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much more is it our duty to exert ourselves to the utmost of our power for the preservation of a ruined world.] ADDRESS1. Those who are lukewarm in the cause of Christ
[Many are so afraid of enthusiasm, that they banish from their minds all that may subject them to such an imputation. Hence, whilst they are correct and accurate in their principles, they are grievously defective in the sublimer parts of practical religion: they have a form of godliness, but no experience of its power. But let such persons know that the Lord Jesus Christ is more displeased with the lukewarmness of those who profess themselves his friends, than he is with the neglect of his avowed enemies e. If from our inmost souls we love him not, he denounces a solemn curse against us?: and if we serve him not with the talents entrusted to our care, he will require them at our hands, and punish us severely for our abuse of them.s] 2. Those who are active in his service
(God forbid that we should ever speak a word to discourage activity in the service of our Lord. But it is certain that many are diligent in doing what they suppose to be his will, who yet are far from cultivating that spirit which he will approve. Pride, ostentation, and a variety of other corrupt motives, may stimulate men to exertion; whilst humility and modesty, and all the lovelier graces of the Spirit, are wanting in them. Look to it then, that your love and zeal be duly tempered with reverence and godly fear. At the same time, take care that you do not become weary in well-doing. Be on your guard that your love to the Saviour languish not, and that your endeavours to convert others to the knowledge of him be not relaxed. Try amongst your friends and neighbours to interest them in his salvation. Then extend your efforts to all, whether Jews or Gentiles: and “count not even life itself dear to you,” if that you may but glorify him, and save the souls of your perishing fellow-creatures.]
e Rev. iii. 15, 16. 11 Cor. xvi. 22. 8 Matt. xxvi. 20.
WORSHIP IN THE BEAUTY O
DCLXII. WORSHIP IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS. Ps. xcvi. 9. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
THE calling of the Gentiles was a very favourite subject with the sweet singer of Israel. It is almost always blended with his sweetest strains. If at any time his soul be inflamed with more than ordinary devotion, it expands itself immediately to the remotest corners of the earth, and anticipates the period when the whole world shall enjoy the privileges which were then confined within the narrow limits of the Jewish nation; yea rather, when the richer blessings of Messiah's reign should be diffused with equal liberality over the face of the whole earth. The psalm before us had a special reference to the Messiah. It speaks of “a new song” that was to be sung; a song unknown to Moses, who celebrated only a temporal deliverance: and it was to be sung by “the whole earth,” because it was to be commemorative of a spiritual and eternal redemption, wrought out by the Messiah for the whole family of man. Let us read a part of this sublime composition: “O sing unto the Lord a new song! sing unto the Lord all the whole earth. Sing unto the Lord; bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the Heathen, his wonders among all people. Give unto the Lord, Oye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness ! fear before him, all the earth. Say among the Heathen that the Lord reignetha.” That it is of the Messiah's advent and reign that he here speaks, is evident; because he refers, not to any thing past, but to events yet future : “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad ; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the field be joyful, and all that is therein : then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord : for He cometh ; for he cometh to judge (to rule) the earth : he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth b.”
This psalm, together with a part of the 105th, was used by David, when he carried up the ark to Mount Zion, to place it in the Tabernaclec: and well was it adapted to that occasion; because the ark was a very eminent type of that adorable “ WORD, who in due time became flesh, and dwelt amongst us." Then, a ver. 1-3, 7, 9, 10.
b ver. 11–13. - . c 1 Chron. xvi. 7-33. d John i. 14. čokurwgev.
even at the hour when we might have supposed that the interests of his own subjects would have an exclusive possession of his mind, did David contemplate the welfare of the Gentiles, and call on them to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
We shall consider these words as containing, I. An invitation to the whole Gentile world
By “the beauty of holiness," I understand the Sanctuary of the Lord
[As the tabernacle and all its furniture were of the most costly materials and the most exquisite workmanship, so was the temple and all that it contained; and especially every thing connected with the holy of holies. But though in this respect it exceeded every thing upon earth in “ beauty," there was a far higher reason for its being called by this peculiar name : it was the immediate residence of the Deity, who dwelt there in a bright cloud, the Shechinah, the visible symbol of his presence. The heaven of heavens was not more holy than that sacred chamber, nor more beauteous: and therefore it might well be called, not beautiful, but “beauty;" not holy, but“ holiness" in the abstract, or more forcibly still, “ The beauty of holiness," in comparison of which there was nothing beautiful or holy upon the face of the whole earth.]
