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John iv. 23, 24. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship
Him in spirit and in truth. WITH these words Jesus concluded His answer to the woman of Samaria, when she had inquired of Him, as of a person authorized to declare the will of God," where men ought to “worship?” About this chiefly, had arisen that inveterate hatred, which was subsisting between the Samaritans and the Jews; the Jews contending zealously for the privilege which God had assigned, from of old time, to their temple, while the Samaritans perversely chose to worship Him on a mountain in their own district, called Gerizim, and would scarcely allow a passage for persons preferring to go up to Jerusalem. Accordingly, no sooner did the woman discover that she had fallen in with a prophet, than she proposed to Him this highly interesting matter, in order to obtain a decision of it
from His mouth: “Our fathers,” she stated, “ worshipped God in this mountain; and ye
say, that in Jerusalem is the place where
men ought to worship.” To this Jesus in effect replied, that the time was fast drawing on, when all respect with God to particular nations or places should be at an end; although the Jews had hitherto been right in asserting the superior sanctity of the city and temple to which they resorted : “Woman,” He said, “ be“ lieve me, the hour cometh, when ye shall nei“ ther in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,
worship the Father: ye worship ye know not “ what; we know what we worship: for sale “ vation is of the Jews." Considering how soon the temple at Jerusalem should be laid in ruins, and the vail of ignorance, which had long been spread over all people, destroyed, Jesus deemed it more important to speak concerning the manner, than the place, in which God might be acceptably worshipped. Thus therefore He forewarned the woman of Samaria, even before He decided it against her, that the point in dispute between her nation and the Jews was already ceasing to be of consequence, since the really peculiar holiness of Jerusalem, no less than that which had been falsely claimed for mount Gerizim, should soon be utterly abolished, and in every place, “ from
“ the rising up of the sun, even unto the going “ down of the same," men should offer “a pure “ offering” unto the Lord. (Malachi i. 11.) Also, in the succeeding verses, which I have chosen for my text, He uttered a like doctrine.
Hay. ing so far set aside the controversy referred to Him, our Lord thence took occasion to declare, “ But the hour cometh, and now is, when the “ true worshippers shall worship the Father in
spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh “ such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and
they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
Now, such having been so positively enjoined by our Divine Master, as the only acceptable description of worship, especially for His disciples, the duty of worshipping accordingly must needs appear, to all well disposed Christians, a topic highly deserving consideration.
First, then, God, being a Spirit, demands to be worshipped in spirit by all who would be accepted with him.
Observing God declared to be a Spirit, our notion of Him thence should be, that He has no bodily parts like ourselves, and that He is invisible to mortal sight. However we may read in Scripture of the face, and eyes, and ears, and hands, and feet of God, it is not, therefore, to be imagined, that He really pos sesses any such members. Only out of conde- . scension to our capacities, and to impart a more lively idea of the various counsels and operations of His providence, they have been 'ascribed to Him by the inspired writers. The face of God (for instance) is put to signify His presence, the eyes and ears of God His watchful superintendence, and the hands and feet of God his active power; but that in fact God has none of these, being able, by mysterious means, to exercise such His attributes without them, may be alleged on the ground of his many positive prohibitions to frame any image, or fancied resemblance of Him. Likewise our Lord declared to His disciples, " A spirit hath
not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” (Luke xxiv. 39;) and, “ No man hath seen God at any
time; the only begotten Son, which is in the “ bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him." (John i. 18.) From these considerations, the necessity which is laid upon us to worship God in spirit, will appear sufficiently evident and reasonable. Such as the nature of God is, such must our service be. We are bound specially to honour Him with that part of ourselves, which is specially imparted to us of His esu sence. Our bodies were made originally of the dust of the ground, and are successively born into the world of earthly parents; but our
souls or spirits, there is much reason to suppose, are derived to us more immediately from God. Indeed, it is stated, concerning the first man, “ The Lord God breathed into his nos“ trils the breath of life; and man became a “ living soul.” (Gen. ii. 7.) In that, therefore, it appears meet and right that He should require to be principally worshipped. Pursuant to this statement of their origin, our souls, and all that is within us, are specially obliged to render homage unto their Creator.
Further, or with a view to illustrate and enforce the above argument, I will bid you observe, that even men, who have both a body and a spirit, account but meanly of any act of the body, from which they suspect the spirit to be wanting. We set no value upon, but are rather inclined to despise and reject, the strongest mere words and gestures, (whenever we can discover them to be such,) whether of obedience or of love. Nay, more, substantial helps and services, which in all cases must prove beneficial to us, fail to yield any adequate satisfaction, if not apparently done with heartiness and with spirit. Let our bodies be ever so much advantaged by the bodily exertions of others, yet, unless they shew marks of kindness and alacrity from within, our inward man cannot feel gratified or refreshed. The most