The Regulative Principle of Worship Applies to All Worship, not only Public Worship

Under Construction


A Berean



    Grounds of the RPW
    Why Public Worship is Regulated Differently than Family Worship
.      Applications to Particular Circumstances

     The Westminster Confession  1646
.      The Scottish Directory for Family Worship
.      Historic, Reformed Writers




Does the Scriptural teaching of the Regulative Principle of Worship (RPW), that we are only to worship the Lord as He directs in his Revealed Will,¹ only apply to public worship, or, as the name suggests, does it apply to all worship (unqualified), including social, family and private worship?

¹ Westminster Confession 21.1, “The light of nature sheweth 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 representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.[b]

[a] Rom. 1:20Acts 17:24Ps. 119:68Jer. 10:7Ps. 31:23Ps. 18:3Rom. 10:12Ps. 62:8Josh. 24:14Mark 12:33.
[b] Deut. 12:32Matt. 15:9Acts 17:25Matt. 4:9,10Deut. 4:15-20Exod. 20:4-6Col. 2:23.”

The question is of great significance:  As Christians are becoming more familiar with the Biblical obligation for regular family worship, by what standard is family worship to be done?  Is this also to be by sola Scriptura?  Many Christian materials are promoting the family worshipping God through activities, puppets, games and all manner of will-worship (Col. 2:23).  Some in the Anglican Church (and other Churches) have never departed from using crosses, religious images, statues, candles, altars, holy water and rosaries in private worship.  Though these things are disallowed by those who hold to the Regulative Principle of Public Worship, are these man-made traditions (Mt. 15:9) acceptable means of worship to God when the public leaves?

A more nuanced position has been put forth by the esteemed Rev. Mike Ericson (who has done much more worthy to be honored than this Berean) in his very careful article, ‘Does the Regulative Principle of Worship Apply to Private and Family Worship?’  In it he argues that while the ordinary, Biblical means of grace (suitable to such persons and circumstances) alone are to be used in family and private worship, yet the Regulative Principle of Worship does not formally apply thereto, though numerous other general rules of the Word and principles of expediency, necessity and decency and order do so apply.

His arguments will be dealt with in specific, though not every particular argued against in this article should be fathered upon him.  It is this Berean’s great pleasure that the difference with the reverend Ericson is only in language and categories, as all Christians ought to greatly delight and love the Biblical content of the worship that Rev. Ericson rightly advocates in families and in private.  Even a dull stone (such as this Berean) may sharpen sharp iron; so it is hoped for here, and that blessing and thanksgiving may be the fruit of it.

The question at hand comes to the heart of what worship is and the grounds and extent of our worship, as well as the right understanding of the Scriptures.  It is our contention that because we are only able to approach our thrice-holy, almighty and sovereign God in worship by the condescension and appointment of his Will, that therefore all worship everywhere on God’s green earth, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, is to be regulated according to his Will, and no farther.

This position, that family and private worship comes under the Regulative Principle of Worship, will be shown to be the teaching of the Westminster Confession (1646) and in consistency with the Scottish Directory for Family Worship (1647), as well as a significant share of historic, reformed writers from its classical period in the 1600’s.

In consistency with our thesis, John Owen said that believers:

“…know that from the foundation of the world He never did allow, nor ever will, that in anything the will of the creatures should be the measure of his honor or the principle of his worship, either as to the matter or the manner…  Believers know what entertainment all will-worship finds with God: ‘Who hath required these things at your hand?’ [Isa. 1:12]…

…they who hold communion with Christ…  will admit nothing, practice nothing, in the worship of God, **private or public,** but what they have his warrant for; unless it comes in his name, with ‘Thus saith the Lord Jesus’…”

 cited by William Young, a late minister of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in ‘The Puritan Principle of Worship’, which is on the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)’s website. Owen, Of Communion With God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (1657) in Works 2:150-151.


The Grounds of the RPW

1. God’s Nature

The grounds of the RPW is not circumstances, but rather it is founded on the nature of God Himself: his absolute holiness and utter, incomprehensible sovereignty, He dwelling in inapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16).  Thus Westminster Confession (WCF) 21.1 bases the RPW on God’s “lordship and sovereignty over all”.  God is not only the Lord over public worship, but Lord over all, transcending all circumstances of the creature.

Hence it is utterly unfounded presumption to attempt to worship God, in any circumstances, apart from, or further than, a revelation of his Will to us to do so.  No more liberty in worship can be gained by us in private beyond his Revealed Will when it is He with whom we have to do.  Though worship is to be ‘ordered by the light of nature’ (WCF 1.6, 1 Cor. 11:13-1414:26,40, which is also a revelation of God’s Will), yet fundamentally all natural circumstances are but ephemeral contingencies before Him.

