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nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, certified and made sure to the penitent, the obedient, and the faithful.
To obtain these joys, and to be fitted to dwell with God for ever hereafter, we should, in his public worship, constantly hold communion with him here. If we are Christians indeed, and are truly preparing for a part in the heavenly inheritance, this will be our earnest desire. The occupation of heaven is praise. Its inhabitants, in ceaseless songs, celebrate the majesty and goodness of God. And if we feel no delight in the worshipping assembly on earth, most certainly we could enjoy no pleasure in those glorious courts above; and therefore we are not meet for
: an entrance there. No note of discord will disturb the harmony of those celestial spheres. No faint uncertain sound will mingle with its rapturous melodies. No silent uninspired tongue will be there to withhold its tribute where all is praise, and triumph, and joy.
Being, then, my brethren, permitted to anticipate the blessedness of these services of the Church triumphant, do not our souls even now burn within us? And shall we not exclaim, even of the assemblies, in which the Church militant celebrates the worship of her Lord, “Oh how “ amiable are thy dwellings, thou Lord of Hosts !
My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into “ the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh “ rejoice in the living God. Lord, I have loved “ the habitation of thy house, and the place “ where thine honour dwelleth. I was glad when
they said unto me, We will go into the house “ of the Lord. My feet shall stand within thy
gates, O Jerusalem. Peace be within thy walls, “ and plenteousness within thy palaces.”
My brethren, does God take delight in a homage which it is so much our duty and interest to render! And shall we, on our part, not take pleasure in rendering it? Shall we believe this declaration of his will, and suffer ourselves to be deluded by our own opinion, that we may omit to worship him without incurring his displeasure; or at least, that we may worship him as well at home? That we may conceal in our own bosoms the flame of devotion, and fancy that all that is necessary is that it be lighted there?
If we are willing to think so, there is cause to fear that our's is a false and spurious light, the uncheering gleam of a cold and calculating devotion, which has communicated nothing of the warmth of piety to our hearts.
If we love God, we shall embrace every mode in which we are permitted to approach him. And most assuredly we shall find particular delight in that for which he has expressed his preference of our service.
Our interest as well as duty is concerned in this course.
“ Him that honoureth me, I will
“ honour," are his own words. And since, together with a holy life, we can in no way so greatly honour God as in worshipping him, and can in no way so acceptably worship him as in the public assembly of his saints, in the place where his honour dwelleth, we should never forsake the assembling of ourselves together; but should go into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.
Indeed, we have this special and explicit promise' among others, for our encouragement in this duty, “ In all places where I record my name, “ I will come unto you, and will bless you. And lest we should suppose that this could only be in sumptuous temples and spacious courts, our Saviour especially refers to the motive and the spirit with which we come—“where two or " three are gathered together in my name, there “ am I in the midst of them to bless them." These promises evince the desire of the Most High, that men should meet for his worship; and show in what name we should come, and the rewards which we may reasonably expect for our obedience.
If we consider the greatness of God, there is no place which can suitably be made the residence of so glorious a Majesty. Behold! the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him. Much less the walls of temples made with hands. But if we regard his condescension and goodness, and hear his words, “ To this “ man will I look, even to him who is poor, “ and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my “ word;" if we know that his delight is in them that fear him, and that put their trust in his mercy; and if we are assured that the sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit, that he requires a broken and a contrite heart; we shall be chiefly solicitous, when we come before him, to bring with us such an humble spirit; and whenever and wherever we may unite in homage to him, it will be our endeavour to worship him who is a Spirit, in spirit and in truth.
My brethren, if we duly appreciate the object of the public worship of God, and the great advantages which belong to a faithful and devout attendance upon it, how cheerfully should we embrace every opportunity that is offered to assemble and meet together in his presence; “ to “ render thanks for the great benefits that we “ have received at his hands, to set forth his most
worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and “ to ask those things which are requisite and “ necessary, as well for the body as the soul.”
Let us, then, always resort to the assembly where
prayer is wont to be made; and since it is possible to worship God in his house, and yet not to worship him in our hearts, let us be careful always to come, “ with such steadiness of faith, “and with such seriousness, affection, and devo
“ tion of mind, that he may accept our bounden
duty and service.” And in order that such affections may be always found uppermost in our bosoms, we should devote some moments previously to our public devotions to calling upon God; supplicating his grace, “ to prepare our hearts to
serve him with reverence and godly fear, to “ affect us with an awful apprehension of his “ divine Majesty, and a deep sense of our own “ unworthiness; that so approaching his sanctu
ary with lowliness and devotion, and coming “ before him with clean thoughts and pure hearts, “ with bodies undefiled and minds sanctified, we
may always perform a service acceptable in his sight.”
My brethren, we have taken a hasty view of the obligations and advantages of the public worship of God. In thus coming together in acts of prayer and praise, we are not only preparing for the worship of heaven, but are emulating that worship on earth. The united homage of a devout assembly engaged in social adoration, here on this footstool of God's mercy, is, of all earthly things, the best representation of that service which is constantly offered by the hosts of the redeemed in the courts above. And were those material hindrances which separate us from things unseen removed; could we at this moment behold the holy Church throughout all the world acknowledging her Lord; and then, like St. John, ad