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Chapter 21: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day

The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith

1. 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 to 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 representations or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.b

a. Josh 24:14; Psa 18:3; 31:23; 62:8; 119:68; Jer 10:7; Mark 12:33; Acts 17:24; Rom 1:20; 10:12. • b. Exod 20:4-6; Deut 4:15-20; 12:32; Mat 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:25; Col 2:23.

2. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone:a not to angels, saints, or any other creature:b and since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.c

a. Mat 4:10 with John 5:23 and 2 Cor 13:14. • b. Rom 1:25; Col 2:18; Rev 19:10. • c. John 14:6; Eph 2:18; Col 3:17; 1 Tim 2:5.

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

a. Phil 4:6. • b. Psa 65:2. • c. John 14:13-14; 1 Pet 2:5. • d. Rom 8:26. • e. 1 John 5:14. • f. Gen 18:27; Psa 47:7; Eccl 5:1-2; Mat 6:12, 14-15; Mark 11:24; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2; Heb 12:28; James 1:6-7; 5:16. • g. 1 Cor 14:14.

4. Prayer is to be made for things lawful,a and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter;b but not for the dead,c nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.d

a. 1 John 5:14. • b. Ruth 4:12; 2 Sam 7:29; John 17:20; 1 Tim 2:1-2. • c. 2 Sam 12:21-23 with Luke 16:25-26; Rev 14:13. • d. 1 John 5:16.

5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear;a the sound preaching;b and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God with understanding, faith, and reverence;c singing of psalms with grace in the heart;d as, also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:e besides religious oaths,f vows,g solemn fastings,h and thanksgivings upon several occasions;i which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.k

a. Acts 15:21; Rev 1:3. • b. 2 Tim 4:2. • c. Isa 66:2; Mat 13:19; Acts 10:33; Heb 4:2; James 1:22. • d. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; James 5:13. • e. Mat 28:19; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:23-29. • f. Deut 6:13 with Neh 10:29. • g. Isa 19:21 with Eccl 5:4-5. • h. Est 4:16; Joel 2:12; Mat 9:15; 1 Cor 7:5. • i. Est 9:22; Psa 107 throughout. • k. Heb 12:28.

6. 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:a but God is to be worshipped everywhereb in spirit and truth;c as in private familiesd daily,e and in secret each one by himself,f so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.g

a. John 4:21. • b. Mal 1:11; 1 Tim 2:8. • c. John 4:23-24. • d. Deut 6:6-7; 2 Sam 6:18, 20; Job 1:5; Jer 10:25; Acts 10:2; 1 Pet 3:7. • e. Mat 6:11. • f. Mat 6:6; Eph 6:18. • g. Isa 56:6-7; Prov 1:20-21, 24; 8:34; Luke 4:16; Acts 2:42; 13:42; Heb 10:25.

7. 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:a 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,b which in Scripture is called the Lord’s day,c and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.d

a. Exod 20:8, 10-11; Isa 56:2, 4, 6-7. • b. Gen 2:2-3; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2. • c. Rev 1:10. • d. Exod 20:8, 10 with Mat 5:17-18.

8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations;a 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.b

a. Exod 20:8; 16:23, 25-26, 29-30; 31:15-17; Isa 58:13; Neh 13:15-22. • b. Isa 58:13; Mat 12:1-13.


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