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which God requires of man.- “ To what purpose is the multitude Especially is it implied in the duty of of your sacrifices unto me? saith the prayer. It is the homage of the beart Lord: I am full of the burnt offerwhich God demands. If this is with- ings of rams, and the fat of fed held, the duty is not performed.- beasts, and I delight not in the blood But can we be said to give God our of bullocks, or of lambs or of hehearts, when in the very act of our goats.
When ye come to appear be. prolessed devotion, they are placed fore me, who hath required this at on other objects? Do we worship your hand to tread my courts? Bring God in spirit and in truth, when eve. no more vain oblations ; jucense is ry spiritual view of his character is an abomination unto nie: the new intercepted by carnal objects which moons and sabbathis, the calling of float before the mind? No matter how assemblies, I cannot away with; it is humble our posture, how solemn our iniquity, even the solemn meeting." manner, and how appropriate our It has already been suggested, that language; it is the heart which God every degree of the sin in question, requires. If this is utterly withheld, does not constitute a person a hypoour services are vain, and become an crite; for it is the habitual disposition abomination in his sight. If it is par- of the heart which forms the charactially withheld, or suffered to wander, ter. It is still true, however, that just so far our worship is marred, and just as far as our worship is tainted God is defrauded of his due.
with this sin, so far it is hypocritical, It is a species of hypocrisy.-- and partakes of the nature of those Whenever we engage in the duiy of sacrifices, which God has so pointedprayer, we profess to render to God ly reprobated and which he cannot the homage of our hearts. We pro- regard but with the utmost abhor. fess to adore him, to love him and to praise him. We profess to repent of It betrays irreverence to the diour sins, to believe in the Saviour and vine character. “ God is greatly to be ardently to desire that his name may feared in the assembly of the saints, be glorified, that his kingdom may and to be had in reverence of all them come, that his will may be done, and that are about him.” Before him, anthat we may share in the blessings gels veil their faces, and cast their of his love. But if while these pro- crowns at his feet, crying one to ansessions are on our lips, our thoughts other, holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of are employed on other subjects, we hosts. With what reverence then are manifestly insincere and hyp- should sinful creatures approach inocritical. We are guilty of the to his presence. While all heaven very sin of Ananias and Sapphira, bows with the profoundest awe before who lied not unto men, but unto the spotless purity and glorious maGod. It is like the sin of Nadab and jesty of Jehovah, shall guilty worms Abihu, who offered strange fire upon rush into his presence with presumpthe altar; and like the sin of those tuous boldness, and while consessing Israelites, who offered maimed and their sins, and imploring his mercy, sickly beasts in their sacrifices.- suffer their thoughis to be wandering “ Cursed be the deceiver, which hath upon other subjects ? in bis flock a male, and voweth and Every act of pretended worship sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt which we ofier to God without tbe thing, for I am a great king, saith the heart, can be regarded in no other Lord of hosts.” It needs no argu- light than ilat of solemu mockery:-ments to prove that liypocrisy in our Let a familiar example, which I have transactions with God, is a sin of the somewhere seri, serve to illustrate deepest dye. It was the hypocritical the nature of this sin. Suppose we worship of the Jews, that called forth should dress up an image of ourselves the following solcmn declaration3.- and send it juo our closeta, or to its
sanctuary instead of appearing there dresses to Him, wh. realizel to ourselves. Would not this be deem- be a present God : : --we shold ed the height of impiety? Can we come before him with the profoundst well conceive of a greater affront, awe. His fear would fall upon r, which we could offer to the Majesty His excellency would make us afrai of heaven? But how much better is We should feel as Job did, whe it, to go into our closets and leave he said, “I have heard of thee b. our hearts upon the world; or to the hearing of the ear, but now mine pretend to worship God in the sanc- eye seeth thee, wherefore I abhor mytuary when our hearts are going after self and repent in dust and ashes.” their covetousness ? This example, it And as Isaiah did, when he saw the will be seen, illustrates the nature of Lord sitting upon a throne high and the sin, when in any act of worship, lifted up ; And when he exclaimed. the heart is wholly withheld. It is Woe is me! For I am undone : subject, of course, to some abatement because I am a man of unclean lips, in those cases where the evil but par- and I dwell in the midst of a people tially exists. In all cases, however, of unclean lips, for mine eyes have so far as the sin exists, the nature of seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'' – it is the same; and that it is a sin of One principal cause, therefore, of the the most heinous kind, is I trust, ap- evil we are contemplating, is unguesparent from the preceding considera- tionably to be found in the entire abtions.
