Thursday, 27 March 2014

Who Stole the Doxologies – Part Three

Having looked at some of the historical evidence we can conclude that the worship of the Reformed church in Scotland from the time of Knox included the use of the Conclusion or Doxology at the end of most Psalms.

Two issues are worth pursuing.  Firstly, why is it that the wing of the Scottish church that has most actively pursued the re-introduction of the liturgical practice of the early Reformation has most widely departed from the doctrine of the Scottish Reformation.  They want the worship of the Church at the Reformation; they most definitely do not want the doctrine of the Scottish Reformation.  I have no answer to this question. These “high” Presbyterians express outrage at Knox’s theology and firmly reject the teaching of the Scots Confession and the Westminster Confession of Faith.

It is perhaps for this reason that evangelical Presbyterians in Scotland, resisting the liberalism of modernism, also reject some of their liturgical practices that are genuinely Reformed and based on Scriptural principles.  That is not necessarily the case in Presbyterian circles in the USA where you can be both “high” Presbyterian and thoroughly Reformed in doctrine.

The second issue is, “How can we change things?”

Perhaps the best way is to re-introduce the practice gradually.  Maybe we can use a Conclusion / Doxology with the opening Psalm of praise in worship.  This would establish a Trinitarian emphasis at the very beginning of worship.

One problem which some might see is that the new and excellent Sing Psalms contains a wide variety of metres, unlike the limited range in the original Scottish Metrical Psalter. To accommodate this we need a wide range of doxologies in various metres.  I here append a list borrowed from the Anglican Diocese of Bristol who are experimenting with metrical Psalmody – indeed who have produced an online metrical Psalter borrowed mainly from Presbyterian sources.  (How is that for convergence !) :

All Glory to the Father, Son,
And Spirit, One and Three:
As was, and is, and shall be so
Through all eternity.

C.M.  Milton’s Version
To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Immortal glory be;
As was, is now, and shall be still
To all eternity.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God whom earth and heav'n adore,
Be glory as it was of old, is now,
And so shall be for evermore.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise him all creatures here below.
Praise him above, you heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

To God, the Father, Son
 And Spirit, glory be
As was, and is and shall be so,
To all eternity.

To God, our Father, and to God the Son
And God the Spirit let all glory be.
We worship ever three and ever one
As was, and is till all eternity.

All glory to the Father and the Son,
And to the Spirit, ever three in one:
As was and is, and ever more shall be
World without end for all eternity

By angels in heav’n of ev’ry degree,
And saints upon earth, all praise be addressed:
To God in three persons, one God ever blest
As it has been, now is and always shall be.

And glory to the Father raise,
To Son and Holy Spirit,
Alpha and Omega we praise,
 May we His life inherit

888 888
To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
 The God whom heav’n’s triumphant host
And suffering saints on earth adore;
Be glory as in ages past,
As now it is, and so shall last,
When time itself shall be no more.

Great glories to the Father pay
Which to the Son are due,
And Holy Spirit too.
As was from first creation’s day,
Is and so shall for ever be,
Without end through eternity.

To God, the Father, Son
And Spirit three in one
All glory give now and again:
As was from utmost yore
Be now and evermore
World without end, Amen, Amen.

Glory to Father and to Son
And Holy Spirit three in one.
As was when ages first begun
Continues as time yet may run
Such as today might be
Until eternity.

6666 4444
To God, the Father, Son
And Spirit, ever blest,
Eternal three in one
All worship be addressed.
As heretofore
It was, is now,
And shall be so
For ever-more.

All glory to the Father
All glory to the Son,
All glory to the Spirit,
For ever three and one.
As once it was and is now
And shall for ever more,
To endless ages stands firm,
The God whom we adore.

7,7,7,7 7,7
Bless the Father and the Son
And the Spirit, three in One.
Bless him now and as of yore
And shall be for ever more.
Bless the Lord and sing his praise.
Exalt him, ever, always. 
Glory to God the Father, God the Son,
And unto God the Spirit, Three in One.
From age to age let saints his name adore,
His power and love proclaim from shore to shore,
And spread his fame, till time shall be no more.

The language in some cases needs updating.  Perhaps there is a poet out there?

