Christ-Honoring Worship in the Home:Family Worship in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

GDJT 2 (2023): 63–94
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The proper rearing of children was of paramount importance for early Protestants. For that reason, Martin Luther (1483–1546), himself a father of six, once declared, “There is no power on earth that is nobler or greater than that of parents.” Lutheran Reformer and Pastor, Justus Menius (1499–1558), wrote that “the diligent rearing of children is the greatest service to the world, both in spiritual and temporal affairs, both for present life and for posterity.”[2] Similar statements from Reformers and Puritans are seemingly endless.

Given its importance for both church and nation, vast amounts of ink were spilled in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries impressing upon parents the urgent business of properly educating their children. And the education which children were to receive was expansive, encompassing the mundane and the weighty, the internal and the external, the temporal and the spiritual. Parents were expected to instill in their children principles and practices which would govern every decision the child would make from waking in the morning until retiring at night. Sixteenth-century German theologian Otto Brunfels (1488–1534) provided an example of just such principles and practices. According to Brunfels, Children are to:

Sleep neither too little nor too much [seven hours is the recommended amount]. Begin each day by blessing it in God’s name and saying the Lord’s Prayer. Thank God for keeping you through the night and ask his help for the new day. Greet your parents. Comb your hair and wash your face and hands. Before departing for school, ask Christ to send his Spirit, without whom there is no true understanding, remembering also, however, that the Spirit only helps those who help themselves.[3]

Even in children, self-government was expected and seemingly minor lapses could reveal a serious lack of character. A mouth gaping open, for example, indicated “a fool,” while laughing until your body shook exposed a lack of self-discipline. Uncontrollable laughter was to be concealed “with a hand or a handkerchief.” Hair must not be too long or it would “swish to and fro like the main of a wild horse.” And table manners received special attention. Sixteenth-century Nuremberg poet and playwright Hans Sachs (1494–1576) provided a popular list. According to Sachs, children must not,

snort or smack like a pig. Reach violently for bread . . . cut bread on your chest . . .” or “rock back and forth on the bench, lest you let loose a stink.” “Do not tear pieces [of food] for your plate with your teeth. . . . Do not pick your nose . . . Never . . . fish out lice . . . and do not fall upon your plate like an animal.”

These were but a few examples from a much longer inventory.[4]

But the proper education of children had a far more serious dimension. Raising God fearing children who honored the Lord with their lives was of paramount importance. And, family worship was critical to a child’s education and development.


Family worship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is an extraordinarily complex topic. In this period, there was considerable diversity of opinion about the appropriate content, frequency, and time of family worship, whether prayer must be written or extemporaneous, and whether such worship should be enforced. Family worship also had political implications, and, in some decades in the seventeenth century, family worship was viewed as politically subversive. And there was yet another factor which makes examining family worship in this period difficult—the vast amount of source material including countless sermons, tracts, treatises, catechisms, monographs, and the like.

To provide just one example, there were dozens of household manuals and housefather books published in this period which, in part or in whole, dealt with family worship. Even a single author could produce a staggering volume of material on this subject. Take, for instance, Puritan minister Richard Baxter (1615–1691). Baxter composed multiple volumes addressing, in some measure, family worship, each having a different purpose. In his volume entitled The Catechising of Families (1683), Baxter wrote to those who had advanced beyond the Westminster Smaller Catechism and desired a more “rooted faith” and “fuller understanding.”[5] In contrast, his A Poor Man’s Family Book (1674) was exactly that—a book for the poor householder. The title page includes this note: “With a request to Landlords and Rich men to give to their Tenants and poor Neighbours, either this or some fitter Book.”[6] Then there was Baxter’s A Christian Directory (1673), a comprehensive four-part work of practical theology. The second part of the Directory is dedicated to “Christian Economics,” and the third chapter addresses family worship specifically.[7] In these three works alone, we find nearly 1500 pages on family worship—and Baxter had much more to say elsewhere. In short, the sheer volume of material makes any comprehensive treatment of the subject difficult.

It is my purpose to bring out the basic contours of Christ-honoring family worship in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I want to examine what Reformed and Puritan writers believed about the responsibility of parents to establish family worship in the home, the nature and elements of family worship, and the importance of family worship to the future of church and nation. I will close with a few words about why this history is instructive for modern Christians.

Family Worship

The place of home and family in the spiritual instruction of children was never more exalted than in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Seventeenth-century clergyman Thomas Manton (1620–1677) wrote, “A family is the seminary of church and state; and if children be not well principled there, all miscarrieth . . . if youth be bred ill in the family, they prove ill in the Church and Common-wealth.”[8]

Manton’s assessment was widespread among Reformed and Puritan clergy. Clergyman William Gouge (1675–1563) wrote, “A family is . . . a little commonwealth, a school wherein the first principles and grounds of government and subjection are learned.” Theologian and minister William Perkins (1558–1602) believed the family to be “the seminarie of all other socities, it followeth, that the holie and righteous government thereof, is a direct meane for the good ordering, both of church and commonwealth.”[9] Puritan preacher Thomas Cartwright (1535–1603) declared, “Houses are the nurseries of the church,”[10] while non-conformist pastor and Bible commentator Matthew Henry (1662–1714) explained that “Christian Families” should be “Nurseries and Seminaries of Piety.”[11]

Who is Responsible for Establishing Family Worship?

If the home was the seminary of the church, then fathers were its principles and foremost instructors. Reformers and Puritans, as well as virtually all others of the period, believed that fathers were the heads, governors, and masters of the home. Male headship in the home was all but universally accepted.[12] And, although male headship included significant authority in the home, it also carried with it considerable responsibility. The master of the house was tasked with the spiritual welfare of their household, including that of their wife, children, servants, and others under their care. This responsibility which fathers bore in the religious instruction of their family is ubiquitous in the literature of the period.

