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state of mind, to remain in silence, unless we should be favoured with the qualification and command for vocal language, in preaching, prayer, or praise.

God is a Spirit, and can be approached only by spirit. Hence vocal sound is not necessary to convey to him the desires, which his own divine influence has raised in our hearts. Language is only necessary to convey sentiments from man to man. Our Father, who seeth in secret, and who knows what we need before we ask him, and who enables us, by the help of his own divine influence, to make intercession according to his will-sees, hears, and knows what thus passes in the secret of the heart, without the intervention of words.

When a number of individuals thus sit down, in solemn silence, waiting upon God-their minds being abstracted from all inferior objects, and their spirits engaged in exercise for the arising of the Word of Life, a spiritual communion is felt, and they are mutually helpful to each other. The heavenly virtue and solemnity is felt to flow as from vessel to vessel. For when a meeting is thus gathered in the name and power of Christ, he is often pleased to appear among them in great glory, revealed to that perception and quickened understanding, which is the effect of his own divine work in their hearts. All this may be effected, though there may not have been a word spoken in the meeting.

There is, in silent worship, something so beautiful, so sublime, so consistent with the relation in which we stand to God, that it appears strange there should exist a single doubt of its propriety.

Besides the impossibility of our approaching the Supreme Being, without his helping influence, and the unresonableness of our supposing this influence to be at our command, we may be "all with one accord, in one place," under the influence of the "One Spirit," and each spreading his own peculiar condition, his wants, his sorrows, doubts, or humble acknowledgments, before his Almighty Friend, without confusion, without interruption to each other, but with a sensible increase of solemnity over all.

This worship depends not on priest or minister, Jesus Christ being himself the High Priest, and Minister of the true tabernacle, which God hath pitched, and not man.

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And here let it be remembered, that when we engage in acts of worship, or what may be called active devotion, without feeling the true qualification for it, but merely as a duty, and make use of a form of words prepared beforehand-our animal passions may be excited by the very exercises thus entered into; and, in the fervour of our zeal, we may not be able to distinguish the sparks of our own kindling, from the influences of grace: for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." 2 Cor. xi. 14. But when we settle down into true stillness, and experience our own wills and activity brought thoroughly down, and "every thought to the obedience of Christ" then indeed the transformations of the enemy cannot deceive; but the language of the apostle is realized: We know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings; being made conformable to his death.'

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This silent worship has often been a cause of wonder, and remains to be considered, by many, an unmeaning and absurd practice. But if we admit that worship requires a peculiar qualification, and that it is impossible to enter into acts of devotion without this qualification, it will follow, that when assembled for this solemn purpose, if the qualification is not possessed by those thus assembled, they must either humbly wait upon God for it, or be chargeable with will-worship, if they presume to go on without it. If those assembled should thus wait, a silent meeting would be the consequence. And who can suppose this inconsistent with the nature of the object in view? Can it be supposed that men, collected from the ordinary and perplexing business and cares of life, or perhaps from the giddy rounds of pleasure, or even from the deep shades of depravity and guilt, should be at once prepared to enter into this most solemn engagement, without any introversion of mind, without collecting their wandering thoughts, and, in the language of the apostle, "feeling after God?" And how can this be more consistently done that in solemn silence?

Thus, from the very nature of the subject, silence appears to be generally, if not always, necessary, as a preparation to worship. But we also believe, for the reasons already suggested, that worship may be performed in silence. It being an intercourse between God and the soul, and that intercourse being necessarily in spirit, it may take place

without the medium of words. That feeling desire, that secret aspiration of the soul, which is known only by him to whom it is directed, is an act of devotion, more acceptable than any form of words that could be uttered, if unaccompanied with the same devotional feelings.

We read "there was silence in heaven." But we cannot suppose that devotion was suspended. Indeed there is a devotion which language cannot reach; when not only the activity of the creature is completely brought into quiet, but when the Divine Majesty is so revealed his wisdom, goodness, power, and glory-that every faculty of the soul is held in awful, silent adoration!