scence, or the weakness of faith. In tracing the causes of this evil, Another cause of the evil, is the the first which strikes the mind, is want of due attention and watchfulthe weakness or absence of faith.- ness. Our minds are naturally volaThe being, perfections and presence tile and easily diverted. Our thoughts of God are not duly realized; and fly from object to object in such rapid this is owing to the want of faith.— succession, that it is impossible to fix Faith makes invisible things real to them for any length of time, with. the mind. It may be called “the out great exertion. There must mind's eye,” by which it discerns be effort. The mind must be bent spiritual and invisible objects, as the and fastened to its object, and the natural eye discerns those which are first roving thought must be checkvisible. It gives to them the same kind ed. This attention is necessary of reality as if they were discerned even in our secret devotions, and by our senses, and makes them equal- especially so, in our public and social ly powerful motives to action. Hence worship, when we join in the prayers it is, that believers are represented as of others. On these occasions, it seeing God, and looking at things un- not unfrequently happens, that an seen and eternal; as living by faith, expression in the prayer, gives birth walking by faith, beholding the glory to a train of reflections that is someof the Lord, and enduring as seeing times pursued till we forget the duty him who is invisible. If our faith in which we are engaged. This spewere sufficiently strong, we should cies of wandering thoughts, is probaalways have as lively a sense of the bly the least culpable of any; but even presence of God, as we have of the this is by no means to be justified. presence of each other. We should and should be guarded against with also have a sense of his glorious per- peculiar diligence. The divine disections, of his adorable majesty, ofrection is, “ watch and pray that ye his infinite knowledge , and of his enter not into temptation.” And spotless purity. If this were the perhaps, in no circumstances bave case, should we trifle in his presence ? we more need of this caution, than in Should we mock him with hypocrit- our seasons of devotion ; because, the ical worship? Would our thoughts sin to which we are exposed is pecutander in the midst of our solemn ad- liarly aggravated, and our danger of
falling into it, peculiarly great. If cares with which our minds are frewi come into the presence of God in quently crowded. A mind distracta areless frame of mind, and take ed with cares, is poorly prepared for o pains to fix our attention, our the duty of devotion. Any thing pughts will most certainly wander, which agitates the mind, whether it ad our prayer, instead of coming up be a press of worldly business, or any efore God as incense, will be but the trial or affliction to which we are not acrifice of fools.
duly submissive, will invariably proAnother source to which this evil duce wandering thoughts in prayer. may be traced, is the strong and un- In order to worship God without dismortified corruptions of our nature. traction, our minds must be composThe best saints find a warfare within. ed. The cares of the world must be “ The flesh lusteth against the spirit, laid aside. All improper anxiety and the spirit against the flesh."- must be dismissed, and our attention Even Paul could say : “ When I must be absorbed in the business in would do good, evil is present with which we are engaged. me.” As long as the heart remains Let us endeavour to impress our but partially sanctified, so long the minds with a deep and constant sense christian will find obstructions in his of the greatness of the sio of drawing course, and interruptions in his du- nigh to God with our mouth, while ties. And when there are any lusts our heart is far from him. That it is unmortified in the soul, any vile af- a sin of inconceivable magnitude, has sections which have the ascendency, been made, I trust, sufficiently appathey will most certainly disturb our rent. Were it ever viewed by us in devotions. If we allow ourselves to this light, our danger of cominitting be over anxious about our secular it would be greatly diminished. concerns, if we hanker after the rich
Let us cultivate a more lively faith es, honours, or pleasures of the world, in the being, perfections and presence if we indulge improper feelings un- of God. Let us always endeavour to der the providences of God, or if set God before our face, and to realwe harbour jealousy, envy or revenge, ize that he is of purer eyes than to toward any of our fellow men; it behold iniquity, that he searcheth will be impossible to worship God the heart and trieth the reins, that without distraction. Any object of he cannot be deceived, and will not undue attachment, or undue aversion, be mocked. A constant and lively will be sure to place itself between us sense of these things would be a powand God, and intercept our inter- erful antidote to the evil in question. course with heaven.
