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blessing, and disobedience to spiritual laws did
not bring the opposite of blessing ? If our Lord
says to us. Do so and so, rely upon it that there is
some benevolent reason why we should do it. All
Divine commands are founded in benevolence.
All Divine institutions are founded in benevo-
lence. That is true of the Church ; it is true of the
Sabbath ; it is true of the Scriptures ; it is true of
the Ministry ; of all these four things to which
Webster referred as means to the end of diffusing
Christianity. No man of you is more sensitive
than I am to the unchristian elements wdiich have
been introduced by fallen and fallible men into


church life. So oppressive have they been at
times to my spirit, so hateful have they seemed,
so hot has been my aversion to them, that I have
had fight after fight with myself to keep in the
Ministry. I believe in Christianity with all my
intellect and with all my heart. Nothing is so
dear to me as Christian truth. It grows upon me
all the time. The more I look into the New Test-
ament the more I believe in its inspiration. It is
incalculably nobler in its temper, immeasurably
higher in its spirituality than anything I find else-
where. Men wrote it, but it is free from the
weaknesses, the meannesses, the jealousies, the sec-
tarianisms of men. God ruled while men wrote,
that is what I mean by inspiration. God's mind
dominated man's. God's mind was uppermost
and man's undermost. God's thought dominated
man's opinion and held it in subjection. The men
who wrote were so full of God that they could do
no other than write his thoughts. It is like as
when a lawyer has been living day and night in
Blackstone. He becomes so dominated by him
that his own thought is permeated by Blackstone.
Or, as when a surgeon has been submitting him-
self to the influence and teaching of Sir Astley
Cooper, he is controlled by him. These men were
what Schleirmacher would call, *' God-intoxicated
men." They were filled full of Christ and so
spake the Divine thought. They could do no


other. They spake as seeing Him who is invisi-
ble, and they acted as seeing him who is invisible.
And so, you have only to take any volume of
Divinity written by man, any church articles for-
mulated by man, and compare them with the
spirit and temper of the Scriptures to see the
incomparableness of the Scriptures. They are
for all time, and not for any single age.

And here in these Scriptures we find Christ's
idea of the Church, and the Apostolic idea. We
do not realize them. The Scripture idea of the
Church is entirely free from all such divisions as
we have in denominationalism. The Church of
the New Testament is the fraternity of all who love
and serve Christ. If a man will not submit his
will and spirit to Christ, he does not belong to the
Church, if he does submit his will and spirit to
Christ he belongs to the church. But, in
Scripture, faith always means character, internal
character, the internal character which recognizes
Jesus when it sees Him and clings to Him. It is
nothing less than a perversion of Scripture to
identify faith with opinion. Now, while we are
living below the Scripture idea of the church of
Christ, yet we are aiming at it and trying to
realize it, and under this constant aim, the Church
will grow more and more Christlike in its spirit.
And it is the duty of all who are Christian in hope
and in heart to unite with it openly and unabashed.


Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the thing
which I say? Church membership is not a matter of
personal perfection or imperfection. It is a matter
of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am obliwd
to put it on that simple ground. I should not be
truthful to my own convictions if I put it on any
other. It is a means of grace, if we use the means,
we are manifestly aiming at the end.

And then again as to the Sabbath — another
means for the diffusion of Christianity. It is
founded in benevolence. I could not believe in a
God who made it necessary for five-sixths of this
human race to earn their bread by the sweat of
the brow, or the sweat of the brain, if he let them
work on and on without any authoritative command
periodically to stop. That would indicate him a
slave-master, not a God. Three-hundred and
sixty-five days in every year devoted to unbroken
toil, who could believe that such a command ever
came from a good God ? Not that I believe that
hand work is in these days of ours the most ex-
hausting work. No! — brain- work, continued on
and on, is the wear and tear of life. The brain-
workers more than the hand-workers need to stop
every seventh day, and shut down business and
bolt and bar the door on it, and turn their atten-
tion to something entirely different. For relief
comes to the brain, not from total cessation of
thinking, that is impossible, but from other think-


