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aesthetic grandeur or beauty, is so far imperfect. It is making more of the form than the substance—of the sign than of the thing signified. And this is a mark of corruption in all things, as it is a tendency against which all worship must more or less strive. When we see the mode displacing the matter, and the ritual made a substitute for the spiritual, there is always danger—and that of the worst kind—of lapsing from Christianity into a sort of paganism, and placing an idol in His room who is a Spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
(2.) But while our worship should be always intelligent and spiritual, it should also be always seemly or decorous. "Let all things be done decently, and in order." While our reason and conscience are addressed, and our higher feelings evoked, our sense of order, propriety, and beauty should not be offended. Our taste and sense of art, in short, should be consulted as well as our spiritual intelligence. What really interferes with the one will outrage the other. This seems the simple and right rule in all questions of improving worship. Culture has its claims as well as reason, and we are bound to beautify our worship as well as to make it intelligible and earnest. Some of the disorders which the apostle rebukes in this Epistle were plainly the result of mere confusion and unmannerliness. Let not any think that when they are unmannerly in the House of God they are practising evangelical simplicity. Rather they are disobeying a clear apostolic precept, "Let all things be done decently." So when we allow our worship to be unseemly in any respect; our prayers to be informal, confused, and dogmatic; our praise to be a harsh discordant noise, instead of a grave, sweet-toned melody; our communion service to be what it should not be—a series of preachings rather than a devout contemplation with solemn thanksgiving and loud-voiced Amen,—let us remember that the apostle is not for us, but against us. And let us strive to bring all things into harmony with his mind, which in this as in other respects was the mind of Christ, to which all our highest instincts, as well as our common needs, should be bound in blessed union.
(3.) Lastly, our worship should be always real and profitable. "Let all things be done unto edifying." The aim of all Christian worship is to bring us nearer to God and to Christ—not merely to touch our heart, or soothe our conscience, or improve our minds, but to "edify" us—that is, to build us up in faith and holiness and comfort unto salvation. This is its highest end—the improvement of our spiritual character and of our daily lives. If a Christian Church be not a temple in the old sacrificial sense, neither is it a mere lecture room or hall for discussion. It is, or ought to be, a school to bring us to Christ, that we may learn of Him whatever is true and good and holy. If it knows no altar save in a memorial or symbolic sense, all its lessons should yet point to the Great Sacrifice offered up once for all, and all its ritual lead to the Cross as the power of God and the wisdom of God for our salvation.
It is easy to think lightly of these things, or in these days to speak lightly of them. But life, for all this, does not lose its old seriousness, nor death its great awe. And there is one Power, and one alone, fitted to do battle with the evil of the one and the sadness of the other. There is one wisdom higher than all other wisdom, and which can alone save us either from old falsehoods or new follies,—the wisdom which is from above. There is one righteousness which is ours in Christ. All our worship should bring this reality of spiritual truth, and righteousness of grace and purity, more home to us, and help us more to make it our own. There is no higher life for us here or hereafter. The sacred aim that binds all Churches and the Christian centuries together, and hallows the worship alike of monk and priest and presbyter, is to make men more like Christ. What work can be so great? The Church that most owns this work —whose worship most serves it—will be most owned of God and most blessed by Him. And those who have most of the mind of Christ are most Christian, whatever be their special mode of worship. Let us not deceive ourselves with forms, when God demands of us reality; but let us humbly use all our means of grace that we may "put on the Lord Jesus," and walk in love, as He loved us and gave Himself for us. And to His name be all the praise. Amen.
John, xvii. 21.—" That they all may be one ; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me."
THERE has been an ever-recurring dream of a united Christendom. The dream has never been realised. Even at the first—supposed by many to be the golden age of the Church, just as men in after-years are apt to idealise the beginning of their life, and to suppose that such a glow of happiness can never return—even then there was no such union among Christians as many people imagine. On the contrary, there is the clearest evidence that there were parties then, as there are parties now — divisions of less or of greater moment—those who said that they were "of Paul," and those "of Apollos," and those "of Cephas," and others—no doubt,