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SERMON IV.

PUBLIC WORSHIP.

PSALM xcv. 6.

“ O come, let us worship."

THESE words, and the Psalm from which they have been selected, must doubtless be familiar and well known to us. The whole context contains an eloquent appeal to our better feelings for the cheerful payment of that homage, and adoration which is due from the creature to his Creator. “ He is the Lord our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”

Every better principle, therefore, of our nature should incite us to the continual offering up of an heartfelt sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving, and

prayer. It has been well ascertained that this 95th Psalm has, from the earliest ages of the christian church, been repeated at the beginning of the morning devotions, a custom derived, it appears probable, from the usage of the ancient church of God at Jerusalem. And, indeed, when we consider the words of the Psalm, the invita. tion contained therein, and the argument on which such exhortation is founded, we surely shall not be slow to appreciate and accept it, as a fitting introduction to that sacrifice of praise, and that devout hearing of the word, and those fervent supplications for divine grace and spiritual help and blessing, which are among the subsequent portions of our excellent Liturgy. In this 95th Psalm we are exhorted and encouraged to offer our adorations at the footstool of the Most

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Holy with every mark of outward reverence, as well as with that true devotion of the heart, that holy attention and inward consideration which can alone render our attendance in the house of God a fitting or “ a reasonable service.”

With respect to the propriety of both : —and, first of all, with respect to the necessity and fitness of the former; that it is required of us to demean ourselves with outward respect; surely, my brethren, little need be said to convince you. What are we? What is man, but a creature composed of soul and body, a spiritual essence and a fleshly frame? and God is the workman equally of both. made us, and not we ourselves.” 6 The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."1 And whilst the Psalmist here bids us to "worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker,”—the apostle Paul admonishes us to “glorify

1 Gen. ii. 7.

" He

God in our body and in our spirit, which,” saith he, are God's.”2 But that our bodies, in outward reverence and respect, must accompany the devotional aspirations of the heart, will be further manifest, and indeed self-evident, when we take into our consideration the general scope and address of this 95th Psalm. It is not addressed so much to any one of us individually, as to men in general, as a collected body of public worshippers. It was so originally addressed to the congregation of Israel, and it is now to the assembled together in Christ's name, that the words of exhortation in this Psalm are applicable. The appeal is, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord ! O come, let us worship !” “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

We stop not here, my brethren, to tell you in detail of the antiquity of public worship. As far as the annals of sacred and profane history extend, they alike bear testimony, that man in all ages of the world has been accustomed to pray, has found it agreeable to his nature to adopt some outward forms of public devotion. More particularly, however, the people to whom were committed the sacred oracles of God, that nation through whom Christ came on them was enjoined, and with much precision, the stated observance of outward rites, and various public sacrifices. The law, to them, was not only moral and religious, but ceremonial and peculiar: and the people who were under Covenant with the God of Israel, were bound, at fixed and solemn periods, to present themselves before the Lord, “in the place where he had chosen to place his name there.”'3 And although by the coming of Christ in the flesh, although, through the preaching and establishment of his universal Gospel, the types and shadows, the former and legal sacrifices, and the costly oblations of the old covenant, have been super

2 1 Cor. vi. 20.

:Deut. xiv. 23.

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