Let peculiar efforts be made to fix The angels and glorified saints the attention. Let us never come worship God without distraction.— into the presence of God in a careless Their hearts are always fixed, and and thoughtless frame. Let us pause never wander upon forbidden objects; and solemnly ponder on the duty in and the reason of this is, their love to which we are about to engage, and God is perfect. And in proportion as let the most intense watchfulness acthe christian finds his heart warm company our supplications. Let evwith divine love, he will experience ery avenue to temptation be guarded, freedom from the evil we are consid- and every roving thought be immediering. But when our love to God is ately recalled. Let us mortify our cold and seeble, other objects insensi- corruptions. Let this be our habitbly engage our affections, and pre- ual and daily employment. Let us vent that sweet and uninterrapted search out our easily besetting sins, communion, which it is the privilege bewail them before God, and watch of the lively christian to enjoy. against them with peculiar diligence.
Another source, to which this evil If our right eye offend, let us pluck it may be traced, is that multiplicity of out; if our right hand, let us cut it off. Let so lust be barboured, and ment in the hand of the Lord, to pun. no vile affection be indulged, which ish the guilty nations, was permitted is calculated to interrupe our com- to extend his power and dominion munion with God.
over immense regions of the East. But the most important and most in proportion to the increase of his effectual remedy for the evil in empire and glory, his pride and arroquestion, and that indeed which in- gance arose. His heart was puffed cludes all the rest, will be found in up with a spirit of haughty indepencultivating that habitual temper of dence and unprincipled despotism, mind, which is appropriately term- which could brook no opposition, and ed heavenly-mindedness. That man which rendered it a capital crime for whose frame of mind is habitually any of his subjects to resist his will. spiritual, who daily lives above the At a period, when he had arrived at world, and has his conversation in the summit of his power and pride, heaven, whose thoughts are much he caused an image of gold to be employed in the contemplation of di- made, of colossal stature and unpar vine objects, and who makes even his alleled magnificence, and ordered i secular concerns subservient to his to be erected upon an extensive plair growth in grace, will find little diffi- probably in honor of Bel, the grea culty in commanding his thoughts in idol of the Babylonians. the seasons of devotion. An old mean time, he gave command th writer remarks: “Such as men are all the officers, civil and militar, out of prayer, such they will be in throughout bis vast dominions, shou prayer." If our minds are habitual- assemble and worship the image.ly worldly; if our thoughts are suffer- Accordingly they assembled from ied to rove at large, while we are notery quarter, in immense multitues, immediately engaged in the duties of upon the plains of Dura, and stod religion, we shall attempt in vain to before the golden idol. A heild collect them when we are thus en- then cried with a loud voice: “O gaged. Religion must be our con- you it is commanded, O people, astant employment;the heart must tions, and languages, that, at wat be kept with all diligence ;-every time ye hear the sound of the coret, vain thought must be stifled in its flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, duibirth ;-our affections must be habit- mer, and all kinds of music, ye all ually set on things above;-our trea- down and worship the golden imge sure must be in heaven, and our heart which Nebuchadnezer, the king, hih there also ;--the world must be put set up. And whosoever falleth jot under our feet ;-our conversation down and worshippeth, sball, he must be spiritual ;-and our minds same hour, be cast into the midst of must be kept in a devotional frame. a burning, fiery furnace.” Then will our hearts rise to God as This decree, proceeding from so spontaneously as the needle points to mighty a monarch, and enforced by the pole, and our communion with so tremendous a sanction, struck tee bim will be undisturbed and joyful. multitude with awe. Fond of life, Thus to live, is to walk with God. shuddering at the thought of such a He who thus lives honours his Mak- death, and entertaining no real regard er, adorns his profession, and enjoys for Jehovah the true God, they were a peace which passeth all understand- easily persuaded to comply with the ing.
