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trifling attention, clearly dictated by benevolence, will commonly impart greater pleasure to the receiver, than somewhat of a far superior price, accompanied by coldness and constraint. This qualification, we cannot doubt, must be infinitely more necessary in order to our acceptance with God. Since men cannot be pleased with a benefit, in which the spirit of the benefactor is not concerned, much less can God be expected favourably to accept any merely outward worship. That must be as no worship before Him, who is purely and entirely a Spirit, which is offered without the spirit of the worshipper; and (as our Lord's remark on the widow's mite may assure us) every offering, both of deeds and of words, will be esteemed by our heavenly Father, and obtain the return of His blessing, in proportion to the piety of spirit which it may denote.
However, let me not be understood to argue, as if men, having bodies which they can use, may acceptably worship God without a corresponding presentation of them. The body of each one is prepared for him, that, by means of it, he may second, or shew forth that homage of his spirit, which is first and most indispensably required. The slothfulness, or perhaps some other corrupt propensity, of our nature, is apt to suggest, that, provided we worship in spirit, it makes no difference whether at home, or at church, whether sitting, or standing, or on our knees, whether frequenting, or turning away from the Lord's table. But this doctrine, although true, and full of comfort with respect to such as, by reason of sickness, or necessary avocations, have not command over their bodies, cannot with propriety be conceded to any other description of persons. Respecting men in general, it should not be deemed uncharitable to affirm, that their spirits are not right, or, at the least, will not long continue so, who forsake the assembling of themselves together, or neglect to pray with bended knees, or to eat and drink at the table of Christ, in remembrance of the sacrifice of His death. A genuine spirit of devotion will not fail in every possible case to evince itself by such tokens, which are strongly enjoined and commended to us in Scripture. The apostles and first disciples lived in the habit (be it remembered) of exhibiting them; and, judging by their practice, we may suppose, that, as by works, faith, so, by these bodily observances, spiritual worship is to be made perfect. It should seem hardly less worthy of a Christian to say unto our heavenly Father, “Hallowed be Thy name,” while we omit such visible methods of hallowing it, than to say to the naked and hungry, “ Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled,” without tendering, according to our ability, a supply of such things as they require. (James ii. 14, 15, 16, 22.)
And, to go even further on this point, it may be proper sometimes to advance, as it were, before the spirit, in the use of what I will call bodily worship. Should the spirit be too weak to stir the body, one may try whether the body can excite the spirit. Let a man be only spiritual enough to wish that he were so in a greater degree, and such an experiment will probably have a good result. For example ; is one sensible that he is lacking humility, or a disposition to fall down and kneel before the Lord his Maker? He should attempt by the way of kneeling to acquire it. Does a Christian perceive himself not sufficiently inclined to go
with his brethren into God's house? He will do well nevertheless to go, hoping that the place and the company, or somewhat which he shall there hear, may take effect on him. Are we apprehensive of not loving Christ with the pious warmth which becometh Christians ? Yet will it be our wisdom to draw near, and partake of the sacrament of His holy supper, to the intent that we may thus be qualified to love Him better. Many, no doubt, are they, whose spirits have been beneficially reacted on by the suitable postures and actions of their bodies. A lifting up of the hands and eyes has oftentimes, ere now, been of use in lifting up the heavy heart towards heaven. Nor are men guilty of superstition, or hypocrisy, when they adopt these practices, rather as striving for, than as already possessing, the answerable spirit of devotion. Provided they rest not in any thing merely outward, and have no purpose of deceiving others, they are in fact men waiting upon God, and following after His Spirit, to supply the defects, and quicken the sluggishness, of their own.
But I will hence proceed directly to explain, in the second place, how we must be careful to worship God in truth.
This may briefly be interpreted to mean, that we must worship Him in sincerity, and in a manner conformable to the instructions of His word.
They who would be accepted with God, must worship Him in sincerity, that is to say, without pretence, or reserve. Men may (as above asserted) adopt outward gestures and acts of homage, for the purpose of exciting answerable feelings within; because their desire to experience such feelings proves them to be already, in a certain degree, spiritual; but they must not take any methods of this sort, with a view to make themselves appear more devout than they really are. The fairest shew of bodily worship, however useful, and therefore fit to be employed towards promoting and enlivening devotion of the spirit, becomes offensive, when offered in the stead of it, an actual breach of truth before God, who searcheth the hearts, and a hypocritical display before men, disgusting alike to the holy and the profane, whensoever it shall be detected, or seen through. The Pharisees, who, for a pretence only, or to cloak their unrighteousness, made long prayers, were doomed, on that account, to a severer condemnation by Him who shall judge the secrets of men, and, meanwhile, are a by-word until this day. Nor is there any sin more difficult to be thrown aside than hypocrisy. It requires a strength of resolution, such as a hypocrite rarely can exert, to put off his covering of deceit, and confess himself what he really is, preparatory to becoming what he ought to be; add to which, the hypocrite is sometimes judicially given up by God to deceive himself, so long as he lives, after that he hath been discovered by his fellow-creatures, and hath consequently lost his power of deceiving them. Likewise, in worshipping God, the Christian should lay aside every description of reserve. In confession, there must be no mind to dis