Who Stole the Doxologies – Part Two

The Public Worship of Presbyterian Scotland Historically Treated (1892)  C G McCrie

Speaking of the Westminster Assembly:

“To insure uniformity in the praise service the Scotch members gave up several items which seem trivial to us. In those days they appeared so important as to raise a clamour of "innovations" — that dreadful word which has so often wrought disturbance and division in our national church. Strangely enough, customs which are now spoken of as Scotch whims and freaks, and held up to ridicule as marks of the unreasonableness and absurdity of our northern nation, are the very things which were forced upon us by our Southern associates. It is still more strange, that while their introduction at that time threatened to disrupt the Scottish Church, their discontinuance in our own day met determined opposition. By long use and wont the practices had become so thoroughly interwoven with our ecclesiastical system that they were clung to with the same tenacity which had nearly excluded them at the first.

The two principal "novations" in connection with the Psalmody which were accepted by the Scottish Church for the sake of uniformity were the reading of the Psalm line by line when it was being sung, and the disuse of the "Conclusions" to the Psalms. In other words, setting aside the Doxologies. The reading of the line was strongly opposed by the Scottish Commissioners. They finally yielded it as involving no principle.

They excused themselves to their own Assembly on the plea that it seemed necessary for the English congregations as so many of the people could not read and the others were poorly supplied with psalms-books. They succeeded in modifying the rule as given in the Directory by inserting the saving clauses, "for the present, when many in the congregations cannot read” and "it is convenient."

The disuse of the Doxology was a more serious affair, and produced a keen contest. It had formed part of the praise service almost from the dawn of the Reformation.' The Fathers and the early Councils were quoted to show that some such form had come down from the time of the Apostles. "Moderator," said Calderwood, the historian, "I entreat that the Doxology be not laid aside, for I hope to sing it in heaven." Dr. Baillie pleaded for it with all the eloquence of his tongue and pen. The English Puritans persisted in classing it with the prelatical and "nocent" (hurtful) practices. For the sake of peace and uniformity the others unwillingly yielded, desirous thereby of "edifying one another in love." " 

[To be continued...]

Who Stole the Doxologies – Part One

As a child growing up in an occasionally inclusive psalmody congregation, (we normally started the morning worship with either a psalm or a paraphrase), I never concluded a psalm with a doxology or ascribing praise to the Triune God.  It has certainly not been the habit in the Free Church of Scotland to do so.  When slightly older I came across the then new hymnal of the Church of Scotland, (CH3); I was slightly perplexed by the addition of a final doxology to all the psalms contained in the main hymnal.  I assumed that this must be a “liberal” practice and thought no more of it.

With years comes wisdom, or at least education, and I am now aware of the historical background to this practice.  Rather than being a liberal innovation it is a re-establishment of traditional Reformed practice.  The earliest Scottish practice was to conclude the singing of a psalm with an ascription of praise to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Indeed this was the universal practice in the first 100 years of the Reformed church in Scotland.

MacMeeken in his “History of the Scottish Metrical Psalms”, (1872) records that
 “In the edition of the Psalms, printed by Charteris, Edinburgh, in 1595, thirty-two Conclusions, or renderings of the Gloria Patri are given, being one for each variety of metre, so that one might be sung at the close of each psalm, or part of a psalm.
One, only, is given in the edition of 1575. Some of the later editions have part of them, some the whole, and some none ; but the use of the Gloria Patri in some or in all the metres was universal in 1638. Baillie speaks of it as the "constant practice of our church."

Baillie, to whom he refers, is of course Robert Baillie, Professor of Divinity and later Principal at Glasgow University.  A leading evangelical Presbyterian he was one of the Scottish Commissioners at the Westminster Assembly.

Baillie vigorously defended the use of the Gloria Patri and records an episode in which he defended its use against some “sectaries” over-influenced by radical English independents. MacMeeken gives the full text of a memo that Baillie wrote.  Unfortunately it is in the Scots of the 1600s, and needs some translation.  I give it in English with some paraphrasing where it makes the sense clearer:

The sum of my conference yesterday with three or four yeomen of my flock who refused to sing the Conclusion, [ i.e. the Doxology concluding the psalm].


1. If it be not a rashness in you, who are fully persuaded by long experience of my great respect and love towards you, to give over any part of the public worship of God without ever acquainting me or any other person of the reasons that moved your mind to make such a change in God's service. Will not this be found a neglect of that duty which you owe in conscience towards my ministry, which you say, and I believe you, is very dear to you?

2. If you so readily have embraced the scruples which private men and strangers have cast in your mind about this one point, beware that this does not dispose your hearts to embrace more of their evil seed. I forewarn you, the rejecting of the Conclusion is one of the first links of the whole chain of Brownism [English Dissenters and Congregationalists.]  We have often seen, from this beginning, seducers, in this land, have drawn on their followers to loath [ Scots “scunder”] and reject our whole Psalms in metre, and then to refuse our prayers [liturgy], then our Sacraments, then our preaching, then at last our church, our covenant, and all. Every erroneous way has an evil spirit that leads on people from one point to another: and whom it finds inclined to walk in that way, it lets them not rest till it has drawn them to the uttermost end of the error. To doubt not but it was so in Popery and Arminianism.

