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S E R M. ments of gratitude should be made,
praises and prayers should be offered, and all suitable marks of dependence on him be expressed.—This obligation extends beyond the filent and secret sentiments of our hearts. Besides private devotion, it naturally leads to affociations for public worship; to open and declared professions of respect for the Deity. Where blessings are received in common, an obligation lies upon the community, jointly to acknowledge them. Sincere gratitude is always of open and diffusive nature It loves to pour itself forth; to give free vent to its emotions ; and, before the world, to acknowledge and honour a Benefactor.
So consonant is this to the natural sentiments of mankind, that all the nations of the earth have, as with one consent, agreed to institute some forms of worship; to hold meetings, at certain times, in honour of their deities. Survey the societies of men in their rudest state ; explore the African desarts, the wilds of America,
. . or
or the distant islands of the ocean: and S ERM. you will find that over all the earth some religious ceremonies have obtained. You ... will every where trace, in one form or
other, the temple, the priest, and the offering. The prevalence of the most absurd superstitions furnishes this testimony to the truth, that in the hearts of all men the principle is engraved, of worship being due to that invisible Power whọ rules the world.--Herein confists the great excellency of Christian religion, that it hath instructed us in the simple and spiritual nature of that worship. Disencumbered of idle and unmeaning ceremonies, its ritual is pure, and worthy of a divine Author. Its positive institutions are few in number, most significant of spiritual things, and directly conducive to good life and practice. How inexcusable then are we, if, placed in such happy circumstances, the sense of those obligations to the public worship of God shall be obliterated among us, which the light of naturę
$ ER M. inculcated, in some measure, on the most 1. wild and barbarous nations?
The refinements of false philosophy have indeed suggested this shadow of objection, that God is too great to stand in 1 need of any eternal service from his creatures; that our expressions of praise and honour are misplaced with respect to him, who is above all honour and all praise ; that in his fight the homage we seek to pay must appear contemptible; and is'. therefore in itself superfluous and trifling. But who hath thought those vain reasoners, that all expressions of gratitude and honour towards a superior become unsuitable, merely because that superior needs not any returns? Were they ever indebted to one whofe favours they had it not in their power to repay; and, did they, on that account, feel themselves fet loose from every obligation to acknowledge, and to praise their benefactor? On the contrary, the more disinterested his beneficence was, did not gratitude, in any ingenuous mind, burn with the greater
ardour, and prompt them the more se RM. eagerly to seize every opportunity of A1. publicly testifying the feelings of their hearts; Almighty God, it is true, is too great to need our service or homage, But he is also too good not to accept it, when it is the native expression of a grateful and generous mind. If pride and self-sufficiency stifle all sentiments of dependance on our Creator; if levity, and attachment to worldly pleasures, render us totally neglectful of expressing our thankfulness to Him for his blessings; do we not hereby discover such a want of proper feeling, such a degree of hardness and corruption in our affections, as shows us to be immoral and unworthy; and must justly expose us to the high displeasure of heaven? On the contrary, according to every notion which we can form of the Father of the universe, must it not be acceptable to him to behold his creatures properly affected in heart towards their great benefactor; afsembling together to express, in acts of worship, that gratitude, love, and
SER M. reverence which they owe him; and
thus nourishing and promoting in one another an affectionate sense of his goodnefs? Are not fuch dispositions, and such a behaviour as this, intimately connected with all virtue?
O Come, let us worship and bow down ; let us kneel before the Lord our maker, For he is our God; and we are the flock of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. The prayer of the upright is his delight. It cometh before him as incense, and the uplifting of their hands as the evening sacrifice. Having thus shown the reasonableness of public worship with respect to God, let us now,
II. Consider its importance in an, other view, as it respects the world, When we survey the general state of mankind, we find them continually immersed in worldly affairs; busied about providing the necessaries of life, occupied in the pursuits of their pleasures, or eagerly prosecuting the advancement