On August 24, 1647, the General Assembly of the Church in Scotland published The Directory of Family Worship. The Directory placed the responsibility of family worship squarely on the shoulders of fathers, a responsibility for which they would be held accountable. Richard Baxter insisted, “It is the will of God that the rulers of families should teach those who are under them the doctrine of salvation.” English Cleric Taylor Thomas (1576–1632) explained,

Let every master of a family see to what is called, namely, to make his house a little church, to instruct every one of his family in the fear of God, to contain every one of them under holy discipline, to pray with them and for them. . . . Many complain of evil times and general corruption: and many talk of want of discipline in the church . . . . But thou that [art] a careless master . . . will not mend things till thou mend thy family. If all families, where reformation must begin, were brought into this discipline, our eyes should see a happy change.[13]

The judgment of non-conformist Puritan minister Samuel Slater (1629–1704) was even more grave: “Masters . . . ,” exclaimed Slater, “let it not be your desire only or chiefly that [your children and servants] may live well and comfortably, but that they may live holily; that they may live like Christians, as well as like Men.” According to Slater, men who reject the “Light of Nature” and “the dictates of Reason” and are without God in the world, are not men at all. Until children are taught by their fathers to “praise, extol and honor the King of Heaven,” they “are no better than Beasts in the shapes of Men.”[14]

The consequences were considerable when fathers failed to execute the divine call to instruct their children in matters of religion. Clergyman Oliver Heywood (1630–1702) insisted,

There is a general complaint of the decay of the power of godliness, and inundation of profaneness, and not without cause. I know no better remedy than domestic piety . . . . In vain do you complain of magistrates and ministers, while you that are householders are unfaithful to your trust. You complain that the world is in a bad state, what do you do to mend it. Do not so much complain of others as of yourselves . . . and plead with [God] for reformation . . . sweep before your own doors; act for God within your sphere. . . . Oh sirs! have you not sin enough of your own, but you must draw upon yourselves the guilt of your whole families?[15]

In short, fathers were explicitly tasked with the religious instruction and welfare of their children. Yet, one must not conclude that mothers were unimportant in the spiritual development of their children. English Clergyman Thomas Manton (1620–1677) wrote,

Women should be careful of this duty (i.e., raising God-fearing children); because as they are most about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities to instruct them, so this is the principle service they can do to God in this world, being restrained from more public work. And doubtless many an excellent magistrate hath been sent into the Commonwealth, and many an excellent pastor into the Church, and many a precious saint to heaven, through the happy preparations of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herself useless and unserviceable to the Church.[16]

Samuel Slater exclaimed,

Maſters and Miſtreſſes of Families have no ſmall Charge, no little Truſt, for their Families are committed to them . . . For you are to remember that you are intruſted with the Souls of your Families, as well as with their Bodies . . .”[17]

Richard Baxter, John Bunyan (1628–1688), and countless others made the same point—mothers, like fathers, were tasked with the religious education and development of their children. Clearly, Reformed and Puritan authors, although having emphasized the role of the Master or Governor of the home (i.e. fathers) in the spiritual development of children, nevertheless understood that mothers were indispensable.[18] In the words of historian Steven Ozment, “No age subscribed more completely to the notion that the hand that rocked the cradle ruled the world.”[19]

What is Family Worship?

But precisely how were parents to instruct their children in spiritual matters? What were the means by which children would learn both orthodoxy and orthopraxy (i.e., right belief and right practice) at home? How were sons and daughters to find redemption in Christ and to become knowledgeable, virtuous Christians? Certainly, presence at corporate worship was essential. But training went well beyond Sunday services. The most formative instruction took place in the home.

Richard Baxter explained that worship, in its most fundamental sense, was “honoring God as God” in all solemnity. So, ‘family worship’ was a solemn honoring of God as God among the members of one’s household. And worship, according to Baxter, involved more than simple obedience to basic commands. Rather, worship was “a religious performance of some sacred actions, with an intention of honoring God.” The sacred actions Baxter had in mind included Bible “reading, catechizing, all instructing, praying, praises,” and psalm singing.[20] Taken together, Protestants called this family worship.

In his An Earnest Call to Family Religion, Samuel Slater provided a similar list. He explained,

Prayer indeed is a very considerable part of a Christian’s duty, yet it is but a part. . . . There is reading of the Scriptures, singing of Psalms, hearing the Word, serious meditation, and self-examination as well as prayer. There is instructing of Youth, and Catechizing of Children, and exhorting one another, and provoking one another to Love and to good works, as well as praying.[21]

According to Richard Baxter, family worship was “required by the law of nature; therefore, it is of divine institution.”[22] Baxter insisted that God, as “Father . . . Founder . . . Master . . . Owner . . . Governor . . . Lord and Ruler” of the family, must be honored as such. He argued,

As God is the proper Sovereign of every commonwealth and the Head of the church, so he is the Head of every family. Therefore, as every commonwealth should perform such worship or honor to their earthly sovereign as is due to a man, so each society should, according to its capacities, offer divine worship and honor God.” This honor is due Him because He is both Creator and Redeemer, not simply of persons, but of families.[23]

Baxter also insisted that God, being ever-present, must be regularly worshiped by the gathered family. He explained,

When a king, a father, a master are absent, actual honor to be presented to them is not due because they are not capable of receiving it . . . ; yet when they stand near, it is a contemptuous subject, a disobedient child, who will not offer actual honor to them. Now God is ever present not only with each person . . . but also with every family.[24]

Therefore, insisted Baxter, God must always be honored in the family, both privately as individuals and when the family is called together. Baxter’s emphasis on the nature and necessity of family worship was reproduced time and again in other works of the period.

The Directory for Family Worship is a wonderful window into the place of family worship among Puritans. It provides its own list of practices which constituted Christ honoring family worship:

The ordinary duties comprehended under the exercise of piety, which should be in families, when they are convened to that effect, are these: First. Prayer and praises . . . Next, Reading of the scriptures, with catechising in a plain way . . . 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.[25]

So committed to family worship was the Westminster Assembly of Divines, a gathering of primarily English and Scottish theologians appointed to reorganize the Church of England, that “in 1646 [the Assembly] voted that those who neglected family prayer and instructions were guilty of sin.”[26]

When was family worship to take place?