ELEUTHEROS. king's crder, and to prostrate them
selves before the idol, in contempt of For the Christian Spectator.
the glorious majesty of the universe. On Religious Fortitude.
But we are informed that three in
dividuals of the people of the Jews, NEBUCHADNEZER, the king of Bab- were possessed of piety and fortitude ylon, being employed as an instru- sufficient to be singular on that occasion. Resolving still to adhere to distinguished the prophet Daniel, in
, the Lord's side, and reposing the full- spiring him, on a certain occasion, est confidence in his infinite power with the resolution, rather to be and sufficiency, they absolutely refus- cast into a den of lions, than to sused to submit to the king, or to follow pend his practice of making supplicathe multitude in their idolatry. An tion before the God of bis fathers. It accusation, therefore, was immedi- was this, which gave a divine elevaately brought in, by certain Chalde- tion of character to the Patriarchs ans, against them. Then Nebuchad- and prophets generally, to the aposnezer, in his rage and fury, command- tles and primitive christians, which ed to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and caused them to stand firm, amid the Abednego, before him. They intro- shocks of temptation and persecution; duced these men before the king, who so that, under the influence of it, the expressed his surprise, that they great Apostle of the Gentiles could should presume thus to trample upon exclaim : “ None of these things ris authority, by refusing to worship move me; neither count I my life he image which he had erected. At dear unto myself. I am ready, not he same time, he distinctly repeated to be bound only, but to die at Jerusao them, the words of the decree, and lem, for the name of the Lord Jesus," iterated the awful denunciation, de- By the same fortitude and firmness, aring, with all the terrors of in- Luther, Calvin, and Knox, with their used royalty, that, should they per- associates, unmoved by the thunders st in disobedience, a furnace of le- of Papal power and vengeance, were viring fire should be their portion, carried through all the struggles and al that no God would be able to de- perils of the Reformation, and renderlivr them out of his hands. They ed immortal benefactors to mankind. reained calm and undismayed; nor It is this, indeed, which, through the w: the strength of their resolution special grace of God, influences eveshken. They dreaded the displea- ry true christian to hold fast the sur of the King of kings, more than profession of his faith without waverth-wrath of the king of Babylon. In ing. It raises him above the flatprference to yielding to known sin, teries and the frowns of the wickore guilty of an act, openly impious ed; enables him to stem the current an idolatrous, they were ready, if of popular impiety; to withstand, at the will of heaven should demand it, once, the world, the flesh, and the to neet death itself, even in its most devil; and, taking up the cross, to frihtful form. “O king, we are not follow the lamb, whithersoever he carful to answer thee in this matter. goeth. What is it to be a soldier, Win the utmost alacrity would we when there are no conflicts, and no serv: and please thee, in every thing, enemy? In the halcyon days of not incompatible with duty, but in peace, or at a distance from the battlethis we are constrained to incur thy ground, a man may talk of his valdispleasure. Jehovah must be obey. our, and lead you to believe, that he ed, rather than man. Do with us as would never turn his back to any foe. thou wilt. Torture us upon the But the question is, will he actually rack, or plunge us into the fiercest endure, in a time of war, and on the flames which thy wrath can kindle. field of battle? When the trumpet We put our trust in the Lord God of of alarm is sounding, and the enemy Israel--we will not serve thy gods, is coming in, like a flood, will be then por worship the image which thou fly to the standard, and maintain his hast set up.” Who can fail to ad- ground ? If he will stand firm, and mire this decision of principle and fight manfully, in an actual engageaction ? this invincible fortitude in ment, exhibiting himself to be proof
, the cause of the Most High? It equally, against the arts of bribery was this, which also eminently and seduction, and the appalling in