Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; bring an offering and enter His courts.
1. The song. All are to join in; no stopping to inquire into the motives, but all are to sing (ver. 1). It will be good even for evil men, as well as the people of God, to unite in his praise. It may help them to pass over to the side of God's people.
2. Preaching. The very idea of missions as here set forth is the overflowing, the exuberance, of the Church's joy. So only can missions really succeed (see homily on ver. 3).
3. Offerings. Of these we would specially speak. For our text lays down -
I. THE DUTY OF OFFERING TO GOD.
1. The witnesses to this will of God are numerous.
(2) The Jews. The tithes they had to pay amounted to nearly a third of their income. The treasury was a constituent part of the temple, and large sums were continually cast in there (Mark 12:41-43).
(3) The early Church. They had a common fund (Acts 2:44, 45). Paul and Barnabas (Acts 11:29, 30) gathered for the poor of Jerusalem. Paul from the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:1). Christ said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (see parable of unjust steward, Matthew 24:6, etc.);
2. The need of it is so great. Think of the multiplied objects which call for such offerings. The Church of God needs such aid for the maintenance of her ministers, her fabric, her missions, and her varied religious agencies. The poor rightly claim our help. If we have not compassion for them, how dwelleth the love of God in us? Our own spiritual life demands that we make such offerings. The only way to overcome that idolatry of money which seduces so many is to give it away in wise and Christian manner. If we hoard and keep it, the love of it will drive out the love of God.
II. THE MANNER OF FULFILLING THIS DUTY.
1. Presenting it in the house of God when we come to worship. This was the custom of the Jews (see 1 Chronicles 16:1). Also of the early Christian Church (see 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9). St. Paul's argument on this matter is very interesting and noteworthy. He was very anxious to relieve his own countrymen; to fulfil his own promise (Galatians 2:10); to prove the reality of the faith of the Gentile Churches and their love to their Jewish brethren, and thus to heal the breach that so sadly severed the Jewish and Gentile Churches. Hence he was very anxious about this collection, and hence, also, he would be sure to seek out the best means for securing it. Hence he directed that there should be the weekly Lord's day storing for this end (1 Corinthians 16:2). Now, as this plan is so good, and no other is so commended to us, we may regard it as having special claim on our attention.
2. For it has great advantages. It takes away the temptation to neglect of this duty which arises from:
(1) The largeness of the offering asked. What is given week by week is not felt as when a great sum is asked for all at once.
(2) Delay of offering.
(4) Dependence upon the excitement of the moment. Moreover:
(5) It makes worship more real.
(6) It is far more productive
(7) It is a witness bearing for Christ.
(8) It nourishes our own spiritual life.
But, of course, this especial manner of offering is not obligatory, though it has especial sanction.
III. THE MOTIVE. Love to Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9). That is the only worthy and reliable motive. Others are sure to break down sooner or later, and to miserably fail in securing the end sought after. Let Christ possess a man's heart, all else will go along with that. - S.C.
1. The primary foundation of this duty is the soul's relation to God. Every consideration by which we commend filial piety towards earthly parents holds still more forcibly in reference to our heavenly Father. How unnatural the child that never asked his father for anything, that never made his mother the confidante of his troubles and difficulties, that could drink the cup of enjoyment and success, and never ask his parents to share it, or that never poured into their hungering ears the expressions of affection and honour. What opportunities the wants, troubles, and enjoyments of childhood afford for intercourse between parent and child, for the moulding influence of the parent to exert itself upon the child's character, for the play of mutual affection and delight. Judging from human analogy, it would seem quite sufficient reason for God's making the bestowment of His best blessings to depend upon their being sought in prayer, that "communications concerning giving and receiving" send themselves so directly to the expression and strengthening of love.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come into His courtsI. PRAYER. As we all have religious feelings to express, sins to acknowledge, mercies temporal and spiritual for which to give thanks, evils to feel or fear, with regard to ourselves and others, it highly becomes us to join together, and to lift up our hearts with one accord, in a public and social manner, to the hearer of prayer, and thus to offer unto Him our united homage and supplication with thanksgiving. Prayer is not only a duty, it is a high privilege and honour; the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of Him which we are capable of in this world.
II. PRAISE. The saints on high, and the angels around the throne, praise God in the highest, and well does it become men upon earth to join their humble notes of praise to the anthem of the heavenly choirs, in exalting together His great and glorious name. All the works of God praise Him, from the heights of heaven to the depths of the earth; the angels around the throne praise Him; the sun, and moon, and stars of light praise Him in their courses; the mountains, and valleys, and woods, and fields, and seas, and streams of water praise Him; the elements of nature praise Him and obey His Word.
