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unbelief concerning the character and work of Jesus shall all be dissipated and every successor of them who wagged the head derisively at the cross shall be shamed into silence; when the Jews seeing that the cross has become the sceptre of power as well as the symbol of mercy to the whole world, shall bow at last in penitence and homage. Then as the stars, though still holding their positions in the sky, are extinguished by daylight, so all the civilizations of the past and the present, though keeping their places in history, will fade from view in the sunshine of that universal civilization whose glory shall be the brotherhood of man and the headship of Christ.
ART. VIII.- THE PHILOSOPHY OF DIVINE WORSHIP.
We can conceive of no tangible system of religion, either true or false, except as worship is its fundamental element. The character of any system of religion, is accurately portrayed in the character of its worship, whatever the pretensions or doctrines, the disguises or drapery of the system may be. True worship constitutes the great centre of human duty about which all other duties cluster like grains of steel about a magnet, and these will be properly performed if worship itself is acceptable and constant. To ignore or neglect worship, is to draw the bolt of centripetal force and hurl the soul without the attraction of a central sun into the void of infidelity.
The capacity for spiritual growth is in exact proportion to the clearness of our conceptions of the nature of true worship, and a knowlege of its philosophy is essential to the formation and growth of a symmetrical Christian character. Some devotional minds seem to leap at once as if by intuition into the true idea of perfect worship; but generally the study of God's word, the searching of our own hearts, and a long course of training in spiritual life lead us to a knowledge of those spiritual things whicu are spiritually discerned.
WHAT IS WORSHIP? The term worship is applied to that adoration or reverence, which springs from the necessary constitution of the human soul, toward some being or object conceived as divine. Worship is false when it is offered to an impure or unworthy object, and when offered to God in an impure or unworthy manner. True worship is the adoration of the heart, offered in a proper manner to the living and true God. It implies a rational conception of God and of his divine authority, an obedient disposition of heart toward him as God, and a voluntary and active exercise of the powers of the soul in rendering unto him the glory due unto his name. Subjectively, it is the exercise of mingled fear, respect and affection; objectively, it manifests itself in acts of prayer, praise and thanksgiving. When acceptable worship is performed, the Holy Spirit bears witness with the soul by actual communication; and that lifting of the soul to God and special recognition by him is called communion with God. Worship is essentially the same whether offered by saint or seraph, on earth or in heaven. A higher degree of intelligence, purer associations, freedom from depravity and earthly hindrances, clearer conceptions of the plan of salvation, closer union with God, and a more absorbing interest in spiritual things—all these may conspire to make the worship of heaven purer and holier, but they can never change its essential character. To be a devout worshiper here is to learn on earth the celestial song and to feast on angel's food ; for God sends royal robes and heavenly crowns to invest the contrite soul in his presence, yet worshiping this side the river.
MOTIVES TO WORSHIP.
As worship is the voluntary adoration of the heart, the soul must be stirred by the purest motives in its approach to the veiled mysteries of the inner sanctuary. The rewards of virtue and the
penalties of disobedience are not the highest motives to worship but they serve to awaken the soul from its apathy and neglect. Moral obligation lays the iron hand of the task-master upon us and
demands obedience, but it fails to melt the heart or fill the soul with devotion.
Our nature demands communion with God and longs after pure and exalted worship at times; but its demand is unsatisfied, and an aching void is left because it cannot lead itself to God. When there are no such longings, there is a consciousness of degradation and of a failure to answer the ends of our being. A soul without worship is an ocean without tides,—stagnant, loathsome, full of venomous reptiles, reeking with noisome and corrupting vapors. Whatever the aspirations of the soul after purity, it can never realize them without the aid of the Divine Spirit. The ocean needs its storm and the wind its gust. So the will and judgment, the emotions and sympathies, must be shaken and persuaded by an eternal' force ; and “we love Him because he first loved us.” Nothing but the love of Christ can melt the heart and inspire affectionate reverence toward a holy God. Through sympathy with the man of Calvary we learn to seek God's glory first; then penalty, reward obligation and aspiration all urge us to commune with God.