As God’s infinite being is everywhere present, we always living and breathing before his Face, and his standard of righteousness is unchangeably the same, according to the perfection of his nature, so we can find no more safety in offering Him false worship not according to his Will in private than in public.  Where is one place in this created universe where God’s will does not extend unto?  Where is God not the almighty and sovereign Lord?  How can circumstances limit or loosen his right to be worshipped in only the way that He so desires?


2. The Light of Nature & General Revelation

While God’s right to be worshipped as He so pleases stems from his holiness and sovereignty, yet the obligation upon the creature to worship Him, stems from nature and its light: from the natural relation we have, living in all creation around, us to God.  It is because, according to ‘the light of nature’, that God “is good, and doeth good unto all”, that He “is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, [and] called upon…””² (WCF 21.1)

² Rom. 1:20Acts 17:24Ps. 119:68Jer. 10:7Ps. 31:23Ps. 18:3Rom. 10:12Ps. 62:8Josh. 24:14Mark 12:33.


Acts 17:24-27

“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;

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;

26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”

The Second Commandment and the Light of Nature

As He is known to be good by nature that we should worship Him, and yet sovereign and holy by nature also, so Nature forbids our worshipping Him in private and families apart from his will, with the works of men’s hands, causes us to seek it out to see his own appointment.

If we are to worship God because He is so good to us in innumerable ways in this life, then we ought to worship Him, by the call of the light of nature, in all appropriate circumstances and conditions in this life, including, not only in public, but also in private, our families and socially.  If nature calls us to worship a holy, sovereign and good God in all conditions and circumstances of life, then we can expect that his “own revealed will”, “as instituted by Himself”, would  show us and regulate “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God” in all the conditions and circumstances we might find ourselves in in this life.

And what is that appointment, a clear negative prohibition:



2.  The Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6) is

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.

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

The Moral 2nd Commandment is universal, nature written on heart is universal, Rom. 1, it being unnatural
First commandment, no gods before Me.
This prohibits all false worship everywhere, regulates wherever
and however God is approached

3. The Commands and Prohibitions of Scripture
Commands to positively worship God in private and family
Prohibitions of false worship
In private and the family,
Private: Matthew handwashing, Job looking to sun, Rachel’s house gods
Family: Judges 18-19
General, with no qualifications, Col. 2, Gal. 4

4. The Sufficiency of Worship

Scripture is sufficient for all our worship.  Private and Family worship is either worship or its not.  If its not, then God does not obligate us to worship privately and in famlies, which is contrary to Scripture.  If it is worship, then Scripture is sufficient for it and regulates it, or Scripture does not regulate it and is not sufficient for it:

Does God bless us privately and in families, and we are called to praise Him for this, and yet is God’s revealed will not sufficient to direct us how to praise Him in private and as families?  Does God call whole families out of the race of men and Covenant them unto Himself with their children, put his Name upon them, call them to worship Him in families and yet not sufficiently instruct them how to worship Him in their families?

If we do more in family worship, which is religiously significant, than what Scripture warrants for it, then those extra things are either worship or not worship.  If they are worship then we add to the worship of God; and Scripture is not sufficient for family worship.  Hence Scripture is not sufficient for all of our worship, nor to instruct the man of God in righteousness and all that which is required of Him (2 Tim. 3:16).  If such religiously significant additions to family worship are not worship, then we are worshipping God with things that are not worship, which cannot be acceptable to God as worship.  It also says that God’s worship revealed in Scripture is not sufficient for his worship, but that it must be added to.

5.  Derives from God’s Will, not from Circumstances, though it applies to
circumstances differently by the light of nature
Circumstances, of themselves, cannot make our approach to God acceptable
or acceptable, rather this is from his Will
Man is to worship in all circumstances.  The Church is not an assembly, nor an assembly with eccl. government present, nor only on the Lord’s Day.  The Church is the people of Christ, wherever they are, even in the home and private, is the worship of the Church.

Does not mean that anything that can be done in Family worship needs to be warranted in the context of family worship in Scripture, or it can’t be done, as if elements of worship are only warranted for the circumstances they appear in.  Rather elements of worship are to be done in all of our relations.

Rutherford’s mixed circumstances, which Ericson alludes to, regulations that are not elements, in fact do flow from the RPW, and apply to family/secret worship: no place is more holy than another, partly religious, partly circumstantial, also known as superstition.  Superstition in family and private is cut away by the RPW.

