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expectation, namely, to be enabled, directed, and excited by them, unto the exercise of divine faith and love. When it is not so with any, where there is not this design, they do in various degrees take the name of God in vain, in their observance. These are 'approximationes Dei,' the 'ways of drawing nigh unto God,' as they are every where called in Scripture. To suppose that a drawing nigh unto God may consist merely in the outward performance of duty, whatever be its solemnity, is to reject all due reverence of him. 'Forasmuch,' saith the Lord, as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their hearts far from me, therefore I will proceed against them;' Isa. xxix. 13. The mouth and lips are put, by a synecdoche, for all the means of outward worship and honour. These men may use, diligently attend unto, whilst their hearts are from God; that is, when they do not draw nigh to him by faith and love. But all this worship is rejected of God with the highest tokens of his displeasure and indignation against it.
1. Our souls then have no way of approach unto God in duties of worship, but by faith; no way of adherence or cleaving unto him, but by love; no way of abiding in him, but by fear, reverence, and delight. Whenever these are not in exercise, outward duties of worship are so far from being a means of such an approach unto him, as that they set us at a greater distance from him than we were before, at least are utterly useless and fruitless unto us. So indeed they are unto the most who come unto them they know not why, and behave themselves under them they care not how: nor is there any evil in the hearts and ways of men whereof God complaineth more in his word, as that which is accompanied with the highest contempt of him. And be cause these ordinances of divine worship are means which the wisdom and grace of God hath appointed unto this end, namely, the exercise and increase of divine faith and love, and therefore doth sanctify and bless them thereunto; I do not believe that they have any delight in the exercise of these graces, nor do design growth in them, by whom these great means of them are despised or neglected.
And although I have seen those valleys of public worship forsaken, either on pretences of higher attainments in faith,
light, and love, than to stand in need of them any more, or on a foolish opinion, that they cease upon the dispensation of the Spirit, which is given unto us to make them useful and effectual, or on some provocations that have been given unto some men, or which they have taken unto themselves, which they have thought they could revenge by a neglect of public administrations, or through slavish peace and negligence in times of difficulty, as is the manner of some, who forsake the assemblies of the saints; Heb. xvi. 25. yet, I never saw but it issued in a great decay, if not in an utter loss of all exercise of faith and love, and sometimes in open profaneness. For such persons contemn the way and means which God in his infinite wisdom and goodness hath appointed for their exercise and increase; and this shall not prosper. We may, therefore, do well to consider, that the principal way whereby we may sanctify the name of God, in all duties of his worship, and obtain the benefit of them to our own souls, is by a conscientious approach unto them with a holy desire. and design to be found in the exercise of faith and love on God in Christ, and to be helped and guided therein by them. To be under an efficacious influence from this design, is the best preparation for any duty. So David expresseth his delight in the worship of God. How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God;' Psal. lxxxiv. 1, 2. He longed for the tabernacle, and the courts of it; but it was the enjoyment of God himself, the living God, that he desired and sought after. This was that which made him so fervent in his desires after those ordinances of God. So he expresseth it, Psal. Ixiii. 2. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.' David had had great communion with, and delight in, God, by faith and love, in the solemn duties of his worship. And this was that which inflamed him with desires after renewed opportunities unto the same end.
2. This design is not general, inactive, useless, and slothful. But such persons diligently endeavour, in the use of these ordinances, and attendance unto them, to be found in the exercise of these graces. They have not only an antecedent design to be so, but a diligent actual endeavour after it, not suffering their minds by any thing to be diverted from
the pursuit of that design; Eccles. v. 1. Whatever is not quickened and enlivened hereby, they esteem utterly lost. Neither outward administrations, nor order, will give them satisfaction when these things are wanting in themselves. Without the internal actings of the life of faith, external administrations of ordinances of worship are but dead things. Nor can any believer obtain real satisfaction in them, or refreshment by them, without an inward experience of faith and love in them, and by them. And it is that which, if we are wise, we shall continually attend unto the consideration of. A watchful Christian will be careful lest he lose any one duty, by taking up the carcase of it. And the danger of so doing is not small. Our affections are renewed but in part. And as they are still liable to be diverted, and seduced from spirituality in duty, even by things earthly and carnal, through the corruption that remaineth in them; so there is a disposition abiding in them, to be pleased with those external things and religious duties, which others, as we have shewed before, who are no way graciously renewed, do satisfy themselves withal. The grace and oratory of the speaker in preaching of the word, especially in these days wherein the foppery of fine language, even in sacred things, is so much extolled; the order and circumstance of other duties, with inclination and love unto a party, are apt to insinuate themselves with great complacency into our affections, so far as they are unrenewed. And these things discover the true grounds whence it is that the ordinances of divine worship are so useless as they are to many who seem to attend unto them with diligence. They may be referred unto these three heads.
