« AnteriorContinuar »
confessing ourselves to be miserable sinners, beseeching Him to spare us, and not to deal with us after our sins, nor reward us according to our iniquities;- if, while we have habitually adopted these expressions, we have at the same time been unhumbled and impenitent, destitute of conviction of sin, and unconscious of our need of mercy, how insincere and unworthy must our service appear in the sight of God! May not the word of the Lord to the prophet be applied to us : “ They come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them : for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” (Ezek. xxxiii. 31.)
God Almighty grant that we may all become spiritual worshippers ! that we may feel and understand the solemn language which we use; that we may be divested of lifeless formality, and
may come before God in public and in private with a penitent heart, a lively faith in Christ Jesus our Saviour, and a simple desire to love him and keep his commandments!
JOB xlii. 5, 6. “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear:
but now mine eye seeth thee: wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
IF an approach to the presence of an earthly potentate be considered a matter of some moment, if great pains be taken to avoid every thing that may offend the eye or the ear of royalty, if the utmost anxiety be discovered for the furtherance of some particular suit which is to be presented to the throne, how much more should this be the case when we would approach the immediate presence of the Most High! How deeply should we be impressed with a sense of his power and glory, and of our own meanness and sinfulness! Besides, we have a suit to urge, upon which our eternal destinies depend: if we are accepted, we gain the salvation of our souls; if we are rejected, we sink into endless woe! Neither is our favourable reception at all certain : many are rejected, and perish! Jesus himself declares, “ Not every one who saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;" and again he saith, that* “ Many will seek to enter in, and not be able.” And St. James, † speaking to some professed Christians, tells them, “ Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss." Have we so much at stake? Is there a possibility of failure? How important, then, must be the inquiry “ How shall I approach the Lord God acceptably? In what spirit, with what views, and upon what plea, may I draw near to my Creator ?
It will be our object on this occasion to exhibit to your view, from the word of God, and from the general tenor of
* Luke xiii. 24.
+ James iv. 3.
our liturgy, one essential and characteristic mark of an acceptable worshipper: it is that discovered by Job in the text, VIZ. (SELF-ABHORRENCE, CONVICTION OF OSIN.. HEREDITARY AND ACTUAL, AND A READINESS TO CONFESS IT BEFORE I THE THRONE OF God. We shall, find, whether we have recourse to the Bible or to the Prayer-Book, that this is the one and only character in which we can appear before God, even as sinners, deserving eternal wrath, but casting ourselves on the promised mercy of God as revealed in the gospel of his son Jesus Christ! Let us approach the subject in meekness, and in a teachable spirit, imploring the aid of God's grace to lighten our darkness, to take from us all blindness, ignorance, and hardness of heart, and to bring us in a truly penitent frame of mind to the throne of divine mercy!
I. It is THE UNIFORM TESTIMONY OF SCRIPTURE THAT GOD IS TO BE