« PreviousContinue »
Worshipping God in a right manner includes, that we entertain a holy, reverential, filial fear, awe, and dread of him, as a Being who dwells in inaccessible light, and is clothed with unspeakable majesty. His greatness and glory demand this from all intelligent creatures, and he has on that ground expressly required it. “Serve the Lord with fear.” “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints.” “Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” This is required under the gospel, as well as it was under the Jewish economy. “Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:” and this is expected of those who are at peace with him, for it is added, “Our God is a consuming fire"—a jealous God. The holy angels, who cannot fear him as sinners, having no sin, yet worship him with a profound reverence and religious fear: this is signified by their being said to cover their faces with their wings before God, Isa. vi. 2. and falling on their faces before his throne worshipping him, Rev. vii. 2.
As God is a Spirit, and the God of truth, our worship of him must be spiritual, unfeigned, reverential, and include admiring, adoring, and awful thoughts of him. Whenever we think of God, or make mention of his dreadful and glorious name, or engage in any particular duty of his worship, we should seriously remember what he is, and what we ourselves are, with whom he graciously condescends to hold converse. We should consider the infinite distance there is between him and us, as we are creatures the work of his hands, and the moral distance between him and us, as we are sinful apostate creatures, and so ought greatly to fear before him ; not with a slavish fear, or such an excessive dread, as would keep us at too a great a distance from him, and be an obstruction to our paying him religious regards. That worship of God which proceeds merely from this principle and temper of mind, may better be called superstition than worship, because it is founded on mistaken unworthy notions and apprehensions of him, and has a tendency to no good, but to much evil. We then worship God with a right kind of fear and reverence, when, at the same time, we hope in his mercy, on the foundation of the merits of Christ.—“The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy:” when his goodness, as well as his greatness, influences our fear—they “shall fear the Lord and his goodness:” when our reverence of him is attended with a hearty affection to him, and resembles the reverence which a dutiful child shows to a wise and kind parent, whom he fears, and at the same time truly loves. Right worship includes faith and trust in God. It is to have an inward conviction, and firm persuasion of the truth of the revelation of himself, with which he has favoured us, a holy confidence in him grounded thereon, relying on him in the way of duty as an almighty, allsufficient Being, able and willing to do for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think;” and on his inviolable truth and faithfulness, for what he has promised, believing he cannot lie or deceive, but will certainly accomplish all his promises, whereby he has given us encouragement to hope, in his own time and way, how unlikely soever some of them may appear to us. “I know,” said the apostle, “whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” This trust is an act of worship, and being an act of the soul, we may thereby be said to worship God spiritually. The worship pleasing to God, includes a disposition to imitate him in his moral imitable excellencies. Then we worship God, when we sincerely desire and endeavour to resemble him in the temper and disposition of our minds, so far as we are capable; when, on the consideration of his divine perfections and properties, that come within the reach of our notice and admiration, we have a holy ambition to resemble him in our low measure, and endeavour to be “imitators of him as dear children,”—imitators of him in Catholic love, in universal goodness and beneficence, in truth and faithfulness, in mercy and forgiveness, in patience and longsuffering, and in every other of his amiable attributes coming within the reach of our minds. Such an inward temper and disposition, raised and cultivated in our souls, by an admiration and esteem of God's infinite excellencies, and regard to his precepts, is an instance of supreme respect to him; and this exercise may well be called true worship, inasmuch as the soul is the subject of it, and engaged in it. Scriptural worship includes, that we worship God in a dependance on the merits of Christ, and on the grace and influence of the Holy Spirit. We are required, that “whatever we do in word or deed, we do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father,” or to God even the Father, “by him.” And the apostle Jude requires Christians to “pray in the Holy Ghost.” This we are to do in every act of worship, as well as in that of prayer. This is to worship God in a right manner, in opposition to rendering him a service merely external, which it is to be feared is all the worship with which multitudes endeavour to satisfy themselves.
This is the true worship which God requires, and which is infinitely more valuable in his estimation, than all the pompous and costly appearances of devotion, which so much affect the imaginations of weak people, and which, for the most part, are very imperfect expressions of those dispositions and affections, which are the life and soul of all genuine piety and acceptable worship.
* Death will be to the real Christian the end of his earthly troubles, and the beginning of his heavenly joys; while to the wicked and impenitent it will prove the end of all their hopes, and the beginning of their eternal desperation.”—“Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and 'some to shame and everlasting
CoNNECTED with this Church is an extensive churchyard, in which the dead of this parish for many generations have been deposited ; “the grave is the house appointed for all living.” Both Jews and Gentiles, in ancient days, buried their dead not within the walls of their cities, but in fields or gardens. The same usage was followed by Christians, till the time of Gregory the Great, he himself, as well as several other popes, being buried in the outside porch before the church of St. Peter. Cuthbert, the eleventh archbishop of Canterbury, being at Rome in the year 798, and observing this way of burial there, obtained from the pope a dispensation for making church-yards within towns and cities throughout England, and particularly for himself, that he might be interred in his own church. Afterwards, by degrees, it became customary to bury certain persons in the churches;