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produced by the revelation of God—of His love in Jesus
-of His glory, and of all the blessings wherewith He loadeth us “ our cup runneth over") to re-ascend to God in adoration. And, surely, the heart which is penetrated with the grace of God will feel the need of returning back to Him the homage of its adoration and of its gratitude, for all the blessings which are so many proofs of the infinite and eternal love which God has had, and which He has had for us.
Let us, then, examine this subject according to the Scriptural ground which the Spirit has given us.
What, then, is worship?
“ It is the honor and adoration which are rendered to God by reason of that which He is, and of that which He is for those who render it."
It is the employment of heaven; blessed and precious privilege for us upon earth, if the enjoyment of it be vouchsafed to us. One might, indeed, add to this definition “rendered in common.” So to speak would not contain the denial of the possibility of worship from an isolated individual. If Adam had continued innocent he would, doubtless, as an individual have adored God.”
But it is not, therefore, the less true, that in point of fact, worship is a homage rendered in common; because, in fact, God has blessed many and many together; be it angels or men; and hence communion in adoration is of
a I doubt, however, whether, in point of fact, it is possible for an adequate worship to be rendered to God by any one alone. An innocent man might bless God for His goodness; but for such worship as should rise to the height of that which God is, to be rendered by a solitary being, would suppose a capacity to apprehend the motives of worship in God, such as would put him who rendered the worship almost upon a level with Him to whom he rendered it. God would not be in the place proper to him for worship-for who alone could glorify God suitably, it himself the sole object of His favour. Here the intervention of Christ is of great importance for the foundation of worship-because God is so glorified, as that worship can be rendered to Him and those who adore Him, do so by virtue of that which He is for them in this intervention of Christ; the worship is based upon the fact that God is fully glorified, and we adore Him in acknowledging Him as thus glorified.
b Nevertheless, for man himself, God said, that it was not good that he should be alone.
the essence of the act, because the blessing is one in common, and the joy which I have in the blessing of others is part of my own individual blessing: Their blessing forms part of the grace to which my heart responds; and love (which is the source and spring of it all) is defective if I enjoy not their blessing. If I bless not God for it, I am myself incapable of worship; for to bless God supposes that I am sensible of His love, and that I love.
We may, then, say, since God was not pleased that we should be alone, but that our blessing should be in communion, that worship is the honour and adoration rendered to God in common, by virtue of that which He is, and which He is in behalf of those who render it.
But it is not to an abstract definition that I desire to confine myself; quite the contrary. But it is well to know what the subject is on which we speak.
No work of God towards man is worship. Nor is any testimony rendered as to Him and His grace worship. Preaching the gospel-testimony (of infinite value) to His grace—has nought in common with worship. It may produce it, as being the means of communicating the knowledge of God in grace, which awakens the spirit of adoration in the heart; but no preaching (how blessed soever it may be) is worship rendered to God.
It is a testimony rendered on God's part to man. This does not derogate from the value of such preaching; without it no Christian worship could exist, for the gospel makes known the God who ought to be adored, and, acting by grace, leads the soul into the state in which it is able to render true homage to God, even that which is in spirit and in truth. But it is not, therefore, the less true that no sort of testimony addressed to man from God, is worship rendered to God by man. A sermon has nothing in common with worship. It may be the means of producing it. The ministry of the word is a distinctive characteristic of the Christian economy. The
The more one is in the spirit of worship, however, the better will one know how to render testimony—for it is clear that it is in intimacy of communion with God that one will know how to render testimony as to Him in love.
Jewish people were counted to be already in relationship with God; externally they were so.
There was question about bringing them to God; they were already His people, and God dwelt in the midst of this people, as à people whom He had redeemed; but now the kingdom of heaven and the grace of salvation are proclaimed to sinners, and there is a ministry of the gospel for the calling of souls, and to invite them to enter into relationship with God, as in Israel there had been a priesthood for the maintenance of the relationship already formed.
