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company. And what likelier way is there, to make you like angels in the worshipping of God, than to do it as in the communion of the angels? and by faith to see and hear them in the concert? The angels disdain not to study our studies, and to learn "by the church the manifold wisdom of God b." They are not so far from us, nor so strange to us and our affairs, as that we should imagine ourselves to be out of their communion. Though we may not worship themc, we must worship as with them.
Direct, ix. 'Take special care to the matter of your worship, that it be such as is agreeable to the will of God, to the holiness of his nature, and the directions of his Word; and such as hath a promise of his acceptance.' Offer him not the sacrifice of fools, who know not that they do evil, and are adding to their sins, while they think they are pleasing him. Bring no false fire unto his altars: let your zeal of God be according to knowledge. For no zeal will make a corrupt, unlawful kind of worship, to be acceptable unto Godd.
Direct, x. ' See that you perform every part of worship to the proper end to which it is appointed: both as to the ultimate, remote, and nearest end.' The end is essential to these relative duties. If you intend not the right end, you make another thing of it: as the preaching of a sermon to edify the church, or putting up a prayer to procure God's blessings, is not the same thing as a stageplayer's profane repeating the same words in scorn of godliness, or an hypocrite's using them for commodity or applause. The ultimate end of all worship and all moral actions is the same, even the pleasing and glorifying Gode. Besides which every part of worship hath its proper, nearest end. These must not only be distinctly known, but actually intended. It is God in Christ that a holy worshipper thirsteth after and seeketh for in every part of worship, either to know more of God, and of his will, and blessings; or to have some more communion with him, or some further grace commub Eph. iii. 10. 1 Pet. i. 12. « Col. ii. 18.
'' Adulterium est, impiuui est, sacrilegium est, quodcunquc luimano f'ururc iu, btituitur, ut dispositio Divina violelur. Cypriun. Eccles. v. 1, 2. Lev. x. 1—3. Rum. x. 2, 3.
» 1 Cor. x. 31. t Tim. ii. 4.
nicated from him, to receive his pardoning, or cleansing, or quickening, or confirming, or comforting, or exalting grace; to be honoured or delighted in his holy service, or to make known his grace and glory for the good of others, and the honour of his name. Here it is that God proclaimeth his name as Exod. xxxiv. 6. The ordinances of God's worship are like the tree in which Zaccheus climbed up (being of himself too low) to have a sight of Christ. Here we come to learn the will of God for our salvation; and must enter the assembly with such resolutions as Cornelius and his company met, Acts x. 33. "We are all here met to hear all things commanded thee of God:" and as Acts ii. 37. and Acts xvi. 30. to learn what we must do to be saved. Hither we come for that holy light, which may shew us our sin, and shew us the grace which we have received, and shew us the unspeakable love of God, till we are humbled for sin, and lifted up by faith in Christ, and can with Thomas, as it were, put our fingers into his wounds, and say in assurance," My Lord and my God:" and as Psal. xlviii. 14. "This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death." Here we do as it were with Mary sit at the feet of Jesus, to hear his Wordf, that fire from heaven may come down upon our hearts, and we may say, " Did not our hearts burn within us while he spake to us, and while he opened to us the Scriptures g?" Here we cry to him as the blind man, "Lord that I may receive my sight." We cry here to the watchmen, "Saw ye him whom my soul lovethh." Here we are in his " banqueting house," under the "banner of his love'." We have here the sealing and quickenings of his Spirit, the mortification of our sin, the increase of grace, and a prospect into life eternal, and a foresight of the endless happiness there. See then that you come to the worship of God with these intentions and expectations; that if God or conscience call to you (as God did sometime to Elias) "what dost thou here 1" you may truly answer, I came to seek the Lord my God, and to learn his will that I might do it. And that your sweet delights may make you say, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising theek." If thou come to
1 Luke x. 39. s Luke xxiv. 32. '' Cant. iii. 3.
1 Cant. ii. 4. k Psal. Ixxxiv. 4.
the worship of God in mere custom, or to make thy carnal heart believe that God will forgive thee because thou so far servest him, or to quiet thy conscience with the doing of a formal task of duty, or to be seen of men, or that thou mayst not be thought ungodly, if these be thy ends, thou wilt speed accordingly. A holy soul cannot live upon the air of man's applause, nor upon the shell of ordinances, without God who is the kernel and the life of all: it is the love of God that brings them thither, and it is love that they are exercising there, and the end of love, even the nearer approach of the soul to God, which they desire and intend. Be sure then that these be the true and real intentions of thy heart. Quest. ' But how shall I know whether indeed it be God himself that I am seeking, and that I perform his worship to the appointed ends?'