Hence we consider silence not only proper, as preparatory to worship, but congenial with the most sublime worship to which we can attain.

We are aware that individuals may sit down in silent meetings without being benefited by it. They may suffer their minds to be occupied with improper objects; or they may sink down into a state of dulness and insensibility, totally incompatible with the important objects for which they profess to assemble. But these are not the necessary consequences of silent waiting. Indeed they never are the consequences of it, but of an unprepared and lukewarm mind. The promise remains true to the present day, and will to all succeeding ages: They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." Isa. xl. 31. The command is addressed to us, as forcibly as it was to the ancient Jews: Be still! and know that I am God."-" Keep silence before me, O islands! and let the people renew their strength."

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"Without me," said our Lord, 'ye can do nothing." Happy are they who know their own spirits brought into subjection, and an humble dependence on him—not daring to "kindle a fire or compass themselves about with sparks, but humbly wait on God, for a qualification to worship him in spirit and in truth.

Though public and private devotion depend on the influences of the same Spirit, and have therefore been considered in connexion, in the preceding part of this chapter, yet there is a distinction to be drawn; though the performance of the one cannot destroy the occasion for the other.

On the contrary, they reciprocally promote each

other. For he that is properly engaged in secret religious exercises from day to day, will thereby be better qualified for the performance of public worship: and, on the other hand, the right performance of social worship will greatly contribute to dispose the mind to hold on its way, in those secret desires after communion with God to which the apostle alluded, when he admonished the believers to “pray without ceasing."

The public assembling of Christians, to wait upon and worship God, not only places them in a situation to be helpful to each other, by the communication of their feelings, under divine influence, in preaching and vocal prayer, as well as by a secret communion of spirit; but it is also a reasonable acknowledgment of the goodness of God, and of our dependence upon him for every thing we yet hope for, as well as of our gratitude for the blessings already conferred upon us, Well therefore did the apostle admonish the believers : 'Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is." Heb. x. 24, 25. And again : "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Rom. xii. 1.



We believe, with the apostles, that "no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron:" Heb. v. 4, and that this call is not dependent on any human acquirements. We also believe the command of our blessed Lord to his disciples, is of lasting obligation : Freely ye have received, freely give." Matt. x. 8.

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These are the leading principles of our belief concerning the ministry.

But in order to understand this subject, we must advert a little more particularly to the call and qualification of a

gospel minister, and then bring into view the maintenance which is warranted on gospel principles.

The call of a minister, as already observed, must be of God. No man can enter into this dignified work, merely from his willing or running. He cannot preach the gospel unless he be sent. And if Christ send not, of course he is

not a messenger or minister of Christ.

Hence no man can choose for himself or his son the work of the ministry, as he would a trade, by which to obtain emolument or reputation. The ministers of the gospel, to the present day, must be called by the same authority, and clothed with the same influence, that the apostles had, though it may not be in the same degree. They, by virtue of their call and qualification, were messengers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ. Who then can assume these high titles, without having received a message to deliver, or a commission to fulfil from Christ? Without these, the very essentials are wanting.


And what is a minister of the gospel? Does not the very term itself assert the doctrine we have advanced? The gospel is not a system of abstract truths or propositions?— it is the power of God to salvation." And he that receives a dispensation of it to preach to others, actually does minister it, to those whose hearts are prepared to receive it. Thus, according to another metaphor of the holy scriptures, he becomes a vessel, through which this precious treasure passes, to the objects of redeeming love. But he that has not received such a dispensation of the gospel to preach to others, cannot possibly be a minister of the gospel; because he has not the gospel to communicate. On the contrary, he has neither part nor lot in the matter." He may be a minister of certain tenets or opinions-he may be a minister of the commandments and traditions of men, if he has indeed received these. But without the Power of God, making him a minister of the Spirit and not of the letter, his preaching never can be of divine authority, nor in "the demonstration of the Spirit and power."

It deserves to be noticed, that, in the records which have been left us of the first religious meetings of the primitive believers, it is particularly mentioned, when any of the apostles were engaged to speak in their religious assemblies, that they were filled with the Holy Ghost." The manner

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