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heart. A man may think closely, reason acutely, and decide correctly, on different subjects in theology, and yet feel nothing. In spiritual worship the heart is interested, the affections fix themselves on God, the soul goes out in holy aspirations after God, inhales the spirit of its divine original, and thus holds a spiritual and indescribable communion with the Father of spirits. And this frame of mind is so distinct from light in the understanding, that the latter may exist without producing the former. And if a theoretical knowledge of essential religious truths is not devotion, how much less so is that speculative knowledge of metaphysical divinity, against which we have been objecting. To such a system of worship, the declaration of our Lord will for ever stand opposed. He that worships God, must worship him in spirit He must feel as well as know-must love as well as reason.
3. The spiritual worship of God includes something more than the excitement of merely animal feelings, or the flights of a warm imagination.
While the idea of worshipping God in spirit, implies mach of warmth, of ardour, and of cordial affection, it is a holy warmth, a heavenly ardour, a pure affection. It is true, it takes the whole of man to worship God. The sympathies of our nature, and even the imagination itself, are called in to assist, in the work of devotion. But it is only to aid, not to lead in this sacred employment. It is to be feared, the religious exercises of many are too sensual, in consequence of suffering their animal feelings to have an undue influence. In such cases, instead of being spiritual worship, it becomes sensual excitement. To correct this, the nobler faculties of the soul must be in exercise, as well as the affections of the heart, and the sympathies of our nature. Knowledge of God, and of religious truths, must be the exciting cause and regulator of the feelings; and then there will be no danger. For there is no danger of feeling too much in religion, provided that feeling is founded on a proper basis. Whoever knew the man that felt too humble, too penitent, too great a sense of his unworthiness and ill-deserts, in view of bis sinfulness? Whoever felt too much love, too much joy, too much gratitude, from a scriptural view of Christ as his Redeemer and Saviour? Can a man feel too much reverence and awe, from the consideration that the eye of the Almighty is upon him, and that he is in the presence of the Jehovah of Hosts ? 'Or can any one, in view of his own pressing wants and imminent danger, or in view of the wants and dangers of others, feel too much importunity in prayer? It is presumed, that, in all these cases, strong feelings are not only allowable, but commendable, and well suited to the worship of God. This then is spiritual worship, where the sympathies of our nature and the feelings of our heart, are excited and regulated by our knowledge of divine things. If there be knowledge without feeling, the devotion has neither life gor spirit. If there be feeling more than knowledge, or without
knowledge, the devotion is partly or wholly sensual, and not spiritual. " He that worships God, must worship him in spirit.” Under this head it may be proper to notice a character, who, for the want of a more descriptive appellation, I beg leave to call, the sentimental worshipper. Him whose imagination or muse or sickly sensibility, supplies with all his devotion. I hardly know how to describe this character, and yet I would not fail to do it; for the feelings by which he is influenced, and which he communioates to others, are specious and deceptive, and therefore dangerous. You may know him perhaps by his descriptions. He talks of Heaven, but it is a Heaven of sense. In his opinion,
“ All goodly things that mark our sphere,
Glow in diviner beauty there." The Elysium of the ancient heathens, or the paradise of Malfomet, or the Heaven of Count Swedenborg, would suit him; but that Heaven of the spiritual worshipper, that consists in being where Christ is and being like him, would hardly make such a man happy.