Family worship was to take place on the Lord’s Day, but family worship was not simply a Lord’s Day exercise. In fact, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the Savoy Declaration (1658), and the 1689 London Baptist Confession—the Confessions of seventeenth-century Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists respectively—all contained the following statement: “God is to be worshiped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily . . .”[27]

In his An Earnest Call to Family Religion, Samuel Slater wrote,

This indeed, as I have been informed, is the manner of some among us; upon a Lord’s-day they will call their families together, and then they will do something for God. But they must give me leave to think, what they do then is pitifully, shamefully done; they are so seldom us’d to [prayer] that they must needs bungle at it; and let me ask you, my Friends, are these persons liberal to God? Nay, are they not very beggarly and penurious, who will give Him a visit upon that day which [the Lord] hath reserved wholly and entirely for himself . . . . But they will not part with any of that time which he hath allowed them for the dispatch of their own benefits; but their Work and Recreations, their Eating, Drinking and Sleeping shall ingross it all . . . . The truth is, Love to God should draw us frequently that we may have Communion with him, and necessity might drive us that we may have supplies from him; all your Springs are in him, with him is the Well of Life, therefore let down your Bucket of Prayer often, that you may draw Water with joy.[28]

Virtually all believed that family worship was to be practiced daily.


Consider just one element of family worship—prayer. Reserving family prayer for the Lord’s Day alone would have been unthinkable. Listen again to Samuel Slater’s An Earnest Call to Family Religion: “Pray always, that is, pray daily, pray every day. This is to be not only a Sabbath-day’s work, as I am inform’d some pernicious professors make it, no, no, it ought to be your work.”[29] Among the reasons given by Slater was the following: “God loves your company, therefore do not be strangers to him.” Christians ought to be so moved by God’s love that they should “not content [themselves] with praying only upon the Lord’s-day.”[30]

Richard Baxter, appealing to 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (“pray without ceasing”), believed family prayer ought to be conducted not less than twice daily. He wrote, “It is easy for a man that is willing to see, that less than twice a day, doth not answer the command of praying without ceasing.”[31] Morning and evening prayer appears regularly in the literature of the period, for it was widely believed that morning and evening, specifically mealtimes, were the opportune time for family devotion. Lewis Bayly’s (1575–1631) The Practice of Piety (c. 1611) and Symon Patrick’s (1626–1707) The Devout Christian (1672) are but two examples. Oliver Heywood, in his A Family Alter provides another example. He writes,

What an honour is it, that the King of heaven gives you an admittance into his presence-chamber with your families twice a day! to confess your sins, beg pardon and supplies of mercy; to give him the glory of his goodness, and to lay your load on him, and get ease: I hope you will never be averse to it, or weary of it. God forbid you should.[32]

Intentional twice-daily prayer would have satisfied John Calvin’s (1509–1564) concern when he wrote, “Unless we fix certain hours in the day for prayer, it easily slips from our memory.”[33] Family prayer intentionally practiced morning and evening were widely regarded as ideal.[34]

If family prayer was ideally a twice-daily exercise, how were these times of prayer to be spent? What constituted prayer that was pleasing to God? Should prayer be extemporaneous or should set forms be used? What of those just learning to pray? The form and content of prayer were extraordinarily practical questions and were hotly debated among many theologians and ministers, some arguing for set forms of prayer while others defending extemporaneous prayer.[35]

However, many had the wisdom to recognize that circumstances dictated the most appropriate type of prayer. Puritans like Richard Baxter and William Perkins (1558–1602) held this middle course.[36] Perkins asked, is it “lawful, when we pray, to read a set form of prayer? For some think that to do so is a sin. It is no sin. But a man may lawfully, and with good conscience, do it.” To support his answer, Perkins appeals to the “set form of words” found in the book of Psalms, most of which, according to Perkins, are prayers. Perkins continued:

To conceive a form of prayers requires gifts of memory, knowledge, utterance, and the gifts of grace. Now every Child and Servant of God . . . has not all these gifts. . . . Therefore, in want of them, [he] may lawfully use a set form of prayer. As a man with a weak back or a lame leg may lean on a crutch.[37]

Laity, for their part, were undaunted by such debates. Fiona Ann Counsell writes,

Lay people selected and blended their prayers from a wide range of sources; memorizing set forms, conceiving their own prayers using detailed frameworks provided in the prayer books, and fleshing out skeleton prayers to their individual needs.[38]

In the end, family prayer developed naturally according to the level of education, spiritual maturity, needs, and circumstances of each and every family. And, even the leading advocates of set form and extemporaneous prayer believed that some prayer, regardless of form, was better than no prayer at all.

Reading & Catechizing

But prayer was not the only element of Christ-honoring family worship to receive attention in sixteenth and seventeenth-century literature. Reading Scripture with the gathered family was basic to family worship. Scripture was God’s Word, and therefore was to be impressed upon the hearts and minds of the family. According to Deuteronomy 6, God’s Law was to be the subject of discourse “when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.”[39] Reformed and Puritan saints were unshakable in their conviction that God’s Word was truth, and, therefore, reading the Scripture and being instructed therein was necessary if the family was to grow in their knowledge and love of the Lord.

Reading Scripture was also quite practical. For example, reading Scripture together taught Christians how to pray. The Rev. Oliver Heywood put it this way:

If you make it a daily custom to read the Bible, you will find appropriate expressions flowing into your mind in prayer, which will prove pertinent matter upon all occasions ; when you read scripture, think, now God is speaking to me, and thereby furnishing me with matter to speak to him in prayer; this passage suits my case, I will improve it in confession, petition, deprecation or thanksgiving, in my addresses to God, and thus you will arrive at a habit of free converse with God.[40]

But it wasn’t enough to read God’s Word—Scripture must be taught. Richard Baxter believed that husbands were to sanctify and teach their wives (Eph. 5:26; 1 Cor. 14:35). Furthermore, Baxter appealed to Ephesians 6:4 (“Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”) and Proverbs 22:6 (“Train up a child in the way he should go”), insisting that parents must “carefully and constantly feed and nourish” their children spiritually by putting “doctrine into the mind,” “chiding,” and “sometimes correcting.”[41] For his part, Baxter published several works intended to aid in such household instruction.[42]

Family worship, according to The Directory for Family Worship, included the “Reading of Scriptures with Chatechizing in a plain way, that the understandings of the simpler may be . . . made more capable to understand the Scriptures when they are read.”[43] Catechesis was a form of theological instruction in which the student was asked, and then answered, questions. One thinks of the first, and oft quoted, question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer? “Man’s Chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”[44]

The difficulty with catechesis was that every child was in a different place in terms of age, maturity, and spiritual understanding. No catechism suited every individual and family equally. Baxter, in his The Catechising of Families, explains that catechisms “should be sorted into three degrees, suited to the Childhood, Youth and maturer Age of Christians.”[45]

It is, therefore, unsurprising that Catechisms were written to instruct those of every age, educational level, and degree of spiritual maturity. Puritans did believe that even the youngest of children could be taught. A popular catechism used in the home for the very young was Cotton Mather’s (1663–1728) Milk for Babes first published in 1641. Mather’s catechism was later included in Benjamin Harris’s The New England Primer (formerly entitled Protestant Tutor) no later than 1710.[46] Of his catechism, Mather wrote,

I have laboured also to help your Understandings, by a Scriptural Catechism . . . and tho’ I am far from not encouraging any of you to prize and learn those, excellent Catechisms which are now commonly used among us; yet I was willing to offer you one more, because it pretends to these few little Singularities.

