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To the Clergy of the Diocesan Synod of Dun
blane, by Bishop LEIGHTON.
Never before printed.
I, Bishop Leighton's Charge to bis Clergy,
First, That all diligence be used for the repressing of profaneness, and for the advancement of solid piety and holiness.
Secondly, That not only scandals of unchastity, but drunkenness, swearing, curfing, filthy-speaking, and mocking of religion, and all other grofs offences, be brought under church-censure.
Thirdly, That fcandalous offenders be not abfolved, till there appear in them very probable signs of true repentance.
Fourthly, That inquiry be made, by the minister, not only into the knowledge, but the practice and track of life, of those who are to be admitted to the holy communion; and all profane, and evidently impenitent, persons be secluded, till their better conversa, tion, and obedience to the gospel, be more apparent.
Fifthly, That family-prayer be inquired after; and they that can, be exhorted to join with it reading of the Scriptures.
First, That, instead of lecturing and preaching both at one meeting, larger portions of the Holy Scriptures, one whole chapter at least of each Teftament, and psalms withal, be constantly read; and this not as a by-work, while they are convening, but after the people are well convened, and the worship solemnly begun with confession of fins and prayer, either by the minister or some fit person by him appointed.
Secondly, That the Lord's prayer be restored to more frequent use; likewise, the doxology and the creed.
Thirdly, That daily public prayer, in churches, morning and evening, with reading of the Scriptures, be used, where it can be had conveniently, and the people be exhorted to frequent them; not so as to think that this should excuse them from daily private prayer, in their families and in secret, but rather as a help to enable them, and dispose them the more for both these : and let the constant use of secret prayer be recommended to all persons, as the great instrument of sanctifying the foul, and of entertain. ing and increasing in it the love of God.
Fourthly, That the younger fort, and the ignorant, be diligently catechised, at fit times, all the year through ; and that work not wholly laid over on some days or weeks before the celebration of the cominunion ; but that the inquiry, at that time, be rather of their good conversation, and due disposition for partaking of that holy ordinance, as was said before in an article touching discipline.
Fifthly, That ministers use some short form of catechism, such as they may require account of, till a common form be agreed on.
Sixthly, That preaching be plain, and useful for all capacities; not entangled with useless questions
and disputes, nor continued to a wearisome length. The great and most necessary principles of religion, most frequently treated upon; and oftentime larger portions of Scripture explained, and suitable instructions and exhortations thence deduced ; and let that be the sermon at that time, which will doubtless be as truly preaching and useful, if not more fo, than infisting, for a whole fermon or more, upon one short verse or sentence.
The Bishop propounded to the brethren, that it was to be reminded, by himself and them both, to how eminent degrees of purity of heart and life their holy calling doth engage them; to how great contempt of this present world, and inflamed affections toward heaven, fpringing from deep persuasions within them of those things they preach to others, and from the daily meditation of them, and fervent prayer : and that we consider how ill it becomes us to be much in the trivial conversation of the world; but, when our duty or neceffity involves us in company, that our speech and deportment be exemplarily holy, ministering grace to those with whom we converse; and, (to add but this one thing, so suitable to ministers of the gospel of peace), that we be meek and gentle, and lovers and exhorters of peace, private and public, amongst all ranks of men ; endeavouring rather to quench, than to increase, the useless debates and contentions that abound in the world, and be always more ftudious of pacific than polemic divinity; that certainly being much diviner than this, for the students of it are called the fons of God.
II. The Bishop's Address after the business was over,
After the affairs of the Synod were ended, the Bishop shewed the brethren he had somewhat to impart to them that concerned himself, which, though
it imported little or nothing, either to them or the church, yet he judged it his duty to acquaint them with : And it was, the resolution he had taken of retiring from this public charge ; and that all the account he could give of the reasons moving him to it, was briefly this : The sense he had of his own unworthiness of so high a station in the church, and his weariness of the contentions of this church, which seemed rather to be growing than abating; and, by their growth, did make so great abatements of that Christian meeknefs and mutual charity, that is so much more worth than the whole fum of all that we contend about. He thanked the brethren for all their undeserved respect and kindnefs manifefted to himself all along; and desired their good construction of the poor endeavours he had used to ferve them, and to assist them in promoting the work of the ministry, and the great designs of the gofpel, in their bounds; and if, in any thing, in word or deed, he had offended them, or any of them, he ve. ry earnestly and humbly craved their pardon : And having recommended to them to continue in the Atudy of peace and holiness, and of ardent love to our great Lord and Master, and to the fouls he hath so dearly bought, he closed with these words of the Apoftle : “ Finally, brethren, farewell : Be perfect, “ be of good comfort, be of one mind, and live in
peace; and the God of peace and love shall be o with you."
III. The Bishop's Charge, October 1666. 1. It was enacted, That all the minifters do endeavour to bring their people to a high esteem of the Holy Scriptures, and of the reading of them in public; and to give evidence thereof, by reverent and attentive hearing, none being permitted to ftand about the doors, or lie in the kirk-yard, during the