And we grant the distinction that not all regulations flow from the RPW, but light of nature, Christian prudence and general rules of the Word per the Confession.


Circumstances are not able to ground God’s approbation in how we come to Him.  God’s will for our worship transcends all circumstances.  And his regulations about it transcends public worship:  With Adam and Eve family worship had altars, and then not after Moses.


That Public Worship is Regulated Closer and Differently than Family Worship:

Distinction between a principle and the application of it.

Examples of different regulations:

The Lord’s Supper administered in public worship, not family.

More said in Scripture about public worship precisely because it is public and Ps. 87

Worship stems from the light of nature and 2nd Commandment (not simply from Scripture, WCF 21.1), and is to be Ordered by the Light of Nature (WCF 1.6)

There were a multitude of religious rites and worship ordinances beyond coporate worship with the temple, namely clean and unclean laws, various washings, in home in private, etc., and the RPW of Dt. 4 and 12 refer to this also.  these were not purely moral, but ceremonial teaching signs.

There are also private religious duties that are not properly elements of worship, and may be done or not (unlike elements) which are not so suitable by the light of nature for public, but are suitable for the home, which is why theologians place them there right next to the elements (meditation, reading, other exercises that DPW mentions.).  This assumes there is not always a strong dividing point between the time of family worship, as I may do this in between eating a meal with kids, etc.  Though it is best, though not always convenient to put away such distracting indifferent circumstances, eating never comes into family worship.  This is probably a big reason for Ericson, as he says the English puritans.  If one worships and then immediately does catechism with kids, or even in between, what difference is this?

The Teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith and other reformed confessions

WCF 21.1 is the statement of RPW and it does not limit it to being in public.

WLC 108-109

Search family in Index of Dennison.

How in Harmony with the Scottish Directory for Family Worship

not infallible, does not mention singing praise.  Yet Ps. 118, Directory, and may have been because of the low state of affairs for singing in Scotland, not be able to, quote Ward on the.  See Henry 1.257 say it is necessary.

explain catechising and conferencing, Jn. 113-17

“I take a father or mother using questions to instruct and confirm a child’s knowledge (Isa. 28:10) in such a family worship setting to derive from the appropriateness of such for the nature of children in being instructed verbally, from the light of nature (which also is to regulate our worship, WCF 1.6) in the domestic setting.

Children asking questions in such worship settings (Ex. 12:26-27), likewise, I think, stems from the same principle: as Paul says, communication in worship without knowing what it means is useless (1 Cor. 14:7,11,14-15).

Hence, asking questions in worship (evidenced by adults in the Gospel accounts after Christ preaches and instructs from the Word of God, Jn. 13:24-26, 35-36; 14:5,8,22; 16:17-19, 29-30 at Passover, Family Worship, also Lk. 4:22 for incidental) is not a means of grace (it is not listed as such in the WCF.  all may ask questions, even kids at passover, not religiously significant, rather in public worship it is not natural for women, 1 Cor. 14), but it is a natural adjunct thereunto, stemming from the light of nature and for the profit of hearers (Gillespie argues that this principle is a legitimate one for ‘circumstances’), and is in consistency with the light of nature.  If a child can talk at Passover, then a girl child can talk; yet it is not orderly for children to talk in public worship but to ask their parents at home.

WCF 1.6: “there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God… common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.”


“The statement “family worship is bound by the RPW” is prone to confusion. “Family worship” is not a regulated service of public worship, but rather a time of familial piety which involves acts of worship during this time. According to the Directory for Family Worship, “the ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of piety” include “…catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the publick ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the scriptures when they are read; together with godly conferences tending to the edification of all the members in the most holy faith: as also, admonition and rebuke, upon just reasons, from those who have authority in the family.”

Catechizing is included here though it is not a proper act of worship. This obviously involves children speaking and wouldn’t be appropriate during public worship. Rebukes and admonitions to specific people is also not appropriate for public worship. So the directory does not seem to treat family worship in such a strictly delineated portion of time as public worship.

Also women are allowed to give their thoughts and ask questions which is explicitly forbidden during public worship (1 Cor. 14:35‬). Perhaps you might read Matthew Henry’s commentary or give an explanation. It can take larger portions than public worship; i.e., you might jump for joy for a recent trial that God has brought you through. Ultimately, we should not have to think in terms of constituting mini worship services for private piety. So while we can’t baptize anything we want and call it family worship, neither is it so strictly governed as public worship.”


