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of the Lord, has been a very pleasing and useful part of religious and social worship in the church of God, probably from the beginning of the world; commercing in Paradise. And 6 Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me," saith the Lord. Where true love to God, and cordial fellowship with the saints exist in the heart, they are greatly cherished and promoted, by the aid of sacred melody. By this exercise of religious devotion, David was excited to raptures and transports of joy. It was also a devout and delightful exercise of the Saviour and his disciples. In this they united, at the first celebration of the sacramental supper. And in this, the church has always persevered. The Apostles, by example and precept, have urged the duty of singing God's praise. Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises at midnight, bound in the inmost prison, and mangled with stripes. No situation on this side of the infernal world, is too deplorable for such men to sing the praises of the Lord. David resolved to sing his praises, while he had a being. Paul, having exhibited to the Hebrews, Jesus Christ, as the great High Priest of their profession, says, “By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually ; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.” In the view of the Apostle, it appears, that vocal music, has the preference. This is the kind of music, with which the heavens resound forever. 66 But who can utter the mighty acts of the Lord ? who can shew forth all hiş praise ” Our duty is to praise the Lord with all our might; and to praise him for all his works, whether of mercy, or of righteous judgment. So important was the praise of God, in the Saviour's view, that when the little children sung Hosannas in the temple, at his triumphant entry, he declared, “ that if these should hold their
peace, the stones, even the stones of the temple would immediately cry out.”
3. In a review of what has been said, on the subjects of prayer and praise, we perceive, that they are very humble and devout exercises of heart. They look above all selfish considerations : for their object is in the highest heavens. God is the supreme object, and his glory
is the leading motive of all sincere and pure devotion. Confidence in the divine government, and in the divine promises, are the mainspring of prayer and praise. 1. Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed. Othou that hearest prayer ! unto thee shall all flesh come.” “Rejoice evermore: Pray without ceasing: In every thing, give thanks ; for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus, concerning you.”... AMEN.
Duties of the Unregenerate, and the Means of Grace.
On the practical part of the system of divine truth, we have briefly considered the duties of self-denial and true benevolence-of humility and submission to God; and of prayer and praise. While it is granted by all who profess" to believe the holy scriptures, that these duties are highly incumbent on every christian ; and are essential to the christian character; yet, with many,
it is a very interesting enquiry, whether these, or any other religious duties, are incumbent also, on impenitent, and unconverted sinners ? On this point the scriptures speak a language, which, in the view of many, is awfully forbidding. The scriptures declare plainly, “ that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, inasmuch as they bring it with a wicked mind." This is said to be the correct translation. Again it is written, by way of contrast, “ The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord; but the prayer of the upright is his delight.” And again, “ He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination." The meaning of all these declarations appears to be one and the same; that a wicked man, or an impenitent sinner, does not, in any measure, offer to
the Lord acceptable sacrifices. Proceeding from a selfish heart, and being performed with no regard to the glory of God, nor to the good of his kingdom, they are vaiñ oblations; and the command of the Lord is, “ Bring
more vain oblations." Your offering of incense, however precious, is an abomination. External devotions, without the concurrence of the heart, are mere hypocrisy, which is considered as one of the baser kinds of iniquity. The bible appears to testify strongly against the external duties and religious services of impenitent sinners. Sinners, however, do not see fit to renounce all the external duties of religion. In many duties, they are constant and persevering. In external devotions, especially the devotions of the sanctuary ; in the observa ance of the holy sabbath; in reading the scriptures, and attending to the gospel ministry, statedly and occasionally; and in attending the variety of meetings for prayer and religious improvement ; sinners seem to go, almost hand in hand, with the saints. They embrace, and defend the doctrines of the bible; and “ Almost they are persuaded to be christians.” Many, who make no profession of religion, statedly attend to the external performance of family worship, and the religious instruction of their children; well knowing, that these things are matters of infinite importance to their dear children, as well as to themselves. It would be extremely difficult to restrain the greater part of the people from attending, more or less, to the external duties of religion. Their consciences, their hopes, and their fears prompt them to many such duties. But from the word of God, we are assured, that all these external duties and sacrifices of the wicked, are an abomination to the Lord ; because they are performed with a wicked mind, or a selfish heart. 6 God looketh on the heart.” And the heart being corrupt, the motives of the gospel are perverted. Not only the religious sacrifices of the wicked, but all their moral actions, of every name and nature, are corrupted, and are an abomination to the Lord. All their deeds of justice, of mercy and charity, proceeding from a wicked mind, are perfectly odious in the sight of a holy God.