He talks of celestial spirits, but they are such as seem only suited, like the fabled Satyrs of the ancients, to dance in some sacred wood, or like their nymphs, to sport around their consecrated fountains. You may know him by the manner in which his devotional feelings are excited.' This is frequently by reading romantic tales and poetic descriptions. Romantic scenes also, have a great influence on minds of this cast. Their devotional feelings are greatly excited when walking by moonlight, through some picturesque scenery, where gurgling streams, and branching trees, and amber clouds, unite their effects to soothe and soften the heart : and they are kindled to raptures in grand and sublime scenes :—when sitting, for example, under some craggy cliff of the mountain, they gaze upon the passing clouds, and listen to the roar of the careering storm. At such a time, even a Byron turns devotee, and sings of God, eternity and Heaven! Such feelings differ as widely from the true spirit of devotion, as the painted sun-beam differs from the sun itself. They are religion's counterfeit, and devotion's bane. True spiritual devotion is accompanied with a deep sense of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the holiness of God, the spirituality of Heaven; but this has no sense of these things. Such devotion seems to be the effervescence of merely natural feelings, without making any reckoning upon the necessity of the atonement, or placing any reliance upon the Saviour: whereas the spiritual worshipper lays Christ as the foundation of all his devotion; and he loves and adores, not because outward scenes are beautiful and sublime, but because he has a spiritual view of the perfections of God, and a spiritual relish for divine things. But we pass to examine the next proposition, which, as it is intimately connected with the foregoing, will cast much light upon it.
11. God's worship must be in truth.
The truth of worship relates to what is to be believed; what is to be experienced; and what is to be done. And these are all intimately and inseparably connected one with the other. He that separates these does violence to the worship of God-He that swells one to the diminution of the other, disfigures the worship of God-And he that leaves out one, makes defective the worship of God. And in all and every such case, God is not worshipped in truth. “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” In dwelling for a few moments upon these several particulars, we shall see their importance and their mutual connection.
1. The truth of worship relates to what is to be believed. In the word of God, faith is uniformly made the foundaton of all experimental religion. And well it may be; for unbelief is the foundation of all irreligion, and all false religion. It was by unbelief, that the first pair fell; and from that time till this, unbelief has been the root of all sin. And to bring man back from a sinful to a holy state, directly opposite means should be used from those by which he fell from a holy to a sinful state. His restoration is analogous to his fall by contrast. He fell by unbelief; and he must be raised by faith. He fell by rejecting in heart the truth of God; and he must be raised by rejecting in heart, the falsehood of sin and satan. He fell by believing a lie; and he must be raised by believing the truth.
Now if these sentiments be true, and that they are, he who credits the bible, cannot deny, it follows, that it is not a matter of indifference what a man's faith is. To worship God in truth, we must believe the truth. This doctrine of our text then, stands directly opposed to a popular idea of the present day, that it is no matter what a man believes, if he be but sincerę. When it can be proved that this declaration of our Lord, “ He that worships God, must worship him in truth,” means the same as this, that worships God may worship him in falsehood and a lie,” then and not till then, may the foregoing sentiment be correct. The idea, however, that "one religion is as good as another, if you are sincere in it," brings to its aid, the plea of charity. “You must be charitable, or you are unchristian.” But modern charity, in many instances, is not founded in a love to all religions so much as in an indifference to any. Such charity would unchristianize the church, and turn even the unanimity of the Millennium, into a conspiracy of infidels. To be charitable, in this sense, is to believe every body right, and no body in danger except bigots; and against them, it is thought, to be a high proof of charity to be extremely bigotted. I am no friend of bigotry, properly so called. But I believe that is not our greatest danger, at the present day. The great adversary of the church has tried hard and long to injure Christianity by bigotry; and has succeeded too far. But he has now changed his mode and means of attack; and bids fair to meet with much better success, by becoming a zealous advocate for charity. And all are aiding his crafty policy, who are saying, “ It is no matter what a man believes, if he be but sincere." "But is it not enough for a man to be sincere ?" Not in the general acceptation of that term. Sincerity as it now goes, is but another name for voluntary ignorance, or wicked prejudice, or earnestly sought for, and much desired, self-deception. Because men neglect to search after truth; or because the wickedness of their hearts leads them to reject truth; or because, by much exertion, they succeed in blinding their own minds, and settle down upon a system, which they are very desirous to have true; is it therefore as well with them? If so, why did God reveal a system of truth? Why not leave every man to choose his own way, and his own system? It would be just as well, according to the doctrine of modern sincerity. A sincerity this, which makes void the word of God, and renders useless the announcements of Heaven. But “let him that heareth understand,” that, whatever may be the case, with those who have no revelation, yet to all who have, “the hour cometh and now is, when they who worship the Father must worship him in truth." And we wish to have it expressly understood, that this house is set apart and dedicated to the worship of the GOD OF TRUTH. Here we expect truth will be investigated; and here, as far as we understand it, we design it shall be preached; and here we hope many will be brought to believe and embrace it.