Be assured the spirit of Brownism is of the same nature. Wherefore as you would be loath to cast away your whole Psalms, as you would be loath to give over your prayers, sacraments, preaching, as you would not forsake wholly our church, and your sworn covenant, and drink down all the errors of Brownism, take head to your spirit, which you find so ready to learn the first lessons of these seducers.

3. Consider that while you enquire the ground of this conclusion, that it is not enough for these seducers to tempt simple people to give to them the reason of every part of the public worship, or without further to cast them away. It became them who require you to forsake the constant practise of our church to give you clear Scriptural and particular reasons against it.

But we are content here to dispense with the pains, and give you some of these reasons which we have for that practise. The matter of that Conclusion is nothing but the paraphrase in metre of this one sentence, “Glory be to God for ever”. There are only two words paraphrased into it: God, and ever. That the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is a good paraphrase of the word “God”, none will doubt but heretics, who deny the Trinity. That the natural paraphrase of “ever” is, what was in the beginning, what is now, and what shall be, even these heretics do not doubt, nor any other who have wit to conceive of eternity. Or, if any should doubt of this, yet Rev. 1:8, [ “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,who is and who was and who is to come…  ESV]  would resolve them, which expresses the eternity of Christ in this paraphrase, who is, and who was, and who is to come. 

I grant some of the Brownists reject all paraphrase and all metre-ing of Scripture, and so our whole Psalm book, but you, I know, abhor all such folly. So then the matter of the controverted conclusion being alone Glory to God for ever, the ground of it will be a number of Scriptures both in Old and New Testament :

Psalms 41:13; 45: 1, 2; Gal. 1. 5; Phil. 4 20 [ text reads 4:18]; 1 Tim. 1:17: 2 Tim. 4:18;     1 Pet. 4:11, 5:11; Heb.13:21; 2 Cor. 11:31; Rev. 1. 6.

These, and many more Scriptures, are good grounds for all the matter which is in the Conclusion. As for the putting of that matter in the end of a Psalm, the Church, which has power to order the parts of Gods worship, 1 Cor. 14:40, has good reason for it, for Christ, in that pattern  of all prayers and praises, teaches us to conclude “For your's is the glory for ever.”

As for the frequent repetition of it, we have it but once almost in one spiritual song, for every portion of the Psalm which is rightly divided, is a full spiritual hymn to us. That it is lawful to conclude every prayer with the matter of this Conclusion, none of you doubts, for it is your daily practice, according to Christ’s pattern. Now it is strange if a praise which you say is lawful and pleases God should be unlawful when it is sung at the end of our praises. The matter is the same; the saying and singing are but diverse ways of expressing it. If it be appropriate to make this matter a conclusion of our prayers, it must also be even more appropriate to make it a conclusion of our praises; for the Doxology being a formal praise agrees more, and is in nature more akin [Scots “sibber” ] to praises than to supplications and prayers.

4. Consider the weight of the objections against it.

a.) “It is a human Popish invention.”

We deny it to be so; for we have given good scriptural grounds for it. We grant it is a part of the [Catholic] Liturgy and Mass Book. But this proves it not to be any worse than the Lord's Prayer and the Belief [ Scots term for the Apostles Creed], which are both in these evil books. True, the Brownists will teach you to express loathing [Scots scunder] at both; yet they will grant that many things in the Liturgy and Mass Book also, as the whole Book of Psalms, much of the Old and New Testament, is no more the worse for the standing in these evil places, then the sun beams for shining on a dunghill.

b.) It is objected again, that they challenge not the lawfulness of the use of it, but its frequent repetition.

1. This objection seems to be merely formal [Scots “fashional”, but OED gives this sense], for ask yourself if you can use it although never so rarely, you will find it is the lawfulness of the thing itself you deny, and not the frequent repetition of it only.

