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monies and representations in use are employed In meditating on the words of this text, to use as helps, that they are fitted to make divine the words of a late writer, let us guard against worship more intelligible and pleasing to the every corruption and neglect in God's worship; young, more impressive to the common people, and against yielding to the spirit of the world, the more attractive to all. Under this impression they influence of fancy, the power of superstition in have acted; and thus, as has been stated by an religion. Let us guard against a blind veneraeloquent writer, do they foolishly imagine that 'the tion for what is old, a childish fondness for what is more pomp they can lavish on the rites of worship splendid, a restless pursuit of what is new. Let the more is their devotion to God manifested; and us continue stedfast in the apostle's doctrine and by engaging the outward senses the homage of fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers. the heart is gained.' But what is the meaning Let us stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, of such language and conduct? Why, it is just striving together for the faith of the gospel. Let this, that the great God hast not been sufficiently us take heed to the things which we have heard, explicit and full in revealing his will to his crea- and beware lest our minds should be drawn away, tures, in declaring how he is to be worshipped; or corrupted from the simplicity that is in that man is to utter what God has left untold, and Christ.' to eke out what is defective in the divine communications. In every thing relative to divine worship, God alone must dictate; we are not left to our own views of expediency in subjects of this nature, and we call upon any one to examine carefully the multiplied and varied declarations of the Almighty here and elsewhere, and to say what verdict he can bring in regard to the usages and worship of the popish church, but that it is guilty of the grossest idolatry. No one can reconcile their practices with the plain and unambiguous language of the word of God. The words of the Eternal are peculiarly solemn and emphatic, Take good heed lest ye corrupt yourselves.'
Could a greater insult be offered to God, or more daring impiety be manifested by man, than when the Israelites fashioned the golden calf, prostrated themselves before it, sacrificed unto it, and said, 'These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt?' Yet not more daring, not more profane was the conduct of Israel then, or in her times of grossest idolatry, than is that of our modern Christian idolaters. It is not merely a setting aside the positive, the unalterable command of God, but it is an extinction of that light that the Almighty Creator has kindled in the bosom of those whom he formed after his own image. How grievously have they corrupted and defiled themselves; they have changed the glory of God into an image made like unto corruptible man. No wonder that ignorance, and profligacy, and vice prevail to such a degree in those countries that are purely popish; no wonder that vital godliness has decayed, and that morality is at the lowest ebb. They have dishonoured their God and Redeemer, they have corrupted themselves. 'O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united!'
Ever let us distrust our own vain reasonings, and our gross imaginations in regard to the divine nature and worship. By faith and prayer let us draw our knowledge from revelation alone. And in our acts of worship let us ever draw near through Christ, and trust in his blood, and derive from his fulness the wisdom, the grace, and the strength that are needful.
The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God,' Deut. vii. 25. How very jealous is God of his own honour and glory, and especially in what regards the worship he demands of his creatures. In reading the books of Moses and the prophets, one cannot fail to notice how the sin of idolatry is singled out, forbidden, denounced, threatened, and punished. It is compared to spiritual adultery, by which the marriage covenant is violated, and that love and faith which unite parties is extinguished and broken. One would almost say from what is recorded respecting it, that it is the sin of sins, a sin above all others, and the sin which above all others God abhors.
Israel had lived amongst idolaters in Egypt, and they were soon to be brought into contact with idolaters in Canaan. Their passion for idolatry had been already felt and manifested, and therefore it was to be feared that when they entered Canaan, unless they exercised the strictest vigilance over their own hearts, they might be induced to follow the abominable practices of that idolatrous country. The Lord, therefore,
in mercy cautions them and charges them. They | God, suffered most grievously on account of this were to be the executioners of the divine ven- sin, and the heaviest visitations of Heaven that geance against the inhabitants of that land, because overtook them were for their idolatry. And of their gross wickedness, and they are per- God will not allow this sin to remain, this emptorily commanded, not merely to destroy the engine of Satan to be employed for ever in any people of Canaan, but to destroy their graven church, or in any quarter of the globe-the curse images-to abhor and put away from them the of God rests upon it, and the blight of heaven precious metals of which they were fashioned, and shall fall upon it. What measures God in his pronot to allow the smallest vestige of idolatry to be vidence may take for its subversion—when or how admitted into their dwellings, lest they should be it shall be finally overthrown, he alone to whom contaminated thereby. all time is alike, knows; but overthrown it shall be, uprooted it shall be. The Lord shall consume it with the Spirit of his mouth, he shall destroy it with the brightness of his coming.' In surveying the hideous mass of heathen idolatry, and popish superstition that overspreads such a vast portion of the globe, the heart may well sicken, and in anguish of spirit we may bewail the fearful desolation, but there is no room for despair. God shall send forth the rod of his strength out of Zion, the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ, and the triumphant shout shall be raised, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen.' Yes, every stronghold of Satan shall be overthrown-the idolatry of benighted Gentile nations, the impositions of the false prophet in the East, and the corruptions of the man of sin in the West, shall all be subverted and fall before the light of truth. Aye, the churches of the Reformation, many of which retain still some of the rubbish of popery, and all of which retain less or more of the rust of corruption that adheres to every institution that is human, shall be purged. It may be by a fiery trial, it may be by severe judgments, by the fan in the Almighty's hand, for Zion has invariably been redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness; but it shall be accomplished, and they shall be stripped of the garment spotted by the flesh. Oh that our own church, the church of our fathers, which has much to bewail on account of past unfruitfulness, barrenness, and apostacy, may in God's good time be delivered from all her difficulties, purified from all her defilement, and be rendered more eminently instrumental in advancing the Redeemer's kingdom and plucking brands from the burning.
The images of the heathen deities were made of the most costly and valuable materials-nothing was reckoned too precious for their adornment; and the temples of modern idolatry are adorned in the same manner. The whole aim of popery, the whole tendency of its worship, is to fascinate the outward man, to please the eye, and to gratify the ear. It endeavours to strike the senses, it appeals to the imagination in every possible way; but alas! alas! all that is spiritual, godly, and sanctifying is neglected. When and where does it appeal to and let in light to the understanding? When and how does it captivate and purify the heart? The church of the Escurial,' says an eloquent writer, 'is one mass of marble, gold, and precious stones, relieved by admirable pictures, and rendered holy by the presence of some four or five hundred vases, containing relics of every possible saint or saintly object. The rapacity of the French disturbed the identity of these fancied treasures, for while they carried off many of the golden vases, they scattered their unlabelled contents in confusion on the ground, to the great perplexity of the blinded devotees. How long will men worship the offal of the charnel house?'
Can there be life and spirituality in that church, which, in defiance of God's word, in contempt of all that God can promise or threaten, pretends to worship a pure and holy Being by such abominations? Can there be vitality in that church, which in its worship degrades the everblessed Redeemer, the Emmanuel, God with us, by ranking him in his mediatorial character and advocateship with the very creatures of his own power; yea, in the court of heaven advancing the influence of saints above that of the Lord Jesus Christ?
While God has most unequivocally prohibited, and by his denunciations testified his displeasure against idolatry in every form, he has also most signally punished it. Israel was taught what a bitter thing it was, in the judgments, which, by their own hands, were executed on the Canaanites. Themselves, though the covenant people of
In meditating on these words, let us regard them as a warning against spiritual idolatry, against every thing that would displace the Almighty from the throne of our affections. An image for worship we are not likely to fashion; before an image, however costly, we are not likely to fall prostrate: but is it not possible to transfer our affections from the Creator to the creature; may we not be ambitious to 'lay up silver as the
dust, to make gold our hope, and to say to the is denied.
Both are demanded, and both are O come, let us worship, and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.' Still let us bear in mind, that external homage is no longer valuable and important, than while it is the handmaid to devout feeling; that the outward form, be it what it may, must be sanctified by the veneration, and awe, and affection of the heart; by the holy, and exalted, and sublime thoughts of God which are cherished. Let this consideration influence us in all our approaches to God; and oh, let us beware of drawing near to him with our mouth, and honouring him with our lips, while our hearts may be removed from him.'
simple, removed from all that is superstitious, every act of worship must be pure and befitting the majesty and glory of him whom we adore, it must also be in perfect accordance with his will. By the law and the testimony we must be guided here, as in every thing that enters into our duty to God. Every religious observance must be engaged in, not because it has the sanction of public authority-not because it is of long established usage-not because it comports with our ideas of fitness and propriety, but because it has the approval of the King of Zion-because it has Thus saith the Lord. written over it-the Amen of heaven establishing it. It is because men have departed from this course, because they have lost sight of the divine enactment, and ceased to listen to the voice of the Eternal, that they have been led into those gross absurdities in worship by which individuals and churches have been characterised.
