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honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? -And if ye offer the blind or the lame for sacrifice, is it not evil? offer it unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.*
By this you see, that God is as jealous of his honour as any prince on earth can be; that he is concerned even for the outward service which men pay him.
And though all the beasts of the field are his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, as the Psalmist speaks; though the most perfect sacri fice is of no value in the sight of God, but as it is offered in obedience to God's commands; yet God would have a sacrifice as perfect as may be; and he will be offended if his worshippers shall bring him the lame or the blind.
Agreeable to this, he expects we should to him for what we want, and give him thanks for the blessings he every day bestows upon us.
He sees with what affections we do this, and will be offended with our insincerity; he will also be offended with our irreverence, even as much as a father or a master would in reason be with the disrespect of a son, or the ill behaviour of a servant.
Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, was God's command to Moses, when he was in God's presence: a way of expressing the greatest respect.
And this is so natural, that St. Paul does suppose, that if an infidel should come into a congregation of believers, and should there be convinced that God is in truth amongst them,
* Malachi i. 6, 8.
↑ 1 Cor. xiv. 24.
he would immediately fall down and worship God; there being so strict a correspondence betwixt the soul and the body, that our hearts are no sooner affected with any thing, but it presently appears in some outward signs of fear, or joy, or reverence.
Nay, we may add farther, that an outward
reverent behaviour is of use even to create an inward sense of God, and of the duties we owe to him. Thus the priests in Joel* are directed to weep between the porch and the altar. At another time they are commanded to put sackcloth upon their loins, and ashes upon their heads.
Now, neither tears, nor sackcloth, nor ashes, are well-pleasing to God, any farther than they are either expressions of sorrow, or means of creating it, when a sense of our sins requires it, or when it is fit we should be made sensible of our guilt and danger.
In short; both our souls and bodies are God's, and we are to worship him with both; and those that do not so, do offer the lame and the blind, which God has declared he abhors.
Since, therefore, it is so very criminal to behave ourselves irreverently in the presence of God, and yet a fault that is very common among Christians; as I have proposed to you the pattern of the inhabitants of heaven, who worship God in the most humble manner, so I do wish, that with them you would consider,
II. The wisdom, and greatness, and goodness, and majesty of God, in whose house you are, nd before whose presence you appear; and then
* Chap. ii. 17.
you will be convinced, that he is worthy of all the duty and reverence that his creatures are capable of paying him; for he created all things, and for his pleasure they are, and were created.
And, in truth, it is for want of consideration, that men appear before God with the same indifference and want of fear, as they would do before an idol, which neither sees, nor can be angry at, the indevotion and ill behaviour of its worshippers.
Now, Christians would not do so, if they would but open their eyes, and see the wisdom and power of God in the works of the creation. The heavens declare the glory of God, (saith the Psalmist,*) and the firmament sheweth his handy-work. There is neither speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Or, as this is finely paraphrased by an English poet:
All people do their language understand;
In their own tongue all read what's written there,
But lest these things should seem to be above the reach of ordinary capacities, let us consider the things that are about us; all which do manifest some of the attributes of God, and excite us to glorify him after a becoming manner.
And, in the first place, one would wonder, that of so many sorts of creatures, not one of them since the creation is lost. This shews the wonderful providence of God, who has taken care of the most contemptible creatures; has provided them with convenient food; has taught
* Psalm xix.
them where to seck for shelter against all sorts of storms and enemies, how to defend themselves when they are assaulted, and how to leave a race behind them when they die.
Our blessed Lord assures us, that not a sparrow dies without God's knowledge and permission; and would have us learn from that instance of God's providence, to put ourselves under his protection, and not to fear what man can do against us. He puts us in mind of another instance of God's care; Consider (saith he) the fowls of the air: they reap not, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feedeth them; that is, they meet with food convenient for them, as certainly as the day cometh. A sufficient reason why man should depend upon God for his daily bread, and be very thankful for it!
In short; every thing we stand in need of, every thing we enjoy, every thing we see, is capable of exciting in us devout affections, if we would but consider them. For example: Have we not great reason to bless God, that for so many ages he has never denied the world his blessings so long as to destroy it for want of necessaries?
If we should want rain but for one summer, neither man nor beast could live one year longer. If it should rain one whole winter, all things necessary for our support would perish. If we should have a long calm, the very air would be corrupted, and we should soon be destroyed; and if we should have too long a storm, we should want many things from abroad, which are necessary to our well-being.
Does not this convince us of the goodness of God; and should not this make us very thankful when we come before him?
And, then, do but consider the power of God in that one instance which St. Paul mentions, [1 Cor. xv.] and which every farmer experiences to his comfort,-That every grain of corn he sows is, to all appearance, utterly lost; and so would he and his family be too, but that God, by his mighty power, makes the earth to restore it him again after another manner, and with a seven-fold increase. And so he will restore us to life again, though our bodies are laid in the earth. He has told us he will do it, and this one instance shews us that he can; and that we ought therefore to serve him most faithfully here, that we may be raised to glory at that great day.
And, oh! that these considerations might prevail with Christians to humble themselves in the presence of God, as becomes sinners, as becomes petitioners, as becomes creatures in the presence of their Creator, and subjects in the presence of the great King of all the earth; without whose protection we are exposed to most powerful enemies,-without whose providence we cannot subsist one moment,-and without whose mercy and pardon we are undone for ever.
Now; because we are but too apt to forget all these considerations, our church puts us daily in mind how we should behave ourselves before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; that we should confess our sins with humility and sincerity; that we should hear his holy word with reverence; that we should render thanks to