Worshiping God in Spirit and Truth according to the Regulative Principle

The Regulative Principle of Worship


In this section of the site, the reader will find a number of works that hold a Christian view, Puritan view, a Reformed view, of the Regulative Principle, and some other important matters.

Throughout the history of the church, one of the most important topics found throughout the Bible, or, for that matter, the lives of the most well-known people of God, is the nature of true worship. All Christians throughout history have striven to please God in acceptable worship. Their conversion, through the sovereign redemption in Jesus Christ, presses them to continue their sanctification in regular corporate worship, as well as daily private worship. However, both corporate worship, and some forms of private worship, have become corrupted in our day – as Jesus said, many are teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

What’s new for God’s worship in our age?

In our day, not similar to the church of the Reformation, or of the Puritans, we have music ministers, choirs, musical instruments, bands, solos, etc. We even find that national holidays have become part of the worship service. We see bands, concerts, special music, interpretive dance, skits and plays flooding the sanctuary. In the extreme, we find healing hours, prophetic ministries, prophesying rooms, barking in the Spirit, laughing in the Spirit, and the anti-Scriptural list goes on and on. In contrast to all this, from the time of the early church, to the recovery of the Gospel under the Reformation, to the second Reformation and the Puritan divines, even through to times surrounding Jonathan Edwards or the Princeton Theologians, there has been a general adherence to what the Bible taught concerning acceptable worship under the Regulative Principle (i.e. God alone determines the manner in which sinners are to approach Him). But what did they believe?

There is a growing need to study the doctrine of the church and the doctrine of worship. Ignorance on this subject is not bliss since God commands the gathering together of His people for the express purpose of worship (Heb. 10:25) according to His will. The Puritans knew the bible’s position on worship very well. Much of their writings were directed to this end. Worship should be reflected in the entire life of the believer as his manner of glorifying God. Without worship, men lose a sense of “Christian self.” That is why the unbeliever continues to to fill the void of his unregenerate heart with various worldly pursuits, activities, and bosom sins, because only true worship to the Creator of the Universe is meant to fill that void. They have a gnawing sense of emptiness when they neglect true worship, something God commands and requires they give, for God is the Sustainer of their being; every one of their sinful breathes testifies to God’s power in keeping them alive. Worship and the church, then, even on that base level alone, is one of the most important, if not the most important doctrine one could study.

The church is also having an identity crisis. Since they do not know their Bibles, they have lost a sense of who they are before God. Hopefully some, if not all of these articles, will help the church find her identity again, remembering the old paths that the church has always walked upon. Here, the people of God will remember again how to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Articles of importance on the RPW and Public Worship:

Public Worship Preferred Before Private by David Clarkson (1622-1686)

Observations on Personal Covenanting by Thomas Manton (1620-1677)

Personal Covenanting by Thomas Manton Part 1 (1620-1677)

Personal Covenanting by Thomas Manton Part 2 (1620-1677)

The Christian Feast of Worship by C. Matthew McMahon

Reframing Presbyterian Worship: A Critical Survey of the Worship Views of John M. Frame and R. J. Gore, by Frank J. Smith, Ph.D, D.D. and David C. Lachman, Ph.D.

Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham by Rev. Matthew Winzer

A Practical Discourse on the Second Commandment by James Durham

Art and Music in Puritan Worship by Horton Davies

Church Membership and Covenanting by C. Matthew McMahon

Duties Of The Church Member To The Church by Thomas Murphy

God is Neither Faddish nor Nostalgic by C. Matthew McMahon

God is Not to Be Worshipped as Represented by an Image by Benjamin Needler (1620-1682)

How May We Have Suitable Conceptions of God in Worship? by Thomas Mallery D.D. (n.d.)

Is the acknowledgement of God’s Holiness Essential? by David F. Wells

John Calvin’s Order of Worship (1542) and Genevan Liturgy in Strassborg (Strasbourg)

Puritan Worship – An Antidote Against Distractions in Worship by Richard Steele (1629-1692)

Puritan Worship by Thomas Doolittle (1632-1707)

Puritan Worship is Evangelical Worship which is Spiritual Worship by Matthew Poole (1624-1679)

Puritan Worship, Images of God or Images of Christ by Leland Ryken

Reformed Liturgical Services and the Puritan Order of Worship

Strange Fire by C. Matthew McMahon

The Call to Worship and Benediction in the Corporate Worship Service as it Relates to the Regulative Principle by C. Matthew McMahon

The Duty of Social Covenanting Edited by David Scott

The Form of Prayers and Ministration of the Sacraments by John Knox (1556)

The Necessity of Reforming the Church by John Calvin

The Puritan Approach to Worship by J.I. Packer

The Reformers and the Regulative Principle by William Cunningham

The Regulative Principle in Worship: A Brief Article by C. Matthew McMahon

The Right Manner of Worship and Drawing Nigh Unto God by Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)

The Warrant and Nature of Public Worship by Benjamin Morgan Palmer (1818-1902)

Think today’s church services are too long? A Brief Instruction in the Worship of God by John Owen (1616-1683)

True and False Religion by Bernardinus De Moor (1709-1780)

True and False Worship by Martin Luther

True Worship by John Welch

Truth’s Victory Over Error by David Dickson

Twelve Arguments Against Any Conformity to Worship Not of Divine Institution by John Owen (1616-1683)

We Are Separated for Christ’s Instituted Worship’s Sake by Peter Vinke (d. 1702)

What are the marks of a biblical church? by C. Matthew McMahon

What Would It Have Been Like to Attend a Puritan Worship Service? by Horton Davies

Why a Genevan Robe? by C. Matthew McMahon

Wigged Out – Why did the Puritan’s Wear Wigs? by C. Matthew McMahon

Worship by Zacharias Ursinus

The Liturgy of Calvin by Philip Schaff

Spiritual Worship by Archibald Alexander

The Scriptural Regulative Principle of Worship by GI Williamson

The Reformers and the Regulative Principle by William Cunningham

The Regulative Principle of Worship by GI Williamson
A paper presented at the 2001 International Conference of Reformed Churches

The Regulative Principle by Malcolm Maclean

The Regulative Principle by Hugh Cartwright

The Puritan Principle of Worship by William Young

Reforming Worship by Rowland Ward

Scriptural Worship by KA Macrae

John Owen on the Regulative Principle prepared by Christian Adjumian

Five Lectures on the Biblical Principles of Worship by GI Williamson



Historic printed works on the subject of corporate and private worship:

Gospel Worship, by Jeremiah Burroughs, a modernized version.

The Christian’s Charge Never to Offend God in Worship, by John Forbes

How to Serve God in Private and Public Worship, John Jackson

True Worship and the Consequences of Idolatry, by John Knox

A Christian’s True Spiritual Worship to Jesus Christ, by Stephen Charnock

The Glory of Evangelical Worship, by John Owen

The Simplicity of Holy Worship by John Wilson

Vain Imaginations in the Worship of God by Samuel Willard, Jonathan Dickinson, Joshua Moodey, Nathan Stone and Jonathan Edwards

The True Psalmody by the Reformed Ministers

A Gospel-Ordinance Concerning the Singing of Scripture Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs by Cuthbert Sydenham

Gospel Music: or the Singing of David’s Psalms by Nathaniel Holmes

Singing of Psalms a Gospel Ordinance by John Cotton

Singing of Psalms the Duty of Christians by Thomas Ford

Reformed and Puritan printed works on corporate worship can be found HERE.

Reformed Theology and Apologetics
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