2. It is not oft repeated, since at most it is but once in one song.

3. There is so much instruction and edification and comfort in this short phrase, so clear expressions of the honour of the three persons, so evident demonstration of eternity, that the churches frequent repetition of it has not only the example of the Holy Ghost, who repeats similar weighty sentences, as the binding word of the Psalms. So in Ps. 107, the same clause is repeated four times [ actually, “steadfast love” appears six times] ; in Ps 118, the same words are repeated five times [ “His steadfast love endures forever “ ESV]; in Psalm 136 these same words are repeated 26 times. Not only, I say, the same sentences are repeated often by the Spirit of God, but the same sentence we are speaking of is, in these places cite , by the Apostles and Psalmist, very often repeated, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end of the discourse.

c.) They object that they may not be tied to the use of a thing indifferent.

1. This maxim may not be granted except it be well limited.

2. Will they have it a thing indifferent to give eternal glory to God?

3. There is no tie laid on you for the practice; but when it is left free to be used sometimes, and omitted sometimes, you to yourself with a perpetual abstinence, and with a superstitious fear of sin, whether the matter is lawful and not sinful, refuse ever that piece of worship as polluted.

But there is too much said of this matter. I earnestly exhort you in the name of God not to slight these things I have said, but as you would not continue to be an evil example to my flock, as you would not condemn the truth of God in my mouth, as you would not open the door of your hearts to many and dangerous novelties, return to your former practice and cheerfully join with me, your pastor, and the rest of the flock, to ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that eternal praise which is due to his name."

MacMeeken further informs us that in calling these yeomen of his flock to account in the matter of the " Gloria Patri," Baillie was acting in entire accordance with the sentiments of such leading men as Henderson, Dickson, Rutherford, Gillespie, and Blair, who fully approved of, and defended the use of the Doxology.

It is unfortunate that the Scottish Commissioners as a group did not press their practice on the English Divines at Westminster in a desire that the Directory for Public Worship could be speedily produced and would not contain any enforced practices that the English Independent might object to. Ballie held his ground and did not support this concession.

[To be continued... ]


Psalm 5  John Brown of Haddington
(1.) The man according to God's heart, in the assured faith of God's hearing his prayers, and hating his sins, fixes a daily, an early, an earnest, a steady, a grace-founded correspondence with God, in his ordinances of meditation, prayer, praise, etc., ver. 1-7.
(2.) Behold him humbly requesting God's special direction in duties which his enemies had rendered difficult to perform; supplicating and predicting the ruin of his implacable foes; and, in the assured faith of obtaining it, imploring comfort and prosperity to his fellow saints, ver. 8-12.

While I sing, let my heart and flesh cry out, and my soul pant and wait for the Lord. In the firm faith of infinite mercy to forgive all my crimes, and wash out all my sinful stains, let me blush at, and detest my own abominations. Let me cultivate the closest familiarity with the Lord my God. Let my prayers correspond with his promises, and with the particular condition of myself or others.

Psalm 5  John Cumming
David, in the midst of his grievous afflictions, lifts up his prayer to God, and predicts the overthrow of the wicked, and the establishment of the way of the just, from the fact, (verses 1, 2, 3,) that God is the hearer of prayer ; secondly, (verses 4, 5, 6,) that he hates all iniquity; thirdly, (verses 7, 8,) that through grace he himself would devote his best services to God ; and fourthly, (verses 9, 10,) that their sins cried for vengeance ; and lastly, from God's promises to bless and favour all who are in Christ Jesus, interested in his sacrifice, and clothed in his righteousness.
" Fools," in verse 5, means " carnal and wicked men." In verse 10, the future tense is preferable to the imperative.

Let us dread sin as the greatest evil, as most hateful to God, and most ruinous to ourselves, and sing this Psalm with fervent prayers that we may be washed in the blood of Jesus, and encompassed with the favour of God as with a shield.

Psalm 5 William Romaine
This is a prayer of the Lord Christ, in which he was heard and answered. He trusted in God at all times, and he was carried through his obedience and sufferings with continual success. So will our prayers through him find admittance within the veil, and bring down every needful blessing.

Let us ask in faith nothing wavering, and our prayer hearing God will grant us our hearts desire. May we sing with this sure trust in his faithfulness.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Henry Scougal’s Daily Prayers for St Machar’s Cathedral


Almighty and eternal God, who dwellest in the highest heavens, and humblest Thyself to behold the things that are done on the face of the earth ; we are assembled together in Thy sanctuary to offer our evening sacrifice unto Thee.

But we may justly be ashamed at the thoughts of Thy glory, and afraid to present ourselves before so great and holy a majesty. Even that abounding grace that invites us to Thee may make us blush and cover our faces for shame, when we reflect on our base ingratitude to so much undeserved love.

