Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.…
I. NEGATIVELY CONSIDERED.
1. It is not sectarian. Sectarianism is not denominationalism, but spiritual monopoly. The former may be justifiable, but never the latter. Party distinctions as such are of no importance in the sight of God. God is no respecter of persons, and all persons have a right to worship Him according to their conscience.
2. It is not local. Here both Jews and Samaritans were in error. In the former case Deuteronomy 12:5, 7 was perverted, and the command to sacrifice at a given place interpreted to invest that place with a special sanctity apart from the character of the worshipper. The same feeling prevails amongst Hindoos and Mohammedans; how passing strange that it should ever have prevailed among Christians.
3. It is not external. Music, vestments, and ceremonies may, and often do, excite the emotions which will be produced by any other pageant, and which are totally disconnected with devotion.
II. POSITIVELY CONSIDERED.
1. It is spiritual. Lip homage is offensive to man much more to God. When local and external worship was in full operation something more was necessary to acceptance (1 Kings 8:27). In one respect this worship was independent of the moral character of the worshipper. But no typical character belongs to Christian worship, and without devout feelings it is worse than useless.
2. It is filial. Terror is the predominating spirit of idolatry. Its ceremonies are therefore deprecatory and often cruel. Awe was the predominating spirit of Jewish worship. Christianity merges the sterner attributes of the Divine character into those more attractive. God is a Father, and to worship Him truly is to offer the affection of sons.
3. It is universal. Non-restricted —
(1) To buildings — upper rooms, prisons, barns, as well as cathedrals, etc.
(2) Persons — "rich and poor meet together."Conclusion: In the exercises of God's house avoid —
(1) a superstitious spirit either as regards the special sanctity of the place or the magical efficacy of ordinances.
(2) A formal spirit. "Bodily exercise profitest little."(3) A bigoted spirit. A church is God's house, and all its privileges should be open to all His people, due care being taken to exclude only the ungodly.
(4) A slavish spirit. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" for worship.
(R. Brodie, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.