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Lessons From the Life of David. No. II.- Divine Goodness in
Human Friendship. By the Rev. CHARLES VINCE . .
“That Within the Veil.” By the late Rev. W. S. M. AITCHISON .
“ Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself
being the chief corner-stone."
ON SPIRITUALITY OF WORSHIP.
BY THE REV. JOHN ALDIS.
CHRISTIAN worship is essentially spiritual. Our infallible guide has said, “ God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Whatever else this law includes, it certainly demands the full exercise of our intelligence. It requires thought rather than words, and mental activity rather than “ bodily exercise." It teaches that all worship, in order to be acceptable, must be intelligent ; that it cannot be truly with the spirit, “unless it be with the understanding also"; and that, as one of the greatest expressions of love to God, it must be with “all the mind.”
There is confessedly a strong tide of influence setting in against this Christian law. We are all exposed to mental indolence; it is far more easy to feel and imagine than to think; and hence devotion is most welcome when it is “ made easy." If prayer and praise are to be intelligently offered, men must abandon their sloth, in order to study the divine method of acceptance and justification; and in order to rest in that method, they must crucify their pride and rest in simple faith. When the mind is roused to apprehend the true objects and ends of worship, the conscience is likely to be troubled ; men therefore will gladly accept any system which enables them to feel that they are religious, although they are certainly worldly and wicked.
Hence some are loud in their outcry against the length and weariness of sermons; would gladly dispense with them altogether, but are thankful for them in proportion to their brevity. Others denounce all dogmatic theology, and demand that Christian teaching should cease to be doctrinal, and be made as vague and misty as possible. They require that houses of player shall become architecturally significant and imposing; and that the services of religion should be so arranged as most to charm the eyes and ears and quicken the imagination, till feeling has the largest, and thought the least possible place. They rejoice in a lull of sensuous delight, at once calm and solemn, which has no relation to truth or duty; which may be produced by beautiful visions or delicious music, and may be realized equally in the temples of Benares or the mosques of Constantinople; in the Cathedral of St. Peter at Rome, or of St. Paul in London. Men are not always conscious of this aim ; they are rather led by vague sympathy or force of fashion. Yet this they demand, and in this they rest; this they exalt as worship; but it is both wrong and harmful, inconsistent with the fundamentals of Christianity, and fatal to personal profit.
All idolatry and superstition bear this deadly brand. They are the product of ignorance, and the parent of delusion. Paul said to the Athenians, “ Whom ye ignorantly worship.” He pointed to a particular case, yet he gave a brief but full description of all idolatry. He said, “I found an altar with this inscription : To the unknown God.” This is universally true of all superstition. Either the worshippers are altogether blinded, neither knowing nor caring to know the character and claims of the beings they worship; or what is known does not warrant homage ; or what has been taught is false; so that every way they are unknown gods. That is equally superstition which distorts the true worship, or puts it on any but a divine foundation. This form of superstition is almost as prevalent as idolatry. It existed among the Samaritans. They professed to worship the God of Jacob; but their religion was corrupted by false principles. They had no sanction in divine law, and no guidance in divine light. This was the sure word of condemnation to thein : “ Ye worship ye know not what." In all like cases, the like condemnation must be pronounced. It follows that all true devotion must be intelligent and scriptural. If it be in ignorance and without enlightened thought, it is superstition and not Christian worship.
An idol is an abomination every way. It is the symbol of futility and helplessness. It is the contrast and mockery of mind. Below the level even of the reptiles, it takes rank with stocks and stones ; powerless, because incapable of intelligence or even sensation. The suppliant may bend his knee, lift his hands, and cut his flesh, but the idol sees not; he may utter his shrillest cries, but it hears not ; the peril may be ghastly and the horror overwhelming, but it cannot rise and help. It looks as if intended for the most withering irony. It is so like the reasonable, yet so horribly unlike. It has eyes, but it sees not; it has ears, but it hears not. Poor human nature can sink no lower than when prostrate before it. The arch-fiend claps his hands at no more welcome spectacle. “They that make them are like unto them ; so is every man that trusteth in them." We smile in our self.com placency, glad that we are not as they. Yet let us not forget, that only as our minds are enlightened and engaged in regard to the objects and ends of our worship, and only as we commune with the divine intelligence, are we lifted up above their degradation, or saved from their guilt and misery.
“ Ignorance is the mother of devotion.” Infidels affirm this concerning all