What were the singularities to which Cotton Mather referred? First, the answers in his catechism were short. Second, the answers were the very words of Scripture. Finally, and remarkably, some of the questions in Mather’s catechism were provided for the instruction of infants.”[47]

Catechisms for the youngest were very basic and often designed to cultivate a love for Jesus Christ above all else. Take, for instance, the German theologian and reformer Johann Eberlin von Günzburg (1470–1533). In von Günzburg’s catechism, he instructed parents to teach their children that Christ is “their best, truest, and friendliest friend, more friendly, loving, and trustworthy to them than all the angels and saints.”[48]

Lutheran Pastor and poet Erasmus Alberus (1500–1553) composed his Ten Dialogues for Children Who Have Begun to Speak. “The reason so few people today are God-fearing,” Alberus explained, “is that they were not raised to reverence God during childhood.” Such parents were guilty of “spiritually abusing” and even “murdering” their own children. For his part, Alberus both instructed his own children at a very early age, and helped friends do the same. Listen to one of the dialogues Alberus composed for his three-and-a-half-year-old daughter Gertrude:

Alberus: Do you love Jesus?

Gertrude: Yes, father.

A: Who is the Lord Jesus?

G: God and Mary’s son.

A: How is his dear Mother called?

G: Mary.

A: Why do you love Jesus? What has he done to make you love him?

G: He has shed his blood for me.

A: He has shed his blood for you?

G: Yes, father.

A: Could you be saved if he had not shed his blood for you?

G: Oh no!

A: What would then have happened?

G: We would all be damned.

A: We would all be damned?

G: Yes, father.

A: O Lord God, it would have been bad for us poor people, if the

Lord had not shed his blood for us.

G: Had the child Jesus not been born, we would be lost altogether.

A: Do you thank the Lord Christ that he has shed his blood for you?

G: Yes, father.

A: How? Tell me, child.

G: I thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, that you have become my brother

and saved me from all want through your holy death. I praise you eternally for your great goodness.

Alburus even used physical actions to teach his children. When his “beautiful little daughter Cecilia” approached the final moments of her life in this world, Alberus asked her, “How did Christ die for us?” Cecilia stretched out her arms as Christ has once stretched out his on the cross.[49] There was no age and no condition in which a child could not be taught.

Of course, catechesis was not reserved for the very young. The entire family benefitted from catechesis. Baptist minister Benjamin Keach (1640–1704), well-known for his Keache’s Catechism, wrote a primer entitled Instructions for Children. The title page of this slender work contained the following details: “Directing Parents in a Right and Spiritual manner to Educate their Children. WITH A SCRIPTURAL CATECHISM Wherein all the Chief Principles of True Christianity Are clearly Open’d.” The primer included not one, but three different catechisms intended for children of varying ages. The first of these catechisms, entitled “The Little Child’s Catechism,” was designed for children between the ages of three and four. The two additional catechisms, both entitled “The Youth’s Catechism,” were intended, in the first instance, for those around ten years of age, and in the second, for those “grown up to a mature age.” And, because it was the parent’s responsibility to “Educate their Children,” Keach clearly expected parents to know the material. In other words, this single work demonstrates that family religious devotion was for the benefit of the entire family.[50]

Although most of these catechisms have been long since forgotten, there are a number of notable exceptions. Again, Keach’s Catechism, often called the Baptist Catechism, is still in use today, as are the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. But few of them are used in the home for the purpose of family instruction.


There is one more element of Christ-honoring family worship about which sixteenth and seventeenth-century Reformed and Puritan Christians had much to say—praising the Lord in song.

The Westminster Divines, in The Directory for the Public Worship of God, explained, “It is the duty of Christians to praise God publicly, by singing of psalms together in the congregation, and also privately in the family.”[51]

The Whole Booke of Psalms, published by John Day in 1562, became “the most influential Psalter” for the next one-hundred-and-fifty years.[52] The popular Psalter was intended for use, not only in the church, but in the home. The title page reads,

The Whole Book of Psalms set forth and allowed to be sung in all Churches, of all the people together, and after Morning and Evening prayer: as also before and after Sermons: and moreover in private houses, for their godly solace and comfort; laying apart all ungodly songs and ballads, which tend only to the nourishing of vice, and corrupting of youth.[53]

Psalm singing was an important discipline in the Christian life, for it was considered “the most proper ordinance for expressing of joy and thanksgiving.”[54] Samuel Slater wrote,

You have Family mercies in which you do all share, and of which you tast the sweetness, and therefore you should all bear your parts in a Song of Praise, and chearfully joyn together in your acknowledgments of them, and thankful returns to the God that gives them.[55]

Minister and Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, published his own songbook entitled Family-Hymns. “My design in this essay,” he explained, “is to promote the singing of Psalms in Families, as a part of their Daily Worship, especially their Sabbath Worship.” According to Henry, family Psalm singing was the practice of the ancient church and fathers would “Sing Psalms with their Wives and Children, especially at and after their Meals.”[56]

Care was in order when Psalms were sung. The Directory for Public Worship states that “the voice is to be tunably and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord.”[57]

Lewis Bayly, in his devotional manual The Practice of Piety, wrote,

At evening when the due time of repairing to rest approaches, call together again all thy family; read a chapter in the same manner that was prescribed in the morning ; then, in a holy imitation of our Lord and his disciples, sing a psalm: but in singing of psalms, either after supper, or at any other time, observe these rules:

1. Beware of singing divine psalms for an ordinary recreation. . . . They are God’s word: take them not in thy mouth in vain.

2. Remember to sing David’s psalms with David’s spirit

3. Practise St. Paul’s rule—” I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the understanding also.” (1 Cor xiv. 15.)

