« ZurückWeiter »
to worship idols; if Mahomedans meet to worship an unknown God, and honour Mahomed, let Christians meet to worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the spirits of all flesh; and thus give a public avowal of their being the disciples of Jesus Christ, the only Lord and Saviour. By withdrawing from the public assembly of his people, you do in effect own yourself not to belong to those who love and fear God, and shall dwell with him for ever. Persons of the greatest piety have ever been most remarkable for their attachment to public worship. Look with this view at the Psalms of David. See Psalms xlii, lxiii, lxxxiv.
Public worship is ATTENDED WITH SOME PEGULIAR ADVANTAGES.-The constant return of the weekly sabbath, and its worship, keeps alive those impressions of religion which the cares, and business, and distractions of this world would wear away. Our Saviour makes a special promise applicable to it, saying, "where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matt. xviii, 19, 20. The Lord is in his holy temple. He loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” peculiarly there manifesting to his people his presence, in which is fulness of joy. He declares, I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. Isa. Ivi, 7. Worldly men find it natural and easy to meet in a mart or exchange for worldly advantages, and the religious man finds it thus easy to go to the house of God for spiritual advantages. We thus turn the sympathy of nature, common to us all, to its best account. It has a tendency to unite men together in mutual love. We are quickened, solemnized, and enlivened by the devotion of a well-ordered congregation. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, says Da
vid, in the congregation of the faithful. Earth affords not a more impressive, affecting, and solemn sight, than that of a whole congregation uniting in acts of prayer and praise to the great Lord of all. In such a scene, also, the Christian peculiarly enjoys the privilege of the communion of saints.
The reading and preaching of the Holy Scriptures being joined with public worship, the young, the poor, the ignorant and uninstructed have, by this means, a most important opportunity of religious instruction. The beneficial effect of this, when generally kept up through a whole nation, cannot easily be estimated. But public worship is A PRIVILEGE, AS WELL AS A
1.–To the Christian it is not a burdensome task, but a delightful enjoyment, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to join his fellow Christians in prayer and praise. Observe how David speaks ; "one thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” Ps. xxvii, 4. "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." Ps. Ixxxiv, 1, 2. Hence, the sabbath is to the Christian a happy day.He looks forward to it with pleasure. He regrets its departure. He would not, on any account, willingly deprive himself of its privileges, or lose its worship.
The observance of the SABBATH is so intimately connected with public worship, that it may be useful to shew the obligation to keep holy the Lord's day.
The sabbath was sanctified and set apart for God from the beginning.* “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Gen. ii, 3.“Hence we may infer not only the advantage, but the absolute necessity, as the world now is, if we would pay any suitable regard to religion, or to the salvation of our immortal souls, of time set apart for the immediate service of God.”
* It has, indeed, been objected, that there is no subsequent mention of the observance of the sabbath by the Patriarchs; but
The command to remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy, though given to the Jewish Church with many circumstances of peculiar strictness, occurs among the moral laws in the Ten Commandments. Mr. Cecil thus explains its true character. « The Jewish Sabbath was partly of political institution, and partly of moral obligation; so far as it was a political appointment, designed to preserve the Jews from other nations, it is abrogated : so far as it was of moral obligation, it remains in force. Christ came not to abolish the sabbath, but to explain and enforce it, as he did the rest of the law. Its observance was no where positively enjoined by him, because Christianity was to be practicable, and was to go into all nations, and it goes thither stripped of its precise and various circumstances. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, seems to be the soul of the Christian Sabbath.” The circumstance of the continuance of the Jewish Economy, while our Lord and his Apostles lived, sufficiently accounts for there being no positive precept in the new testament respecting the Dot to say, that there are intimations of a division of time into weeks, (Gen. viii, 10, 12. xxix, 27, 1, 10.) it might, for the same reason, bave been thougbt, that the Jews did not observe the sabbath from Moses to David, sioce in the history of all that time there is no mention of that day. Those who object to the institution of the sabbath, from the beginning, admit that if the divine command was actually delivered at tbe creation, it was addressed no doubt to the whole human species alike, and continues, unless repealed by some subsequent revelation, binding on all who come to ibe kpowledge of it."
observance of the first day of the week, our Sunday Yet the practice of the primitive church, (Acts xx, 7. 1 Cor. xvi, 1, 2.) their freedom from the Jewish Sabbath, (Col. 2, 16.) and the actual appointment in our country of the first day, plainly require our observing Sunday, the Lord's day, (Rev. i, 10.) being the first, instead of Saturday, the seventh day of the week.
While our Saviour has, in some measure, relaxed the strictness of the Jewish law, and allows us to perform works of necessity and charity, (Matt. xvi, 12, 13.) it is yet our plain duty, as far as it is possible, to devote the day wholly to the service of God. “We are going," says Mr. Cecil, “to spend a sabbath in eternity. The Christian will acquire as much of the sabbath spirit as he can. And in proportion to a man's real piety in every age of the church, he will be found to have been a diligent observer of the sabbath day.”
Alas! how perpetually is this holy day profaned in our Christian land! what multitudes transact their usual business! how many shops in large towns are more or less open ! how many thousands of Sunday newspapers are published, sold and read! what needless travelling, visiting, writing letters, settling of accounts, &c!
But how much more holy and more happy is the Christian's employment of this day. It is to him a delight and a joy. He gives it wholly to its varied, but sacred duties. He reads the Scriptures and other devotional books, examines his heart, thinks on his ways, and meditates on spiritual and eternal things. He attends public worship, and instructs his family, or visits the poor and afflicted. He seeks to have his heart with God all the day long, and thus passing his sabbaths here below, he becomes better prepared for an eternal sabbath above.
But to return to the duty of public worship.
be of two classes :-either more or less neglecting public worship; or constantly attending it. Are you LIVING IN THE NEGLECT OF PUBLIC WORSHIP?_To such it may be said, though it be no certain mark of the truth of a man's religious profession that he comes to public worship, yet the habitual or frequent absence, when he has it in his power to come, is a plain mark that a man has no real religion. He is unlike his Saviour, and unlike the disciples of that Saviour: and thus continuing to despise the earthly house of his God, he will fail of an entrance into his eternal mansions. It was foretold, that in the days of the Messiah, his followers should generally and unitedly assemble together, to engage themselves in his service. “Many people shall say, Come
ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. Isa. ii, 3. May you, then, be excited by the considerations which I have stated, to begin a constant, regular, and habitual attendance at the house of God, and thus not only gain inestimable benefits yourself, but also by your example and your influence bring others thither.
But perhaps you may imagine that you have sufficient reasons to induce you to stay at home.
It is not an uncommon objection made to a due attendance on the duty of public worship, I CAN PRAY BETTER AT HOME, I CAN LEARN MORE AT HOME BY READING GOOD Books.—The preceding observations have already furnished a sufficient answer to this objection. Those who make it, not unfrequently totally neglect also religious duties at home. Public worship is a means of grace divine appointment, and therefore must not be neglected. Though you may not seem to derive that profit and edification which you think you gain from reading