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be excited by the very exercises thus entered into; and, in the fervour of our zeal, we may not be able to distinguish the sparks of our own kindling, from the influences of Grace: “ for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” 2 Cor. xi. 14. But when we settle down into true stillness, and experience our own wills and activity brought thoroughly down, and “every thought to the obedience of Christ”-then indeed the transformations of the enemy cannot deceive; but the language of the apostle is realized: We “know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings; being made conformable to his death." Phil. iii. 10.
This silent worship has often been a cause of wonder, and remains to be considered, by many, an unmeaning and absurd practice. But if we admit that worship requires a peculiar qualification, and that it is impossible to enter into acts of devotion without this qualification, it will follow, that when assembled for this solemn purpose, if the qualification is not possessed by those thus assembled, they must either humbly wait upon God for it, or be chargeable with will-worship if they presume to go on without it. If those assembled should thus wait, a silent meeting would be the consequence. And who can suppose this inconsistent with the nature of the object in view? Can it be supposed that men, collected from the ordinary and perplexing business and cares of life, or perhaps from the giddy rounds of pleasure, or even from the deep shades of depravity and guilt, should be at once prepared to enter into this most solemn engagement, without any introversion of mind, without collecting their wandering thoughts, and in the
language of the apostle, “ feeling after God ?" Acts xvii. 27. And how can this be more consistently done than in solemn silence ?
Thus, from the very nature of the subject, silence appears to be generally, if not always, necessary, as a preparation to worship. But we also believe, for the reasons already suggested, that worship may be performed in silence. It being an intercourse between God and the soul, and that intercourse being necessarily in spirit, it may take place without the medium of words. That feeling desire, that secret aspiration of the soul, which is known only by Him to whom it is directed, is an act of devotion more acceptable than any form of words that could be uttered, if unaccompanied with the same devotional feelings.
We read “there was silence in heaven.” Rev. viii. 1. But we cannot suppose that devotion was suspended, Indeed there is a devotion which language cannot reach; when not only the activity of the creature is completely brought into quiet, but when the Divine Majesty is so revealed his wisdom, goodness, power, and glorythat every faculty of the soul is held in awful, silent adoration!
Hence we consider silence not only proper, as preparatory to worship, but congenial with the most sublime worship to which we can attain.
We are aware that individuals may sit down in silent meetings without being benefitted by it. They may suffer their minds to be occupied with improper objects; or they may sink down into a state of dulness and insensibility, totally incompatible with the important objects for which they profess to assemble. But these are not the necessary consequences of silent waiting. Indeed they never are the consequences of it, but of an unprepared and lukewarm mind. The promise remains true to the present day, and will to all succeeding ages : “ They that upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Isa. xl. 31. The command is addressed to us, as forci. bly as it was to the ancient Jews : “ Be still! and know that I am God.” Psa. xlvi. 10.-“Keep silence before Me, O islands! and let the people renew their strength." Isa. xli. 1.
“Without Me," said our Lord, "ye can do nothing." John xv.5. Happy are they who know their own spirits brought into subjection, and an humble dependence on Him-not daring to “kindle a fire or compass themselves about with sparks," Isa. I. 11; but hambly waiting on God, for a qualification to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Though public and private devotion depend on the Influences of the same Spirit, and have therefore been considered in connexion, in the preceding part of this chapter, yet there is a distinction to be drawn; though the performance of the one cannot destroy the occasion for the other. On the contrary, they reciprocally promote each other. For he that is properly engaged in secret religious exercises from day to day, will thereby be better qualified for the performance of public wor. ship: and, on the other hand, the right performance of social worship will greatly contribute to dispose the mind to hold on its way, in those secret desires after communion with God, to which the apostle alluded, when he admonished the believers to "pray without ceasing." 1 Thess. y. 17.
The public assembling of Christians, to wait upon and worship God, not only places them in a situation to be helpful to each other, by the communication of their feelings, under Divine Influence, in preaching and vocal prayer, as well as by a secret communion of spirit; but it is also a reasonable acknowledgment of the goodness of God, and of our dependence upon Him for every thing we yet hope for, as well as of our gratitude for the blessings already conferred upon us. Well therefore did the apostle admonish the believers : “Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works : not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” Heb. X. 24, 25. And again : “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rom. xii. 1.
OF THE MINISTRY
We believe with the apostles, that “no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron;" Heb. v. 4; and that this call is not dependent on any human acquirements. We also believe the command of our blessed Lord to his disciples, is of lasting obligation: “Freely ye have received, freely give." Matt. x. 8.
These are the leading principles of our belief concerning the Ministry.
But in order to understand this subject, we must advert a little more particularly to the call and qualification of a Gospel minister, and then bring into view the maintenance which is warranted on Gospel principles.
The call of a minister, as already observed, must be of God. No man can enter into this dignified work, merely from his willing or running. He cannot preach the Gospel unless he be sent. And if Christ send not, of course he is not a messenger or minister of Christ.
Hence no man can choose for himself or his son the work of the ministry, as he would a trade, by which to obtain emolument or reputation. The ministers of the Gospel, to the present day, must be called by the same authority, and clothed with the same Influence,