4. As you sing uncover your heads (1 Cor xi. 4), and behave yourselves in comely reverence as in the sight of God, singing to God in God’s own words; but be sure that the matter make more melody in your hearts (Eph v. 19; Col iii. 16) than the music in your ear

5. Thou mayest, if thou thinkest good, sing all the psalms over in order, for all are most divine and comfortable; but if thou wilt choose some special psalms, as more fit for some times and purposes, and such as, by the oft usage, thy people may the easier commit to memory.[58]

In the late seventeenth-century, controversy arose over the use of hymns in private and public worship. As was mentioned earlier, the most popular Psalter of the period was The Whole Book of Psalms, also known as the Sternhold & Hopkins Psalter. The collected Psalms were to be sung in church and at home “for . . . godly solace and comfort,” But the title page of the Psalter added the following note: “Laying apart all ungodly songs and ballads, which tend only to the nourishing of vice, and corrupting of youth.”[59] Certainly, most Reformed and Puritan Christians held to exclusive Psalmody. That was about to change. In 1647, John Cotton (1585–1652) was among the first to advocate hymn singing in the home, although not in public worship. But it was Benjamin Keach who was to bring the controversy most fully into public view. Between 1691 and 1696, Keach published several works advocating the singing of hymns in addition to the singing of Psalms. Keach himself composed nearly 500 hymns and also published the hymns of many others. A decade later, the controversy was largely concluded with the publication of Isaac Watts’ (1674–1748) Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Everafter, hymns were widely incorporated alongside Psalms in both home and congregational worship.


But not every element of Christ honoring family worship was tightly scheduled. Take, for instance, conferences—i.e., godly discussion for the purpose of continued learning, encouraging, comforting, and ultimately growing spiritually.[60] While family conferences were an important element in family worship on the Lord’s Day, they were somewhat impractical during morning and evening devotion given the limits of time. Rather, godly discussions was a form of worship which could be offered whenever opportunity presented itself, as is the case in Deuteronomy 6:7: this element of worship could be carried on “when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”[61]

Certainly, godly conferences could be planned. But often, conferences occurred outside of morning and evening worship. And, although such godly discussions were beneficial to all, parents had a particular responsibility to use every opportunity to further instruct their children in the things of God—to help children think deeply about the Lord, to repeat sermons, to reinforce previous lessons, to strengthen, to encourage, to comfort, to instruct, and ultimately, to lead children to Christ.

Parents would not only directly instruct their children, but frequently children would carry on a dialogue with their parents. Cleric Immanuel Bourne (1590–1672) explained, “Let the husband with the wife, let the father with the child, talk together of these matters, and both to and fro let them enquire and give their judgments.[62] Children learned by listening, reading, and memorizing. But they also grew in their knowledge and love of the Lord through godly discussion.

Richard Baxter provided wonderful guidance for parents. In his Christian Economics, He wrote,

You may employ a child . . . to read a chapter in the Bible, while you are dressing . . . and eating your breakfast . . . . Else you may employ that time in some fruitful meditation, or conference with those about you, as far as your necessary occasions do give leave. As to think or speak of the mercy of a night’s rest, and of your renewed time, and how many spent that night in hell, and how many in prison, and how many in a colder, harder lodging, and how many in grievous pain and sickness, weary of their beds and of their lives, and how many in distracting terrors of their minds; and how many souls were that night called from their bodies, to appear before the dreadful God: and think how fast days and nights roll on! and how speedily your last night and day will come. And observe what is wanting in the readiness of your soul, for such a time, and seek it presently without delay.[63]

There were times, however, when children simply listened. New England clergyman Cotton Mather provides a moving example in his diary. He wrote,

I took my little daughter, Katy, into my study; and there I told my Child, that I am to dy shortly, and shee must, when I am Dead, Remember every Thing, that I said unto her. I set before her, the sinful and woful Contition of her Nature, and I charg’d her, to pray in secret Places, every Day, without ceasing, that God for the Sake of Jesus Christ would give her a New Heart, and pardon Her sins, and make her a Servant of His. I gave her to understand, that when I am taken from her . . . shee has a careful and a tender Father to provide for her. . . .

At length, with many Tears, both on my Part, and hers, I told my Child, that God had from Heaven assured mee, and the good Angels of God had satisfied mee, that shee shall bee brought home unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and bee one of His forever. . . . I thereupon made the Child kneel down by mee; and I poured out my Cries unto the Lord, that Hee would lay His Hands upon her, and bless her and save her, and make her a Temple of His Glory. . . . I write this, the more particularly, that the Child may hereafter have the Benefit of reading it.[64]

Conferences with children were not to be excessively complex but rather simple and memorable. This was, in fact, a mark of Puritan preaching. According to the Westminster Directory for Public Worship (in contrast to The Directory for Family Worship), preachers were to avoid “obscure terms of art.” If sermons were to be delivered in “plain terms,”[65] how much more the instruction of children in the home.

According to John Bunyan, instruction was to be “in terms and Words easy to be understood.” “High expressions” were to be avoided, for “they will drown . . . children.” In addition, Bunyan warned, “Take heed of filling their heads with whimsies, and unprofitable notions,” for this would lead not to humility but to arrogance. Rather, “open . . . to them the state of man by nature; discourse with them of sin, of death, and hell; of a crucified Saviour, and the promise of life through faith.”[66]

Enforcing Family Worship

In some quarters, family worship was taken with the utmost seriousness. Clergyman Oliver Heywood believed that the failure to maintain family worship in the home was a dreadful sin which should invite the discipline of the church. In his A Family Alter, Heywood explained,

Would you rather see the agonies of your children, and hear them crying amidst infernal torments, than speak a word to them for their instruction, hear them cry under your correction, or supplicate God for their salvation? Oh cruel tigers and barbarous monsters! You may imagine yourselves to be Christians, but I cannot judge that man worthy to be a fit communicant at the Lord’s table, that maintains not the worship of God ordinarily in his family’ and he deserves admonition and censure for this sin.[67]

