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SERMON BY THE BISHOP OF LONDON.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 1833.
DELIVERED BY The bishop of LONDON,
AT THE CONSECRATION OF ST. MARY'S CHURCH, HORNSEY, ON THURSDAY MORNING, JULY 25, 1833.
Psalm v. 7.-" As for me I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.”
not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple."
IF David was the author of this Psalm, and not some holy man of GoD at a later period of the Jewish church, the house of which he here speaks must have been the Lord's tabernacle, and the temple towards which he worshipped was the holy of holies in that temple. But whatever may have been the place to which the pious aspirations of the Psalmist were directed, the feelings by which he was actuated, are those which in all ages have enlivened the devotion and directed the worship of his faithful servants-a strong feeling of dependence on his Almighty power, and of the necessity purity and truth in him who de
The principles embodied in this portion of Scripture are of perpetual and universal importance; and apply, not only to him who sought the face of the Lord in the tabernacle which Moses made, or in the more magnificent temple which, five centuries after, displaced it; but, with a constraining voice it applies to Christians, who possess a clearer and more spiritual knowledge than those elder servants of GOD, if not of his attri
sires that his prayers may be heard—butes, yet of the relation in which they stand to him as the objects of his paternal love and the inheritors of his heavenly kingdom.
I propose to consider, briefly, THE
a firm reliance on divine goodness chastened by a holy fear. "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. For thou art not a GOD that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall VOL. VI.
MOTIVES WE HAVE TO JOIN IN THE
SOLEMN SERVICE OF GOD; and, more at large, THE DISPOSITIONS THAT ARE
TO BE ACQUIRED IN ORDER THAT IT 1
OUR MOTIVES TO THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY are all comprehended in the expression, "I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy." It is true, indeed, that one leading object which we ought to have in view, while bearing our part in the solemnities of public worship, is, to promote the glory of GoD by the conversion or confirmation of others. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." But still it is in consideration of his mercy that we magnify Jehovah in his other attributes; for, "he that cometh to GOD must," not only "believe that he is," but "that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." We are to glorify him, but it is for his mercy towards us; and that we are permitted to glorify him at all by our unworthy service, is not one of the least of those mercies. The psalmist considered it to be an invaluable privilege that he was permitted to take a part in the solemn and public worship of God: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." He knew the comfort and benefit which flowed from that privilege; and he knew also that it was only in the multitude of GOD's mercy that he, who was conceived and born in sin, and who lived a sinner, could be permitted to enjoy it. And oh, my brethren, that all Christians understood and considered these instances of divine goodness-forth with unrestrained malignity and
bringing with them a certain round
would so value the services of the house of God! And oh that they would regard their Sabbaths, not merely as
MAY BE AN ACCEPTABLE SERVICE TO HIM. And may our meditations be blessed by that Holy Spirit who alone can guide us in the truth, and who, knowing our necessities and ignorances, helpeth our infirmities, and himself maketh intercession for us.
lay waste the comforts and decencies of domestic and civilized life.
I said experience has unhappily
proved that this state of things follows blessed and accepted. But, neverthe non-observance of the Sabbath-theless, when he comes into the more (and the non-observance of the Sab-immediate presence of GoD, and bath is the inevitable consequence of engages in solemn converse with him, the want of a due provision, for the he cannot but be impressed with a observance of its worship.) Whole reverential awe, a holy fear lest districts in America are at this mo- the defilements of nature's unworthiment in the state of moral destitution ness vitiate his offering, and cause to which I have referred. But we the Lord to turn away his countenhave an example much nearer home, ance from him. What reflecting man where the temporary abolition of the can come into the presence of GOD Sabbath, which was at once the re- for the purpose of holding more imsult and the cause of impiety, has mediate intercourse with him through been followed by an almost entire his Spirit, without feeling as the breaking up of all religious princi- prophet did when he was admitted to ples; and has diffused a disregard a view of his glory?" "I saw," said and contempt of all the ordinances he, “the Lord sitting upon a throne, and laws of GOD, which the partial high and lifted up, and his train filled restoration of the proper observance the temple. Above it stood the of the Sabbath institution has yet seraphim: each one had six wings; done little to counteract. Let us, with twain he covered his face, and then, my brethren, learn to consider with twain he covered his feet, and the solemn and public worship of with twain he did fly. And one cried GOD as the greatest privilege we can unto another, and said, Holy, holy, enjoy as beings in a course of prepa- holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole ration for eternity. earth is full of his glory. Then, said I, Woe is me! for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts."
