A kind of regulation for the performance of religious worship, drawn up by the assembly of divines in England, at the instance of the parliament, in 1644. It was designed to supply the place of the Liturgy, or Book of Common Prayer, the use of which they had abolished. It consisted of some general heads, which were to be managed and filled up at discretion; for it prescribed no form of prayer, or circumstances of external worship, nor obliged the people to any responses, excepting Amen. The substance of it is as follows:–It forbids all salutations and civil ceremony in the churches;–the reading the scriptures in the congregation is declared to be part of the pastoral office;–all the canonical books of the old and New Testament (but not of the Apocrypha) are to be publicly read in the vulgar tongue: how large a portion is to be read at once, is left to the minister, who has likewise the liberty of expounding, when he judges it necessary. It prescribes heads for the prayer before sermon; it delivers rules for preaching the word; the introduction to the text must be short and clear, drawn from the words or context, or some parallel place of Scripture. In dividing the text, the minister is to regard the order of the matter more than that of the words: he is not to burden the memory of his audience with too many divisions, nor perplex their understanding with logical phrases and terms of arts: he is not to start unnecessary objections; and he is to be very sparing in citations from ecclesiastical or other human writers, ancient or modern, &c. The Directory recommends the use of the Lord’s Prayer, as the most perfect model of devotion; it forbids private or lay persons to administer baptism, and enjoins it to be performed in the face of the congregation; it orders the communion-table at the Lord’s supper to be so placed, that the communicant may sit about it. It also orders, that the sabbath be kept with the greatest strictness, both publicly and privately; that marriage be solemnized by a lawful minister of the word, who is to give counsel to, and pray for the parties; that the sick be visited by the minister under whose charge they are; the dead to be buried without any prayers or religious ceremonies; that days of fasting are to be observed when the judgments of God are abroad, or when some important blessings are desired; that days of thanksgiving for mercies received be also observed; and, lastly, that singing of Psalms together in the congregation is the duty of Christians. In an appendix to this Directory it is ordered, that all festivals, vulgarly called holy days, are to be abolished; that no day is to be kept but the Lord’s day; and that as no place is capable of any holiness under pretence of consecration, so neither is it subject to pollution by any superstition formerly used; and therefore it is held requisite, that the places of public worship now used should still be continued and employed. Should the reader be desirous of perusing this Directory at large, he may find it at the end of Neale’s History of the Puritans.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.