Heywood would have approved of the Scottish position as stated in The Directory for Family-Worship. The work was intended to advance “piety and uniformity” in private and family worship just as The Directory for Public Worship, adopted by the Westminster Assembly two years earlier (1645),had established piety and uniformity in corporate worship. According to The Directory for Family Worship, “prayer and praises,” the “reading of the scriptures”, “catechizing”, “godly conferences”, “admonition and rebuke”, as well as confession, thanksgiving, and “mutual edification” were all necessary to true family piety.[68] The head of the family (i.e. the father) was responsible to ensure that these practices were carried out diligently in the home. Where a father was “unfit”, by which the Assembly meant either spiritually derelict or illiterate, “the minister and session” were to appoint another man who resided with the family.[69]

None of this is extraordinary. What is remarkable, however, is the lengths to which the Scottish kirk would go to ensure that these practices were carried out in every family. Listen to the opening words of The Directory for Family-Worship:

To the end that these Directions may not be rendered ineffectual and unprofitable among some, through the usual neglect of the very substance of the duty of Family-worship, the Assembly doth further require and appoint ministers and ruling elders to make diligent search and enquiry, in the congregations committed to their charge respectively, whether there be among them any family or families which use to neglect this necessary duty; and if any such family be found, the head of the family is to be first admonished privately to amend his fault; and, in the case of his continuing therein, he is to be gravely and sadly reproved by the session; after which reproof, if he be found still to neglect Family-worship, let him be, for his obstinacy in such an offense, suspended and debarred from the Lord’s supper, as being justly esteemed unworthy to communicate therein, till he amend.[70]

Seditious Nature of Family Worship

Interestingly, family worship became, for a time, quite controversial. Because of the pressure brought by Puritans on the church of England, family worship began to be viewed by Anglican authorities as subversive. In 1583, the Anglican Church forbade “all preaching, reading, catechism and other self-like exercises in private places and families whereunto others do resort, being not of the same family.” One year later, English Archbishop John Whitgift (1530–1604) established his Visitation Articles of 1584. Article 11 reads,

Item what persons you haue in your parish, [who] doo teach & instruct children, and what be the sayed scholemasters names, whether they teach publikely or priuately in any man’s house, & whether . . . such as teache youth to reade English, doo bring vp their children in reading this Catechisme in English, and of other Bookes agréeable to the Quéenes procéedinges. And whether they behaue themselues honestly, and both repaire to Church orderly themselues and so much as lyeth in them, procure that theyr scholers also frequent the same.

Again, Article 30 states, “Item, whether any doo vse any conuenticles or meetings, handling or expounding of scriptures in any priuat house or place, other then in the common Church, who they be, where and when.”[71]

Such suspicion was far removed from the attitude expressed by William Tyndale (1494–1536) earlier in the century when he wrote, “Every man ought to preach in word and deed unto his household, and to them that are under his governance.” In fact, “every man ought to endeavour himself to be as well learned as the preacher and every man may privately inform his neighbors.”[72] Soon, such activity would be forbidden, not only by the Puritan hating Archbishop William Laud (1573–1645), but even by the Puritan Directory for Family Worship, which prohibited the admission of “persons from divers families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at meals, or otherwise with them upon some lawful occasion.” Such prohibitions were given to ensure that the responsibility of any individual family cannot be delegated to another family. Furthermore, there appeared to be some concern that the gathering of multiple families may tend toward the division of a family and their local congregation.[73]

In the end, family worship was viewed as subversive because all genuine faith and practice is subversive of ungodly authority. In 1662, nearly 2000 ministers lost their livings because of their refusal to conform to the demands of the Church of England—demands, which, in many cases, were altogether unbiblical. These ministers were subverting the unbiblical misuse of authority. But just as faithful preaching and teaching continued in the face of opposition, so faithful families continued in Christ-honoring family religion.


This is how sixteenth and seventeenth-century Reformed and Puritan Christians understood “Christ honoring worship in the family.” Just as individual Christians were to honor God in private worship and believing communities in corporate worship, so every family bore the same obligation as a gathered household. Parents, and fathers in particular, were tasked with leading their families in prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, conferences, and singing the praises of God. This worship was not reserved for the Lord’s Day, but was to take place every day, and ideally multiple times a day.

Reformed and Puritan Christians believed that family worship was biblical. Works on the subject are brimming with Scripture. Richard Baxter cites more than fifty biblical texts in his treatment of family worship.[74] He clearly believed that family worship was a biblical mandate.

Samuel Slater had hard words for households devoid of family worship. He exclaimed,

There is so little done for God in the Houses of many who call themselves Christians, that one would take them not for Christians, but Atheists, and conclude them without God in the World . . . for there is no Praying in their Families, no Reading of the Scriptures, no Singing of Psalms, no Repeating of Sermons, no Catechizing of young ones, who would not take these for Heathens, if they did not call themselves something else?[75]

Obviously, there were families in Slater’s day who neglected family worship altogether. For others, it was a struggle—an ideal which they worked diligently to achieve. And, for still others, twice daily family worship was their practice.[76] Matthew Henry asked, “What shall I say then to perswade Masters of Families, who have hitherto neglected their duty . . .?” His answer? “Better late than never.”[77]

What is striking is the difference between Henry’s day and our own. What Reformed and Puritan Christians once widely believed—that daily family worship was ordained and commanded by God—is almost entirely foreign to the modern Christian. One can sit in churches, attend conferences, shop Christian bookstores, and peruse Christian literature for decades without ever encountering anything which seriously acquaints them with family worship. Unlike the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when material addressing family worship was pervasive, the subject has been largely neglected in our own day. And, because the topic has received so little attention, many Christians fail to understand just how much Scripture has to say about the topic.

But Christ honoring family worship is vital. Thomas Manton, in his introductory Epistle to the Westminster Confession of Faith, wrote,

A principle cause of these mischiefs (by which Manton means mischiefs in the church) is the great and common neglect of the governors of families (i.e., fathers), in the discharge of that duty which they owe to God for the souls that are under their charge, especially in teaching them the doctrine of Christianity. Families are societies that must be sanctified to God as well as Churches; and the governors of them have as truly a charge of souls that are therein, as pastors have of the Churches.”[78]

Puritan clergyman Philip Goodwin (d. 1699) wrote,

The health of the church at large relies on the ‘little churches’ of praying families for ‘the garden of god’s church is watered by the river of familie-prayer.’” Furthermore, “through the prayer of families are publike calamities kept off and publike immunities kept up.[79]

Family worship is vital for the health, not only of the family—for it is a means by which family members are saved and sanctified—but it is also vital for the health of church and nation.