Thither David invites the whole Gentile world to come, and “worship the Lord,” the Creator, the Governor, the Saviour of the world
[By the Law of Moses it was forbidden them to enter into any part of the sanctuary. For them an outer court was provided, beyond which they were forbidden, on pain of death, to proceed. But, through the coming of the Messiah," the partition-wall was to be broken down:” and all, both Jews and Gentiles, were to be incorporated into one body, and to be made partakers of the same privileges'. Even the vail of the temple itself was to be rent in twain, and “ a new and living way be opened" for every child of man", to approach for himself the very mercyseat of the Most High, and to offer there his sacrifices of prayer and praise, and his incense too of fervent intercession. To this does David here invite the Gentile world. Not David himself would have dared to enter into the sanctuary which was then standing : into “the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High” it would have been at the peril of his life to enter: but he foresaw, that that servile dispensation was in due time
to pass away; and that God would then hold out to every man, whether Jew or Gentile, whether bond or free, the golden sceptre of his grace, with free permission to make known to him his every request, even to the half, or to the whole, of his kingdom. To the Gentiles therefore he calls, to “turn from their idols to serve the living God," and to "glorify God with their bodies and their spirits, which are his."]
Let us next consider the words as, II. A special call to us“ The beauty of holiness” is yet standing
[The tabernacle and the temple are indeed long since swept away; nor is there in existence a vessel that belonged to either. But, if the symbol of God's presence is removed, is God himself therefore gone? No: he is here, in this very place, as truly as ever he was in his sanctuary of old. He has said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” “ Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” And have we not also a sacrifice wherewith we may approach him? Yes, we have a sacrifice of infinitely greater value than all the cattle on a thousand hills. “The sacrifice of his dear Son is to him of a sweet-smelling savour:" and the merit of that every one of us may plead, and plead too with an infallible certainty of acceptance. What was there in the temple of old which we do not possess ? Not any thing ; not any thing which we do not possess to infinitely greater advantage. The Jews had the shadow; we have the substance: and what we enjoy as far excels in beauty and in holiness all that they possessed, as a living body excels a reflection of it in a glass.]
And may I not add, that “the beauty of holiness” is more especially visible in the ordinances of the Established Church?
[I mean not to speak disrespectfully of any other body of Christians whatever, or to detract from their ordinances, however administered: but I must say, and I say it from my inmost soul, that, in my judgment, there is in the worship of the Church of England a beauty and a holiness superior to what is found in any other Church upon earth.
But, not to enter into invidious comparisons, or to diminish the respect which others have for their own peculiar modes of worship, let us confine our attention to the worship of that Church whereof we are members. If the principles on which our worship is founded are any tests of excellence, verily our Church stands most conspicuous for all that is beautiful and holy. The Scriptures themselves are the one standard which she follows. Disdaining the trammels of human systems, she
comprehends in her views all that the Scripture utters, without attempting to wrest or pervert any truth which may bear an aspect uncongenial with the dictates of unenlightened reason. It is not possible for the creature to be more deeply humbled, than her worshippers are when confessing their sins before God. And so fervent are her petitions, that nothing can exceed them. Nor is there a petition offered, which is not presented in the name of Jesus Christ, so entire is the dependence which all her children place in the merits and mediation of that adorable Saviour. Her praises and thanksgivings are as ardent as any that words can express. So that, if a whole congregation in one of our churches entered fully into the spirit of our Liturgy, it would be a brighter resemblance of heaven than was ever yet seen upon the face of the globe.]
Let me, then, call you, as David does, to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness"
[“ Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering: come into his courtsi:" and take care that your worship be such as becomes his sanctuary. Let a holy reverential awe fill your souls, whenever you draw nigh to God. Let your confessions be humble; your supplications, fervent; your thanksgivings, devout. Have a special view to the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the whole of the service; and think not to offer any thing to God, or to receive any thing from God, but through him, as your all-prevailing Friend and Mediator. Whether you approach God in your closet, or in the public assembly, watch over your spirit in relation to these things, and presume not to offer unto God the sacrifice of fools. Let not the consideration of your natural distance from God discourage you. Remember, that the invitation is given to the remotest Gentiles, who are bowing down to the works of their own hands, which can never profit or deliver. To you, therefore, whatever be your state, is the invitation sent: and we are authorised, by God himself, to declare, that of those who come to him in his Son's name, “not so much as one shall ever be cast out."] ADDRESS 1. Make a due improvement of your own privileges
[You cannot but see how highly David and his people were privileged above the benighted Heathen: yet were their blessings but a faint shadow of yours; so much more distinct is your knowledge of God, and so much nearer is your access to him. Not any but the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies; and he only on one day in the year: but of you, every individual may go to the very throne of the Divine Majesty, and that too every day and every hour of your lives. You are
i ver. 8.