ing. And the more entirely different the theme
the more recuperative it is. That is the reason
why some of our greatest English statesmen, yes
and our greatest American lawyers, have been
among the healthiest and strongest minds. Glad-
stone can sit and listen to a sermon with as much
enjoyment of it as though it was a revelation to
him. A late Lord Chancellor, who presided over
the House of Peers, taught a Sunday School class.
The great pleader at the American bar, Choate,
could continuously and untiringly enjoy the simple
evangelical ministry of Dr. Adams. Webster was a
constant attendant on worship. These men used
the means as seeing that the only way to accom-
plish the end was to use them. How is it possible
to believe that any one sees the momentousness of
Christianity and its relation to our life here and
hereafter if he neglect the means appointed for its
propagation? Even Charity, hard as she may try,
cannot believe it. To every such person the ques-
tion comes direct from the lips of Jesus. — *' Why
call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things
which I say?"



Then salth he unto me, See thou do it not : for I am thy fellow-
servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep
the sayings of this book : worship God, — Revelations, xxii : 9.

IT may seem strange to some of you that I
should introduce such a simple theme as this
to a congregation assembled for the avowed pur-
pose of worshipping God. I do not wish to insult
your intelligence ; very far from that. I have
always tried to give all proper deference and
respect to intelligence, believing, as I do, that true
and real Christian preaching is certain to deepen,
broaden, elevate and ennoble the intelligence of
those who submit themselves to it. Why not?
Is it not occupied with the profoundest of all
themes? What theme can be profounder than
the nature of God, the nature of man, and the
relation of man to God ? If there be any theme
profounder than that I would like to know what it
is. And should there be anyone here inclined to
say that we can know nothing about it, or next to



nothing, or only a very little, I beg to join issue
with that individual. He is not speaking intelli-
gently, not speaking out of his own individuality,
only reiterating phrases which he has learnt from
others. Supposing I never see the artist who
painted that interesting animal picture ** Dignity
and Impudence." I have never looked on his
face, never talked w^ith him, never asked him as
to his likes and dislikes. But I look on his picture,
study it, not its coloring only or chjefly, or its
drawing, but its expressiveness.

And as I look and look I say to myself — Land-
seer evidently had a wonderful fondness for dogs.
He must have had it, or he could not have put
that expression into the faces of those dogs.
Those eyes are almost human in their expressive-
ness. And so, take any work of any man, and
study it, and you will learn something about the
man. Not everything, byany means, but something.
If however in addition to that picture you liad
studied other pictures of Landseer, your knowledge
of the man would have grown more and more ; if
then you had talked with people who had visited
him, held social converse with him, walked with
him, ate with him, been wnth him in trouble amd
joy, your knowledge would have grown into a kind
of intimacy, and yet you have never seen the man.
But without seeing him, you have true knowledge
of him. And so it is in respect to every one. So


it is in respect to God Himself. You can know
much of Him. All his works speak of Him.
There is strength in Him says the mighty mountain.
There is majesty in Him say the Niagaras as they
roar. There is light in Him, says the sun.
There is order in Him say the stars ; such order,
says the comet, such punctuality in fulfilling His
appointments, that I will be back again from my
measureless orbit to a second. There is love in
Him says Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is as
much a fact as is this American Nation. We can
know enough about God to occupy us for the
years we have here. Yea : we can know more
about Him than these few years can ever

Of course no one knows a thing, much less a
person with any respectable degree of knowledge,
who does not come into some kind of personal
relationship with the thing or person. Our
relationship to God must be personal. It must
be something more than organic. The beasts that
roam the forests, the cattle on a thousand hills,
have some sort of relationship to God. He
provides for them. He must delight in them.
The song of the bird, the mild content of the
domesticated cow, the proud beauty of the Arab
steed, the majesty of the lion, these must delight
Him. They express some thought and feeling in
the Divine mind, very imperfectly, very blunder-

