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gospel. He received the most costly gifts presented in homage to himself. He commended the woman who brake the alabaster box of ointment, a gift that seemed needless and wasteful. He approved of the waste and absolved her sins therefor. And when he went to the temple to observe the sincerity of the worshippers, what position did he choose? He did not sit on the pulpit stairs and observe who was most melted by the preaching. He did not listen to hear who prayed loudest, or who sang most divinely. He sat over against the treasury, to see how they paid their devotions.

The act of the widow so commended was an act of simple worship. The treasury was a common collection for general purposes, for the support of the temple and the like. She did not give because a moving appeal had been made for starving people in some distant frontier. Her two mites hardly swelled the stream that flowed into a treasury already rich. Doubtless the widow needed the money more than the treasury. And the mites may have laid there till some Roman soldier, in the sack of the temple, got them and spent them for drink. It was not for charity's sake that the widow gave all her living; it was in worship of God, as an act of homage, of love, and thankfulness. Suppose the money did go into the pocket of a drunken soldier; she offered it to the Lord, and the Lord had regard to her and to her offering.

An offering expresses feelings with an emphasis no other mode of worship does. It is a symbolical act of acknowl edging that God is entitled to all our possessions. It is a token of homage, a tribute of sovereignty. It is the most marked proof of love. In the gospel church offerings are more appropriate and are more needed than of old. God is now more glorified by gifts than ever. To overlay the temple with gold-leaf, to prepare rich vessels and vestments, was no such honor to God as to erect Christian churches, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, build hospitals, send Bibles and missionaries through the world.

The gospel has developed a spirit of benevolence which makes charitable institutions the characteristic of Christian civilization. Large sums are devoted to religious purposes. But there is a fault in the secular character which our charities have assumed. They are given more for the sake of relieving men than of honoring God. They are monuments of pity rather than of piety. They are not enough regarded as religious offices. It is well to give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, but it is a better act when the feeling that prompts is love to the Saviour, recognizing the needy as his representative, and doing it as unto the Lord. It is this reference to the Lord Jesus, making our charities tributary of worship to him, that needs to be emphasized. A onesided notion of the truth that good works do not avail for salvation, a fear lest they might come to be regarded as propitiating God, has made many suspicious of looking upon offerings in the light in which the Old Testament, our Saviour, and his apostles speak of them. Things have come to such a pass that many feel it a disturbance to devotion to have the subject of money introduced and hear the rattle of money-boxes. They complain that their enjoyment in worship is spoiled by being called upon to give. Occasional contributions are tolerated as necessary evils. what is needful could be procured in some other way the contribution-box should be abolished, and the Sabbath and the church be no more profaned by any allusions to giving. And yet these persons have no such horror of the prayers or of singing that is devotional.

If

The Sabbath profaned by making offerings to the Lord! It is the day, and the church is the place, for this most imperative, most grateful and hearty, most acceptable and solemn, act of worship. While we are not to abstain from charity, as we do not abstain from prayers, on the other days of the week, there should be a more marked and thankful offering made on the sabbath, as a special tribute of praise to the Redeemer. It is hardly practicable to change our customs, especially in this direction. But there ought

to be a place for giving gifts in every service of public worship. It is not the amount given that is essential, as it is not the length of the prayer or the loudness of the praise that is of moment. But enough should be given to remind us that we belong to God, and to be a symbol of the consecration of all we have and are to him. In many churches the scriptural custom is preserved of making offerings as a regular part of the service.