Tor, it is written, and testified, of all the wicked, that
every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts is only evil continually."
The interesting question is now fairly introduced ; Is it the duty of impenitent sinners to pray? or to attempt
. the performance of any religious duties.
Previous to giving a direct answer to this question, it must be admitted fully and without any reserve, that the sacrifices, and all the religious duties of the wicked and impenitent, are, indeel, an abomination to the Lord. To attempt to construe away the plain sense of the scriptures, which have been introduced in confirmation of this truth, is a vain attempt. No reasonable and candid man will undertake this thing. It ought to be realized by all the impenitent and unregenerate, that, in their best duties, their hearts are totally corrupt, and their external services flowing from such fountains of corruption, are, according to the letter of God's word, an abomination to the Lord. 66 With their mouths, they may shew much love;" and with their hands, they may perform many deeds of charity ; « but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” Sinners are not only covetous, but carnal: and “ the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Solomon goes so far as to say, “ The thoughts, or designs of the wicked are an abomination.” Truly, “ they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
To say, as some do, that sinners can perform the matter of their duty acceptably, though the manner and spirit of it may be ever so defective, is grossly absurd. For the manner and spirit of duty constitute it what it is. In these consist the essence of duty. “God is a Spirit, and they that worship himn, must worship bim in spirit and in truth." All worship but this is an abomination. Sinners who have gone the whole circuit of external duties, during the longest life, ought not to imagine, that, in a single instance, from first to last, they have ever performed one duty acceptably in the sight of God.
But notwithstanding all this, the answer to the question before us must be in the affirmative. Unregenerate sinners ought to pray always, with all prayer and sup: plication. They ought to abound in secret prayer, and persevere therein. They ought to attend constantly to the religious devotions in the
sanctuary, and to all other appointments for social prayer and praise. They ought to neglect no branch of religious worship, nor of religious instruction. They ought to keep God's sabbaths, and to reverence his sanctuary. If they are heads of families, they ought to maintain the worship of God in their houses, according to the divine requirement, and the practice of the saints, in all past ages and generations. Those who neglect the morning and evening sacrifices, and prayer and thankgiving at their tables, give sad evidence of a reluctance of heart to the duty of prayer. But let sinners be ever so conscious to themselves, of a hard and wicked heart, yet this is no excuse; but, on the other hand, it should serve as a stimulus to religious sacrifices; especially to the sacrifices of a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. A hard and impenitent heart is no more excuse for the neglect of religious duty, than sloth and indolence are for the neglect of plowing and sowingAnd we read, that, “ the plowing of the wicked is sin.” But how is this sin to be avoided ? Shall a sinner be ad. vised, on account of his indolence, or on any account, to cease from plowing ? We ought, indeed to inform the wicked, as we have opportunity, that their plowing and planting, and all their labors and occupations, are sin, and abomination; inasmuch as they perform them all, 6 with a wicked mind." The divine requirement is this,
a " Whether therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” In all our selfish pursuits, therefore, we commit an abomination. But how shall we remedy the evil ? And how is this command of God, to do all things to his glory, most wickedly and perversely violated ? Is it by doing all things required of us with selfish views ? or by stubbornly refusing to do them at all ? Certainly, by stubbornly refusing to do them at all. The same is true, respecting prayer and religious sacrifices. No state of sin and guilt, however aggravated, affords the least excuse for the neglect of prayer, or any