“Worship God.”

Rev. 22:9

“Fear God, and give glory to Him… and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

Rev. 14:7




All the Works of the Westminster Divines on Worship

The Regulative Principle of Worship

On the Relations Between the 1st & 2nd Tables of the Law

The Grounds of Christ the Mediator Receiving Divine Worship

The History of Scottish Worship

Critiques of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer



Order of Contents

The Regular Elements of Worship
Special Elements
Related Issues
On Natural vs. Instituted Worship
Definition of Worship



Regular Elements of Worship

“…after solemn calling on them to the worshipping of the great name of God…”¹

“Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship… the reading of the Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence; singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God”²

“After which… let the minister dismiss the congregation with a solemn blessing.”¹

¹ Westminster Directory of Public Worship
² Westminster Confession of Faith, 21.3.5


Call to Worship


Singing of Psalms

Reading of Scripture


Baptism and the Lord’s Supper




 Special Elements of Worship

“…beside religious oaths and vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.”

Westminster Confession of Faith, ch. 21.5

Oaths and Vows


Days of Thanksgiving



Related Issues of Worship

Musical Instruments

Religious Images in Worship

Images of Christ


Head Coverings

Responsive Readings

The Lord’s Day 

Other Religious Holidays

Children in Public Worship 

Tithes and Offerings

Saying Amen at the End of Prayers

Dancing & Drama

Fentiman, Travis – ‘Visual Imagery, Drama & Dancing in Worship’  2017  140 paragraphs

Begg, James – ‘Dancing in Worship’  1866  12 pp.  being Appendix no. IV in The Use of Organs and Other Instruments of Music in Worship, p. 257-269





Rutherford, Samuel

‘Samuel Rutherford & Thomas Sydserff, Bishop of Galloway, ‘An Discussing of Some Arguments Against Canons & Ceremonies in God’s Worship’ 1636′  in Religious Controversy in Scotland, 1625-1639  ed. David G. Mullan  in Scottish History Society, Fifth Series, vol 11 (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1998), pp. 82-99  A debate between the two men.

The debate first centers around whether ceremonies in worship, claimed to be indifferent, are legitimately scandals to the weak or not.  Then is more specifically discussed the episcopal practice of kneeling in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper.  At the end Rutherford gives a definition of worship.

‘The Introduction’ & Ch. 1 of The Divine Right of Church Government  1646


Poole, Matthew – Evangelical Worship is Spiritual Worship as it was Discussed in a Sermon  1660  24 pp.

Wilson, John – A Brief Discourse Concerning the Spirituality and Simplicity of New Testament Worship  1667  140 pp.

MacWard, Robert – Dialogues 2, 3 & 5  in The True Non-Conformist  1671

MacWard was the protege of Samuel Rutherford.  He here defends the non-conforming presbyterians during the era of persecution in Scotland against the criticisms of an episcopal Scottish minister, shortly turned Anglican.  For the topics addressed, see the Table of Contents to the dialogues.



Binnie, William – The Christian Ordinances, 1882, p. 52, 58 pages, from his The Church

Binnie was of the Free Church of Scotland.





Rainolds, John – The Sum of the Conference between John Rainolds and John Hart touching the Head and the Faith of the Church, wherein by the way are handled sundry points, of the sufficiency and right expounding of the Scriptures, the ministry of the Church, the function of priesthood, the sacrifice of the mass, with other controversies of religion: but chiefly and purposely the point of Church-government…  whereunto is annexed a treatise entitled, Six Conclusions touching the Holy Scripture and the Church…  with a defence of such things as Thomas Stapleton and Gregory Martin have carped at therein  (London, 1584)



Ames, William

English Puritanism, containing the main opinions of the rigidest sort of those that are called Puritans in the realm of England  ([London], 1641)

A Fresh Suit Against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship, or a Triplication unto Dr. Burgess’s rejoinder for Dr. Morton  ([Rotterdam?], 1633)  Index  ToC, Pt. 1, Pt. 2  GB

Gillespie, George – A Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies Obtruded on the Church of Scotland  1637

This launched the 2nd Reformation in Scotland, in 1638.  Gillespie here argues, with the authority of God’s Word, against much of contemporary presbyterian and reformed worship.

Burroughs, Jeremiah – Gospel-Worship, or, The Right Manner of Sanctifying the Name of God in general and particularly in these three great ordinances, viz. 1. Hearing of the Word, 2. Receiving the Lord’s Supper, 3. Prayer  (London, 1653)

Craghead, Robert – An Answer to a Late Book, Entitled, A Discourse Concerning the Inventions of men in the Worship of God, by William, Lord Bishop of Derry…  (Edinburgh, 1694)

William King (1650-1729) was an Anglican divine in the Church of Ireland and was the archbishop of Dublin.  He had written a book reproving and instructing the dissenters in the area of Dublin, entitled A Discourse concerning the Inventions of men in the Worship of God  (Dublin, 1694).  The book, by its table of contents, is very well organized and easily perused.  The subject matter is the details of most aspects of the outward, public worship of God.

