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are necessary to awaken and keep alive such affections and dispositions.
How it is with pure spirits we cannot say : But to us, who dwell in bodies, some sensible representa . tions and outward ceremonies are necessary to ex. cite and preserve in the mind suitable dispositions and exercises. It is through the avenues of sense, and the organs of flesh, that the soul receives all its notices, sentiments and in pressions.
If there were no such thing, as the external wor. ship of God, there would be no knowledge of him, regard to him, or thoughts about him, among our fallen race.
We find by experience, that our social regards much depend on social intercourse. We have a more sensible affection for the friends and relatives who are near us, and with whom we are daily conversant, than for those, though equally worthy, who dwell at a distance. The case is the same with our religious affections. They are enlivened and preserved by actual communion with God. They Languish and decline, when this communion is intermitted or neglected.
Consult your own experience, my Christian brethren. Do you not find, that the piety of your hearts rises and falls, in some measure, with your devotional duties? if by any means you are drawn into too frequent an omission, or too long an inter. mission of the duties of the closet, the family, or the sanctuary, do you not perceive an alteration in the religious state of your minds ? Does not your love and fear of God, your sense of his presence, your thankfulness for his mercies, your apprehensions of futurity, your zeal for the gospel, your concern for the salvation of others, greatly decline? And do not the cares of the world crowd in, and occupy the place, which these graces have almost deserted But
when you resume your neglected duties, and attend
hearts habitually enlivened, and your pious sentiments and affections revived ? Your observance of the instrumental duties of religion is the thermometer, by which you may nearly determine the degree of warmth in your hearts.
Consult your observation. Is it not generally true, that they who treat with indifference the instituted worship of God, are equally indifferent to other religious duties ? Are they, who contemn the former, zealous for the latter ?
The forms of worship are not the essence, but they are the means of religion. The strictest observance of these, if we go no farther, will not avail to our acceptance with God; for he requires mercy, truth and justice, as well as sacrifice. The former are the weightier matters. But without the latter, we never shall attain to the former. The means are useless, if we disregard the end : But the end will not be accomplished without the means. God has appointed the ordinances of his worship, not as substitutes for, but as instruments of piety and charity. With a regard to these we must use and apply the instruments.
As our text teaches us our obligation to worship God, so it instructs also, How we are to worship him. In the Beauty of Holiness. This may be un. derstood of the place--the manner—the temper—and the consequences of divine worship.
1. It may be understood of the place of worship. “ Worship the Lord in the glorious Sanctuary.” So it is rendered in the margin.
This is then a command to prepare a Sanctuary for the worship of God; for, in David's time the temple was not built, though great preparation was made for it. People, living within a convenient
vicinity, are bound to associate for the stated wor. ship of God, and to have a house, in which they may assemble on the days which God has appointed for that purpose.
And in a house built for God, there ought to be not only capacity and convenience to accommodate the worshippers, but also dignity and elegance to assist and express a regard for God's institutions. The ancient tabernacle, and, afterward, the temple, both of which were built under divine direction, were rich and beautiful, as well as commodious. The Psalmist says, “ Beautiful for situation is mount Zion. Out of Zion the perfection of beauty hath God shined. I have desired to dwell in God's house, that I may behold his beauty, and inquire in his temple.” This is called “the beauty of Israel, the joy of the whole land; the hill in which the Lord desires to dwell, and in which he will dwell for ever." As the structure of the temple was noble, so its inward furniture was comely and elegant.
He who formed our nature with a taste for beauty, with a love of order, and with an admiration of grandeur, well knew, that such properties in the place and utensils of worship, contributed to inward piety and devotion ; and that, on the contrary, meanness, inelegance and disorder naturally tended to damp the fervor of devotion, and repress the emo tions of pięty
2. The beauty of holiness may express the manner of worship. As the place should be beautiful, So the attendance should be full and constant, and the demeanor grave and sedate.
and sedate. All things should be done decently and in order. The apostle speaks of the whole church in Corinth, as coming together into one place. He cautions Christians not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. When he preached in Antioch, “ almost the whole city
came together to hear the word of the Lord.” And while he ministered in Ephesus, "all they who dwelt in Asia, heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” The instruction, which the king, in the parable, gave to his servants, when he had prepared an entertainment for his guests, was, “ Say to them who have been bidden, Come, for all things are ready-go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."
Christ loves to see a full house. When he comes: to inspect the assembly, all should be found in their places. None should absent themselves without cause. They who, being called, would not come to the king's supper, were not only excluded from it by his command, but slain by the sword of his armies. Why this severity? Because from neglecting his invitation, they proceeded to violence against his servants. They, in the first instance, refused to. come to his house, and then they conceived a hatred against those who had called them. They wished there were no such servants of the king, no such places for the entertainment of his guests. This is the usual progress of irreligion. It begins in the neglect, and grows into a contempt of the institu., tions of the gospel ; and ends in opposition to, and slander against the regular and faithful preachers of the gospel.
3. The beauty of holiness may respect the temper of mind with which God's worship should be attende ed. “ God is a spirit; and they who worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Holi ness becomes his house for ever. When the king came in to see the guests at his table, he observed one sitting there, who had not on him a wedding garment. All the festivals of rich men, in ancient times, garments, as well as food, were prepared for
the guests. So in the house of God there are means of holiness, as well as offers of salvation. They who come thither, are called to be holy.
« Christ gave himself for the church, that he might sanctify it with the washing of water by the word. The king says to the unworthy guest,“ Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?” The white raiment is the righteousness of the saints, Christians, under the means which they enjoy in God's house, are to improve in holiness and with a view to their improvement, they are to attend on these means. If, when Christ comes to inspect the attendants on his ordinances, they are found, like the men of the world, full of pride, covetousness and earthly affections, and destitute of sobriety, charity and heavenliness, they will fall under an awful condemnation. They will be judged worthy of a sorer punishment, than if these priyi. leges had never been granted them.
There is a beauty in holiness. It is God's image, and of great price in his sight. It is the richest ornament of the soul. Knowledge, learning, easiness of temper, cheerfulness of spirit and sociability of manners are agreeable qualities. But a man may possess these, and many other natural and civil accomplishments, and yet be a lover of the world, and an enemy to God. While he is esteemed among men, who look on the outward appearance, he may be abomination in the sight of him, who seeth not as man seeth ; but looketh on the heart. The real beauty of the intellectual mind is the image of God, which consists in righteousness and true holiness.
To worship God in the beauty of holiness, is to worship him with a holy temper and for holy ends.
Particularly: We must worship him in sincerity; draw near to him with the heart ; pray to him with inward desires; confess our sins with godly sos: