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day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God ?” You see here that it was God himself that David thirsted after in his worship. Alas! what is all the outward pomp of worship, if God be not the end and life of all ? Without him how vain a thing would the words of prayer, and preaching, and the administration of the sacraments be? It is not the dead letter, but the quickening spirit that maketh the dead in sin to live; that convinceth or comforteth the soul; or maketh the worshipper holy or happy. Nay it is some aggravation of your misery, to be destitute of true communion with God, while you seem to worship him; and to be far from him in the heart, while you draw so near him with the lips : to boast of the temple of the Lord, and be forsaken by the Lord of the temple! That Capernaum shall be cast down to hell, that is but thus lift up to heaven; and it will be easier for Sodom in the day of judgment, than for such as had the public ordinances without God. David left the ark with Absalom at Jerusalem ; but God was not with Absalom but with David. No marvel if such hypocrites grudge at all that is costly in God's service; even the necessary maintenance of the ministers : for if they have only the shell of ordinances without God, it will scarce requite them for their cost. No marvel if they think all their pains too much, when they take up with the chaff which is scarcely worth their pains. No wonder if they find small pleasure in God's service: for what pleasure is there in the husks or chaff, or in a deaf nut? No wonder if they grow no better, no holier or stronger by it: for what strength will chaff and shadows breed? No marvel if they are quickly weary, and if a little of such religion seem enough, when the life, and spirits, and strength, and sweetness is neglected. O sinners, remember, that God desireth not yours but you, and all your wealth and service is as nothing to him, if he have not yourselves, (when yet you are so little worth the having). Nay, how earnestly doth he sue to have you! How dearly hath he bought you ! he may challenge you as his own. Answer this kindness of God aright: let no ordinance nor any common mercy satisfy you, if you have not God himself. And to encourage you let me further tell you,
If it be God himself that thou seekest in his worship (sincerely) thou shalt find him: because thou hast chosen the better part, it shall not be taken from thee. Because thou hungerest and thirstest after him thou shalt be satisfied. What joyful news is this to the thirsty soul! 2. Thou art most welcome to God with these high desires : this holy ambition and aspiring of love is only acceptable to him. If all ordinances be nothing to thee without God, he will see that thou understandest the true use of ordinances, and put down thy name among his lovers, whom he cannot despise. He loveth not to see men debase their souls, to feed on husks and chaff with hypocrites, any more than to feed on filth and dirt, with sensualists and worldlings. As he accepted Solomon's prayer because he asked not for little things, but for great, so he is very much pleased with the soul, that is unsatisfied with all the world, and can be content with nothing lower or worse than God himself. 3. Nay because thou seekest God himself, thou shalt have all things with him that are worth the having m. When hypocrites have but the carcase and shadow, it is thou that shalt have the substantial food and joy. As they that were with Paul when he was converted, did hear the voice but saw no man"; so others shall hear the sound of the Word, and the name of God; but it is thou that shalt see him by faith that is invisible, and feel the power and efficacy of all. Thou shalt hear God speak to thee, when he that sitteth in the same seat with thee, shall hear no more than the voice of man. It is he that seeketh after God in his ordinances, that is religious in good sadness, and is employed in a work, that is worthy of an immortal, rational soul. The delights of ordinances as they are performed by man, will savour of his imperfections, and taste of the instrument, and have a bitterness often mixed with the sweet; when the delight that cometh from God himself will be more pure. Ordinances are uncertain: you may have them to-day, and lose them to-morrow ! when God is everlasting, and everlastingly to be enjoyed. Otherefore take not up short of God, in any of his worship, but before you set upon it, call up your souls to mind the end, and tell them what you are going to do, that you miss not of the end for want of seeking it. The devil will give hypocritical worldlings leave to play them m Matt. vi. 33. Rom. viii. 28.
with the most excellent ordinances, if he can but keep God out of sight, even as you will let your children play them with a box of gold, as long as it is shut, and they see not what is within.
Direct. xi. •Be laborious with your hearts in all God's worship to keep them employed on their duty; and be watchful over them, lest they slug or wander.' Remember that it is heart-work that you are principally about. And therefore see that your hearts be all the while at work. Take yourselves as idle when your hearts are idle. And if you take not pains with them, how little pains will they take in duty! If you watch them not, how quickly will they lie down, and forget what they are doing, and fall asleep when you are in treaty with God! How easily will they turn aside, and be thinking of impertinent vanities? Watch therefore unto prayer and every duty”. .
Direct. XII. · Look up to heaven as that which all your duties tend to, that from thence you may fetch your encouraging motives.' Do all as a means to life eternal : separate no duty from its reward and end. As the traveller remembereth whither he is going all the way, and a desired end doth make the foulest steps seem tolerable; so think ir every prayer you put up, and in every duty, that it is all for heaven.
Direct. xui. · Depend upon the Spirit of God for help.' You cannot seek God spiritually and acceptably without him. Think not that you are sufficient to worship God aright without his help. Where this is despised or neglected, you see what. lamentable work is made by blind, corrupted nature in God's service. Sensual wretches that have not the Spirit, are fitter for any thing than to worship Godp. “ If he that hath not the Spirit of Christ be none of his 9," then he that pretends to worship God without the Spirit of Christ, can ill think to be heard for the sake of Christ.
Direct. xiv. “Look also to your tongues and the deportment of your bodies, that the whole man may worship God in holiness as he requireth. Pretend not your good meanings, nor the spirituality of your worship, to excuse you from worshipping also with your bodies. Your hearts
• 1 Pet. iv. 7. gTim. iv. 5. P Jude 19. 9 Rom. viji. 9.
must be first looked to; but your words and bodies must next be looked to: and if you regard not these, it is hardly credible that you regard your hearts. 1. Your words and gestures are the due expression of your hearts : and the heart will desire to express itself as it is. Many would express their hearts to be better than they are; and therefore good expressions are oft to be suspected. But few would express their hearts as worse than they are; and therefore bad appearances do seldom lie. 2. Your words and actions are needful to the due honouring of God. As evil words and actions do dishonour him, and the unseemly, disorderly performance of his service, is very injurious to such holy things; so your meet and comely words and gestures are the external beauty of the worship which you perform : and God should be served with the best. 3. Your words and gestures reflect much on your own hearts. As acts tend to the increase of the habits; so the external expressions tend to increase the internal affections, whether they be good or evil. 4. Your words and gestures must be regarded for the good of others, who see not your hearts, but by these expressions. And where many have communion in worshipping God, such acts of communion are of great regard.
Directions about the Manner of Worship, to avoid all Corrup
tions, and false, unacceptable Worshipping of God.
The lamentable contentions that have arisen about the manner of God's worship, and the cruelty, and blood, and divisions, and uncharitable revilings which have thence followed, and also the necessary regard that every Christian must have to worship God according to his will, do make it needful that I give you some Directions in this case.
Direct. 1. •Be sure that you seriously and faithfully practise that inward worship of God, in which the life of religion doth consist: as to love him above all, to fear him, believe him, trust him, delight in him, be zealous for him; and that your hearts be sanctified unto God, and set upon heaven and holiness:' for this will be an unspeakable help to set you right in most controversies about the worshipping of God a. Nothing hath so much filled the church with contentions, and divisions, and cruelties about God's worship, as the agitating of these controversies by unholy, unexperienced persons: when men that hate a holy life, and holy persons, and the holiness of God himself, must be they that dispute what manner of worship must be offered to God by themselves and others; and when the controversies about God's service are fallen into the hands of those that hate all serious serving of him, you may easily know what work they will make of it. As if sick men were to determine or dispute what meat and drink themselves and all other men must live upon, and none must eat but by their prescripts, most healthful men would think it hard to live in such a country. As men are within, so will they incline to worship God without. Outward worship is but the expression of inward worship: he that hath a heart replenished with the love and fear of God, will be apt to express it by such manner of worship, as doth most lively and seriously express the love and fear of God. If the heart be a stranger or an enemy to God, no marvel if such worship him accordingly. O could we but help all contenders about worship to the inward light, and life, and love, and experience of holy, serious Christians, they would find enough in themselves, and their experiences, to decide abundance of controversies of this kind : (though still there will be some, that require also other helps to decide them). It is very observable in all times of the church, how in controversies about God's worship, the generality of the godly, serious people, and the generality of the ungodly and ludicrous worshippers, are ordinarily of differing judgments! and what a stroke the temper of the soul hath in the determination of such cases !
Direct. 11. "Be serious and diligent also in all those parts of the outward worship of God that all sober Christians are agreed in. For if you be negligent and false in so much as you confess, your judgment about the controverted part is not much to be regarded. God is not so likely to
a Read on this subject a small book which I have written, called " Catholic Unity.”