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 people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand,' Ps. xcv. 6, 7. God abhors all idolatry and image-worship, and he every where denounces it in his word as the accursed thing. O do not,' says he, this abominable thing that I hate. Still he does not liberate man, or relax his obligation in the least degree from paying homage to his name. Jehovah has a righteous claim to the homage of his rational offspring, and he demands it. Universal creation is summoned to show forth his praise. The seraphs cease not day or night to extol him who sits upon the throne. Inanimate creation, in mute expressive silence, proclaims his wonders; and shall man, the representative of his Maker on earth, of all the creatures of God the most indebted, be silent? No. All thy works, O Lord, shall praise thee, and thy saints shall bless thee.' And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under That worship that we render to Jehovah under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all the Christian dispensation, if we listen to the that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and great Head of the Church, is, to a mind that honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that seeks for light, improvement, and comfort, simsitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ple, affecting, and deeply interesting. The readever and ever.' Spiritual worship, the homage ing of the word of life in private, and the preachof the heart, is what God specially demands; ing of the gospel in public, the praying to God in and without this, no oblation, however magnifi- the closet and the family, and the praying to him cent, is of any avail. To what purpose is in the sanctuary, the expressing of our thankthe multitude of your sacrifices unto me, saithfulness and joy in the song of praise, and the the Lord?' But man being possessed of powers administration of the sacraments of baptism and of body as well as mind, and these, being alike the gift of God, and having a mutual influence the one upon the other, must all be consecrated to his service. As it will not do for any man to satisfy himself with the outward form of worship, while the spirit is wanting, so neither may any one flatter himself that he is a true worshipper, under the pretext, were the thing possible, that the heart is taken and the feelings engaged while the outward homage
the Lord's supper, are the leading acts of worship which the Head of the Church has instituted. And when these are engaged in with the spirit that their nature and importance bespeak, without those accompaniments of human invention by which they are corrupted, and which actually tend to distract and lead away the mind from God, when the Lord alone is sought in them, and when the Spirit of God accompanies and blesses them, how pleasing and
profitable, how refreshing and sanctifying, do they become! Well may the soul, knowing their value, long, like the Psalmist, for their 'Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by recurrence. Well may he thirst, and pant, and faint for the courts of the Lord.
But in every act of worship, as it is with God we have to do, and before God that we appear, there is, or there ought to be, a constant reverential awe of the divine Majesty, a realizing by faith the divine glory, a sense of the infinite distance there is betwixt the great I AM and the creatures of the dust, a deep feeling of our own depravity, and sinfulness, and worthlessness, how much we are in danger of his wrath and in need of his mercy; therefore, there ought to be a bowing down and a kneeling before the Lord. But we never can engage aught in the solemn exercises of devotion, whether in public or private, unless we have a just apprehension of the character of that great Being before whom we fall prostrate, and also bear in mind the relation which we hold to him. Let us then never forget that he is our Maker, that he is our God;' that we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.' Every one may recognise him as his Maker, his Creator, his Preserver, his Upholder, his Benefactor; but can every one say, He is my God? Can every one claim a personal interest in him, a covenant relation to him? Can every one say, He hath restored my soul? Alas! alas! many know nothing more of him than that he is their Maker, and even this they do not acknowledge. Becoming homage, however, cannot be paid to him till we can say, He is our God: and this never can be done till we view him in another character, the Lord the Redeemer; till we are brought nigh by the blood of Christ, till we look to him, and he looks on us in the face of his Anointed. How cheering is the consideration, that the great God is our reconciled Father in Christ Jesus, that every child of God can go boldly to the throne, crying, Abba, Father. There is hereby an element introduced into a Christian's worship of which David knew little, comparatively; and there is a note in a Christian's song of praise which even angels cannot raise. They may celebrate the praises of the Lamb that was slain, but they cannot, and none but the Christian can, sing this song: Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory for ever and ever. Thou art worthy, for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests."
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, Phil. iv. 6, 7.
EVERY one feels that this is the wilderness through which he is travelling; that he is born unto trouble; that he is a pilgrim and stranger on the earth. There are difficulties and perplexities, privations and wants, sufferings and sorrows, temptations and dangers connected with his sojourn here, all the fruit of sin, and from which there is no exemption, on the part of any one; they are the lot of fallen humanity. There are trials both of a temporal and spiritual nature, circumstances affecting us both personally and relatively, wants in the issue of which the weal of the church and the community at large are involved, which cannot fail deeply to interest and affect the mind. And that man would be more than a stoic, who did not forecast in his mind what might happen. There is, however, a care and perplexity both in regard to present and coming events, in regard to ourselves and others, in regard to both body and soul that is inordinate, disquieting, distracting, torturing. This arises from distrust and unbelief, and therefore it is sinful, and must be guarded against.
