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come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness' !" Each individual of our species is invited to join in the pious act, whatever his rank or condition may be, whether he be a prince or å subject, poor or rich, learned or ignorant; since each one should feel an equal desire to conciliate the favour of God, which is better than life, or any advantages which it can command.
This obligation to worship the Lord is universal in its application, extending to the utmost boundaries of the vast creation. « Let the whole earth stand in awe of him.” Even inanimate and irrational creatures are called upon to do him homage 88.
What surprising condescension does it argue in God, thus to solicit the respect of his fallen creatures. This he does, not because he needs their service to augment his “glory, which is above the heavens,” but from motives of compassion towards them in their low estate. The universality of the command to honour God, by religious worship, is a sufficient confutation of the deistical notion, that He is too much exalted to concern himself about us, much less to exact religious service from us.
The term worship’ signifies adoration, reverence, and honour : it includes that religious service which we owe unto God, consisting of praise, prayer, and the stated observance of Divine ordinances. It is either public, when we unite in acts of devotion with the congregation : or it is private ; in which, singly, or with our families, we invoke the name and blessing of the Lord.
Particular attention should be paid to the manner of worshiping him. Our religious duties are not to be performed in a light and trifling spirit,
Ps. xcvi.8, 9. ib. ver. 9. ib.cxlviii. 1-5. & cl. 6.
but with the greatest solemnity and devotion. Indeed, when we reflect on the dignity of Him with whom we have to transact this serious and important business, we should be very careful to abstain from the least appearance of irreverence, either in our posture or behaviour. Solomon gives this general direction for our conduct in the management of Divine Worship: “Keep thy foot, when thou goest to the House of God; and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil h.”
Further; our worship of the Most High must possess the following properties, to commend it to His favourable notice :
1. It should be spiritual and rational. All the faculties of the mind are to be engaged in the solemn work of devotion---the understanding, affections, conscience, and memory. It is not enough that the powers of the body, the mouth, the hands, and the feet, should be thus honourably employed; but, like David, we should summon the exertion of the combined energies of the whole man, in the pious act of worshipping God. “Bless the Lord, my soul ! and all that is within me, bless his holy name' !"
2. It should be sincere and true. Simplicity and godly sincerity must ever characterize our service, if we wish to have it approved by Him “who searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins of the children of men.' The feelings of our souls ought to respond to, and be read in, the expressions of our lips; otherwise, like the Pharisees, we shall incur the censure of hypocrisyi. Our Lord has told us, in the plainest terms, that devotion not accompanied with these feeln Eccles, v, I.
Ps. ciü. 1-6. i Mat. xv. 7--10.
ings can never please God, nor be attended with any advantage to ourselves. “ God is a Spirit; and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth;" for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
3. It must be holy, according to the requisition of Scripture: “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! that is, in the most devout and becoming manner, as to the external mode of doing it; and inwardly, with a pure
a pure and undefiled mind, and with upright intentions to honour the Lord. In such a consecration of the heart to God, he discerns a real
beauty.”. Though the religious service of his people in his earthly courts is attended with many defects, yet he accounts himself honoured by their sincere devotions. “Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me; and to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I shew the salvation of God'.”
And, further; holiness being a prominent feature of the Divine image, bestows a true dignity and beauty on those who cultivate it. Let us, then, pursue it with earnestness, in order that we may be acknowledged as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty
Moreover, as God looketh not on the outward appearance, but at the heart it is important ever to recollect, that we must take care to worship Him in a proper spirit and temper; for a want of right dispositions will assuredly mar our devotions, and cause them to be rejected by himn. Observe, then, these general directions for the performance of religious duties, whether you are assembled with John iv. 23, 24.
i Psalm 1. 23. * 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18,
" 1 Sam. xvi, 7,
Christians in the sanctuary of the Lord, or with your households in the closet.
4. Approach Jehovah with the profoundest humility and reverence.
Endeavour to possess just conceptions of his immensity and glory on the one hand, and of your own insignificancy and meanness on the other. Think of His unspotted righteousness, and contrast it with your own wickedness and unworthiness. Such views of Him, and of ourselves, will lay us in the very dust of abasement before him and force every one of us to exclaim, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear ; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore, I abhor myself."
5. Draw nigh unto God with deep penitence of soul. A repentant state of mind is highly becoming in creatures like us, who have sinned “ against him, in thought, word, and deed.” He expects us to repent', if we would escape his avenging wrath. And this offering, though it cannot pay off the accumulated debt of our sins, and merit their forgiveness, is nevertheless, as a mark of genuine sorrow on account of them, highly agreeable to the Lord, who promises tokens of his peculiar regard to every true penitent?
6. Worship God in faith. “He that cometh before Him, to do him honour by his devotions, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” A firm persuasion both of his existence, and of his ability and readiness to bless us, if we truly serve him in the Gospel of his 'Son, is needful, to ensure the audience of our prayers, and the acceptance of our persons.
In all our approaches to him, let us maintain a • Job xlii. 5, 6. p Luke xiii. 3. 9 Isa. Ixvi. 2.
deep conviction of our ruined state by nature; and pray that we may be "justified and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
7. Ardent love to God should accompany our devotions, to preserve them from formality and lukewarmness, Those acts of worship that are not inflamed by holy affection to God, can never ascend up with grateful odours before him ; since they are devoid of that quality which, of all others, is required to render them acceptable.
8. Come before the Lord with a desire to know his will, and to put it into practice: because the avowed object of our going to the House of God is, to learn, from the lips of his ministering servants, what we must do to be saved, and how we must act so as to please him. Whenever, therefore, we make
any fresh discovery of the Divine will concerning us, in the use of ordinances, we should promptly comply with it; since this is the way to induce the Almighty to communicate further degrees of saving light and wisdom to our souls.
We repeat, then, with a view to correct the errors of the formalist, who places the whole of acceptable worship in a round of duties in which his heart is no way engaged and to prevent the careless soul from rushing irreverently into the presence of God, with strange and unhallowed fire-that if decency and respect be not united with spirituality, and sincerity, and holiness, and humility, and repentance, and faith, and love, and a wish to obey his revealed will, their worship, however splendid or costly, is but an abomination in the sight of God : yea, is nothing more than “as sounding brass, "1 Cor. vi. II.
• Lev. x. 1-6.