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INTRODUCTORY. SUNDAY MORNING.
PSALM XCV., 6.
Oh, come, let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
ECCLUS. xviii., 23.
Before thou prayest, prepare thyself, and be not as one that tempteth the Lord.
WHEN the Almighty rested from the labours of creation, He looked round upon the operations of his hands, and behold they were all very good. Earth contained every thing that could supply the wants and gratify the senses of its inhabitants, and it abounded with innumerable living creatures capable of enjoyment. Amongst these happy beings was one far superior to the rest-one distinguished with especial favour and condescension-for God had said, "Let us make man in our own image." To Adam alone was imparted the reasoning faculty which gave him some knowledge of his obligations to his Maker-he only could be grateful for
the mercies which surrounded him, for he only knew from whose hand they came;-and though man, since his fall from innocency, has lost much of the excellence of his former nature-though, in some countries, he seems degraded almost to a level with the brutes— yet is the image of God not entirely effaced, as even the most ignorant and sensual nations acknowledge their dependence on a God. And, so long as the heavens declare his glory, and the firmament showeth his handiwork, some notion of a great first Cause must pervade every intelligent mind.
But we, my brethren, are not left to our own weak and doubtful speculations on this momentous subject-we have been blest with the revelation of all that it is needful for us to know of the Supreme Being-of all that we can understand of his perfections in this mortal state. To attain the most perfect acquaintance with this revelation should be the great object of our lives; and therefore the study of the Bible is a sublime occupation. Whilst contemplating the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, which are there so conspicuous-whilst meditating on its holy precepts, or devoting our atten
tion to the exemplary patterns set forth for our imitation, our minds are elevated, and our hearts are softened; and, at the same time that we acquaint ourselves with God, we gain some knowledge of ourselves -we discover the origin of our corruptions, and our inability to retrieve our innocence; yet we learn that an all-sufficient sacrifice has been made for our sins by Jesus Christ, and that, through the intercession of this merciful Redeemer, we are permitted to hold communion with our Heavenly Father, who has promised to enlighten our understandings with his Holy Spirit. He invites us to come into his temple, to hearken to his voice, and to worship him in spirit and in truth.
He even condescends to say, that our obedience to his commands, our acceptance of his invitations will promote his honour and glory. Shall we not, then, joyfully avail ourselves of this gracious summons to wait upon our God, and publicly confess that in Him we live, and move, and have our being? Happy is the man who can say, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth." Such a man will mani
fest his love by frequenting it himself, and by drawing to the sanctuary, by the force of his example, the persuasion of his advice, or the restraint of his authority, all over whom his influence extends; and thus he will testify, at the same time, his zeal for the service of God, and his desire to promote the happiness of his fellow-creatures; for our Heavenly Father has graciously declared himself pleased when multitudes unite in the confession of their sins, coming with meekness and humility, as creatures into the presence of their Creator-with gratitude and joy, as the redeemed into the presence of their Redeemer and with reverence and awe, as mortals into the presence of the Eternal.
But, my brethren, there is too much reason to fear that many of those persons who attend our congregations-many of those who attend regularly, and even of those who attend voluntarily, and feel a certain degree of satisfaction in so doing, are, nevertheless, destitute of such dispositions of the heart as are necessary to render their worship an acceptable sacrifice; and, as the best medicine, when improperly applied, becomes a deadly poison; in like manner, the worship of God, when ill
directed and heartless, instead of proving beneficial to our souls, becomes a heinous offence, and mockery of our Maker; nay, nothing will more effectually impede our growth in grace, than to conduct ourselves, in the house consecrated to the Almighty, with outward irreverence or inward inattention. Since, then, God's public worship is a duty of such vast importance, since upon its due performance its worth depends, and since the neglect of it is an insuperable barrier to our spiritual improvement, it is incumbent upon us to consider how it may be best discharged; and therefore I entreat that you will join with me in prayer to God to direct my efforts to assist you in this great undertaking. I would humbly, but confidently, hope to be the instrument of increasing the fervour of your devotion, and more particularly on that holy day, which God himself set apart and hallowed to be the Sabbath of the Lord,—a holy day of bodily rest and spiritual enjoyment.
For this purpose I have selected my principal text from the hymn which ushers in our ordinary sacrifice of prayer and praise, and in which the royal Psalmist calls upon