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Travis Fentiman

Puritan Board Freshman
Anyone who reads the book of Acts will be struck with how simple that standard of apostolic worship was. The more simple the worship is, the more spiritual it will be shown to be, when persons have nothing else to cling to in it but the Word of God laid bare, in the praying, the singing, the reading and the preaching of the Word.

The simplicity and spirituality of Christian worship, in contradistinction to much Christian worship today, used to be a well-known doctrine of the Reformation and of presbyterians. I have compiled a number of resources from the Post-Reformation era on this topic, and hope it will inspire your heart unto a love for this principle.

George Gillespie:

“That the [Anglican] Ceremonies [being imposed on the Church of Scotland] are a great hinderance to edification appears, first, in that they obscure the substance of religion and weaken the life of godliness by outward glory and splendor, which draws away the minds of people so after it that they forget the substance of the service which they are about… departing from the apostolical and most ancient simplicity, and for adding ceremonies unto ceremonies in a worldly splendor and spectability, whereas the worship of God ought to be pure and simple…​
Secondly, the Ceremonies are impediments to the inward and spiritual worship, because they are fleshly and external…” – English Popish Ceremonies (1637), pp. 19-20​

Regi Addictissimus

Completely sold out to the King
Thanks for sharing.

If you want a more recent quote to add, we recently published a book on worship, What Happens When We Worship. Cruse hits on the simplicity of worship by writing:

D. G. Hart writes that “worship in the age of the Holy Spirit is not flashy or visibly powerful but instead is so simple that it appears to be inconsequential.”6 As we have seen in this book, that is the great problem most of mainstream Christianity has with corporate worship. The traditionally Reformed approach seems so simple that surely something must change. The two main ways to address this are either to make worship far more exciting and entertaining or to make worship far more ethereal and mystical. At least then the act of worship will seem to be significant. What are these simple and seemingly inconsequential means of worship that are spurned by many Christians today? The word, the sacraments, and prayer, all experienced corporately in the life of the church. They are often referred to as the ordinary (there’s that word again) means of grace. Why “ordinary”? There is certainly nothing about the Scriptures that would attract itself to a modern society that has all but given up on reading. What could a book possibly do to give me a spiritual experience? Similarly, what is so spectacular about bread, wine, and water? The elements of the sacraments are culled from mundane, everyday life. “I can get those things at home,” one might object, “so what makes church so special?” And prayer is certainly far from fantastical. Haven’t we all, in our weakest moments, viewed it as a tedious chore? And yet these elements are to fill the worship service because they are ordained by God to communicate His grace and blessing to us. The early church understood this: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Do we? Are we content to persist in and dedicate ourselves to these simple means? We must remember that while they appear simple to the naked eye, the eye of faith will see in them so much more.

Jonathan Landry Cruse. What Happens When We Worship. Reformation Heritage Books. 2020.

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
I've taken a great interest in that topic since "it is our life", and I've published a number of volumes, in updated form, for some of the referred instances on your page. You may want to add some of them since they all deal with the simplicity of worship to God, and are very readable now:

A Christian’s True Spiritual Worship to Jesus Christ by Stephen Charnock (1628-1680)
Christ’s Directives on the Nature of True Worship by Arthur Hildersham (1563-1631)
Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)
How to Serve God in Private and Public Worship by John Jackson (1600-1648)
The Christian’s Charge Never to Offend God in Worship by John Forbes (1568-1634)
The Glory of Evangelical Worship by John Owen (1616-1683)
The Simplicity of Holy Worship by John Wilson (1588–1667)
True Worship and the Consequences of Idolatry by John Knox (1505-1572)
Vain Imaginations in the Worship of God by Samuel Willard, Jonathan Dickinson, Joshua Moodey, Nathan Stone and Jonathan Edwards.

They are all found on this page.
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