It was Thou who madest us, and not we ourselves ; and Thou sent us Thy Son to die for us, and offerest us the assistance of the Holy Ghost to bring us unto Thyself. But we have not paid that honour and service which we owed unto Thee, our Almighty Creator ; nor valued as we ought that great salvation purchased for us at so dear a rate ; nor duly followed the godly motion of Thy Holy Spirit. We have many times neglected the duties of Thy worship, and profaned Thy holy ordinances ; we have abused Thy mercies, and murmured against Thy rods, and seldom set Thee before our eyes : and whereas Thou hast commanded us to love our neighbours as ourselves, we have also been very injurious to them by evil counsel and bad example, by prejudging their interest and wronging their reputation, by doing them hurt, or neglecting to do them good.

And though we were made for no meaner happiness than the enjoyment of Thy Blessed Self, yet we have set our hearts too much on worldly pleasures and enjoyments ; and instead of that moderate use of Thy good creatures which Thou art pleased to allow us, have abused them by excess unto the prejudice of our souls.

Thus, Lord, we have sinned against our knowledge and our vows, against Thy promises and threatenings, and all the gracious methods Thou hast used to reclaim us ; and do therefore deserve Thy wrath, and all the dreadful effects of it, as the just recompense of our offences.

Nay, we acknowledge, O God, the very sins of this day were enough to condemn us : for we have done little good and much evil since the beginning of it ; our thoughts have been vain and trifling, our words foolish or sinful, our actions for the greatest part either evil or to little purpose : and though we be one day, now, nearer our graves, we have made little progress in that work for which Thou hast sent us into the world. And now, while we are confessing these things unto Thee, the little sensibleness of our hearts brings new accusations against us. Oh ! how just were it with Thee that we should lament these follies and sins unto all eternity, which we now confess with so little grief and bitterness of spirit.

But though we be among the chief of sinners, yet Thou art our Creator, and we the workmanship of Thy hands ; Yea, Thou art our Redeemer, and we Thy people whom Thou hast bought : and we desire to forsake the evil of our ways, and turn to Thee, the Lord our God, from whom we have gone so far astray

Have mercy upon us, therefore, O most merciful Father, for Thy goodness' sake ; and for the merits of the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, blot out all our iniquities. By His agony and bloody sweat, by His death and bitter passion, by all that He hath done and suffered for us, deliver us from the guilt of our sins, and the power of our corrupt affections ; and work in our souls an utter detestation of every evil way.

Enlighten our minds with true knowledge; purify our hearts with a lively faith and hope. Inflame our souls with a zealous affection towards Thee, and love towards all men for Thy sake; that it may be our greatest delight to advance Thy honour and glory, and do all the good we can to those amongst whom we live. Make us humble and lowly in our own eyes, meek and patient in our conversing with others ; never doing wrong to any, and being ready to pardon the greatest injuries done to ourselves. Teach us to be submissive to all Thy dispensations, and cheerful and well content in every condition Thou shalt be pleased to carve out unto us. Make us sober and temperate in all our enjoyments, pure and chaste in all our affections and behaviour, watchful against every temptation, and diligent in the performance of all our duties. Let the life of the holy Jesus be always in our thoughts and before our eyes ; that being in love with all those excellent graces which stirred in His blessed soul, we may never cease our endeavour till the image of our Lord and Saviour be fully formed within our hearts.

And grant, O most merciful Father, that the reading and hearing of Thy Holy Word at this time may help us thereunto ; and let the glory of all redound unto Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.


After the Reading, TE DEUM LAUDAMUS, We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord, &c., to this sentence, Govern them and lift them up for ever.

Let peace be to our mother, Sion ; and let them prosper that love her, and seek her good.

Bless and protect our Sovereign Lord the King. Establish His throne in righteousness, and let the crown flourish on His head. Bless his Queen, and brother, and all his Royal relations. Let the Lords of His Majesty's Privy Council, the Senators of the College of Justice, and all inferior judges and magistrates, be so directed and assisted by Thy grace, that we may live quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty.

Send down upon Thy servants the Bishops and Pastors of Thy Church such a plentiful measure of Thy Holy Spirit, as the weight and difficulty of their work doth require; and let them see of the fruit of their labours. And for a perpetual succession of those who may serve Thee in Church and State, bless all schools and seminaries of learning, especially the University of this place; and prosper the labours of Masters and Scholars, that piety and knowledge may flourish therein.

Be gracious to all ranks and conditions of men, and bless them with true piety, and with endowments suitable to their callings, and let success accompany their lawful endeavours.