Craghead here responds to the work, defending the dissenters.  Craghead’s book is dedicated to the presbyterian nobility of London.

Boyse, Joseph

Remarks on a Late Discourse of William, Lord Bishop of Derry: Concerning the Inventions of Men in the Worship of God  (London, 1694)

On William King’s work, see above under Craghead.  Boyse (1660-1728) was a dissenting minister at Dublin who wrote a number of theological tracts and was ‘a pious, learned and useful divine’ (James Darling).

King answered this work of Boyse with his own, entitled, An Admonition to the Dissenting Inhabitants of the Diocess of Derry concerning a book lately published by Mr. J. Boyse, entituled, Remarks on a late discourse of William…  (London, 1694)  GB.

A Vindication of the Remarks on the Bishop of Derry’s Discourse about Human Inventions…  (London, 1695)

This work of Boyse answers King’s response to Boyse’s Remarks.  King the Vindication of the Remarks with: A Second Admonition to the Dissenting Inhabitants of the Diocess of Derry concerning Mr. J. Boyse’s Vindication of his Remarks…  (London, 1696).



Anderson, John

A Dialogue between a Curate and a Countryman  Ref  1710

The Second Dialogue between the Curate and the Countryman Respecting the English Service  1711

The Countryman’s Letter to the Curate, wherein, besides an historical view of the English Liturgy, the assertions of Sage, the author of the “Fundamental Character of Presbytery,” concerning its universal usage in Scotland at the time of the Reformation, etc., are examined and proved to be false  Ref

Curate Calder Whipt  Ref  1712

A Defence of the Church-Government, Faith, Worship & Spirit of the Presbyterians: in answer to a late book entitled, An Apology for Mr. Thomas Rhind, or, An Account of the Manner how and the reasons for which he separated from the Presbyterian party and embraced the communion of the Church  (1714; Edinburgh: 1820)

Anderson (c.1668-1721) was a Scottish minister in Dumbarton.  On Anderson, see Robert Wodrow, Correspondence, vol. 1, Letter 15, pp. 34-9.

“But the work by which he is best known, and in which his learning and wit appear to the best advantage, is his ‘Defense of the Church Government…  and [it] may be said to have never been answered.” – Wodrow

William G. Blaikie: 

“Great anxiety was felt at the time by the presbyterian clergy in connection with the general use of the English liturgy in the episcopalian congregations, which had not been in common use among them till the beginning of the eighteenth century…

This publication has always been considered one of the ablest defences of the presbyterian system.” – DNB



On Natural vs. Instituted Worship


Ames, William – ‘Natural Worship & Instituted Worship’  from The Marrow of Sacred Divinity, book 2, ch. 5, sections 1-8 & ch. 13  Includes a footnote of Samuel Willard on the topic, from his Body of Divinity, Sermon 159

Cheynell, Francis – ‘Trinitarian Worship: Natural and Instituted’  from The Divine Trinunity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit  (1650), pp. 354-360

Owen, John – Questions 1-2 of A Short Catechism on Worship: Dr. Owen’s Instruction in the Worship of God, by Way of Questions and Answer; with an Explication and Confirmation of Those Answers  (1667)

Heidegger, Johann Heinrich – ‘On Natural Worship’  from Body of Christian Theology, 25.2



A Definition of Worship

‘Samuel Rutherford & Thomas Sydserff, Bishop of Galloway, ‘An Discussing of Some Arguments Against Canons & Ceremonies in God’s Worship’ 1636′  in Religious Controversy in Scotland, 1625-1639  ed. David G. Mullan  in Scottish History Society, Fifth Series, vol 11 (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1998), p. 98

“Answer [Sydserff]:  How define ye worship?

Opponent [Rutherford]:  An act of man whereby God is immediately honored.

Answer:  Say also according to God’s command.

Opponent:  I will not say, when I define worship in general.  If I should define lawful worship I would add this–that it be according to God’s command.  I remit to your learning to think: if one thing can give nature both to genus and to species, you know good logic speaks against this, God’s command cannot but give being to worship and to this particular worship, to wit, to lawful worship, and this way I might say, idolatry, sacrificing to Satan as Indians do, slaying of children to Moloch, etc., shall not be false worship except they be urged as commanded of God.”




“Let us also learn that nothing is less consistent than to punish heavily the crimes whereby mortals are injured, whilst we connive at the impious errors or sacrilegious modes of worship whereby the majesty of God is violated.”

John Calvin
on Ex. 32:29

“The worship of Christ, if he be not God, is idolatry, and the Christian religion damnable sin.  So we must be very sure that Christ is God before we worship him.”

John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan




Related Pages

The Church

Family Worship

Personal Godliness