Amw. In so great a business it is a shame to be unacquainted with your own intentions. If you take heed what you do, and look after your hearts, you may know what you come for, and what is your business there. But more particularly you may discern it by these marks: 1. He that bath right ends, and seeketh God, will labour to suit all his duties to those ends, and will like that best which is best suited to them: he will strive so to preach, and hear, and pray, not as tends most to preferment or applause, but as tendeth most to please and honour God, and to attain his grace: and he will love that sermon or that prayer best, that is best fitted to bring up his soul to God, and not that which tickleth a carnal ear. Mark what you fit the means to, and you may perceive what is your end. 2. If it be God himself that you seek after in his worship, you will not be satisfied without God: it is not the doing of the task that will satisfy you, nor yet the greatest praise of men, no not of the most godly men; but so far as you have attained your end, in the cleansing, or quickening, or strengthening of the soul, or getting somewhat nearer God, or pleasing or honouring him, so far only you will be contented. 3. If God be your end, you will be faithful in the use of that more private and spiritual worship, where God is to be found, though no human applause be there to be attained. 4. And you will love still the same substantial, necessary truth and duty, which is to your souls as bread and drink is to your bodies; when those that have carnal ends will be looking after variety and change, and will be weary of the necessary bread of life. By observing these things you may discern what are your ends in worship. And here I must not let go this necessary Direction, till I have driven on the reader with some more importunity to the serious practice of it. It is lamentable to see, how many turn the worship of God into vile hypocrisy, and dead formality; and offer God a carrion for a sacrifice, and yet their consciences are so far from checking them for this heinous sin, that they are much pleased and quieted by it, as if they had deserved well of God, and proved themselves very godly people, and by this sin had made him amends for the common sins of their lives. Is it God himself, and his sanctifying grace that those men seek after in his worship, who hate his grace and scorn sanctification, and can leave God to be enjoyed by others, if they may but enjoy their fleshly pleasures, and riches, and honours in the world? Even the haters of God and holiness are so blinded, as to persuade themselves that in his worship they are truly seeking that God and holiness which they hate. And O what a deal of pains is many aformal hypocrite at to little purpose; in spending many hours in outside, heartless, lifeless worship, while they never thirsted after God, nor after a holy conformity to him, communion with him, or fruition of him, in all their lives! O what a deal of labour do these Pharisees lose in bodily exercise which profiteth nothing, for want of a right end in all that they do! because it is not God that they seek: when "godliness is profitable to all things'." And what is godliness but the soul's devotedness to God, and seeking after him? We have much ado to bring some men from their diversions to God's outward worship: but O how much harder is it to bring the soul to seek God unfeignedly in that worship where the body is present! When David in the wilderness was driven from the sanctuary, he crieth out in the bitterness of his soul, " As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee O God: my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God: my tears have been my meat
day and night, while they continually say unto me, where is thy God?" You see here that it was God himself that David thirsted after in his worship. Alas! what is all the outward pomp of worship, if God be not the end and life of all? Without him how vain a thing would the words of prayer, and preaching, and the administration of the sacraments be? It is not the dead letter, but the quickening spirit that maketh the dead in sin to live; that convinceth or comforteth the soul; or maketh the worshipper holy or happy. Nay it is some aggravation of your misery, to be destitute of true communion with God, while you seem to worship him; and to be far from him in the heart, while you draw so near him with the lips: to boast of the temple of the Lord, and be forsaken by the Lord of the temple! That Capernaum shall be cast down to hell, that is but thus lift up to heaven; and it will be easier for Sodom in the day of judgment, than for such as had the public ordinances without God. David left the ark with Absalom at Jerusalem; but God was not with Absalom but with David. No marvel if such hypocrites grudge at all that is costly in God's service; even the necessary maintenance of the ministers: for if they have only the shell of ordinances without God, it will scarce requite them for their cost. No marvel if they think all their pains too much, when they take up with the chaff which is scarcely worth their pains. No wonder if they find small pleasure in God's service: for what pleasure is there in the husks or chaff, or in a deaf nut? No wonder if they grow no better, no holier or stronger by it: for what strength will chaff and shadows breed? No marvel if they are quickly weary, and if a little of such religion seem enough, when the life, and spirits, and strength, and sweetness is neglected. O sinners, remember, that God desireth not yours but you, and all your wealth and service is as nothing to him, if he have not yourselves, (when yet you are so little worth the having). Nay, how earnestly doth he sue to have you! How dearly hath he bought you! he may challenge you as his own. Answer this kindness of God aright: let no ordinance nor any common mercy satisfy you, if you have not God himself. And to encourage you let me further tell you, If it be God himself that thou seekest in his worship