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النشر الإلكتروني

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THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH:

Regeneration is to expand and strengthen this feeble will, to enrich it with the purest affections, to enlighten and guide it by the highest wisdom, and to bring those strong passions and impure lusts of the natural man into subjection to its government and control. Its purpose and tendency, therefore, is to make one united man out of the discordant elements of our unregenerate nature, and to fill the heart and mind of this new man with the affections and sentiments which will incline him to love his neighbour as himself, and to unite himself with him in every good word and work. And how wisely is this provided, and how admirably is it promoted, in the true worship of the Lord! That which is at the root of all disharmony in ourselves, and is the fruitful source of disunity among our fellow-creatures, is the pride and arrogancy of our self-love. It is this which disinclines us to humility and love, whence is true unity, and fills the mind with enmity and contempt of others. The true worship of the Lord lays the axe to the root of this impure affection, and brings it into subjection to the love of God and the neighbour. In this worship, how impossible it is to indulge our pride and haughtiness, or to cherish enmity and dislike against our fellow-creatures! We bend our knees before the Infinite and Eternal, in whose presence we are as nothing. Surely, in such a presence we must be humbled and feel our utter nothingness! We present our supplications to the common Father of all, who is no respecter of persons, and who loves all His children with the tenderest compassion. Can we in His presence indulge our enmities and dislikes, our antipathies and estrangements? Has He not taught us to expect acceptance with Him only as we are forgiving in temper and act in unity with His children? "If," he says, "thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there remember that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."

Another feature of Christian worship is its tendency to promote the moral, mental, and spiritual improvement of the worshippers. Mistaken opinions may lead men to regard the worship of the Lord simply as the means of pleasing God, of obtaining His favour, or of averting His wrath. Nothing can be pleasing to God which is not profitable to man. He desires the good of all His creatures, and He has taught us to pray, not for His own sake, but for ours,—not for the sake of increasing His glory, but of promoting our individual good. He requires of us, therefore, nothing but what is conducive to the true order of our being, and thence to our highest happiness and good. His favour, which is better than life, is His merciful loving-kindness received into the hearts of His

worshippers, and His worship is instituted to prepare and dispose us for its reception. The wrath of God is the measure of our departure from Him, and can only be averted by departure from the evil which renders us obnoxious to its inflictions.

To see, however, the improving character of Christian worship, we have only to attend to its true nature. It has been common to regard it as almost exclusively emotional,-a delightful outgoing of affection to the loftiest object on which it can be placed. True worship is a reasonable service. It is converse with God. In this converse we address a God of truth, who desires truth in the inward parts. In our intercourse with our fellow men, we are sometimes led to conceal rather than to express our thoughts, from a consciousness that we should be mis interpreted and misunderstood. But in the presence of the Lord all evasion, all untruthfulness of thought or word, must vanish away. We are in the presence of One who knows us altogether, who sees our secret thoughts, and from whom nothing can possibly be hid. The first requirement, therefore, of this worship is truth in the inward parts, accurate self-knowledge, and a desire to become, in our veriest being, what truth teaches and what the Lord requires.

Another feature of worship is its fervent love, without which no true worship can possibly exist. The heart of man goes forth to that which it secretly desires. To this the inward thoughts continually turn and aspire. If the heart be set on riches, they become the god we worship; if on sensual indulgence and pleasure, then here is the object of our constant devotions. Hence the Apostle speaks of those whose god is their belly, and whose fearful end is destruction. If, then, we would truly worship God, the heart must earnestly desire Him, and the mind be enlightened by knowledge respecting Him. True knowledge of God is inseparable from the fervent love of Him. It is love which gives insight, and by bringing the soul into sympathy with Him, enables us to understand and reverence His divine character, and to attach ourselves to Him as the object of our supreme regard. A true worship of God is, therefore, an embodied love of Him, and an effort to develope and manifest this love in acts of kindness and goodwill to His children. Worship is not confined, therefore, to acts of religious devotion, but enters into all the engagements of our life in the world. Work is worship when done in the fear of the Lord and as a means of use to His children. Acts of religious worship bring us into closer conjunction with the Lord, the infinite fountain of all truth and good, and open the soul to a fuller reception of His life and love. We thus draw from Him increased power to resist the evil and to cleave to the good in our daily

life, and to go forward with piety and zeal in the path of duty. That this worship, however, may accomplish its end, it must spring from pure affections. "If I regard iniquity in my heart," says the Psalmist, "the Lord will not hear me." We can only become conjoined with the Lord by the inward reception and ardent reciprocation of the love of the Lord. Thought respecting Him causes His presence, but it is love only can conjoin. He is hence present, waiting admission at the door of the heart, with all who approach and think of Him in worship; but He enters into, conjoins with Himself, and fills with the felicity of His kingdom, those only who sincerely love Him, and who from love seek to do His will. True worship, therefore, lifts the soul to God by filling it with His Spirit, and bringing it into harmony with His entire sanctified creation.