3. Reading and meditating upon the word of God and preaching have come to fill a prominent part in public worship. The sermon, in fact, is making the other elements of worship subordinate and tributary. What is its true function? Has preaching any place in worship distinctively considered? Is it not an intruder that has forced itself in where it does not rightly belong, to crowd out more devotional ordinances? Not a few declare that such is the fact. And many who insist upon the pre-eminent importance of preaching, do not recognize it as strictly worship. They value it for the office of conversion and instruction, and not as a chief method of giving glory to the Saviour.1 But if the preacher is nothing but a teacher or an orator he ought to be sent down to the platform. He is the ambassador of God, he speaks in the name of God, and is constituted an organ of communication from God. As a medium of divine communication in worship, the highest place belongs to the reading of the word. And the sermon is fitly made a chief

1 Even Vinet says that preaching "is rather appended to worship than a constituent part of it. Only when we generalise the idea of worship, -make it embrace all that has God for its object, all that is by our intention related to God, only then can we call preaching, or the teaching of religious truths, worship, and that not more nor less than every good work." "Adoration," according to Klopstock, as quoted by Harms, "is the essential element in public worship; the teaching and exhortation of the minister, notwithstanding their great utility, are not elements of so essential a character." "Die unterrichtende Ermahnung." "Preaching is an addition to worship, and is not itself worship. Harms is not wrong in proposing hours of worship in which preaching shall not be introduced. This would not tend to disparage preaching, but to set a higher estimate on worship."- Harms, Vol. II. p. 123; Vinet, ut supra, Part III.

sect. 1.

part of divine service; for besides its great office of promoting our spiritual culture, it holds a place in the direct worship of our Redeemer.

We will say nothing of preaching as an ordinance of instruction, but only of that side of it which touches upon worship.

Now in spiritual worship, as has been said, two things are involved, the approach of man to God, and the approach of God to man. There can be no complete service unless both these conditions are fulfilled if God is not sensibly present, all is vain. Draw nigh to me, and I will draw nigh to you. There must be this mutual action of God toward us, and of our souls towards God.

In ancient times the divine participation was by visible or audible tokens. When holy men worshipped a form appeared, a cloud seemed hovering, a lightness flashed forth, an angelic appearance was seen, words were heard. Abraham was sensible that God was before him, for he heard his voice and conversed with him. The communications he received were the most certain evidence of the real presence.

Are we left with no such tokens of God's presence? Does he speak no word of invitation and welcome and instruction and encouragement to us? Precisely this most assured communication with our heavenly Father we have, in the fullest measure. The Son of God became incarnate as the Word, and the holy scripture is given to fill in our worship the place which the miraculous manifestations filled in olden time. In the reading of the Bible and in preaching God comes near to us. When the scriptures are opened, the incarnate Word is before us. If we heard a voice responding when our prayers had been offered, if out of the depths there came words of promise, of warning, and reproof, of hope, should we not listen? Thus is he speaking when his ambassador repeats the message. So far from being an incidental thing, the reading of the Bible in our service is the act in which the Lord communicates directly with us.

And preaching, in its original purpose and legitimate character, is reading the Bible so as to give due emphasis, and make the meaning plain. A sermon is only such an expansion of scripture as will convey the sense fully. The preacher takes the truths which God reveals and translates them into the hearts of the hearers. Few would understand if he read the communication as it was given in the original Hebrew and Greek. He must transfer the meaning into other language. And a sermon is simply opening the plain English of the Bible. The various heads and illustrations and arguments and appeals are only tones and modulations of voice employed to emphasize the text.

While in one aspect preaching is only the emphatic reading of the Bible, it serves also to make the worshipper vividly sensible of the presence of God. The preacher may so present the character of God, and give such living portrayal of his glory, that while listening we may seem to see God. The preacher may so work upon us as to lift us into the conscious presence of the majesty of heaven. The Lord Jesus may be revealed while his minister is showing his death. Under the inspiration of some preacher whose lips had been touched with coals from the altar, men have felt as though God himself did beseech them to be reconciled to him. In prayer and in praise we have not succeeded, perhaps, in getting near to our Lord. But under the awe and pressure of some sermon we have said: How awful is this place. It is no other than the house of God and the very gate of heaven.

It is a great office of preaching to bring God distinctly to view, to dispel our vague conceptions and make us see him as he is. The main scope of the sermon is sometimes the illustration of the divine character, or the vindication of divine providence. The discourse may be a spiritual meditation, the utterance of truths which the Holy Spirit awakens in a thoughtful believer. There is no exhortation,

1 "There are also discourses, which in form are addressed to an audience, but which nevertheless have this character of meditational flow, such as the

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