페이지 이미지

Let us also go in the SPIRIT OF PRAISE. "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go unto the house of the Lord." Ps. cxxii, 1. We should come up to his house with a thankful, grateful spirit; with the feeling of children going to their parents; not in the spirit of bondage, but in the spirit of adoption. A dutiful child, entirely dependent on the bounty, wisdom, and love of its kind father, after experiencing the contempt or unfriendly treatment to which a stranger in a foreign country is exposed, loves to go to the father's dwelling; and whilst we are in this hostile and ensnaring world, it is our privilege to "serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with joy. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise."

Yet let holy joy be ever connected with GODLY Fear. The Jews were commanded, Reverence my sanctuary. Lev. xix, 30. And Solomon's directions should be often in our thoughts; Keep thy foot, (watch and mark all the motions of soul and body, restraining all that would be unbecoming) "when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to offer the sacrifice of fools. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God, for God is in heaven and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few." Eccles. v, 1. 2. We should endeavour to have that lively impression of the divine presence, which pervaded Jacob's mind, after his intercourse with his God; "Surely the Lord is in this place-how dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" Gen. xxviii, 16, 17. The more just and lively views we have of God's character, presence, and glory, the more we shall seek to honour him. This reverence St. Paul urges; Let us have grace, (we cannot do without it,) whereby we may

serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. Heb. xi, 33.


Closely connected with this reverence will be Deer We may always observe this, when God's servants have had near approaches to him, or a true view of his glory, they have been greatly humbled in the sense of their own sinfulness; as Abraham, “Behold, now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes;" (Gen. xviii, 27.) or as Job, "Behold, Iam vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth;" (Job. xl, 4.) or, as Isaiah, "Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." Isa. vi, 5. We should come with that feeling which Daniel well expresses, "We do not present our supplications before thee, O Lord, for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies." Dan. ix, 18.

II. A due behaviour in the house of God.

Those who come with the views and feelings which I have mentioned, will readily admit the propriety and follow the practice of the custom among us, first to seek in private the grace of God to help us in our worship. Let this be done briefly and fervently; constantly, but not formally.*

* I cannot here but quote an admirable prayer of Bonnel's; his Biographer says, "When he came early to Church and could get to a retired place, he continued at his private devotions until the public service began, or a very little before; and how be employed those happy moments of privacy and devotion in the house of God, the following prayer, mentioned as used by him in the Church before morning prayer began, will shew.

[ocr errors]

'Behold, O Lord, this portion of thy family, whom in this place thou hast so often graciously visited and favoured ; and who, having addicted and given up ourselves to thy service, are here

The great thing is to keep our mind and affections fixed on the duty before us, so as to be able to say, this one thing I do. Aim, then, to have the mind engaged, and affections excited suitable to every part of the service. Protestants see at once the folly of praying in an unknown tongue; but, unless the heart join in the prayer-unless, when the minister "bless with the Spirit, he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say, Amen, (i. e. really join with his heart,) at thy giving of thanks," (1 Cor. xvi, 16.) it is as unprofitable as if he prayed in a foreign language. Prayers are not to be heard as sermons, but to be really offered up to God in the desire of the heart. In the word read and preached by the minister, let us hear God speaking, and receive it in faith. In joining the confessions of sin, let met together in behalf of ourselves and of the rest of our happy number, and of all our Christian brethren, even thy whole Church. We beseech thee to unite our hearts more and more in thyself, that we may have but one beart, and one mind, as we have but one design, one aim and hope. Let us now welcome each other, with hearts full of love and joy, into thy presence, as we hope one day to welcome each other into thy presence in glory Let our civil respects before thy service begins, be such hearty and holy salutat ons as the blessed Elizabeth gave to the mother of our Lord, and may we have leave to say to each other, " Rail, thou that art favoured of God; the Lord is with thee!" Behold, we come with united hearts, to beg of thee the confirming of thy grace and favour to us; we come to present ourselves before thee, with most, thankful acknowledgments for thy mercies received, and to adore thee who hast so graciously visited us. We come humbly to implore of thee strength against our respective temptations and difficulties in life; to beseech thee to supply all our weaknesses; to make us happily victorious against all our corruptions; and more than conquerors through thee who bast loved us. But, O our bountiful Lord God! if it be such joy to meet those whom we love now in thy presence, what will it be to meet ten thousand glorified spirits, each of which we shall love infinitely more in thy kingdom of glory, than we can do any creature bere! ry be to thee, O Lord of glory and of love, who hast given us such present pleasure in thy service, and such comfortable hopes of those eternal good things which thou hast prepared for them that love thee. Amen."


memory bring before you your particular transgressions; and let your hearts confess, as well as your lips. In petitions for pardon and a supply of necessities, let faith realize the power and willingness of God to give. In praying for others, remember, God's children are members of that one body to which you are united; and those now in darkness may yet be fellowmembers of the same body. Truly desire their best good. In thanksgiving, call to mind your own particular mercies, and your utter unworthiness of them; our hearts should overflow with gratitude, while our mouth is filled with praise. We should have David's feelings; "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Ps. xxxiv, 3.

But in all have an especial reference to the mediation, intercession, and grace of Christ. Vain are all the foregoing rules and hints without the Spirit of Christ in your heart. You cannot really, or profitably, practise one of them, unless the Holy Spirit be in you; for, however necessary rules and precepts may be, never yet was a Christian formed by rules alone, but by the Spirit of Christ giving life to the letter, and writing the rule in the heart. He is present, (Mat. xviii. 20.) By faith then, realize his presence. It spreads a savour-it imparts a life and beauty-it throws a glory upon Christian assemblies. Believe, then, the Lord Jesus Christ to be standing in the midst of his people, giving power to the prayers, and efficacy to the blessing at the close, and offering up in heaven all those prayers which you have made on earth.

While the prayers which the minister has to read alone are repeating, do not accompany him by your voice, or in whispers: this well-meaning people sometimes do; but it disturbs the devotion of others. The

thing to be aimed at, is, that your heart go along with all the service, desiring every blessing, and holding unseen communion with God.

And, Christian reader, may I not appeal to you, that, when you have come to the house of God in the spirit of prayer, and earnestly longing to enjoy the presence of God, and the communion of saints with your fellow Christians, you have found in some of the pathetic expressions of our Liturgy, that nearness to God, and that intercourse with him, which has been to your own mind a manifest fulfilment of the promise to be present with us when we meet in his name For instance, in repeating those earnest entreaties for mercy at the end of the Litany, "O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world; have mercy upon us. O Christ, hear us," you not, in happy moments, found your heart deeply affected, elevated, and drawn out to the Saviour.


The spiritual worship of God in every part of the service, without wandering or distracted thoughts, is one of the highest attainments of the Christian, and perhaps not to be expected on this side of the grave; but, alas, how far from this are we in general. The writer mourns his own continual failure of spiritual worship, while he is endeavouring to exhort others to seek its attainment.— It has been observed, "How empty would our congregations be sometimes, if no more bodies were present than there are souls ? And what abundance of sorry service hath our God that no body sees." This subject will be more fully considered hereafter. (See chapter xi.)

The hearing of the truth in faith, humility, and love, is a most important part in the solemnities of public worship. On this, however, we cannot here enlarge. Let it only be observed, that the more we can hear with a devout spirit, with a soul continually darting up

« 이전계속 »