(1) It has often been assumed on this thread in general that if the RPW binds the public worship service (which it does), then Scripture teaches specifically that:

1. such a constituted NT worship service, as a full service, as such, is explicitly warranted in Scripture.
2. that elements of worship must be warranted specifically for public worship in Scripture, otherwise they are not for public worship.
3. That all elements of worship must be done in a public worship service, and that nothing else is to be done, and this is explicitly found in Scripture.

There being even less evidence of family worship in Scripture (compared to public), and all these particulars not being able to be fully, clearly derived for family worship specifically, persons often make the inference that though public worship is regulated, family worship is not, or is regulated to a lesser degree.

I would suggest, however, that this is not a proper hermeneutic (and that the above points cannot be derived satisfactorily from Scripture). Rather:

1. God has delineated, and regulated, acts of worship in his Word. In doing so this prohibits anything else from being lawful worship. This is the RPW (with other corollaries being derived therefrom).

2. If it is lawful for a person to worship in a given act, it is lawful for Christians to do such together. It is natural and prescribed through God’s Word for Christians to worship together.

3. Some acts of worship, due to the regulations set on them in God’s Word, can only be done by ministers and/or in public worship as the church gathered.

4. As Christians are to worship together (with the administration of the governing ministry of the Church), therefore, normally, they ought to worship God in all the acts of worship He has set forth. And as the time, or ‘service’, is set aside for that purpose, other things should not be included (not being in-line with that purpose) or greatly limited to a minimum. This, I believe, is the justification and nature of a ‘public worship service’.

5. Family worship derives from (1) the natural obligation to worship God socially, together with those whom we are around, especially in the family relation and under that authority, every authority being under the natural laws of God with a design unto his Glory first, (2) from the elements of worship evidenced and prescribed in Scripture as they are to be naturally taken into these natural relations, and (3) as family worship is evidenced and set forth as a rule thereby in Scripture.

These points, I would suggest, are sound and can be soundly derived from nature and Scripture.

(2) On the Directory for Family Worship:

While the Directory mentions acts of piety which are to be done with families:

The Directory describes throughout that it has in view both family worship and more general and broad religious acts of edification and family reformation. Hence, it is describing both at various points

That the Directory does consider what it is speaking to (that which is in question), to be ‘family worship’ and not simply only acts of piety, seems to be made clear in the many references throughout the Directory to:

‘Family-worship’, ‘part of family-worship’, ‘convene a part of the family for worship’, ‘perform worship in families’, and all this being made parallel in the document to ‘public worship’.

(3) WCF 1.6 says that worship is to be done in accordance with the light of nature:

“…there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.”

This does affect how we worship:

While asking questions is not an element of worship (as if grace is conveyed through this means), yet it is at times necessary to understanding the message and how the message may apply to us (which it is the preacher’s job-function to delineate). Without understanding, 1 Cor. 14 says, there is no profit, and how shall they receive the faith, but by hearing and understanding? (Rom. 10) The message must be put in such vernacular language the people understand (1 Cor. 14).

And teaching, at times, sometimes necessarily involves questions to or by the hearer (due to the variegated circumstances we find ourselves in), which teaching is an aspect of preaching, preaching being an element of worship.

Hence, in the gospels (I can’t find the reference), there is at least one place where after Jesus reads the Word and gives his message, he fields a question or two from the people, seemingly in the worship ‘service’. At the Passover (Ex. 12), which involved worship in families, the child naturally asks what it all meant (God approving), and the father would answer him, teaching him what it meant.

In 1 Cor. 14, it forbids ladies from asking questions in the context of the public worship/teaching, which seems to imply that the men may very well, and did, ask questions (and this being allowed by Paul).

Likewise in setting aside time for the family to worship together, through the warranted acts of worship, it is natural in this domestic sphere, authority and training ground for children, for them to have their questions answered (lest they not understand any of it) and to have questions put to them to make sure they are understanding what is being taught, and perhaps to make sure they retain it (which is especially peculiar to their nature and station in life).

If one had all adults in one’s family, this may not be as necessary, though even familiar discourse, to some extent, about the subject is appropriate for domestic relations.

There is also the factors of daily life: that one may be worshipping over the table with other things going on and coming up. While other things ought to be put away in order to set one’s attention and focus upon the Lord and worshipping Him, yet it is not out of the question for other things to be mingled in (though not desirable). One is simply worshipping God in acts of worship, perhaps with other natural, indifferent, non-religious, things occurring in-between. This does not make things that are not worship to be worship, or worship to not be worship. And there is no ‘family worship service’ which would preclude all such other things absolutely.