*' WORSHIP god:' 105

ingly, very distantly, but still enough to start us
thinking and inquiring. And is not that an
excellent use ? Is it not much to be preferred that
a man should be perplexed with mysteries than
that he should be uninterested in anything, torpid
and indifferent to a most shameful degree ? It is
even to be preferred that a man should pass along
the way of life grumbling at everything he meets
than that he should not exist at all, although you
and I perhaps do not want to meet that man too
often. But still, God has some use for him, as
He has for a mosquito, although I have never
discovered what it is. Do you suppose that the
Almighty has to give an account of everything he
does and makes to you and me ? I believe that
the mysteries of life have a use and service in
regard to man which is by no means despicable.
The fact that there is so much unknown makes
life doubly interesting. I am persuaded that one
reason why this country is at the present day
perhaps the most interesting country on the
face of the earth lies m the fact of its being
only partially developed, and in the other fact
that we are trying experiments all the while,
the great experiment of making all nations into one
nation. And the very fact that our politicians
and others make such emphatic assertions as to
our greatness and our excellency is a sign that we
are a little bit afraid as to where the experiment


will land us, and those who are to come after
us. There is this consolation, however, that we
cannot with our democracy do very much worse
than others have done with their monarchies and
aristocracies, but if we do not do better, and very
much better, a heavy cloud of disappointment will
hano^ over the whole earth for ao:es to come.
Perhaps some are inclined to sa}^ *« Well, we shall
know nothing about it ; we shall be away from
here." Don't be so sure, my friend. If Moses
and Elijah knew what was being transacted on this
earth ^ after they had left it, and came to that
Mount of Transfiguration, we have more than a
suggestion that we are to know about this earth
after we have left it. The putting off this prison-
house of a material body is not going to produce
total separation between this earth and our future,
unless all the hints of Scripture are misleading.
The doctrine of the solidarity of the human race —
that what affects one affects all — is full of meaning.
There is more in Scripture than any of you
suppose upon the connection of the eternal future
with the present, and the carrying of the present
into the future, But I will not be tempted along
that line now.

We know enough of God t6 enable us to
worship Him and serve Him. That is the practi-
cal thing. What is worship ? Admiration leading
to imitation. Nothing short of that. That is our

"WOBSmP GOD.'' 107

Lord's idea of it as you will find in the Sermon on
the Mount. In Wordsworth's poems there are
some excellent hints on this subject, which I
cannot quote. So also in Tennyson. So also in
Longfellow. These men will all help you to get
into that state of mind in which you are capable of
worship. For not all men are capable of such
admiration as will lead to imitation. God made
man capable originally. This state of admiration
leading to imitation was the easy, natural state of
the first man. That is the Mosaic idea. But our
fathers fell out from that ability, and we have
fallen out still more, till men and women have lost
this ability of admiration to the point of imitation.
There are many things in the writings of Thomas
Carlyle which none of us can accept. But there
is one feature in the rugged old man which I
have always appreciated, his intense admiration
for his heroes, Cromwell, Frederick the Great,
Knox, Mahomet, and others. He delights in
their power and ability, and in their love of
righteousness. If only we could search sufli-
ciently into character to verify the remark, I
think we should find that no man was ever really
good or really great who had not in him a strong
tendency to idolize somebody. For what does
this tendency mean? It means that in the indi-
vidual there is great receptive power, great heai^t
power, great love power. And what does that

108 - "WORSHIP god:'

mean, but great power of goodness? A man's
judgment may be at fault and lie may choose an
unworthy object, but there will be something in
his object that fascinates and holds him. A man
who has the capacity of great admiration has not
and cannot have the ability of great enviousness of ^
disposition. For the two traits are psychologically
incompatible. The one excludes the other.

