S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
I shall here only take notice of that habitual worship and veneration which we ought to pay to this Almighty Being. We should often refresh our minds with the thought of him, and annihilate ourselves before him, in the contemplation of our own worthlessness, and of his transcendent excellency and perfection. This would imprint in our minds such a constant and uninterrupted awe and veneration as that which I am here recommending, and which is in reality a kind of incessant prayer, and reasonable humiliation of the soul before him who made it.
This would effectually kill in us all the little seeds of pride, vanity, and self-conceit, which are apt to shoot up in the minds of such whose thoughts turn more on those comparative advantages which they enjoy over some of their fellow-creatures than on that infinite distance which is placed between them and the supreme model of all perfection. It would likewise quicken our desires and endeavours of uniting ourselves to him by all the acts of religion and virtue.
Worship is an act of the understanding, applying itself to the knowledge of the excellency of God and actual thoughts of his majesty; recognizing him as the supreme Lord and Governor of the world, which is natural knowledge; beholding the glory of his attributes in the Redeemer, which is evangelical knowledge. This is the sole act of the spirit of man. The same reason is for all our worship as for our thanksgiving. This must be done with understanding: (Ps. xlvii. 7) Sing ye praise with understanding; with a knowledge and sense of his greatness, goodness, and wisdom. It is also an act of the will, whereby the soul adores and reverences his majesty, is ravished with his amiableness, embraceth his goodness, enters itself into an intimate communion with this most lovely object, and pitcheth all his affections upon him: We must worship God understandingly; it is not else a reasonable service.
Our worship is spiritual when the door of the heart is shut against all intruders, as our Saviour commands in closet-duties. It was not his meaning to command the shutting the closet-door, and leave the heart-door open for every thought that would be apt to haunt us. Worldly affections are to be laid aside if we would have our worship spiritual; this was meant by the Jewish custom of wiping or washing off the dust of their feet before their entrance into the temple, and of not bringing money in their girdles. To be spiritual in worship, is to have our souls gathered and bound up wholly in themselves, and offered to God.
Without the heart it is no worship; it is a stage play; an acting a part without being that person really which is acted by us: a hypocrite, in the notion of the world, is a stage-player. We may as well say a man may believe with his body, as worship God only with his body. Faith is a great ingredient in worship; and it is with the heart man believes unto righteousness. We may be truly said to worship God, though we want perfection; but we cannot be said to worship him if we want sincerity; a statue upon a tomb, with eyes and hands lifted up, offers as good and true a service; it wants only a voice, the gestures and postures are the same; nay, the service is better; it is not a mockery; it represents all that it can be framed to; but to worship without our spirits, is a presenting God with a picture, an echo, voice, and nothing else; a compliment; a mere lie; a compassing him about with lies.
As to private worship, let us lay hold of the most melting opportunities and frames. When we find our hearts in a more than ordinary spiritual frame, let us look upon it as a call from God to attend him; such impressions and notions are Gods voice, inviting us into communion with him in some particular act of worship, and promising us some success in it. When the Psalmist had a secret motion to seek Gods face (Ps. xxviii. 8) and complied with it, the issue is the encouragement of his heart, which breaks out into an exhortation to others to be of good courage, and wait on the Lord (v. 13, 14): Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart; wait, I say, on the Lord. One blow will do more on the iron when it is hot, than a hundred when it is cold; melted metals may be stamped with any impression; but, once hardened, will with difficulty be brought into the figure we intend.
Good effects may grow in each of the people towards other, in them all towards their pastor, and in their pastor towards every of them; between whom there daily and interchangeably pass, in the hearing of God himself, and in the presence of his holy angels, so many heavenly acclamations, exultations, provocations, petitions.