1. They do not come unto them, as the means appointed of God for the exercise of faith and love unto Christ, so as to make it their design in their approaches to them, without which, all that is spoken of advantage in and by other duties is utterly lost.
2. They do not in and under them labour to stir up faith and love unto their due exercise.
3. They suffer their minds to be diverted from the exercise of these graces, partly by occasional temptations, partly by attendance unto what is outward only in the ordinances themselves.
Spiritual affections find no place of rest in any of these things; such proposals of God in Christ, of his will, and their own duty, as may draw out their faith, love, godly fear, and delight into their due exercise, is that which they inquire after, and acquiesce in.
Two things alone doth faith regard in all duties of worship as unto the outward administration of it. The one absolutely, the other comparatively; both with respect unto the end mentioned, or the exercise, growth, and increase of grace in us. The first is, that they may be of divine appointment. Where their original and observance is resolved into divine authority, there and there alone will they have a divine efficacy. In all these things, faith hath regard to nothing but divine precepts and promises. Whatever hath regard to any thing else, is not faith, but fancy. And therefore these uncommanded duties in religion, which so abound in the papal church, as that if not the whole, yet all the principal parts of their worship consist in them, are such as in whose discharge it is impossible faith should be in a due exercise. That which it hath comparative respect unto, is the spiritual gifts of them unto whom the administration of the ordinances of the gospel, in the public worship of the church is committed. With respect unto them, believers may have more delight and satisfaction in the ministry of one than of another, as was touched before. But this is not because one is more learned than another, or more elegant than another, hath more ability of speech than another, or fervency in utterance than another, is more fervent or earnest in his delivery; but because they find the gifts of one more suited, and more effectual to stir up faith and love unto a holy exèrcise in their minds and hearts, than what they find in some others. Hence they have a peculiar value for, and delight in, the ministry of such persons, especially when they can enjoy it in due order, and without the offence of others. And ministers that are wise, will in holy administrations neglect all other things, and attend unto this alone, how they may be helpful unto the faith, and love, and joy of believers, so far as they are the object of their ministry.
This is the first reason and ground whereon affections spiritually renewed cleave unto ordinances of divine worship with delight and satisfaction; namely, because they are
the means appointed and blessed of God, for the exercise and increase of faith and love, with an experience of their efficacy unto that end.
The second is, because they are the means of the communication of a sense of divine love, and supplies of divine grace unto the souls of them that do believe. So far as our affections are renewed, this is the most principal attractive to cleave unto them with delight and complacency.
They are, as was observed before, the ways of our approaching unto God. Now we do not draw nigh to God, as himself speaks, as a dry hearth, or a barren wilderness,' where no refreshment is to be obtained. To make a pretence of coming unto God, and not with expectation of receiving good and great things from him, is to despise God himself, to overthrow the nature of the duty, and deprive our own souls of all benefit thereby and want hereof, is that which renders the worship of the most, useless and fruitless unto themselves. We are always to come unto God, as unto an eternal spring of goodness, grace, and mercy, of all that our souls do stand in need of, of all we can desire in order unto our everlasting blessedness; and all these things, as unto believers, may be reduced unto the two heads before-mentioned.
1. They come for a communication of a sense of his love in Jesus Christ. Hence doth all our peace, consolation, and joy, all our encouragement to do, and suffer according to the will of God, all our supportments under our sufferings, solely depend; in these things do our souls live; and without them we are of all men the most miserable. It is the Holy Spirit who is the immediate efficient cause of all these things in us. He sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts; Rom. v.5. He witnesseth our adoption unto us; chap. viii. 15, 16. and thereby an interest in the love of the Father, in God, as he is love. But the outward way and means whereby he communicates these things unto us, and effects them in us, is by the dispensation of the gospel, or the preaching of it ordinarily. He doth the same work also in prayer, and ofttimes in other holy administrations. For this end, for a participation of this grace, of these mercies, do believers come unto God by them. They use them as means to draw water from the wells of salvation,' and to