III. THE PREACHING AND HEARING OF THE WORD. Both the ministers and the hearers of the Word should watch over themselves, that they may have singleness of eye and heart to the glory of God, more desirous of the Divine approbation than of human applause, avoiding all vain and vexatious questions, which profit not, but engender strife and ungodliness, and which violate that heavenly charity without which all our services are hateful in the sight of God.
IV. THE GIVING AND RECEIVING OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. We should consider the "nature and design of the Lord's Supper," the dispositions which are required for an acceptable participation, and the graces which it is calculated to cherish. The Lord's Supper thus observed would be attended with the happiest and most beneficial effects on our hearts and lives, in confirming our faith, enlivening our hope and charity, and in promoting our progress in holiness, and in meetness for the pure and perfect service of heaven.
(J. Wightman, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
2. Prayer is a duty we owe to God's name, an offering which we ought to make to His blessedness. "God is love," and love has its expectations, its satisfactions, its dues, its delights. "Will a man rob God?" the prophet asks. Ah, we have robbed Him of dearer treasure than tithes and offerings. Where is the husband or wife, the father or daughter, who would not account the withholding of the affection that was their just expectation a more grievous wrong than any passing injury or lapse of material gifts? Our obligation as Christians to live in communion with God is all the stronger that in these last days He hath spoken unto us by His Son.
3. Public worship is a duty we owe to God as witnesses to His existence, authority, and grace. The maintenance of this testimony is a most efficient means of advancing His kingdom in the world. When we render it, we are doing in a humble way the work of such men as Elijah and Daniel. This is one important use of public worship. Such worship, by uniting many suppliants in one request, calls forth more abundant praise when it is granted: it provides, also, a fuller expression of adoration than the individual soul can compass, and therefore intensifies and exalts its feeling; further, it exhibits the sympathy and concord of human beings in the loftiest employment of their powers; but beyond all this, it lifts up a clear and striking testimony to the reality of God's authority and grace, and bids men everywhere bow down before their Maker.
4. The neglect of prayer indicates a general indifference to duty. Since we are really dependent upon the inspiration and guidance of God for the power to serve Him acceptably, to neglect the means of obtaining these is to be careless where we ought to be most careful. If out of the heart are the issues of life, and prayer is the chief instrument of heart culture, how blamable our want of diligence in it. To neglect prayer is to leave our loyalty open to every hostile temptation, to burn our lamp and make no provision to replace the exhausted oil.
(E. W. Shalders, B.A.)
Worship the Lord in
(Abp. Trench.)I. ITS NATURE. It consists in devout exercises of the soul, whether in meditation, adoration, admiration, or supplication. It is the spirit disentangled from the sensuous and engaged in fellowship with the Invisible and Divine.
1. Worship is a necessity of man's nature. He is no mere machine, or thinker, or theorist; he is pre-eminently a worshipper, distinctively moral in his make, religious in his proclivities, akin in the great spiritual invisibilities of his nature to the all-glorious Creator.
2. Worship is an evidence of man's greatness. The existence of moral intuitions amid the sad wreck of the soul by sin proclaims a fallen nobility, a crownless royalty: yea, tells it even now to be — "Sublime in ruins and grand in woe."
3. In worship man finds his native element. Like the bird which has been encaged for weary months, that breaks through the wires of its prison and escapes on swift wing, pealing forth its song of freedom as it finds its native element, so the believer, escaping from the din and turmoil of the world, or of business, and entering into the hallowed retreat of the closet, or "the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High," hears amid its hush and stillness angelic voices whispering, "The Lord is in His holy Temple," and finds in His presence the society for which he was made, and the fellowship for which he pants. There is a kinship of soul, an affinity of sympathy, a unity of will, a oneness of spirit, a reciprocity of affection.
II. ITS OBJECT. "Worship the Lord."
1. He should be worshipped in His sovereign and paternal relationship to us.
2. He should be worshipped in the Tri-unity of His nature. Though it be impossible to give a "positive definition of the distinction between Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, yet this is no sufficient reason for denying the distinction itself, of which the Bible assures us; for reason, when left to herself, sets before us objects concerning which we, indeed, know that they exist, but concerning whose nature we have no positive knowledge. We can only distinguish between them and some false representations, or determine what they are net; but of their intrinsic nature, how they are we have not the slightest knowledge."
3. Man becomes assimilated to the object of his worship. How vastly important, then, that our knowledge of God should be intelligent, correct, scriptural, and true.
III. ITS SPIRIT. "In the beauty of holiness."
(J. O. Keen, D.D.)
(A. Bennie, B.D.)
(B. Herford, D.D.)
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