But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…
I. ITS GROUNDS OR REASONS.
1. The perfection of the Divine character. "God is a Spirit." These words are —
(1) A mystery, because spirit, like matter, is unknown to us in its essence. We are acquainted with some of the sensible properties of matter, such as extension, figure, colour, etc.; but what the substance is which underlies these we do not understand. So also of spirit; we see its manifold manifestations; we feel, and therefore know, that it does exist; but what it is in itself is a profound and inexplicable mystery.
(2) A revelation. By them our Saviour declared the personality of God. What is in the effect must have been first in the cause. The Creator of persons must be a person.
(3) As possessing all possible perfections.
2. The nature of man. Intellectual ability, genius, and learning, which are the possessions of the few, call forth our admiration, but there is that in us all which is greater than these, namely, the power to worship our Creator. All men have this; but in many it exists only in a latent state. Thousands of human souls are nothing better than the burial-places of their own faculties. It seems as if some malignant spiritual magician had waved his terrible wand over human nature, causing a deep sleep to fall upon its noblest instincts, and thus preventing its development. One of the greatest dangers of the present time is the weakening of this power in men. The heathen worship senseless idols; the ancient Greeks worshipped beauty; in the days of chivalry men worshipped physical strength, military dignity, valour, and courage; but the tendency of many in our own age is to worship nothing. Even in the Church the idea of worship does not occupy the place it did in other times. The leading con. ception appears to be preaching.
II. ITS CONSTITUENT ELEMENTS.
1. Meditation upon God. Holy and thoughtful Hebrews contemplated His character in the works of creation, the goodness of His providence, and the words He had spoken by His prophets. These are the three mirrors in which they beheld "the beauty of the Lord." A greater and clearer manifestation has been given to us "in the face of Jesus Christ." It follows that He should be set most prominently before the mind in all our acts of worship.
2. Devout contemplation produces reverence, without which there is no true worship.
(1) The science that has in it no reverence is "blind, and cannot see afar off." Philosophy without reverence is wanting in the first element of wisdom, and when art has lost reverence its greatest beauty is gone. There can be no great literature without reverence; piety without reverence will not soar above the earth, and a life without reverence is not worthy of the name. Would you paint science, philosophy, art, poetry, and literature in a becoming manner? Then you should represent them as a sisterhood of angels in the attitude of worship.
(2) This spirit, which ought to characterize our whole life, should become intense in our direct acts of worship, for we enter then in a special manner into the Divine presence. "Our God is a consuming fire," and we should therefore approach His throne "with reverence and godly fear." What the fragrance of flowers is to the atmosphere of the summer garden, this feeling of reverence should be to our public worship.
3. Worship is transcendent wonder. "Oh, the depth of the riches," etc. "Great and marvellous are Thy works," etc. "Who shall not fear Thee?"
4. Worship is communion with God. "Our fellowship is with the Father."
5. A profound sense of humility and self-abasement. The angels hide their faces in His presence. Contemplate His holiness, and sin will appear hateful. Behold His greatness, and you will feel how humble you ought to be.
(T. Jones, 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.