hosts. Ver. 20. Then David returned to bless his household. 1 Pet. 3:7. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. Acts 10:2. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

g Mat. 6:11. Give us this day our daily bread.

h Mat. 6:6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and, when thou hast shut the door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Eph. 6:18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance, and supplication for all saints.

i Isa. 56:6. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant: Ver. 7. Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people. Heb. 10:25. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching. Prov. 1:20. Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets: Ver. 21. She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, Ver. 24. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded. Prov. 8:34. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. Acts 13:42. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Luke 4:16. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and stood up for to read. Acts 2:42. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

k Exod. 20:8. Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy Ver. 10. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. Ver. 11. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it. Isa. 56:2. Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it: that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. Ver. 4. For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant. Ver. 6, 7. [See in letter i.]

l Gen. 2:2. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Ver. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. 1 Cor. 16:1. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Ver. 2. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. Acts 20:7. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow, and continued his speech until midnight.

m Rev. 1:10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet

n Exod. 20:8, 10. [See letter k.] With Mat. 5:17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Ver. 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

o Exod. 20:8. [See letter k.] Exod. 16:23. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you, to be kept until the morning. Ver. 25. And Moses said, Eat that today; for to-day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Ver. 26. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. Ver. 29. See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. Ver. 30. So the people rested on the seventh day. Exod. 31:15. Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath-day, he shall surely be put to death. Ver. 16. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. Ver. 17. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. Isa. 58:13. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words. Neh. 13:15. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses: as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath-day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. Ver. 16. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Ver. 17. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath-day? Ver. 18. Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel, by profaning the sabbath. Ver. 19. And it came to pass, that, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath-day. Ver. 21. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? If ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath. Ver. 22. And I commanded the Levites, that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath-day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.

p Isa. 58:13. [See in letter o. Mat. 12:1. to the 13th Verse.]

Westminster Assembly. (1851). The Westminster Confession of Faith: Edinburgh Edition (pp. 111–122). Philadelphia: William S. Young.

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