And as Thou hast commanded us to remember in our prayers the troubles and necessities of others, so we humbly entreat Thee to look down with compassion on the necessities and calamities of mankind, and pity the works of Thy hands. Have mercy, Lord, on idiots and fools, all mad and distracted persons, and supply the want of their reason by the conduct of Thy providence and assistance of Thy Divine wisdom.

Speak peace to wounded consciences, and grant them the joy of Thy salvation, so as the bones which Thou hastbroken may rejoice. Visit those whom Thou hast cast on the bed of languishing, especially those that are recommended to the aid of our prayers. Send a happy deliverance to women travailing in child-birth ; and be near unto such as are drawing near the gates of death. Comfort all those that are afflicted by loss of friends, or any disastrous accident. Hear the cries of the poor, the sighs of the prisoner and captive, and the groans of all that are oppressed.

Be a father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow, a guide to wandering travellers, a pilot to those that go down to the deep. And when any do cry unto Thee in their troubles, hear and deliver them out of their distress ; that with hearts full of thankfulness they may praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.

Be mindful of all them in whom we are nearly concerned ; all our friends and relations, all our neighbours and acquaintances, all our well-wishers and benefactors. Pardon and forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers.

We bless Thee for that gracious providence whereby Thou hast protected and maintained us through the bygone day ; and we commend ourselves and all we have to Thy fatherly goodness and care through the darkness of the night : that when we cannot take care of ourselves we may rest safely under the shadow of Thy wings, and Thou, O Lord, mayest sustain us. Defend us graciously from fire and violence, and all the powers of darkness ; and raise our spirits, together with our bodies, in the morning, to such a vigorous sense of Thy continued goodness, as may stir us up to serve Thee with unwearied diligence all the day long.

These things, and whatever else Thou knowest needful and expedient for us or for others, we beg in the Name and words of Thy Son our Saviour, &c.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Henry Scougal’s Daily Prayers for St Machar’s Cathedral

Henry Scougal was the author of “The Life of God in the Soul of Man”, a 17th century devotional classic that influenced, among others, George Whitefield.

He died young, at the age of 28.  By that stage he had served as a lecturer, a pastor and a professor of theology.  It was while serving as a Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University that Scougal penned the morning and evening prayers that were used at St Machar’s cathedral.  These two prayers well repay study and are an excellent example of Scougal’s spirituality.  Some of the phraseology echoes that of the Book of Common Prayer. They are not included in his collected works.  I have not attempted to update the language.


GREAT and glorious Lord God, Maker of Heaven and earth,  and Ruler of Angels and men, who art infinitely exalted  above the highest of our thoughts ; look down from Thy heavenly dwelling-place, and behold in mercy Thy poor creatures, who are here humbled before Thee, to adore and worship Thy Divine Majesty ; to acknowledge our sins, and beg Thy mercy and favour ; to learn our duty from Thy Word, and be further engaged to Thy service and obedience, Raise our souls unto Thyself, 0 God ; and bow down Thy gracious ears to hear our prayers. Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Strength, and our Redeemer.

Unworthy are we, alas ! to come into Thy presence, or to take Thy holy name in our mouths ; being the wicked offspring of sinful parents, strongly inclined to that which is evil, and averse to anything that is truly good. We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.

We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done ; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done ; and there is no health in us. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou them, O God, which confess their faults ; restore Thou them that are penitent ; according to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of Thy holy Name, and the salvation of our own souls.

Preserve us, we beseech Thee, from everything that is displeasing in Thy sight ; and let never the temptations of Satan, the allurements of the world, or the corrupt custom, or bad example of those we live amongst, so far prevail with our evil hearts, as to draw us unto those sins which may dishonour Thee, or wrong our neighbours, or wound our own consciences.
Keep us, O Lord, from neglecting Thy worship, or profaning Thy holy ordinances ; from abusing Thy mercies, or murmuring at any of Thy providences ; and from that grievous sin which doth so much everywhere abound, the taking of Thy holy Name in vain.

Work in us an utter detestation of all fraud and deceit, all malice and envy, all strife and contention, all slander and backbiting; that we may never do, or wish any evil to others, nor delight to speak evil of them. Let us never deface Thy image, nor grieve Thy Holy Spirit, by pride,passion, or discontent ; by gluttony, drunkenness, or uncleanness, or any of those filthy vices whereby the greatest part of the world are carried headlong into perdition. But teach us so to obey Thy Holy Laws, and follow the perfect example which the Lord Jesus hath given us, that we may assure to ourselves an interest in that everlasting happiness which is the purchase of His precious blood.

