Page images
PDF
EPUB

ESSAY I.

ON PUBLIC WORSHIP.

John iv, 24. God is a Spirit ; and they that

worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

THE public worship of God is of so vast importance, that to it, under the divine blessing, the Church of Christ owes its existence, and its continuance. If there was no public worship, there could be no religion. By public worship, the Supreme Being is acknowledged; and it is the bounden duty of every rational creature to acknowledge Him publicly, and to offer to him that worship and adoration, which his word prescribes. The wisest and the best of men have always felt it their duty and their interest to worship God publicly in his house. We may look upon the public worship of God as the grand line of distinction between the infidel and the believer. The person who does not worship

B

God in public, either believes not in the being of a God, or has no right or correct notions of his being. The Rabbins have a saying, that “ such a person is a bad neighbour, and that it is dangerous to live near him, for neither he nor his can be under the protection of God.”

Nothing can be more necessary, or more reasonable, than the assembling of ourselves together to worship God in public : the very act of assembling together in God's house, and of joining in prayer and praise to the supreme Author of the Universe, has a tendency to elevate the mind above the concerns of this earth. *

It is a privilege as well as a duty to worship God in his house. The Christian, when in the house of God, finds himself at the gate of heaven, where the divine presence is peculiarly vouchsafed to every humble and devout worshipper. To the Christian it is à most delightful employment, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, to unite with his fellow Christians, in the holy work of prayer and * LORD, how delightful 'tis to see

A whole assembly worship thee :
At once they sing, at once they pray,
They hear of heaven and learn the way."

DR. WATTS.

praise. David expresses his joy at his going to worship God in public ; " I was glad, said he, “when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.” Ps. cxxii, 1. “ How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee. A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." Ps.lxxxiv, 1, 2, 4, 10.

Such were the sentiments of the sweet singer of Israel, on the public worship of God; and such are now the sentiments of all real Christians : they esteem it the greatest pleasure to worship God in his house ; for thus they enjoy the privilege of the communion of saints. As it is natural for a man of the world to attend a market or a fair for worldly profit or advantages, so it is natural to the Christian to go to the house of God for spiritual profit or advantages.

* The Author of these pages, whilst inculcating the duty and privilege of the public worship of God, is deeply sensible of the benefit of private, family, or social worship of God, and is convinced that the person, who worships

*

The return of the weekly sabbath, and its worship, has a strong tendency to keep alive those impressions of religion which the cares, business, and distractions of the world would wear away. And for the encouragement of all who assemble to worship God publicly, our blessed Saviour has promised his presence: “ where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. xviii, 20. “ The Lord is in his holy temple." Ps. xi, 4. “ The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” Ps. lxxxvii, 2. And the Lord promises also to make his people joyful in his house of prayer.” Isa. Ivi, 7.

Thus we see that the advantage of public worship is very great. St. Paul exhorts Christians to it as the means of promoting their love to God and man:

« Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Heb. x, 24, 25. And the pious Psalmist says, “ O come, let us worship and God in private, or in his family, will also worship Him in public: and that the person, who does not worship God in private or in his family, cannot be a sincere worshipper of God in public : “ God is a spirit, and they who wor. ship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth."

[ocr errors]

bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Ps. xcv, 6. 66 Come into his courts ; 0 worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." Ps. xcvi, 8, 9.

By public worship we express the homage which is due to the Creator of the universe, “who giveth life to all, and breath, and all things,” and “ in whom we live, and move, and have our existence.” Acts xvii, 25, 28. It is the bounden duty of every rational creature publicly and unitedly to "give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name, 1 Chron. xvi, 29. As we are all dependent creatures, so it is just and right that we should join in acknowledging our dependence, and in praising God " for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life." As we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. iii, 23.) it is just and right that a sense of sin should excite us to join publicly in imploring the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ our Lord. We all stand in need of the same mercy; we may therefore unite in the same prayers and praises. Rational creatures, endued with immortal souls, are engaged in a work worthy of their nature and character,

« PreviousContinue »