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PSALM CXVI. 16.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord in the sight of all his people,
in the courts of the Lord's house.
INTENDING, if it shall please God, to devote, for a few Sabbaths, the discourses which I shall deliver from this place to an explanation of the Sunday Morning Service in the Church, I shall, on this day, bring forward what I conceive may be a suitable and an useful introduction.
The existence of a God, that great fundamental principle which every act of religious 'worship recognises, is impressed on the mind of man by every view which he may take of the world around him. Of itself matter could not have begun to exist, and to say that from all eternity it existed is but to remove farther
back the difficulty. Inert-inanimate-it could not have put itself in motion : void of intelligence as every part is, there is no part or combination of parts capable of arranging the mass. A being of a superior order then must be conceived to exist, by which matter could have been created; which had power to put it in motion, and understanding to regulate its movements. To form the vast variety of its combinations—to give permanent endurance to its machinery, a powerful mind, a creating and perpetually superintending providence is necessarily required. The most minute of created objects attest the wisdom of the artist: the greater ones speak his preeminent power, and fill us with wonder and with reverence. If, my brethren, we do not with our eyes discern the hand which holdeth the earth in a balance-if we do not with our ears hear the voice which chideth the pestilence-still God has not left himself without witness. As our own souls, which come not under the notice of our senses, are known and perceived by their effects, by the actions of the body which they direct, in like manner are the invisible things of the eternal Spirit perceived in the regular operations of nature, which can have been ordained and established by it alone. The rain and the fruitful seasons are God's witness, and it is only the fool who says
in his heart “ There is no God.”
After this view of the power and wisdom of God, let us cast our eyes on the weakness and the insufficiency of man. Receiving life and intelligence he knows not how, can the child command the gradual increase of his strength, or arrange the progressive improvement of his faculties? Can the man for a day insure to himself the continuance of his life? How often in the natural world has he to lament after his best endeavours that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong ? How often in the moral world does he find the willingness of the Spirit ill-supported by the weakness of the flesh? Bring together what we have said then of God and of man: here is short-sightedness—there knowledge unfathomable: here is weakness—there infinite power : here is an uncertain existencethere an eternal one: here is frailty—there the perfection of established good: what remains but that weakness and frailty seek the support of power and goodness—that uncertain short-sightedness bow down before eternal wisdom? That man, infirm and dependant, acknowledge with reverence the Creator who had formed him from the dust, and supplicate in humble adoration the protection of that Being, in whose hands are the issues of life, the sources of plenteousness, and the blessings of immortality ?
There is a God then and he is to be worshipped : worshipped by every individual of the human race, from the least up to the greatest. For when we are tracing out the duties of man from his relation to the Divinity, the distinctions on earth are lost in the magnitude of those benefits, which all in whatever class have alike to acknowledge--existence here and hope of that existence through God's gracious mercy to be continued in a life of renewed happiness. Sinners against that reason which was given us to direct our waysinners against what our knowledge of the Divine attributes would shew us is our dutysinners against conscience and against God's will-how could we ever frame to ourselves a prospect of pardon for our sins, a reward for obedience so defective? It is only through his gratuitous bounty that we have an atonement in the blood of a Saviour, sanctification through the aids of his Holy Spirit, and life eternal bestowed on the imperfect services of those who have faith in his Son. For these inestimable benefits placed within his reach, each is alike bound to testify his gratitude: for strength to avail himself of the Christian covenant by performing the conditions on his part, each is alike required to supplicate.
When it is said that in two different modes these supplications and acknowledgments may be brought before the throne of grace, when it
is said that devotion may be private or public, it is not to be supposed that a choice may
be made between these, or that either may supercede the other. Both are necessary. The lamp should be trimmed in private before its light be shewn with effect before men. Both are recommended by the highest example: our Lord at one time attends the worship in the Temple, and at another he withdraws from his disciples into a mountain to pray. As each individual best knows his own peculiar deficiencies, the individual weakness of his own estate, no rules need be here laid down for private devotion, farther than as to the general frame of mind with which a creature, humble as impotent and sinful man, should prostrate himself before the purity of a spiritual God, and before the Majesty of the Allpowerful. And indeed that frame should be no other than the disposition with which each should come into the house of the Lord, there to join with his fellows in the faith in presenting the homage of a Community to the founder of that faith, the giver of all good things to such as ask him. For it is the same God who watches over the well-being of the individual, and directs the fate of the nation; and he is equally present to hear the still small voice of the pious ejaculation, and the joyful noise of the full assembly of the faithful, offering up the praises of the Church universal. “Righ