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expect, but the severest vengeance to fear. Our knowledge of God, which we may have attained, should preside and govern in our hearts, and produce in the life a conformity to his good, acceptable, and perfect will. The assistance of the Holy Spirit, is as necessary to our worshipping and serving God aright, as any of the other preliminary qualifications. St. Paul, speaking of human nature in a fallen state, says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God;” the inference he draws from this is, “ so then they that are in the flesh,” in an unrenewed state, “cannot please God;’ he and his laws being the objects of their aversion. The Holy Spirit has infused into the soul of the regenerate a principle of spiritual life, which qualifies them for performing holy worship and acceptable obedience. Men in a natural state, are “dead in trespasses and sins;” and therefore, in order to their worshipping God in a spiritual manner, a vital principle must be communicated to them. Hence real Christians are said to be “quickened,” by the infusion of this heavenly principle of life, a change from nature to grace is produced within, by which they are disposed to serve God, and their actions are well-pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ. This moral change is called a “new birth,” a “new heart,” a “new spirit,” an “heart of flesh,” the “hidden man of the heart,” “Christ formed in believers.” The production of this principle of life is the work of God alone, and it is called the effect of his power, the greatness of his power, the exceeding greatness of his power; such as God put forth “when he raised Christ from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” And as this grace is communicated by the Holy Spirit, so the energy of the same Spirit afterwards is necessary to its continuance and actings. The depravity of our nature needs no external agency to rouse it to action, it is capable of exerting itself without foreign aid, being a selfmover : but so is not grace, for that depends on the constant influence of the Holy Spirit. Christians cannot act in a spiritual manner without the Spirit of Christ; he who is the spring and fountain of their life and energy. St. Paul adds, “We are not sufficient of ourselves, as of ourselves, to think any thing,” or do any holy and good work. And therefore, in the Scriptures, we perceive that prayers are offered up for divine assistance, in order to serving God acceptably ; and the adequate aid of the Holy Spirit is contained in that gracious promise, “Your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”
WoRSHIP-The dignity of human nature appears in its being capable of rendering worship to the Supreme Being. Moral powers form a prominent line of distinction between man and the mere animal world ; and, in the right exercise of these, we rise to a state of rectitude, sublimity, and happiness. We never so truly fulfil the will of our adorable Creator, or answer the benevolent design of our creation, as when we are conscientiously and zealously employed in serving him. He has not left us to vague conjecture, or the wanderings of a vain imagination, concerning religious obligations; nor to the weakness of our fallen condition, in the discharge of them; but freely granted us the infallible light of supernatural revelation, and favoured us with the sufficient aid of his Holy Spirit. He has not permitted our manifold offences to become an insurmountable barrier in the way to his throne, as he justly might have done; but has graciously opened a new and living way of access, through the incarnation, life, sufferings, and sacrifice of his own Son.
Public worship necessarily supposes an assembly composed of a number of Christians, met together by divine appointment, not for any political purpose, to injure or alter the kingdoms of this world, but for the due observance of those holy ordinances which Christ, as Lord of his own house, and Head of his church, has appointed to be observed. No determinate number of Christians is any where, in the records of Christianity, prescribed; but so many there must be as will constitute it public worship.
The ordinances which are appointed to be administered in these assemblies, are reading the Holy Scriptures, and preaching the word, that is, expounding and applying it, hearing attentively the word read and preached; praying to God for all necessary blessings, both for soul and body, for ourselves and others; singing hymns and making melody in our hearts to the Lord, and administering and receiving the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper. These are the several parts of public worship which are of divine authority; and no man, nor any body of men, have power to add to or take from them—for any to pretend to have a power to do either, is a bold invasion of the just right and prerogative of Christ.
Some persons think, that preaching, or instructing men in the principles and duties of religion, administering baptism, and partaking of the Lord's supper, are improperly termed acts of divine worship. And indeed, according to the strict notion of religious worship, this may appear very true; but as these are duties to which we are to attend, in obedience to the will of God, and designed instrumentally to produce in the heart a temper of piety, or raise those affections there which are properly religious, they may also, in a general sense, be considered, as they commonly are, as parts of the religious worship required by Christianity; which probably may justify the speaking of them as duties of the Christian worship, though, in other places, they are distinguished from them. The public worship of God is performed under the conduct of a gospel ministry—both of which are of divine institution. Ministers, duly qualified and authorized, are to preside in these religious assemblies, to be guides to private Christians in all the parts of public worship, to see that every thing be performed decently and in order, with becoming solemnity. They must be careful to dispense the ordinances of gospel-worship purely, without mixing human inventions with them, and with that reverence and decorum which becomes those who act in the name, and have to approach God, who “will be sanctified in them who come nigh him, and before all the people he will be glorified.” The stated time for public worship, according to the New Testament, is the first day of the week. The religious observance of one day in seven to the honour of God the Creator, is as ancient as the creation of the world. The same institution was renewed to the people of Israel in the wilderness, in the law of the Sabbath. This is a very judicious proportion of time to be consecrated for the public worship of Almighty God, as it neither encroaches too much on the temporal business and commerce of life, nor leaves too great intervals for the impressions of religion to wear away. The fixing of public worship to the first day of the week, in honour of our Redeemer, is as old as the Christian church. It is true, we have not an express syllabical precept for the religious observation of the first day of the week, as the Christian Sabbath; but this may be deduced from the New Testament, by necessary consequence. Our Saviour sanctified this day by rising from the dead on it. The apostles, for reasons satisfactory to themselves, observed it. Their constant custom was, from the time of his resurrection, and in honour of it, to appropriate the first day of the week to public worship. Collections for the poor were ordered by St. Paul to be made on this day; and why should it be chosen for this purpose, but only because their assemblies for public worship were held at that time. So far then, at least, as the example of the first preachers of Christianity, and practice of the most early Christians, can lay an obligation on us, we are bound to apply this day to the duties of public worship. A modern poet beautifully describes Sabbath-days, in the following lines:—
“Types of eternal rest—fair buds of bliss,
The next world's gladness imag'd forth in this—
Eternity in time—the steps by which
Man through his darker days, and thought enrich,
Wakeners of prayer in man—his resting bowers
Where Eden-like, Jehovah's walking hours
Days fix’d by God for intercourse with dust,
Periods appointed to renew our trust—
A milky way mark'd out through skies else drear,
A clue, which he who follows knows no fear,