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We live too much in the neglect of this heavenly exercise, and this perhaps is one reafon that we enjoy fo little of heaven upon earth. Did we praise God more, he would give us greater cause to praise him. But of'this we seldom think. 'We ate anxious to folicit relief when we are in dangerous or distresssul circumstances : but how flowly do we return to give glory to God! Let me therefore intreat you, in all your addresses to the throne of glace, to give praise and thanks their due proportion. In days of humiliation, or in fome special case of distress, our sins and out danger may have the greater share; but in ordinarycases, as much of our time ought to be employed in humble and thankful adoration of the Divine greatness and goodness, as in consession of our sins, or begging those supplies which bur wants require. That excellent model of devotion which Christ has left to his church, lays a solid foundation for this remark. It both begins and ends with adoration; and the three petitions which are sirst in order, directly relate to the advancement of God's glory. We are taught to pray that his name may be hallowed; his kingdom Come; and his will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; before we beg any thing for ourselves in particular.
If we desire to experience the Divine presence, and fee the glory of God in the fanctuary, let us apply ourselves to this high and heavenly work. The oc-. casion of our present meeting, gives us a fair invitation to it. The great object which this day presents} to us, is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. In the facrament, we are to behold Christ evidently set forth as crucisied before our eyes. And can we refrain from adoration and praise, whilst; we contemplate Him, who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his perfon? Should we not rejoice and give thanks, while we are called to cernrnemorate the unspeakable gift of God
% G to to man? Every Lord's day bespeaks our praise and thanksgiving: but the particular language os a communion Sabbath, is evidently this, "Let Israel re"joice in Him that made him. Let the children of ''** Zion be joysul in their King. Praise the Lord, for ** it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is plea** fant, and praise is comely."
2. It deserves our notice, that the subject of praise, which God honoured with this token of acceptance, was his own goodness and everlasting^mercy. And this is a most encouraging circumstance j for it informs us, in the plainest manner, that God ig best pleased with our praises, when we adore and celebrate the persections of his nature. The fong which the priests were singing when the cloud entered the temple, had none of that rhetorical pomp, which a cold heart may borrow from a warm imagination. It consisted of a sew plain, but expressive words ; " The ** Lord is good, and his mercy endureth for ever:" And whilst they thus sung, the Lord caused them»to feel the effects of that goodness which they praised. And shall not this success encourage us to follow their example? They adored and celebrated the Divine goodness, when the ark was brought into the temple, yhich was only a typical representation 0/ the Messiah 'who was to come; and (hall we need any folicitation to adopt their fong, who know that the mercy promised to the fathers, the consclntioh of Israel, is already come: especially when we attend upon that facred ordinance, which is both a commemoration of • his past sufferings, and a pledge of his returning to complete our falvation. Here, indeed, we have the brightest display of the goodness and everlasting mercy of God. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whofoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting lise. God sent his Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be faved. Our Great Redeemer *- %
deemer is the liveliest image of insinite goodness; the messenger of the most astonishing and incomprehensible love; the purchaser of the most inestimable blessings that were ever revealed to the fons of men. u Greater love than this hath no man, that a man u. lay down his lise for his friends." Can we doubt of the Divine goodness after this costly expression of it?" He that spared not his own Son,- but deliveru ed him up for us all, how shall he not with him. ** alfo freely give us all things?"
Behold, likewise, the adorable persection shining through the1 'whole of that gracious covenant, of •which this socrament is an external-seal. There you may see such great and wondersul mercies given freely to sinners, as may remove all your suspicion of the-. Divine goodness and mercy, and afford you constant matter of gratitude and praise. There you may see •how unwilling God is that sinners should perish. There you may see an act of pardon and oblivions granted upon the easy and reafonable condition of believing, penitent, and thankful acceptance. The sins that men have been committing for many years together, their wilsul, heinous, highly aggravated fins, you may there see pardoned; the enemies of 'God reconciled to him ; condemned rebels faved from 'hell, and even brought into his family, and made his fons. What comfortable discoveries are these! The faints under the dispenfation- of the Old Testament faw them darkly through a vail, whereas we behold' them with open face. God appears in his Son and covenant, to be not only good, but Love itself. Let us then adore him in this amiable character. Let us. give him the glory of all his persections; but especially, let us praise him .with thanksul hearts, because he i3 good,- and his mercy endureth forever.
3. Another circumstance in the text that claims 'our attention, is, the seriousness and servour of this deVout assembly. It is faid, that they lifted up their z. G 2. voice,voice, and praised the Lord. They exerted theirwhole strength and activity, as if they had been ambitious to spend themselves in this heavenly employment. Would we then obtain a token of the Divine acceptance? Let us learn from their example, to seek it with a servent and lively devotion. "Great is the Lord/' fays David, " and greatly to be praised." Accordingly, when he enters upon this important duty, in the 103d Psalm, he begins with a solemn address to his own foul, " Bless the Lord, O my foul, and all that is "within me, bless his holy name." The devotion of the foul, is the foul of devotion. It is the praise and homage of the heart whkh God requires. Is that is withheld, we have nothing else to offer him, that is worthy of his regard. We are desired to lore the Lord with all our hearts, and all our foul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and thai which is the measure of our love, ought also to Iw the measure of our praise. For it is as impossible to exceed in the one, as in the other. As we cannot love him too much, neither can we praise him too highly. His greatness and his goodness insinitely surpass all that our minds can conceive, or our tongues express.
4. Another circumstance which deserves particular attention, is, the harmony and unanimity of these devout worshippers. They were as one, to make one found to be heard in prnising and thanking the Lord. The importance of this circumstance will appear in 1 stronger light, if we compare the passage now besore us with the extraordinary manisestation at the day » Pentecost, which we sind recorded in the 2d chapter of Acts. When the apostles were all with one accord in one place, suddenly there came a sound from he> ven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it silled i:' the house where they were assembled. Every on: must be sensible, that there is a very striking i&a' blancc between these two illustrious- events; and 1
cannot cannot help thinking, that the unanimity and harmony of the worshippers on both these occasions, is mentioned with peculiar emphalis as a distinguishing characteristic of those religious assemblies which God delights to honour with his presence. We are told by the Pfalmist, that whsn " brethren dwell together "in unity, there God commandeth the blessing («).-" And our Lord lays such stress- upon unity of affection . among his disciples, that he makes it an essential qualisication of an acceptable worshipper. Nay, he tellsus, that where this is wanting, the perfon is unqualisied for performing any service pleasing to God. "Is," fays he, " thou bring thy gift to the altar, "and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought "against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar,M and go thy way.. First be reconciled to thy brother, u and then come and offer thy gift («>)•" - If this doctrine of brotherly love has not an obvious foundation in the text, yet. I can hardly think I need make any apology for mentioning it, seeingv it has a broad foundation in other passages of scripture,and is strictly connected with the great ordinance before us. The facrament of the Supper,- is not only a folemn commemoration- of our Saviour's deaths and of his wondersul love to sinners of mankind; but it waslikewise intended to be a badge of love and union a— mong his disciples. Of old, they who seasted upojii the fame facrisice laid aside all enmity,- and prosessed to be knit together in-Jove and friendship. In like manner, all who partake of the holy facrament, are supposed to be members of one body, united together under one head, our Lord Jesus Christ. "The cup "of blessing, which we bless," fays the apostle, " is. **' it npt the communion of'the blood of Christ? The "bread, which we break, is it not the communion "of the body of Christ ?." It would be monstrous to see one member of the natural body hurting and 2 G 3 destroying