And what a blessed remedy is provided against all such feelings and fears. And what is the remedy? It is prayer, humble, believing, fervent, persevering prayer. In every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.' This is the remedy that unerring wisdom and unbounded love provides-this is the course that he suggests who has all events under his control, and who has all time under his eye. is the stronghold to which the people of God invariably flee on their every emergency-the Lord is the counsellor and friend to whom they betake themselves in their every doubt, perplexity, and fear. When Jonah's soul fainted within him he remembered the Lord, and his prayer came in unto God, to his holy temple. When David's heart was overwhelmed, he betook himself to the Rock that was higher than he.
And what a privilege is it that we can draw near to the throne of grace, that, through the mediation of Christ, we can go to God with the confidence of children to a father. All that creates solicitude or apprehension, all that is an
object of desire or hope-whatever relates to our | seeking to God in humble, believing, fervent, temporal or spiritual concerns, whatever regards persevering, thankful prayer? The peace of our families, our friends, the church, or the nation, God which passeth all understanding shall keep is to be brought before God in prayer. Every your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.' thing, whatever be its nature, its magnitude, or Mark here the union betwixt duty and privilege, even its minuteness, in which the creature's weal precept and promise, prayer and peace. The or woe in time or eternity is involved, is to be connection is close, the effect is certain. And O made known to God. Yes, every child of God what a blessing is this! Nothing short of heacan disclose the every secret of his heart, can ven is comparable to it: it is heaven begun, heamake mention of that before the mercy-seat ven in the soul. What heathen sages so highly that he would not for worlds reveal to his dearest magnified, and their philosophy in vain sought, friend on earth, and can assure himself of the the religion of Christ imparts, the believer in sympathy, the compassion, the interposition, the Christ possesses. O! what a privilege is prayer. aid of the Almighty. In going to God in prayer, A soul in converse with its God is heaven.' And we do not seek to acquaint him with what he what is this boon? It is peace. It is an indoes not perfectly know; but he will have us ward, admiring, adoring sense of God's forgiving express our entire dependence on him, he will have love-a serenity and calm proceeding from the us to pay this homage to him, and in this way believing apprehension of God being pacified to he will make us sensible that he is the hearer of us, and reconciled through the blood of his Son; prayer, and glorify his own name in listening to it is a tranquillity and composure of spirit arising and granting our requests. from all the swellings of passion, the tumults of fear being stilled, and the experience of light. and grace imparted to the soul. It is the comfortable sense of the divine favour here, and a wellgrounded hope of the enjoyment of God hereafter. This peace is the 'peace of God.' Wonderful thought! It is a state of mind of which God is the author and the bestower, and which consists in his being with believers, and in them— it is a divine peace, such a serenity as reigns in heaven-such a peace as possesses the divine mind to the extent that is compatible with man's condition on earth. This peace 'passeth all understanding.' It is such as the Christian understood nothing of prior to his experience of it; and it is that, now that he hath experience of it, which he can neither conceive aught of its value, nor express suitably its excellence, or explain fully its nature. And ever let us think and adoringly remember through whom, and for whose sake, this and every blessing in time and through eternity is ours. It is through Jesus Christ. He is the purchaser, he is the custodier, he is the bestower of all. To him be glory for ever and ever.
In meditating on these words one may say, I can easily perceive how an individual oppressed with want, or struggling with misfortune, or bowed down with disease, or overwhelmed with sorrow-how a sinner, conscious of guilt, and beset with temptations, and labouring under corruption, and on these accounts filled with anxiety, perplexity, and fear, is called upon to cast his burthen on the Lord, to breathe out his fervent petition before God. It is natural and befitting that he should pray, and supplicate, and entreat, with an importunity that will take no denial, a perseverance that will admit of no repulse for a change of circumstances—it is becoming that he should deprecate the evils that are felt or dreaded, and implore the blessings that are needed, and gratefully acknowledge the mercies that have been conferred, and the deliverances that have been vouchsafed; but how is he in his prayers to mingle thanksgiving in regard to every thing? Yes, it is the will of God concerning us, that in every thing we should give thanks; and no prayer is acceptable to God without the ingredient of thanksgiving. In every thing we may be thankful. When afflicted, we may be thankful for the expected benefit flowing from affliction; when tempted, thankful that God will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able; when conscious of guilt, thankful that we have been aroused, and that there is a remedy provided; when we fall into sin, there is cause of thankfulness, that we were not cut off in the very act of sinning, that we did not die in our sins. Thus are we in every thing to give thanks.
Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your traditions,' Matt. xv. 6. THERE is a natural pride and presumption in the human heart, which leads many to suppose that they can improve the lessons of heavenly wisAnd what is the benefit flowing from thus dom, and the institutions of sovereign and divine.