When we speak, however, of the necessity of believing the truth, in order to be true worshippers, we include only such truths as effect a spiritual experience, and produce a godly life. Many questions are violently agitated in the Christian world, on which some lay much stress, which do not materially affect man's salvation. These abstract metaphysical propositions, already hinted at, make no essential part of this system of truth, for which we contend.
We do not hold it necessary to constitute a man a true worshipper, that he should know whether God's foreknowledge and predetermination are both one, or wherein they differ. Neither do we think it essential whether a man in baptisın believe in little or much water. Men may take opposite sides in these and similar questions, and yet be true worshippers.
The essential principles of godliness, are few and plain. They are clearly revealed in the word of God; which is the only and sufficient standard for faith and practice. It is these essential truths, which we expect you will often hear insisted upon, illustrated, confirmed and enforced, from this pulpit.
They are principally as follow :
1. There is one God, eternal, unlimited, and indivisible; and yet, in the mystery of his incomprehensible existence, subsists in a distinction of three, called in scripture, the Father, the Word (or Son) and the Holy Ghost. This distinction is not merely nominal, ideal or official, but positive and substantial; and yet such as not to destroy the divine unity.
This God is the Creator and preserver of all things.
2. Man, the workmanship of God, was made pure and holy. But by his voluntary and unnecessitated act, fell from his state of holiness; and by this apostacy, the whole human race were involved in natural and moral depravity--so that man, unassisted by divine grace, has neither natural or moral ability to serve God, or fit himself for heaven. Not only is “ the whole heart faint,' but also " the whole head is sick."
3. The Word, the second in the Godhead, took human nature, " became flesh, and dwelt amongst us.” And as “God manifest in the flesh,” became by his sufferings and death, “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” So that the provisions of the gospel are universal, and suited to the fallen and debilitated state of the whole human family.*
4. Man is convicted, regenerated and sanctified, by the efficient agency of the Holy Ghost, through the merits and righteousness of Jesus Christ; and thus prepared and made meet for the enjoy. ment of God and Heaven. But repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, are conditions, without which, this work will never be accomplished in the soul. This faith and repentance are really the acts of the creature; but they are perforined by strength and assistance given, through the mercy of Jesus Christ; for we have already seen, that man's moral weakness is provided for in the gospel; so that all the glory of man's salvation from the foundation to the topstone, is secured to God in Christ; and yet man's agency is intimately and necessarily connected therewith. Hence his condemnation, if he neglect to repent and believe, will rest solely upon himself-Being the known consequence of his own voluntary and unnecessitated choice.
5. Man is kept in a state of acceptance with God by the exercise of faith. But it is abundantly evident from scripture, from experience, and from the very nature of faith and man's agency, that this faith may be lost; or, by neglect, become dead and good for nothing. Therefore the believer is in danger of apostacy : and hence the necessity, if we would preach the gospel in truth, of warning him to take heed; of pointing out his danger, and stirring him up to diligence and perseverance.
6. Without holiness no man can see the Lord. The law of God is exceeding broad, and requires truth in the inward parts.
The doctrine, therefore, of entire sanctification, is a necessary article in the faith of a true worshipper. And since this work is
* To say the atonement is universal for all mankind, and yet deny, that the provisions of the gospel in their remedial and salutary nature, are not adapted to man's moral weakness, is to say, there is a sufficient and complete remedy, for a sick man, but he cannot receive it and be benefitted by it, because he is so sick. This is an absurdity which cannot be farthered upon the gospel. VOL. VII.