We may laugh at Carlyle's hero-worship, but
was it not much better than no ability of worship
at all? There is the terrible defect, no ability of
worship at all, indicating, as it does, low intellectu-
alism, low heart power, low imaginativeness, low
ideality, general inferiority all through. The
ability of admiration must be in us, and it must be
in us to the degree of imitation, or Jesus Christ
Himself will have no power to fascinate and hold
us. And if even the heroic character of Jesus,
the masculine character of Jesus, the feminine
character of Jesus, the superlatively human char-
acter of Jesus, the Divine character of Jesus, if
that have no power to win us, and hold us, and
draw us out, and bring us to our knees in worship,
then, I know not what to say. Something terri-
ble is the matter with that man's nature which
does not respond to the ineffable excellency which
is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is of no use
deceiving men. That is cruel. I say, wherever
there is no response to the fully presented char-


acter of Jesus Christ, wherever it does not win
admiration, leading to imitation, in a word wor-
ship, there is something seriously wrong in that
nature. St. Paul, one of the most gifted men of
the world, one of the most considerate, one of the
most loving and humane, even he could not refrain
himself when he thought of Christ Jesus rejected,
and said, *'If any man love not the Lord Jesus
Christ, let him be anathema, ^^

I admit that it does seem as though every nature
ought to have in it this ability of worship. We
see it to a most pitiful extent in many heathen
people, giving up for the sake of their false deities
so very, very much; so very much more than we
give up for the sake of our Christ. And I think
God Almighty respects and loves them and will
not be hard upon them, probably put many of
them into higher service in the hereafter than you
and I shall reach. But the lesson we ought to
learn from these heathen people is, that theology
is not to be despised, that men will be this or that
in life and feeling according to their theology,
that to get a true theology is, after all, worth
while. Doubtless there are people who assume
that the theologic disputations of all ages are
frivolous. But, let us not be in a hurry to concur
in that opinion. If it be true that men will be
this or that according to their ideas of what God
is and what He requires of them, is it not worth

no ''WORSHIP god:*

while to be very careful lest we should get wrong
views and opinions as to the nature of Diety? If
I believe that the Almighty is simply Almighty,
that that is His chief attribute, the result will be
fear. My soul will crouch in His presence. I
shall be but a slave. I cannot rise any higher
than that. If on the other hand I believe that
Deity has as its chief attribute easy good nature,
no indignation in it, no hostility to anything ;
then I shall be sure to infer that good and evil are
only names, words only, not things. And
righteousness of thought and feeling will be
impossible to me. The idea will help on the
corruptness of my nature. It was so in Greece
and Rome ; their ideas of Deity were so corrupt
that they corrupted the people. So long as Mars
was worshipped as a Deity, war was perpetual.
So long as Venus was a goddess, lust was inevita-
ble. So long as the gods were treacherous the
people were treacherous also. When religion's
self is of such a nature that it corrupts the people,
the decline and fall are very rapid. And so, it
would seem that the disputations of theologians
are not meaningless or useless. The}^ are vital.
To get at the truth is worth in its result all that
we can sacrifice of ease and peace. If we do not
care what the truth is, then, well then — God help
us — that is all I can say.

Eecognizing this ability of worship as being in

'^woBsnip god:' in

our constitution, a part of our manhood, that
which lifts us above the animal, that which
bespeaks us of a higher order of being ; and stat-
ing it, as we have done in this formula, ' admiration
leading to imitation' — does it not appear that
whatever we admire to the point of imitation we
worship ? Please to be careful in taking into your
memory the whole of this phrase, admiration to
the point of imitation. There may be admiration
of so feeble a kind that it does not produce any
desire to imitate. There may be imitation which
does not involve admiration. It is mere slavishness
and weakness, the inability to be even amiably
individual. The extent to which the thing which
is temporarily fashionable in dress or anything
else is adopted shows how slavish and how weak
we all are. Imitation there may be without
admiration, admiration without imitation, but
when we get admiration up to the point of
imitation then we have worship.