The worship of the Lord is to be exercised in private. "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet; and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." The beauty, spiritual refreshment, and eminent use of private devotion is everywhere admitted. Some, however, set it up in opposition to public worship, in which they make a great mistake. Both are essentials of true religion; both are means of promoting religious growth; and both ought to be diligently and constantly observed. Our text, indeed, at first sight, would seem to discourage the idea of public worship in the New Jerusalem. Apostle says "I saw no temple therein."

The

"By 'I saw no temple therein,' is not meant that in the New Church, which is the New Jerusalem, there will not be temples, but that in it there will not be an external separated from what is internal."-A. R., 918.

These words are not, therefore, opposed to the erection of temples and the institution of a suitable public worship; they only teach us the nature of the worship which is alone acceptable to the great Head of the church.

The beauty and excellence, the value and usefulness, of public worship shine in every particular respecting it. It impresses the careless with a sense of divine things, and checks the evil in their wickedness. Its influence on the good is an incalculable benefit. It strengthens the feeble, establishes the wavering, encourages the desponding, comforts the afflicted, sustains the tempted, moderates the joy of the rejoicing, and is to all a source of light and life, of inward peace and joy. For its observance we need suitable buildings, an orderly priesthood, and a devoted people,-a people forgetful of self, and willing to devote steadily a portion of their worldly substance to the service of the Lord. Our

ITS OBJECT AND AUTHOR.

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public worship tends, therefore, in all its means and appliances, to break down our natural selfishness, and to give us an interest in the growth of piety and virtue among our fellow-creatures. Then, again, by our public worship we enter into fellowship with those who have become recipients of like precious faith, whose hearts are animated by the same love, and whose hopes are inspired with the same heavenly prospect. The solitude which would exclude others is apt to nourish a selfish piety, and to manifest a disregard to the well-being of our fellow-creatures; but the worship of the great congregation is the effort to unite our heart's best affections. with the best and purest affections of our neighbour, and in the offering of our united devotions to the same Divine Father, to enter more fully His regenerate family, and to attain therein a deeper unity of the spirit, a holier bond of peace, and a closer fellowship with the wise and good. Our text especially indicates the Object and the Author of our worship, and to this we are next to direct our attention.

Unity in worship implies unity of Object. This unity is everywhere taught in the Word. It is the first commandment under the law, and is repeated with increased emphasis by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy, and by the Saviour in the Gospel-" Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord," and "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." It is attraction to this one grand centre which gives unity to all our affections and thoughts, to all our lives and conduct, and which unites in one the Lord's true worshippers both in heaven and on earth.

This oneness of Object seems, at first sight, to be contradicted by the text. Here it is apparently not one object, but two," the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb." That it is really one, however, is evident from the temple they are said to constitute. This was only one structure, though divided into three compartments. The entire temple represented the Divine Humanity of the Saviour, but so also did its individual parts. He was represented by the altar of burnt-offering in the court, by the table of shew bread and the golden candlestick in the holy place, and by the ark, with its tables of stone and mercy-seat, in the holy of holies. The altar represented Him as the sole author and the only sustainer in the souls of His people of all spiritual worship; the table of shew bread, as the bread of life, feeding the soul by His everlasting goodness: the candlestick of gold, as the light of the church and of the world, enlightening the souls of His people by His wisdom and truth; and the holy of holies, with its ark and mercy-seat, represented the essential divine good and truth in the Lord's Humanity, thus its inmost, where is the union of the Divine and Human, and whence

proceeds all life and guidance to the church in heaven and on earth. The temple in its entireness, therefore, represented the Lord in the fulness of His Divine Human character; and it is the same fulness which is denoted by this twofold designation-" the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb."

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The Apocalypse is "the revelation of Jesus Christ." It is the revelation not only of His doctrine, and of the truths and circumstances of His second coming, but also of His person and character. The first chapter is full of this revelation. The addresses to the seven churches in Asia are from "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." This description of the Supreme Being is generally regarded as involving the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the Father who is described as "He which is, and was, and is to come." The Holy Spirit is the seven spirits which are before His throne, and the Son is "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." In this description of the trinity, however, all the titles employed are, in subsequent portions of the book, applied to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In the same chapter, after announcing, Behold, He cometh with clouds," a prophecy obviously relating to Jesus Christ, the Lord describes Himself in these words:—“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Here, then, the designation of the Father is immediately ascribed to the Son, and by the highest authority, that of the Saviour himself. He is the Father as to His essential Divine Nature, in which He is God from eternity, the Creator and sustainer of all worlds; and hence in the sublime prophecy by Isaiah, in which He is announced as "the child born, the Son given," He is also declared to be "the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace." And in His appearance as the Son of Man, recorded in this first chapter of the Revelation, He says "I am the first and the last," (verses 11, 17.) assuming the title of Jehovah, who declares-" I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God." (Is. xliv. 6.) The Father and the Son are, therefore, very manifestly one and the same Being. The two titles do not describe separate persons, or distinct individual beings, but essentials of one person, whose manifested form is the Divine Humanity of the Christian Saviour.

And if we turn from this description of the Father to that of the

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