To this end, bless us in reading and hearing Thy Holy Word, that it may instruct our judgments, and affect our hearts, and rule our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


After reading the Holy Scriptures, followeth the Decalogue, and   then this Prayer :

All honour, praise, and glory be ascribed to Thy Divine majesty, O God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, by us and all reasonable creatures ; for Thy infinite perfections, which we can never comprehend ; for the creation, and that wise providence whereby Thou rulest and governest the same ; for all the mercies we have met with since we came into the world ; that Thou hast preserved us from so many evils, and bestowed so many good things upon us.

We bless Thee for our health and strength, for our food and raiment, for all the means of our subsistence, and comforts of our life ; that it hath pleased Thee to preserve us and our habitations this bygone night from fire, violence, and every evil accident ; and to bring us in safety to the beginning of this day. But above all, we  adore and magnify Thee for that infinite mercy Thou hast declared unto mankind, in Jesus Christ our Lord : for the example of His holy life ; for the merits of His bitter death ; for all themeans of grace,  and for the hopes of everlasting glory.

But what are we, to set forth Thy praise? Let the people praise Thee, O God ; yea, let all the people praise Thee ! Make Thy ways known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations ; that from the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof, there may be an holy and acceptable sacrifice offered unto Thee. Open the eyes of the blind Jews. Bring in the fulness of the Gentiles. Deliver the world from Popish superstition, and the carnal delusion of Mahomet, and everything that may hinder the progress and power of this everlasting Gospel, by which we are taught to pray unto Thee.

Inspire Thy universal Church with the Spirit of holiness and love ; and grant unto all Christian kings, princes, and governors, a large measure of wisdom and grace, that they may be both able and willing to advance the great interests of piety and religion.

Endue our Sovereign the King with the Spirit of counsel and judgment; make him happy in wise and faithful counsellors, in loyal and peaceable subjects, and in the good success of all his enterprises, for Thy glory, and for his people's tranquility. Bless all our Rulers and Magistrates, that judgment may run as a river, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Illuminate all the Bishops and Pastors of Thy flock, that they may feed the people with knowledge, and lead them in the ways of righteousness. (Comfort the afflicted; relieve the poor ; heal the sick and diseased, especially those recommended to the aid of our prayers.) Grant that all men in every condition of life may be contented, bettered, and amended.

Bless us with seasonable weather, that the earth may yield her increase, and the poor be satisfied with bread. Bless all our friends and neighbours. Reward those that have done us good; and pardon all those that have done us evil.

Take care of us, and all our interests, throughout this day : Guide us by Thy Holy Spirit, and guard us by Thy watchful providence ; and suffer no evil to come near our dwellings. Bless us in our outgoing and incoming ; and establish the work of our hands.

Above all, enable us to do something for Thy glory, and the salvation of our souls; and grant that we may return with our hearts full of love and thankfulness to Thee, in the evening, to praise and magnify Thy continued favour towards us. And when these few days and nights which we are to pass in this wretched and sinful world shall come to a close, conduct us, O most merciful Father, unto that everlasting blessedness which was purchased by the blood of our glorious Redeemer : by whom we are encouraged to address ourselves unto Thee ; and in whose most holy words we close our imperfect prayers, as He hath taught us, saying, Our Father, &c.

(To be continued… )

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Some Thoughts on Prayer from “Good Thoughts in Bad Times and Other Papers”. Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)

Not a Puritan, but good biblical sense in this:


SET prayers are prescript forms of our own or other's composing; such are lawful for any, and needful for some to use.

Lawful for any.  Otherwise God would not have appointed the priest (presumed of themselves best able to pray) a form of blessing the people; nor would our Saviour have set us his prayer, which (as the town-bushel is the standard both to measure corn and other bushels by) is both a prayer in itself, and a pattern or platform of prayer.

Needful for some. Namely, for such who as yet have not attained (what all should endeavour) to pray extempore by the spirit. But as little children, to whom the plainest and evenest room at first is a labyrinth, are so ambitious of going alone, that they scorn to take the guidance of a form or bench to direct them, but will adventure by themselves, though often to the cost of a knock and a fall. So many confess their weakness in denying to confess it, who, refusing to be beholden to a set form of prayer, prefer to say nonsense rather than nothing in their extempore expressions. More modesty, and no less piety, it had been for such men to have prayed longer with set forms, that they might pray better without them.

 IT is no base and beggarly shift (arguing a narrow and necessitous heart), but a piece of holy and heavenly thrift, often to use the same prayer again. Christ's practice is my directory herein, who the third time said the same words. [Matth. xxvi. 44.]