So, we might ask, “What if we have never practiced family worship in our home? What must we do?” The answer is simple. With Matthew Henry, we must say, “Better late than never!” Let us once again hold daily family worship as both biblical and necessary. No matter the particulars of our household, let us begin reading Scripture together. Let us begin praying together daily. Let us sing God’s praises when we gather, and let us intentionally speak of the Lord “when [we] sit in [our] house and when [we] walk by the way and when [we] lie down and when [we] rise up.”

If Christ-honoring family worship is new to your family, you might consider acquiring materials which will help you along the way. Joel Beeke, Donald Whitney, Joni Erikson Tada, and Terry L. Johnson have all recently published helpful books on family worship. In addition, there has been newfound interest in Puritan works on the subject. Richard Baxter’s Christian Economics has been edited and republished under the title The Godly Home. The work includes a chapter on family worship. In 2021, Jonathan Williams published A Practical Theology of Family Worship: Richard Baxter’s Timeless Encouragement for Today’s Home. The work distills Baxter’s teaching on family worship—teaching which radically transformed Baxter’s hometown. Puritan William Gouge’s of Domestical Duties, now edited and republished in three short volumes under the title Building a Godly Home, briefly addresses family worship. In short, the last decade has seen renewed interest in Christ honoring family worship. The result has been the publication, or republication, of materials which can be helpful to those committed to established worship in their household.

As helpful as such manuals may be (and they can be remarkably helpful), reading about family worship will not, in itself, result in the practice of family worship. Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Old habits die hard.”[80] Neglecting family worship, or omitting it altogether, has become a particularly bad habit for many. Yet, immediately implementing daily or twice daily family worship consisting in praying, Bible reading, catechizing, conferences, and singing can be both difficult and daunting. For those new to family worship, it is important to begin simply. First, commitment is essential. Families should gather for worship daily, preferably when the family is ordinarily together (e.g. after rising, at mealtime, before bed). Yet, if daily worship is challenging, commit to two or three days a week. But commit. Second, keep it brief, at least initially. Family worship, to be genuine, does not require a significant time commitment. Third, start with the essentials—prayer, Bible reading, and song. Prayer can be extemporaneous or written. If set forms of prayer would be helpful, there are a number of wonderful collections available including The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975) and Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans (Lexham, 2019). Of course, the Psalms and the prayers of Jesus and His Apostles are even better. Bible reading should be orderly. Read through a book of the Bible, chapter by chapter. Discuss the reading if time permits. Finally, singing theologically rich songs as a family is easier than ever with audio and video on most electronic devices. Families should sing one or two songs together as an element of worship. As families develop this “new habit,” it will become easier to incorporate additional time and elements into worship in the home. Furthermore, it can serve as a catalyst to godly discussion and instruction outside of regularly scheduled family worship. In the end, Christ honoring family worship was unspeakably important to sixteenth and seventeenth-century Reformed and Puritan Christians. They believed the practice to be biblical and well established in the history of the church. May we once again establish this practice in our homes for the good of our families, the church, the nation, and, ultimately, for God’s glory.

[1] Paul D. Medved, MA, is senior pastor of River of Grace Church in Pueblo West, CO.

[2] Martin Luther and Justus Menius quoted in: Ozment, Steven, When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1983) 132.

[3] Otto Brunfels quoted in: Ozment, When Fathers Ruled, 139.

[4] Hans Sachs quoted in: Ozment, When Fathers Ruled, 143.

[5] Baxter, The Catechising of Families: A Teacher of Householders How to Teach Their Households (London: Parkhurst, 1683) title page.

[6] Baxter, The Poor Man’s Family Book (London: R. W., 1674) title page.

[7] Baxter, A Christian Directory: or, A Body of Practical Divinity, and Cases of Conscience, vol. III (London: Richard Edwards, 1825) vi.

[8] Westminster Assembly, “Epistle to the Reader,” in The Confession of Faith, Together with the Larger and Lesser Cathechismes (London: Stationers, 1646).

[9] Counsell, Fiona Ann (2017) Domestic Religion in Seventeenth Century English Gentry Households [Doctoral dissertation, University of Birmingham] 40.

[10] Thomas Cartwright quoted in: Hill, Society & Puritanism in Pre-Revolutionary England (London: Secker & Warburg, 1964) 392.

[11] Henry, Matthew, Family-Hymns (London: Tho. Parkhurst, 1702) “Epistle to the Reader,” para. 1.

[12] Durston, Christopher, The Family in the English Revolution (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989) 87; Morgan, Edmund S., The Puritan Family: Religion and Domestic Relations in Seventeenth-Century New England (New York: Harper, 1966) 19. Elsewhere, Morgan adds, “The Puritan wife of New England occupied a relatively enviable position by comparison, say, with the wife of early Rome or of the Middle Ages of even of contemporary England . . . In one respect she was almost his equal, for she had ‘a joint Interest in governing the rest of the Family’” (45).

[13] Thomas Taylor quoted in: Hill, Society & Puritanism, 393.

[14] Slater, An Earnest Call to Family-Religion: or, a Discourse Concerning FamilyWorship (London: Tho. Parkhurst, 1694) 11–2.

[15] Heywood, Oliver, The Whole Works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood: Including Some Tracts Extremely Scarce, and Others From Unpublished Manuscripts (London: F. Westley, 1826) 285–86.

[16] Westminster Assembly, Confession, 3.

[17] Again, Slater wrote, ““I am perſuaded, there would much more good come of that precious Seed which the faithful Miniſters of Chriſt ſcatter in their ſeveral Congregations, were Maſters and Miſtreſſes of Families careful before they come [to public worship] to prepare the Soil for the Seed, and after it is fown, careful to cover it with Prayer, and to water it with ſuitable diſcourſes and exhortacions” (Slater, An Earnest Call, 53, 161).

[18] John Bunyan explained, “If thou art a parent, a father, or a mother, then thou art to consider thy calling under this relation, Thy children have souls, and they must be begotten of God as well as of thee, or they perish. And know also, that unless thou be very circumspect in thy behaviour to and before them, they may perish through thee: the thoughts of which should provoke thee, both to instruct, and also to correct them” (Bunyan, The Works of John Bunyan, with an Introduction to Each Treatise, Notes, and a Sketch of His Life, Times, and Contemporaries, vol. 2 (London: Blackie and Son, 1855) 558).

[19] Ozment, When Fathers Ruled, 134.