Neither are prayers, addressed to God in order to obtain that of which we stand in need, worship, properly so called. They more immediately connect themselves with it, because they suppose the existence of the knowledge of God and of confidence in Him, and that we draw near to Him by virtue of that which He is, and which He is for him who presents his prayers to Him. But supplications addressed to God (while founded upon confidence in Him, and thus intimately allied to adoration), have not the characteristic proper to adoration itself. Praises and thanksgivings, adoration, the making mention of the attributes of God and of His acts—whether of power or in grace-in the form of adoration, and of adoration, too, addressed to Himself, constitute that which is, properly speaking, worship. In it we draw near to God and address ourselves to Him. To make mention of His praises, not in an address to Himself, is undoubtedly connected with worship, and the heart refers them to Him ; but such mention of his praises has not the form proper to worship, although it may enter into it subordinately, as also the prayers which adoration itself suggests. And this distinction must not be thought to be of little importance. Sweet is it to record, the one to the other, the excellencies of Him whom we love, but the redeemed delight to have God Himself in their thoughts—delight to address themselves to Him, to speak to Him, to adore Him personally, to converse with Him, to open the heart to Him, to tell Him that we love Him. To the redeemed it is a delight that these things pass between God personally and themselves, and to testify to Him the feeling they have of His greatness
and of His goodness, because God Himself is in it. In this case the communion is between ourselves and God; and God is more precious to us than are even our brethren. Such is the feeling of our brethren also. God is the portion of all in common. In short, in the cases first supposed, we speak to ourselves, or to one another, to say for ourselves how worthy God is to be praised ; in the second, we address ourselves to God personally. It is plain, to him at least who knows God, that the latter is the more excellent, that it has a charm, an excellency, which the other possesses not. The spiritual affections are evidently of a higher tone, the communion is more complete.
Having presented these general thoughts as to the nature of worship, or rather having distinguished that which, as all are agreed, is properly meant by this word worship from other acts which are mixed up with it in the mind by reason of the actual practice of Christians, I will now examine: What is Christian worship according to the Word? I remarked, by the way, that there is a ministry in the Christian economy as there was a priesthood in that of the Jews. I turn back to this remark, in order to develop my subject, strengthened by the recollection that the Lord connects that which He says concerning the worship which the Father seeks, with that which formerly existed at Jerusalem.
The worship of Ísrael, as a whole, supposed, it is true, that the people were in relationship with God, and even that God had come to dwell in the midst of them ; but,
1 in all the circumstances which characterise that worship, He made it plain, that the people themselves could not draw near to God. Moreover, this was a thought which was essential to all the relationships which existed between God and the people. God had redeemed them out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, had borne them as upon eagles' wings, and had brought them even to Himself. He had given them, as a
. token of their deliverance, the promise that they should worship him upon mount Sinai, to the foot of which He in truth conducted them — with proofs innumerable of His patience and of His goodness. There God shows himself; but it is amid thunders and fire and the voice of a trumpet, which made even Moses (already familiar with the wondrous manifestations attendant upon
presence of God) to tremble. In harmony with such a revelation of his glory, the Lord commands bounds to be set around the mountain, and that if even a beast approach unto it, it should be stoned or thrust through with a dart. He spake, indeed, directly to the people, but in such a way as made the people ask that He should speak unto them no more: and God Himself approved the request. The ordinary worship of the people in the tabernacle and in the temple, while wearing an appearance which was more gentle and calm, and less terrific towards the worshipper, contained in its basis the same character. If God did not shake the earth with His voice, if His presence did not cast terror amid the people—this was because He was hid behind the veil which concealed Him from their sight. He made Himself known but by His acts of blessing and of judgment alone, and revealed not Himself to the hearts of the people. The consequence of this was natural and evident. The people came to acknowledge His benefits and to humble themselves in the thought of His just judgments, while they drew near toward the Holy place; but to Himself within the veil they never drew near. They did not even enter into His house. Within the veil the high priest alone was wont to enter once every year, in order to carry in the blood of the ram and of the bullock, of propitiatory victims, in order to make reconciliation for the people with a God who could not endure iniquity, and thus to renew their relationships with Him who demanded that His abode also should be purified from the defilements of the people among whom he vouchsafed to dwell. Doubtless, if dwelling between the cherubim, He judged from His throne that which was evil; He also heaped up blessings upon the people whom He had redeemed, with the assurance that, if they were faithful, they should be protected from all the attacks of their enemies. The people sought His protection and worshipped Him for the benefits He had conferred. The faith of the individual seized perhaps more immediately