CONDITONS OF WORSHIP. God has fixed the conditions of his own worship, and we can neither alter nor abridge them. He has even required us to distinguish between an exact outward performance of the act of worship and the inner worship of the heart. A corpse may be galvanized into activity, but it is a corpse still. A dead heart may put on all the outward activities of worship and still be rotting with corruption. “They that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
First, God requires a pure outline of Christian doctrine, without which we can have no just conceptions of worship. We cannot innocently beignorant of sin, the law, the penalty, the atonement, pardon, holiness and heaven. God himself has given us our hand-book of instructions, and will not accept our worship unless we use it as our guide. To prefer the speculations of reason to the authoritative truths of revelation is an insult to God which He will not allow. He will accept no acts of worship offered in needless ignorance of his own revealed truth, nor in defiance to it, and the false plea of honest ignorance will not deceive the Divine Spirit while God's word is before us.
True worship must also accept Christ as the only medium of approach to God; not as a theory, but as a fact; not as a doctrine, but as a Savior. Humanity possesses no self-elevating religious principle, whatever its wants and aspirations may be; and if we reject Christ as the Divine Word “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
A proper condition of heart must always precede or accompany worship. Sweet water cannot come from a bitter fountain, nor pure worship from an unconverted heart. When the sinner has tasted the delights of forgiveness, the heart must be kept pure, or else the stream will be turned from its course and the soul deluged with hypocrisy while flattering itself that it enjoys a heavenly watering.
The law of God is not made void though we are saved by faith. True worship is suspended, and the gift remains upon the altar until the heart is right with God and man.
THE EFFECT OF WORSHIP. The effect of worship is reflex upon the mind and heart of the worshiper. If the object of worship is conceived as degraded and immoral, the effect is seen as in the heathen world, in the degradation and immorality of the worshipers. Among the worshipers of Jehovah, there is a great diversity in spiritual devolopment. If there is equal fidelity, this diversity depends upon the clearness of our conceptions of Him as a divine and holy being. Divine worship begets a peculiar exaltation of feeling which tends to the permanent elevation of the human soul, As in institutions of learning and elsewhere, communion with noble and well-developed minds expands the intellect and enlarges the capacity of our mental being ; so communion with the Great Teacher expands the heart, develops the moral nature and calls into exercise all the higher faculties of our spiritual being.
Not all real exaltation of feeling is the effect of divine worship. There is a pleasant mental intoxication which is often mistaken for it. Spiritual exaltation comes only from the inner sanctuary. Neither the frenzy of the sybil, the excitement of the political campaign, nor the pure and lofty inspiration of the poet is the legitimate offspring of holy worship, but each of these is real. That effervescence of poetic feeling, so often and 80 blindly sought in social worship, may be real and yet spring from other sources than heavenly worship.
So-called Liberal Christianity may deify and exult over the noble and moral in man, until it has raised the stream of lofty feeling as high as the fountain of depraved nobility and unsanctified refinement from which it derives its own inspiration; but lacking a Christ, it can never raise humanity above that point, nor can send the holiest aspiration to the Searcher of hearts, nor readily cure a sin-sick soul, nor teach a degraded sinner to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Repudiating that heart worship which is in spirit and in truth, consistent with the error it dismisses from its system Christ, Revelation and Regeneration. Outside of the pale of its own refinement it is shorn of its strength. It cannot grapple with depravity nor elevate the degraded heart for want of a fountain higher than the hearts it designs to elevate. Its mental inspiration cannot produce the best spiritual states nor the highest moral results. Only God's own act of acceptance and blessing can accomplish such a result, and none but Christian experience can teach the contrite soul when God has really accepted the worship. This is a good test of the character of our worship. If there is no high moral result the worship is not acceptable.
If there is that exaltation of soul which affects the moral state, it is first attained by a single act of worship. The reflex influence of that act is to rectify the various disorders and induce courses of moral action in accordance with the will of God who accepts the worship. Thus God's will is made the standard of action; continued, these courses become habits, they are then crystalized into traits, the moral character is thus renewed and purified, and virtue produced by the reflex influence of worship upon the soul.
the soul. From God and through Christ, and from no other source, can this moral renovation come. Holiness, then, is the result, first, of forgiveness and grace bestowed by the divine act alone; then, of hearty soul-renewing communion with