WORSHIP IN CHRISTIANITY.pdf

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By Robert J. Drummond D.D. WORSHIP has in the present day fallen some what into the background. It is neglected by many who otherwise seem good Christians. The neglect has generally begun in the secret chamber, and spread to the family altar and the sanctuary. Men have lost the sense of the nature or the possibilities of it. We live in a utilitarian age, and faith is not always ready with an answer that will satisfy the world's cut bono. Men who cultivate the hours of devotion themselves feel at times as if an ideal state might be reached, in which there would be no place for special seasons of worship ; worship, as it is generally understood, would be superseded by a constantly pervasive spirit of communion with God. Scripture, indeed, seems almost to point to this.
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  WORSHIP I CHRISTIAITY By Robert J. Drummond D.D. WORSHIP has in the present day fallen some what into the background. It is neglected by many who otherwise seem good Christians. The neglect has generally begun in the secret chamber, and spread to the family altar and the sanctuary. Men have lost the sense of the nature or the possibilities of it. We live in a utilitarian age, and faith is not always ready with an answer that will satisfy the world's cut bono. Men who cultivate the hours of devotion themselves feel at times as if an ideal state might be reached, in which there would be no place for special seasons of worship ; worship, as it is generally understood, would be superseded by a constantly pervasive spirit of communion with God. Scripture, indeed, seems almost to point to this. John, when he saw in vision the Holy City, the ew Jeru- 841 342 FAITH'S CERTAITIES salem, saw no temple therein ; though here it is well to notice why. ot because worship had ceased, but because it had become uni versal and continual ; ' the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof.' Of course, one reason for the dying down of zeal for worship is not far to seek. It is due to  the excessive importance which has too often been attached to the observance of the mere forms and times of worship, and to the inordi nate concern about what those forms ought to be. When the matters of chief anxiety as to worship have come to be the cut and colour of millinery, in which those engaging in it are clad, the form of the phrases used, the posture and tones in which they are uttered, serious and truly devout minds lose taste for the whole thing, and Froude's contemptuous remark is fully justified : * One might as well be interested in the amours of the heathen gods.' In view of all this it may be well to make the necessary admissions with reference to worship, and then return to see what is its permanent and proper place in the life of the Christian. Let it be granted, then, that all honest work WORSHIP I CHRISTIAITY 343 done for the love of God and the good of our neighbours is worship. Let it be granted that men should make every day a Lord's day — a very different thing, be it remarked, however, from making the Lord's Day an every day. Let it be granted that 'he prayeth best who loveth best all things both great and small.' Let it be granted that worship must be postponed to fair dealing with our fellow men— 'If thou bring thy gift to the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, first go and be reconciled to thy brother and then come and offer thy gift.' Let it be granted that the practice of common human kindness  outweighs all rites and ceremonies — 'pure re ligion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world,' the second part being as important as the first. ' Let it be granted,' as Goethe says in his account of the Third or Highest Religion in Wilhelm Meister, ' that to take the mysterious secrets in which the divine depth of sorrow lies hid — namely the torturing Cross and Him who suffered on it — and play with them, fondle them, trick them out in 344 FAITH'S CERTAITIES shows and performances, ends in making the most reverend of all solemnities vulgar and paltry.' Let it be granted, as Lessing says, that 1 it is much easier to rave religiously than to do well.' 1 ay, let it be granted, as Renan bluntly puts it, that ' blasphemy is more pleas ing to the Eternal than the hypocritical homage of the sanctimonious,' or in other words, that the worship offered to God by the hypocrite is the rankest blasphemy, and is as odious to Him as the fawning flattery of a sycophant or traitor to a high-spirited monarch. The Book of Job and many a word of our Saviour say so. All that may be, and must be, admitted. But all that does not settle the question as to whether there is a place for worship as such in true Christianity or not. It simply emphasises the fact that worship, if it is to be what it ought to be, must be genuine. It insists that unless worship is genuine, it is no worship at all. But that is only to state in less happy terms  what our Lord put positively and directly in His rubric on worship, which He stated to the Samaritan woman by the side of Jacob's well — 1 athan the Wise, i. 2. WORSHIP I CHRISTIAITY 345 'God is a spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.' The whole passage from the point at which the woman introduces the subject of worship is instructive. It makes these points plain, and all on Christ's own authority, (a) The place of worship is of no importance, and that covers all the formal accessories, (b) Worship to be worth anything must be intelligent. ' We know what we worship.' (c) Worship, again, is some thing which God expects and desires, — 'the Father seeketh true worshippers.' (d) The very name used of God here, Father, suggests that worship is somehow bound up with the very character of the new relation between man and God, as children and their father, which Christianity has introduced. And (e) it is the nature and character of God which deter mines what is and what is not entitled to be called worship. That is the force of the crown ing statement already quoted, — ' God is a spirit : and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.' When these deliberate words of the Saviour are set over against all our admissions and are given the weight they ought to have with
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