(3) Continued….

And this is the view, I think, of the Directory of Family Worship. Notice the reason it gives for asking questions:

“…Reading of the scriptures, with catechising in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be the better enabled to profit under the publick ordinances, and they made more capable to understand the scriptures when they are read;”

Asking questions, or catechizing, does not stand as an element of worship itself (its not listed as such in WCF ch. 21), or something that is wholly separate from worship altogether. Rather, it happens in family worship for the sake of making sure the persons understand what is being taught in the worship and in the public worship, so that the teaching is not without effect. This is a natural concomitant to worship so that persons understand (which is naturally more freely expressed in family worship in the home than in public worship, though not prohibited from the latter).

(4) Regarding admonitions and rebukes, which the Directory mentions ought to happen to some extent when the family is convened for such acts of piety, or worship:

I do think that rebukes to individuals are warranted in the Word for public worship (where the letters of Paul, which name names, were to be read in the churches as Scripture), and this is the practice (I believe) of reformed churches such as the FCC (I believe), which may and at times does give rebukes and censures to individuals within worship services, some of the acts of Church government being able to be performed therein, whether in a congregational worship service or a worship service of the presbytery, etc.

And giving such admonitions and rebukes is very appropriate for heads of families in family worship in order to instruct children, and possibly others, in the will of God, especially as it pertains to the particulars of their life (this falling under teaching the word and caring for their souls).


All this to say, worship itself is regulated by God’s Word, in whatever context it is exercised, and family worship, in my understanding, is no less regulated than public worship, according to the regulations and circumstances appropriate unto it.

And family worship, while there being no such thing as a ‘constituted service’ for it (in my understanding), much less warranted in Scripture for it, yet it is more than any acts of piety, and is the family worshipping God together, and they ought not to worship in any way that Scripture does not approve of.

A few implications, I think, involve:

The objection of many persons to exclusive psalmody. They sometimes think that that position involves having to explicitly warrant everything relating to a ‘worship service’ from Scripture (which can’t be done).

But this is a misunderstanding of Scripture’s teachings relating to worship, public worship, etc.

Others sometimes question the obligation of family worship itself, or that it is regulated.

My wife Annie, unfortunately, was involved, while growing up, in a hyper-calvinistic cult (no exaggeration) who taught that family worship derived from the authority of the church ministry/elders, and hence could be closely manipulated with a heavy hand therefrom.

Its not. Its ultimately derived from our natural obligations as creatures (by the Moral Law, 2nd Commandment) living in social relations, and is therein evidenced (and approved) in Scripture. Church elders, of course, do have some oversight of it, though the father’s authority to exercise family worship is not derived from the Church ministry.

While ‘constituted’ can bear different meanings with reference to public worship, there are ways in which persons use it, or understand it, wrongly (in my opinion).

Many take it to mean that through the Call to Worship and Benediction, that time is set off, not only by ecclesiastical authority, but by God Himself through the Word, and hence it is a ‘constituted worship service’.

I don’t believe this was the understanding of the Scots, and it is not my opinion from Scripture.

The Scots historically gave as a call to worship simply the exhortation to the people, ‘Let us Worship God’. It was a human exhortation, that the people would be directed to the purpose at hand, and for the church to enter into the acts of worshipping God. It was not an element of worship itself (which many hold it to be).

There was no call to worship in the OT rites, nor is one found in the practice of the NT Church. There are psalms that contain calls to worship, just as they are present today when we sing the psalms (and so God calls us, and we call each other to worship God therein).

But I don’t find there warrant to be that this is a distinct element of worship, and it is nowhere found in the Westminster Standards as such (rather, the Standards’ language is consistent with the Scottish view).

I do take the Benediction to be an element of worship, as it is distinct from prayer and from a human exhortation, and this is the way that the Westminster Form of Presbyterial Church Government delineates it, and proof-texts it from Scripture and gives Scriptural arguments for it.

The Teaching of Theologians

Have not found this topic treated so distinctly in the older writings, yet we have found that it flows out of their treatises on worship.

William Bradshaw, English Puritanism, 1605

The most unqualified terms

Rutherford, Divine Right,

Private, p. 4, 91

Gillespie – none

George Downame, 1620, the Second Commandment, the Negative Part, RPW unqualified

William Perkins

second commandment in chapter 21 of his A Golden Chain, or the Description of Theology (1608).

