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life, and of a mind heavy and dull to spiritual things, with the lazy thought that some day God will bring home to them in power the realities of faith in Christ. Who is there that has not at some time secretly indulged this soothing flattery, that the staid gravity of age, when youth is quelled, or the leisure of retirement, when the fret of busy life is over, or, it may be, the inevitable pains and griefs which are man's inheritance, shall break up in his heart the now-sealed fountains of repentance, and make, at last, his religion a reality? So men dream away their lives in pleasures, sloth, trade, or study. Who has not allayed the uneasy consciousness of a meagre religion with the hope of a future change? Who has not thus been mocked by the enemy of man? Who has not listened, all too readily, to him who would cheat us of the hour that is, and of all the spiritual earnings which faith makes day by day in God's service, stealing from us the present hour, and leaving us a lie in exchange? And yet, this present hour is all we have. To-morrow must be to-day before we can use it: and day after day we squander in the hope of a to-morrow; but to-morrow shall be stolen away too, as to-day and yesterday. It is now we must be penitent, now we must be holy; this hour has its duty, which cannot be done the next. There is no new coming of God with observation, to make the Gospel mightier over our
stubborn hearts, or to bid His
the unwilling and indolent soul.
The grace of the
holy eucharist that was given this morning, if lost, is gone for ever. To-morrow may bring its own opportunities, but will not restore to-day's. The convictions of this hour, if unheeded, will never come back. God may send others, but these will gone for ever. Even now, while I am speaking, the kingdom of God is within your inmost being: it is in every righteous man that serves God in purity of heart; in every penitent man who sorrows for the wreck to which by sin he has brought himself; in every repenting man who, though still wavering in the poise, yet inclines towards God; in every worldly man who feels within the visitings and promptings of a will and a power above his daily life; in every man who still trembles in himself at the thought of God so nigh. God's kingdom was very nigh to him who trembled at the judgment to come. Felix trembled once; we nowhere read that he trembled again. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he
THE DAILY SERVICE A LAW IN GOD'S KINGDOM.
ACTS ii. 46, 47.
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved."
WE here read the very remarkable fact, that the Apostles and the whole Church of Christ still continued, after the day of Pentecost, to attend the daily service of the temple. It must be remembered, that at this time not only was the whole mystery of our Lord's passion already completed and revealed; not only had He risen and given authority to His Apostles to gather out His Church by the sacrament of baptism; but He had also shed abroad on them the fulness of the Holy Ghost, and they had actually begun to gather together the members of His mystical body. In the words which go before those I have read to you, we are
told that three thousand souls had been baptised into the Church; that this body of the faithful "continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers;" that they "had all things common:" and yet of this definite, organised, isolated body, a Church fully formed, and conscious of its own personality, we read that "they continued daily in the temple." Surely nothing can more strikingly shew that the Apostles and first Christians knew themselves to be still bound by the primary laws of faith to worship God in public every day. The truth is this: God had commanded daily worship to His elder Church: morning and evening the sacrifice was offered to Him in the temple. So long as His elder Church was still on trial, and, though guilty of Christ's blood, not yet cast off, the daily service was still continued in its ancient line. The Apostles, with the full light of the Gospel, continued to partake of it. There was nothing contrariant between God's elder and later dispensation. They both worshipped Him in His temple, and offered the eucharistical sacrifice in their upper chambers. The time was not yet come when the daily sacrifice should be taken from the elder, and given to the Catholic Church. Until this time came, the Church of Christ daily served God in the courts of the sanctuary on Mount Zion. When the time
came that Jerusalem should be overthrown, and the Divine Presence forsake His temple, the daily service passed to the altars of the Catholic Church. The daily worship of the Apostolic Church was no more than the daily service of the Jewish, taken up, continued, illuminated, and transfigured with the glory of the Gospel. It was the same daily service which Aaron offered fifteen hundred years before, filled with spirit and truth. And so we find from the earliest dawn of the Church of Christ, that the daily service was an universal law, lying at the very root of its spiritual life. We find even the very same hours of nine and three o'clock, the times of the morning and evening sacrifice, continued. In all things, the Church knew that God's daily service was an heritage for ever; that the Jews had made forfeit of this blessed heir-loom, and that they in their stead had received it. Now, from what I have said, it is plain that the daily public worship of God is an absolute law, binding the Church of God at all times; that we are bound to observe and hand it on as much as were Moses and Aaron, or Eli, or Josedeck the high-priest; that the Apostles daily worshipped God in the temple, and all Christians received it as a primary, selfevident, or, as we are wont to say, axiomatic law of the Church, that public worship should be daily paid to Almighty God.