And this worshipfulness in us may produce very
disastrous results to character when the object is
unworthy. We have read of devil worship. Of
course we assume that in an advanced civilization
like our own, we are leagues away from this. I
wish with all my heart that I could believe it.
Scripture reveals to us an Evil Personality which
it calls the Prince of Darkness. It tells us that
He is the Father of Lies, the Accuser of the

112 ''WORSHIP god:'

Brethren, the Devourer, the One who offers to
men (as he did to Jesus) power and wealth if only
they will take it in his way, if only they will
fall down and worship Him. He is represented as
being the enslaver of the human soul, as being
the arch-enemy of Christ, as great in wiles and
snares, as inciting to sin, as serpentine in his
nature, as not only at one time a roaring lion, but
at another as a snake in the grass, the arch-traitor,
the arch-deceiver. This is the New Testament
revelation of the character of this Prince of Dark-
ness. You say you don't believe in him. I hope
not. But some do, for they imitate him. They
admire his methods and adopt them. If, you
mean, that you don't believe in his existence, then
you know more than Jesus Christ knows. About
which I for one have an honest doubt. This
Prince of Darkness has been very successful in
this world. From the time of Adam he has been
at work here, injecting into the minds of men
wrono: views about God, and about themselves.
He cannot eradicate from the constitution of man
the propensity to worship and so he says ' ' worship
me ; I like to be worshiped. Admire my methods,
imitate my way of action," (for that is worship.)
Worship is not simply bending the knee. It is
admiration to the point of imitation. And so it
comes to this that if we adopt the methods which
are not approved by Jesus the Christ but are

''WORSHIP god:' 113

approved by the Tempter of Jesus, we worship, I
do not like to admit it, I shrink from the admis-
sion, but I cannot see any way of escape, we
worship the devil. I am compelled to go a step
farther yet and say that if our souls were so
purified that evil would be a positive pain to us, as
much of a pain to the soul as the stab of a poniard to
the body, our perceptions would be so spiritualized
that the extent to which devil worship prevails
would appear to us frightful and horrible. That
I may not seem to be making vain and vague
general charges against an impersonal somebody
about whom none of you are concerned, let me
ask you to recall some of the acknowledged facts of
common life. This evil one against whom our Lord
warns us is called " Tlie Father of Lies." Think
how many people there are who do not shrink
from falsehood when there is anything to be
gained l)y it. Whom do these worship ? Whom
do they imitate ?

This Evil Personality is called, '< The Accuser of
the Brethren." Are there no persons living in the
world who seem to take a malicious and cruel de-
light in insinuations which undermine the character
of others — specially of Christian men and women?
Whom do these worship ? They who systemati-
cally betray others and deceive others, who lay
traps for them and snares for them — whom do
these worship? They worship Him >vhom they


imitate ; there is no other answer. We really
need not take ship and cross the seas to find
devil-worship. Unless the teaching of Jesus is
not reliable, it is nearer home than that.

But I must turn away from it ; — it is too pain-
ful a theme to dwell on for more than a moment.
Jesus the Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit can
deliver us from this frightful worship, but no one
else can. It is His mission on this earth, to
deliver us from it. Let us learn more and more
to admire and imitate Him that we may overcome
it. For the full consequences of it are not seen
here on earth. The end is not by and by.

My time is passing, but it would not do to stop
at this point. I must detain you a minute or two
longer while I say that there is nothing that you
and I need for our enlightenment and enlivenment
so much as a more simple and earnest worship of
God. Our minds grow languid, our intellect
becomes torpid, our aflfections loose their youthful
freshness and energy if we do not keep before us
some one to admire and imitate, some one to wor-
ship. Practically, to us, God is Jesus Christ.
We cannot get above what He has revealed. If
you think otherwise try it. In the Church we
need a more simple, hearty, enthusiastic worship
of God. I hope you will not be frightened at that
word * enthusiastic' It does not mean fanatic.
Fanaticisin is blincT emotion, uncurbed by reason,

'^WORSHIP god:' 115

unchecked by intellect. It is the steam in the
engine uncontrolled by the hand of the engineer.
But enthusiasm — it means the Spirit of God in
the intellect, the Spirit of God in the reason, the
Spirit of God in the heart and so in the whole
personality and in the whole life. I was telling
some friends the other night about a clergyman in
London, sitting in the retiring room of a Cemetery
Chapel, waiting patiently for a funeral which was
much behind the appointed time, when suddenly
the sexton opened the door, and said to the clergy-
man, **If you please. Sir, the Corpse's brother

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Online LibraryReuen ThomasDivine sovereignty, and other sermons → online text (page 6 of 16)