“The second commandment then concerneth the manner of performing holy and solemn worship unto God.”(39) Among the things forbidden, Perkins mentions “will-worship, when God is worshipped with a naked and bare good intention, not warranted by the Word of God. Col. 2:23, I Sam. 13:9-10, verse 13. Hitherto may we add popish superstitions in sacrifices, meats, holidays, apparel, temporary and beadridden prayers, indulgences, austere life, whipping, ceremonies, gestures, gate conversation, pilgrimage, building of altars, pictures, churches, and all other of that rabble.”  Much of this was private

Durham, 10 Commandments

2nd commandment, p. 69 Huge, pp. 106-7 in Naphtali ed.

4th Commandment, p. 132 sets it right along with worship generally

Ames, Human Ceremonies

Private – ch. 5, p. 53 private ceremonies, and to be removed, pp. 397 (Hezekiah against secret idolatry), 399, also known as superstition, which the reformers were very much against.

Colloquy at Thorn  1645

Article 5, ‘Of the Worship Service’  in ed. James Dennison, Jr., Reformed Confessions of the 16th & 17th Centuries…  (RHB, 2014), vol. 3, p. 217  Latin

“1. The sole true God, is one in being and threefold in persons; the all-knowing, almighty, omnipresent, Creator and Giver of all good things, who turns away evil, and is the all-sufficient, most merciful Savior who should be honored by us in private and in public worship, and certainly in the manner which He Himself has prescribed in His Word.”



Gospel Worship

‘Family Worship’  p. 33, 51, 80 (90), 202, 209

‘secret’ p. 95 GB, p. 40 in SDG

private, p. 106

Thomas Watson, statement of the RPW unqualified, Body of divinity rule 5, p.242

Boston, vol. 2, Second Commandment

family worship, p. 144, 147 and all elements in family worship, contra Ericson.  p.152 statement of the RPW, worship unqualified

Schwertley’s article, p. 46-47 & 100

G.I. Williamson, ‘The Regulative Principle of Worship’ p. 67, footnote 1, assumes that it does apply

History of the Change of the RPW to only Public worship:

Schwertley’s article, p. 46-47

Coldwell/Webb, Christmas America mid-1800’s

article, Christmas outside public worship first, p. 166, Richards

How applies to Particular Circumstances

Most of Ericson’s reasons come from misperceiving parishoners, however we are not so confused nor misperceive.

Who may speak in family worship?  Ex. 12 Passover, kids asking questions in
family worship, catechized, speaking is not properly worship, but indifferent,
even in public worship (Fire!, mother to baby, kids, etc.), indifferent things
ought not to crowd out elements, but be limited, and more removed from a
greater height of solemnity in public, hence Paul, 1 Cor. 14, not without
exception, but should be regular rule by light of nature and Scripture
Must all elements of worship be present in public, family and private worship?

Review Ericson’s article to make sure everything is addressed.

James Durham

An Exposition of the Ten Commandments…  (London, 1675), 1st Commandment, pp. 69 & 72

“It [the 2nd Commandment] reaches to all external obedience…  praying externally, internal prayer being required in the First Command; outward confession of sin, when called for…  Also it is to be extended to secret duties, and to private duties in families, and Christian fellowship, as well as to public, and to diligence in them all…

Again, this [2nd] Command is practically broken…  [by] All neglecters of them [worship ordinances] when they may have them: and all these that set not themselves to go rightly about them, in secret, in families or in public…”

Search ‘private’ in Ames, etc.

John Ball

A Friendly Trial of the Grounds Tending to Separation…  (Cambridge, 1640), ch. 7, p. 114

“The substantial means of worship both public and private are determined
of God.  It is unlawful to set up an image for worship either public or private.  The scripture must be acknowledged the sole rule of faith and
manners both in public and private.  It is unlawful to devise sacramental signs in private as well as in the congregation.”


Leonard Rijssen

A Complete Summary of Elenctic Theology & of as Much Didactic Theology as is Necessary  trans. J. Wesley White  MTh thesis  (Bern, 1676; GPTS, 2009), ch. 15, ‘The Decalogue & Good Works’, p. 178

“§XIII. In the second commandment God commands in what way and with what external public and private worship He desires to be worshipped.”


Palmer, Herbert & Daniel Cawdrey – ch. 6, section 11  in Sabbatum Redivivum, or the Christian Sabbath Vindicated…  (1645), Part 1, pp. 77-78

Some in their day denied the 4th Commandment applied to anything by public worship.



Religious Worship may be in Civil Affairs at Circumstances