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When this state of things comes to pass, we need, most assuredly, (as in the order of Confirmation,) to beseech the Lord to fill his people with the spirit of his holy fear, for where that fear is not, there never will be that perfect love which is, in the end, to do it away. That this perfect love
abound amongst us, and in this nation, is the nearest wish of my heart. To which end, I call upon you to ? bow down the knee of your hearts, and with pure affection, such as the Holy Spirit of grace alone can kindle, to give God the glory in the Church of Christ, amidst the congregation of the faithful. In that case it will surely be with you as it was with the patriarch Jacob, when you shall enter the precincts of this Church,—yours, like his, shall be a godly fear. And Jacob awakened out of his sleep, and he said, surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of Heaven:. And so is it, Christian brethren, to you and to me, and to all of us,-as sure as Christ himself is the way, the truth, and the life, so surely is the Church the gate of heaven ; and whosoever shall be found therein as a humble, a contrite, a lowly, and a heart-smitten worshipper, in spirit
See Jackson's Works, vol. i. p. 869. Ed. folio. 1673. Ingenuous fear the nurse of religion and devotion.
2 Και νύν κλίνω γόνυ καρδίας μου. Prayer of Manasses. LΧΧ. Vers.
3 Gen. xxviii. 16, 17.
and in truth, shall in no wise lose his reward. In this place, saith the Lord, by his prophet, will I give peace'; in this place, as sure as God's word is true, shall he that worships with a holy worship find that peace which passeth all understanding ; lo, thus shall the man be blessed, that feareth the Lord?. Be it recollected, then, that consecrated ground,—that the Church and its
precincts, are to be approached with a “holy consternation 3.” And, in sober truth, one should think little of that man who should presume to enter God's sanctuary without, in a spiritual sense, having taken his shoes from off his feet, inasmuch as the ground whereon he treads is holy. Awe and reverence, fear and submission, best become poor sinners like ourselves; and he that would ascend on the eagle's wings of faith to heaven, must, first of all, stoop very low ere that he can be exalted in Christ Jesus. For unto whom is it that ye read the Lord, whose throne is heaven, and whose footstool is earth, will look from this house, which is builded for his honour and glory, and from the place of his rest, which is here set up? Is it to the mighty ones only of the earth ?-to the tallest cedars only of Lebanon ? No! other trees there be that are full of sap, trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, on which he will look also.
To this man
· Haggai ii. 9.
2 Ps. cxxviii. 5. 3 The expression is South's.--See Sermons, vol. i. p. 195.
will I look, saith the Lord, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word'.
And thus much for the fear and reverence, which is due from man, that is a worm, to the Lord, that ruleth over all, in his holy temple. It will be necessary, however, still to add somewhat on the subject of such prayer, as shall be a prevailing prayer in the courts of God's house. Now it is written in the law, In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and bless thee?. But what says our blessed Lord in the Gospel ? I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them'. Than this, nothing can be more clear : that God heareth prayer, and will grant what shall seem expedient in the eyes of heavenly and unerring wisdom, added to infinite goodness, is written, as with a sunbeam , on the everlasting pages of truth. Seeing, then, that this is so ;-seeing that it is written, And all things whatsoever
ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall
1 Isaiah lxvi. 1-3.
2 Exod. xx. 24. 3 Matt. xviii. 19, 20.
* The expression is Jeremy Taylor's, (vol. iv. p. 213,) and Barrow's (vol. i. p. 116); and has been adopted, if I recollect right, by the present Bishop of London. It is probably from St. Chrysostom, though I do not know that he has the exact words.
receive ', it will be most necessary to approach the threshold of the sanctuary with a pure heart and a right mind; otherwise, like Uzzah, we may die for our error, and our uncleanness and polluted imaginations will not go unpunished in his sight,
unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” Indeed, you will read in the twenty-first chapter of St. Matthew, that our Saviour would have his house known by none other name than the house of prayer ; and it is evident, that if the prayer there offered be not from the altar of a faithful heart, it is as worthless as the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, which were then overthrown. What I would imply by this is, that as every house, consecrated for prayer or other uses of religion, is God's house,—so the heart of that man who expects that his prayer will be accepted of heaven, must be God's also. If it be not circumcised,- if it be not forgiving as it hopes to be forgiven,- if it be not at peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,—if it be not, in short, full of faith, nothing wavering, it need scarce wait for the loving kindness of the Lord in the midst of his temple?.
Let me, then, exhort all, as they would worship in spirit and in truth, to bear in mind, so as to do, what is written of Solomon in the fifth chapter of Ecclesiastes : Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give
i Matt. xxi. 22.
2 Psalm xlviii. 8.
the sacrifice of fools : for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth : therefore, let thy words be fexot. God, you will recollect, is a living God, and requires a living worship; " but as the body, without the soul, is but a carcass, so is all external and bodily worship wherein the pulse of the heart's devotion beats not ?." Therefore, it must be, when any one seeks the Lord, and comes into this tabernacle of the congregation, to lay open his heart's wishes, and to seek his soul's health, that he must shut out the world with all worldly thoughts. For, saith the Lord, by his prophet, If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil ? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil ? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person saith the Lord of Hosts 8. Just so, indeed, is it with our prayers. What is demanded of us severally is, My son, give me thine heart 4 ; and the man that offers less that offers a blemished, imperfect, ineffectual, drowsy, sleepy prayer, Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. He does but mock at Him who, by himself, hath said, God is not mocked ;-and thus worship is but near in the mouth, and far from the reins 6.
Verses 1, 2. See Mede's Works. On Eccles. c. v. 1. p. 450. Ed. fol. 1664. 3 Mal. i. 8, 4 Prov. xxiii. 26. James i. 7. 6 Jer. xii. 2.