But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…
(Church Dedication): —
I. WE OUGHT TO ENTER THIS HOUSE WITH JOY, FOR IT IS DEDICATED TO WORSHIP.
1. Worship is man's highest end, for it is the employment of his highest faculties in the sublimest object
2. Worship has been disparaged by representing it as a priestly contrivance for selfish ends.
3. But how came the priest into being, and who gave him power? Religion was earlier than government.
4. In the earliest ages men recognized an immediate interference of the Deity in what powerfully struck the senses. These rude notions have been dispelled by science, which reveals fixed laws.
(1) But in these the religious principle finds confirmations of God more numerous and powerful still.
(2) The progress of the arts, teaching us the beneficent uses to which God's works may be applied, has furnished new testimonies to God's goodness.
(3) The progress of society has made God s creation more attractive.
(4) Human improvement has created new capacities and demands for religion.
(5) The soul, in proportion as it enlarges its capacities and refines its affections, discerns within itself a more glorious type of the Divinity.
5. All other wants are superficial and transcient: the profoundest of all is the want of God.
6. Let us rejoice, then, in tits house. Heaven has no higher joy, the universe no higher work, than worship.
II. When we consider THE PARTICULAR WORSHIP TO BE HERE OFFERED, IT OUGHT TO AWAKEN PIOUS JOY.
1. Worship is of different forms — some unworthy. The idea of God has been selfishly seized and so obscured that little of its purifying power has remained, and men have, by pompous machinery and obsequious adulation, endeavoured to bend the Almighty to their particular interests.
2. This house is not reared to perpetuate the superstitions of past or present. Here are none of the idols which degraded ancient temples, none of the forms which in a rude age Providence allowed to the Jews; none of the cumbersome ceremonies with which Christ has been overlaid.
III. THIS HOUSE IS REARED TO ASSIST THE WORSHIP OF THE FATHER IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. For the worship —
1. Of one Infinite Person.
2. The Father. God has not always been so worshipped, but Christ has for ever revealed Him as such. What a privilege I What does the term import? Not merely that He is Creator — He made the mountain and the insect — but that He communicates an existence like His own. He made us in His image and likeness, and makes us partakers of the Divine nature. God is a Spirit, and we are spirits. In calling God Father I understand —
(1) That He loves His offspring with unbounded affection. Love is the fundamental attribute of a father.
(2) That it is His chief purpose in creating and governing the universe to train and ennoble the rational and moral being to whom He has given birth. Education is the great work of a parent.
(3) That He exercises authority over His child.
(4) That He communicates Himself. It belongs to a parent to breathe into the child whatever is loftiest in his own soul.
(5) That He destines His rational moral creature to immortality. How ardently does a parent desire to prolong the life of his child!
3. Of the Infinite Father in spirit and in truth.
(1) Intelligently, with just and honourable conceptions of Him.
(2) With the heart as well as the intellect.
(3) With faith in a higher presence.
(4) With a filial, not a fearful, spirit.
IV. THE GREAT END OF WORSHIPPING HERE IS THAT YOU MAY WORSHIP EVERYWHERE, that your houses and places of business may be consecrated to God. Adore Him —
1. As He is revealed in the universe.
2. As He is revealed in His rational and moral offspring by fulfilling His purposes in regard to Him. Reverence the human soul as His chosen sanctuary, in yourselves and in others, and labour to carry it forward to perfection. Mercy is most acceptable worship. He who rears one child in Christian virtue or recovers one fellow-creature to God builds a temple more precious and enduring than Solomon's or St. Peter's.
(W. E. Channing, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.