Chapter 21. Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day

Read Chapter 21(Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath-day) of the 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 doth 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.1But 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.2

2. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone;3not to angels, saints, or any other creature:4and since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.5

3. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,6is by God required of all men:7and that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,8by the help of His Spirit,9according to His will,10with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance;11and, if vocal, in a known tongue.12

4. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;13and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:14but not for the dead,15nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.16

5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,17the sound preaching18and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence;19singing of psalms with grace in the heart;20as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ; are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:21beside religious oaths,22vows,23solemn fastings,24and thanksgivings, upon special occasions,25which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in a holy and religious manner.26

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:27but God is to be worshipped everywhere,28in spirit and truth;29as in private families30daily,31and in secret each one by himself;32so, more solemnly, in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.33

7. As it is 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:34which, 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,35which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day,36and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.37

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,38but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.39