A good prayer is not like a stratagem in war, to be used but once. No, the oftener the better. The clothes of the Israelites, whilst they wandered forty years in the wilderness, never waxed old, as if made of perpetuano indeed. So a good prayer, though often used, is still fresh and fair in the ears and eyes of Heaven.

Despair not then, thou simple soul, who hast no exchange of raiment, whose prayers cannot appear every day at Heaven's court in new clothes.

Thou mayest be as good a subject, though not so great a gallant, coming  always in the same suit. Yea, perchance the very same which was thy father's and grandfather's before thee, (a well-composed prayer is a good heir-loom in a family, and may hereditarily be descended to many generations,) but know thy comfort, thy prayer is well known to Heaven,  to which it is a constant customer. Only add new, or new degrees of old affections thereunto, and it will be acceptable to God thus repaired, as if new erected.

MIXT prayers are a methodical composition (no casual confusion) of extempore and premeditate prayers put together. Wherein the standers still are the same, and the essential parts (confession of sin, begging of pardon, craving grace for the future, thanking God for former favours, &c.), like the bones of the prayer, remain always unaltered.

Whilst the movable petitions (like the flesh and colour of thy prayers) are added, abridged, or altered, as God's spirit adviseth and enableth us, according to the emergencies of present occasions. In the midland sea, galleys are found to be most useful, which partly run on the legs of oars, and partly fly with the wings of sails, whereby they become serviceable both in a wind and in a calm. Such the conveniency of mixt prayer, wherein infused and acquired graces meet together, and men partly move with the breath of the Holy Spirit, partly row on by their own industry. Such medley prayers are most useful, as having the steadiness of premeditate, and the activity of extemporary prayer joined together.

Time for Some Spring Cleaning

About this time of the year my beloved wife thinks of the annual clearing out of our wardrobes. (As a mere man I would never think of such.) Often this means a much needed targeted approach to my wardrobe in particular, and a generous proportion of my treasured items of clothing are deemed out of fashion, faded, worn, or (unbelievably) too small and tight.

I generally bow to her superior sartorial wisdom, as any sensible husband would. Presentation and public appearance are important; she does not wish me to appear in public dressed as I was in the 70’s or even 90’s, especially as it seems that I have grown but the clothes have not.

Presentation and public appearance are also important for the church, especially on significant public occasions in congregational life. Some aspects of our worship and practice are timeless, some are merely traditional.  Often the traditional is not merely fossilised history but fossilised recent history, (within the last 50 or 150 years.)

This was forcefully brought to mind over the last weekend as I attended two services, one of which was the induction of a new minister to a charge and the other the installation of an elder to the Kirk Session.  What struck me, especially in the case of the minister’s induction, is how unnecessary much of the procedure was.  Not only was the language archaic, but it included a sprinkling of such phrases as “in hunc effectum” and “pro re nata” – we could probably have sneeked in an “ad eundum quo nemo ante iit” and the congregation would have been none the wiser.

The minister was asked to publically affirm his approval of the Claim of Right of 1842 and the Protest of 1843, which although historically significant in the history of the Free Church are not really essential points of reference in the 21st century church.  Not only had th minister to affirm his allegiance to the Westminster Confession of Faith, but he had to “disown all Popish, Arian, Socinian, Erastian and all other doctrines contrary to the Confession of Faith.”

Someone later jokingly asked me why he was asked to abjure “Rastafarian doctrine” – close, but not quite there. To be honest, I have never met a living Erastian, so cannot assume that it is a heresy that is much of a threat to the church today.  Conversely, no mention was made of heresies that are a present danger to the church,  such as charismatic theology, federal vision theology or false ecumenism. We might also want to ask why a clear affirmation of the Westminster Confession is not in itself thought to be a sufficient implicit rejection of such errors, both past and present.

Personally, I joined the Free Church of Scotland not because of what it (rightly) did in 1843 but because it is a living Reformed, Evangelical and Confessional denomination.  It makes me wonder if we will still be referring to 1843 in 2043!

Here is my suggestion: we need to do some “spring cleaning” of our forms of ordination and induction for ministers and elders. We need to ask what is essential biblically and what is beneficial. Equally, we need to ask what is faded and worn, what is unhelpful or even detrimental to the attempt to present the Free Church as a modern Evangelical and Reformed denomination, true to its biblical and theological roots. Perhaps we need to compare our service of ordination with those of the OPC, the PCA, and the URCNA.

If you don’t modernise you fossilise.  As the socialist writer Audrey Farrell has said, “Learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future.”