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“Let vain or busy thoughts have there no part;
“Judge not the preacher, for he is thy judge:
“He that gets patience, and the blessing which
PRELIMINARY QUALIFICATIONs.—The public worship of God is so solemn an act, that the mind should be rightly prepared for it. As it is an act or the exercise of the rational and moral powers of the soul, knowledge is essential to it; and as God is the alone.object to be worshipped, the knowledge of HIM is requisite. The knowledge of God is the first principle of all true religion; and necessary to direct us how we may worship him acceptably. His easistence is the truth that is first to occupy the mind—“He that cometh to God must believe that he is.” The evidences of his existence within the reach of our observation, are innumerable. What a wide and glorious field opens to our view, in the vast extent of the universe, the magnitude, variety, and stability of the heavenly bodies, the swiftness and constancy of their motions, their beauty, order, and harmony, and the relation of one part to another The earth on which we live, is every where furnished to be the habitation of innumerable species of creatures. The formation of the human body, and its adaptation for serving the important ends of life, carried irresistible conviction of the existence of a First Cause to the highly cultivated mind of a Galen. Above all, the endowments of the human soul, its powers of perception, reason, judgment, liberty, a consciousness of moral good and evil, the approbation of the one and dislike of the other, not to mention several other things, are clear proofs, and incontestible evidences of the existence of God. The knowledge of the perfections of God, which are called natural and moral, is the next step in this line of intellectual progress. The former of these include his unity, spirituality, eternity, immensity, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability: the latter, his holiness, justice, truth, and goodness. His perfections are displayed in the works of creation, in the operations of Providence, but especially in the sacred Scriptures. Here we must read, and understand, to come at the right knowledge of God. And this knowledge must be practical. Being deeply impressed with a sense of his existence and glorious attributes, we are to cultivate an inward temper of lively devotion towards him. Our knowledge, under divine aid, should generate faith, and we should justify our faith in God, by external acts of religious worship. We should take care that our tempers and behaviour be suitable to those sentiments which, from divine revelation, we have conceived of him. If God is the greatest and best of Beings, we should, both mentally and practically, acknowledge that he is so ; and if we are his creatures, and dependent on him for all things, we ought to confess that also, and give glory to Him on whom we depend. It is scarcely possible, that a man, having a proper sense of the Divine Majesty impressed on his mind, believing him to be infinitely great and good, regarding him as his Creator and Preserver, having an inward veneration for him on account of his unsearchable perfections and wonderful works, should forbear expressing these sentiments of his mind outwardly. The doctrine of a Trinity in Unity, being of divine revelation, is intended to occupy the understanding of man: as a fact, not as to the mode of it, for that not being revealed is inexplicable. “The doctrine of the Trinity,” says a modern author, “as professed in the Christian church, is briefly this:—That there is one God, in three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the term Person here characterizing the mode of subsistence in the Essence, which the Greek Fathers called Hypostasis. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are believed to be three distinct persons in the divine nature, because the Holy Scriptures, in speaking of these three, do distinguish them from one another, as we use, in common speech, to distinguish three several persons; and each of these several persons are affirmed to be God, because the names, properties, and operations of God, are, in Scripture, attributed to each of them.” “ Or, in other words, “the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity: for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty eo-eternal.”" This mode of existence being essential to the Godhead, is expressly revealed, as a fact, in the Scriptures, and consequently is a point of theological knowledge essentially important to the Christlan. The knowledge of the will of God concerning our duty is equally requisite. As he unquestionably requires that we worship and serve him, his wisdom and goodness, we may very rationally conclude, will induce him to make known to us, how and in what manner he will be worshipped. Reason alone has been found to be weak and dim, at the best very feeble and scanty in its directions to this purpose, not sufficient to keep the heathen from idolatry, superstition, and all sorts of impiety and wickedness; nay, for want of the Scriptures, they have introduced the worst and most degrading principles of human nature into their religion, and made these a part of their worship. This shows us the necessity of a clearer and more perfect light, to conduct us into the right way and manner of worshipping God. This is graciously afforded us in the Christian revelation, in which the object of divine worship is fully settled ; the rules of it are clearly stated, the grounds, reasons, motives, and obligations to it, are recommended and enforced; the manner of performing it directed; its highest end declared; and the way of its acceptance laid open to the meanest capacity. In short, in the Christian records, the whole of our duty, both to God and man, is most painfully taught, and the noble rewards of life and immortality set in a perspicuous fight before us. No man, who has either eyes to read, or ears to hear, the word of God, in this land of Bibles, and Ministers, and Sabbaths, can be ignorant of the duty God requires him to perform, and the beneficial results of a conscientious and cheerful compliance.
- We should never forget, that our real happiness consists not in a mere notional or speculative knowledge of these things, but in a hearty practical attention to them. We never find in Scripture that men are pronounced happy on account of their intellectual improvements, however splendid they may be, if there be not a consistent practice resulting from them. Our Saviour says, “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” The apostle James enforces the same sentiment, “Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” If a man possessed the extensive knowledge of an angel, without the required example of holy obedience, it would not be of any avail to him; nay, it would aggravate both his sin and punishment. This appears evident from what our Saviour said to the Pharisees, who entertained exalted notions of their theological attainments, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin;” that is, ye should have no sin in comparison with what ye now have in sinning against so much light. So again, to the same purpose, he says, “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” Their ignorance would have been some excuse, but now, knowing their duty, and yet neglecting to practise it, they have nothing to allege, no apology to make by which to diminish their sin. It has also a bearing on punishment. “The servant who knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” To sin in such circumstances, is to trample on the authority of God, affront his wisdom, defy his justice, disgrace his holiness, despise his mercy, and abuse his patience. Those persons who are thus guilty, have nothing good to