He is therefore stated to be studious, in the first place, to bring into the sanctuary a purified heart—at least a heart that seeketh to be purified and to accustom itself to find, in the awakening solemnities of holy wor
But let us not forget that its value to ourselves depends on the use we make of it, and on THE STATE OF OUR HEARTS. As it is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness, so it is the state of the heart that must determine whether our religious services are acceptable to Him who searches the mind, and is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. I have already said that the truly pious man is powerfully urged to the perform-ship, fresh motives to self-control and ance of this duty by a sense of the divine goodness; he goes into the house of GOD in the multitude of God's mercy; he remembers what abundant and convincing evidence he has had of the graciousness and good will of his heavenly Father. His own interest in the covenant of love, his personal enjoyment of the blessings of providence, and his earnest approaches to the mercy seat, aided by the Holy Spirit's help, will be
self-correction; and to experience in the serious and faithful use of the appointed means of grace, the renewing and refreshing influences of that Spirit who helpeth our infirmities. All the temple services, all the offices of piety which the church provides, are formed for the use of those who are, at least, in daily and hopeful progress toward a purer and more heavenly frame of mind: nor can they be employed without the most
fearful hypocrisy by those who knowingly harbour evil thoughts and unholy desires. He who presents himself before the altar of his GOD without a deep and heartfelt shame and sorrow for his own sins, and an earnest desire to be cleansed therefrom, insults the majesty of GOD, by taking into his mouth the language of penitence and piety, in which the church instructs her children, while he disavows and despises in his heart all the solemu professions which he openly makes. Time was when even those who wore the garb and held the language of penitence, were not admitted to join the assembly of the faithful in the house of GOD, till they had gone through a certain period of probation, and had given outward evidence, at least, of having shaken off the sins that had beset them. I am not for restoring the system of that discipline, which administered, as it must be, by the hands of partial and fallible man, is more than likely to be turned into an engine of political oppression. But in proportion as the strictness of that regimen is relaxed, it becomes more important that every individual member of our church be vigilant over himself for the health of his own soul, with reference to the opportunities he has of improving it. Let him never go up to the house of GOD without strictly examining his fitness for the work which is to be there performed. Let him never join in those solemn addresses to the majesty and mercy of GOD, in which the church instructs her members to approach the heavenly Father, without having first turned a searching glance into his heart, to see whether in its chambers of imagery there be lurking any profane thought, or carnal desire, which may disqualify him for that high and holy converse.
The spirit of purity, therefore, requires a spirit of fear: "In thy fear
will I worship towards thy holy temple." Whither are our steps directed on the day which the Lord hath called his own? What is the meaning of the admonition which is given by every Sabbath bell? Are we not invited to an act of solemn and direct intercourse with our Maker, our Redeemer, our Scanctifier, and our Judge? And is that an employment which we can presume to take in hand without the most serious consideration, the most entire collectedness of thought, the warm glow of thankfulness and love? What! are all our best affections, all our highest sympathies, all the most vigorous faculties of our mind to be reserved for objects of transient importance-or even for those which are of no importance, and are, perhaps, worse than valueless? Shall we hear the word of GOD, and the ambassadors of Christ, with less fixedness of attention, and a less absorbing interest, than that which the sons and daughters of pleasure afford to the expression of a mimic and artificial grief or joy? Shall it be said that the musician's or the poet's skill has power to touch the chords of our sympathy within, and, for a moment make us all its own, while we can hear unmoved the awful revelations of God's word? Are we so easily transported in imagination by scenes which human genius has created, and human fancy has invested with its brightest hues-and are we unable or reluctant to realize the solemnities and awful descriptions of Holy Writ, in which the Spirit of GoD has shadowed forth the great things of eternity-the things in which every one of us has so tremendous an interest-the things which concern our everlasting peace?
Alas! such is indeed too frequently the case. And that is precisely the cause we have for so deep a personal interest in the reality of those descriptions. It is because our own eternal
welfare is bound up in the truth of| revelation. And this revelation we are afraid to look at closely and with attention. Contemplating works of fiction, we find pleasure in the delusive scene for a time; but in this our passions urge us to embrace (not indeed a conviction-it never amounts to that) to embrace an ill-defined and half-formed imagination that the statements of the sacred writers are, perhaps, after all, the dreams of delusion, the visionary hopes or fears of enthusiasts; or at all events that they are too highly coloured-that the genius, perhaps, of oriental poetry has imparted a glowing tinge to the simple doctrines of divine truth; or that the grand truths of religion are seen as the shadows reflected from a cloud of gigantic dimensions; and that a free indulgence in the pleasures of the world is not so very odious as the preacher would persuade us who takes the solemn denunciations of the Bible, and in its awful warnings, in their plain and literal sense; or we do not care to pay any serious attention to the declarations that its truths will lay on every one of us the inevitable necessity of undergoing an entire change of thoughts, and habits, and desires, and pursuits. For this, at least, is unquestionable (and it is an awful consideration for every one of us) this, I say, is, at least, unquestionable, and it is our duty as preachers of the gospel, to be proclaiming it—that if the Bible be the word of GOD, if the preachers of the gospel speak the language of soberness and truth-then, by brethren, the world at large, nay, the greater part of that portion of the world who come to church, is in the wrong-is, in fact, in the high road to perdition. Surely, then, we have good reason to regard the solemnities of the Christian Sabbath in the spirit of anxious enquiry, and in the fear of GOD to worship towards his holy temple.
But then, that worship must be attended by faith and hope. The experience of mercies past, and the sure promise of their continuance - the gracious invitations and affectionate expostulations of him who has described himself as hearing and answering prayer--should fill us with the spirit of supplication. God may indeed be prayed to every morning from mount Moriah or Gerizim; from the splendid temple or the sacred oracles, in caves and dens of the earth, the prayer of the believing and devout heart ascends with equal speed to his impartial ear. But that he loves to listen to the united praises of those who art met together in his name is proved, not only by the apparent reasonableness of the appointment, that they who have "one Lord, one faith, one baptism," should make a common acknowledgment--but by the express declaration of his word, and the promises of his Son, and moreover by the experience of every pious heart. For who, I would ask, who ever joined in the solemn offices of public worship, with an entire abstraction from all extrinsic engagements, and with a spirit wholly devoted to the inquiry, and earnestly bent on seeking the care of GoD, without feeling that his prayers have been heard and answered?
But amongst the many and great advantages which recommend the use of a prescribed form of prayer, there is undoubtedly a danger of its being substituted by some for the spirit. Words, however solemn and however appropriate, with which the constant use has rendered us familiar, are apt to be uttered at length mechanically, without a due consideration of their import, especially of their solemn bearings on ourselves. And to counteract this weakness of our nature we must employ the force of habit in the opposite direction, and accustom our