[20] Baxter, The Godly Home, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010) 58, 62.

[21] Slater, An Earnest Call, 21.

[22] Baxter, The Godly Home, 63.

[23] Baxter, The Godly Home, 65.

[24] Baxter, The Godly Home, 66.

[25] Westminster, The Directory for the Public Worship of God; Form of Presbyterial Church Government, Ordination of Ministers; and the Directory for Family Worship (Halifax: J. Munro, 1828) 56. Archive.org

[26] Counsell, Domestic Religion, 52–3.

[27] WCF, XXI, vi; SDF, XXII, vi; 1689 LBC, XXII, vi.

[28] Slater, An Earnest Call, 177–78.

[29] Slater, An Earnest Call, 23.

[30] Slater, An Earnest Call, 177.

[31] Baxter, The Godly Home, 95.

[32] Heywood, A Family Alter, 287.

[33] John Calvin, “Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel” in Calvin’s Commentaries Vol. XII, trans. Thomas Myers (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009), 362.

[34] However, as an institution, the Church of England was an outlier. The Book of Common Prayer, first published by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) in 1549, included daily services called Matins and Evensong (i.e. morning and evening prayer). This was corporate morning and evening prayer at the local parish church, not prayer in the home. Yet, twice-daily services were impractical for families, and, in rural churches, were often not offered at all. Thus, family prayer became important even among many committed to the Church of England. See, Church of England, The Booke of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the Churche: after the use of the Churche of England (London: Edward Whitchurch, 1561), index. Archive.org; Ginn, Richard J., The Politics of Prayer in Early Modern Britain: Church and State in Seventeenth-Century England (London: Taurus Academic Studies, 2007) 126–27.

[35] Counsell, Domestic Religion, 79.

[36] Counsell, Domestic Religion, 79–82.

[37] Perkins, William, The Works of William Perkins, vol. 8 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2019) Archive.org

[38] Counsell, Domestic Religion, 83.

[39] Baxter, The Godly Home, 72; cf. Deut 6:6–9; 11:18–21.

[40] Heywood, The Whole Works, 380.

[41] Baxter, The Godly Home, 73–74

[42] Among these are The Poor Man’s Family Book, The Catechizing of Families, and The Christian Directory.

[43] Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 56

[44] WSC, q. 1.

[45] Baxter, The Catechizing of Families, para. 3, 4.

[46] Avery, Gillian, “Origins and English Predecessors of the New England Primer,” The Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, vol. 108 (April 1998, 1) 33–61.

[47] Mather, Cotton, Addresses to old men, and young men, and little children. In three discourses … To which may be added, a short scriptural catechism, accommodated unto their capacities,93–4.

[48] Eberlin von Günzburg quoted in: Ozment, When Fathers Ruled, 172.

[49] Erasmus Alberus quoted in: Ozment, When Fathers Ruled, 170–71.

[50] Keach, Benjamin, Instructions for Children: or, the child’s and youth’s delight. Teaching an easie way to spell and read true English (London: John Marshall, 1723) title page, 11, 19, 64.

[51] Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 34.

[52] Counsell, Domestic Religion, 111–12.

[53] Sternhold, Thomas, and John Hopkins, The Whole Book of Psalms: Collected into English Metre (London: J.M., 1668) title page. Archive.org

[54] Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 33

[55] Slater, An Earnest Call, 168; cf. 275, 305

[56] Henry, Family-Hymns (London: Tho. Parkhurst, 1702) A2.

[57] Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 34.

[58] Bayly, The Practice of Piety: A Puritan Devotional Manual (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 154–55. Archive.org

[59] Sternhold, Thomas, and John Hopkins, The Whole Book of Psalms, Collected into English Metre (London: Stationers, 1705) title page. Archive.org

[60] Westminster, the Directory, 57; Bunyan, Christian Behavior, 557. Cf. Heywood, The Whole Works, 387; Bayly, The Practice of Piety, 321. John Hooper explained, “To talk and renew among yourselves the truth of your religion. . . . Comfort one another, make prayers together, confer with one another.”; Henry Scudder remarked, “Let the manner of your talke be, either of God, or of his Word, and wayes wherein you should walke; or of his workes . . . and of his mercies. . . . Impart also each to other the experiments & proofes you have had of God’s grace and power in this your Christian warefare,” quoted in Ryrie, Alec, Being Protestant in Reformation Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) 393–94.

[61] Deut 6:7.

[62] Immanuel Bourne quoted in: Hill, Society & Puritanism, 390.

[63] Baxter, Richard, The Practical Works of the Rev. Richard Baxter, vol. 4 (London: James Duncan, 1830) 231.

[64] Mather, Cotton, The Diary of Cotton Mather 1681–1708 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1811) 239–40. Archive.org

[65] Westminster Assembly, Directory, 16.

[66] Bunyan, Christian Behavior, 558.

[67] Heywood, The Whole Works, 286.

[68] Westminster Assembly, The Directory. 56.

[69] “Let no idler who hath no particular calling, or vagrant person under a pretence of a calling, be suffered to perform worship in families, to or from the same; seeing persons tainted with errors or aiming at division, may be ready (after that manner) to creep into houses, and lead captive silly and unstable souls.” Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 57.

[70] Westminster, The Directory for Public Worship, 55.

[71] Church of England, Articles to be answered of the sworne men in the Archdeacon of London his visitation holden the yeere. 1584. the 15. and 19. of Ianuarie (London: I, W. for Nicholas Ling, 1585; Text Creation Partnership), p. 1; (http://name.umdl.umich.edu/ A00218.0001.001)

[72] William Tyndale quoted in: Hill, Society & Puritanism, 401–02.

[73] Westminster Assembly, The Directory, 57–8.

[74] Williams, Jonathan, A Practical Theology of Family Worship: Richard Baxter’s Timeless Encouragement for Today’s Home (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2021) 2.

[75] Slater, An Earnest Call, “The Epistle Dedicatory” para. 1.

[76] cf. Cousnell, Domestic Religion, 93.

[77] Henry, Family-Hymns, para. 2.

[78] Westminster Assembly, “Epistle.”

[79] Philip Goodwin quoted in: Counsell, Domestic Religion, 53.

[80] Titelman, Gregory, Random House Dictionary of America’s Popular Proverbs & Sayings, 2nd ed. (New York: Random House, 2000) 253.

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