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Happy who walks with Him! whom what he finds
Though we could understand all the mysteries of nature, and have not the love of God in our hearts, we are nothing-like the Laodicean church, “ miserable, and blind, and naked.” And when we have climbed to the loftiest summit of human science, there is a truth which is still far higher and nobler, since it is the only passport into a blessed eternity. “For this is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
T. R. B.
ON THE SERVICES OF THE CHURCH.
“Os come let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.”
“Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving : and show ourselves glad in him with Psalms.” What a burst of genuine heartfelt gladness, of joy too great to be repressed, were it breathed through every heart, did it beam from every eye, what a foretaste of heaven would be enjoyed each Sabbath morning, and what a grateful cloud of incense would ascend from our favored land, “to Him that sitteth upon the throne.” Each worshipper knows what it is heartily to rejoice ; the heaviest heart has had some bright moments to which it can recur. There has been hearty joy through the family circle, when some loved one has returned from a weary absence. There has been hearty joy in the blessed freedom of domestic intercourse, when each heart has exulted in the consciousness of loving and being loved. There has been hearty joy, more subdued, but for that very reason more deep, when some overwhelming peril has been escaped, and fear and trembling have passed away.-There has been hearty joy when success has crowned years of patient toil; and some cherished project can at last be realised. Who is there that does not know the buoyancy of hearty joy ? JANUARY, 1847.
Is it with feelings like these we join in this thrilling hymn of praise ? The very question falls heavily on the ear of conscience, and nothing remains for us, but with shame and contrition once more to acknowledge the guilt of our holy things.
Yet the heavy heart cannot be commanded to rejoice ; smiles and song may indeed come at our bidding, or the organ may swell its exultant peal, but the joy of the heart must gush from an unbidden fountain, and till the spring be open, what boots it to search for the stream. We can only rejoice when we have that which makes us glad ; the unbelieving heart is here again necessarily shut out from the service, while the Christian can only join in it through the direct influence of the Spirit, whose fruit is love and joy. The more closely we study our Liturgy, the more entirely we shall see it to be a spiritual service, calling forth the whole energies of the soul, yet requiring far more than its unaided energies, a sacrifice that can only be consumed when fire descends from heaven.
The call to rejoice is most reasonable. Had we fully joined in the previous service, we should be better able to respond to it. If the burden of guilt had laid heavily on our hearts, its removal would have given them life and spring. Had we yearned for a restoration of our Father's love, the full assurance of it would have opened the fountains of gladness. The deepest joys must spring from the deepest sorrows, and perhaps one reason why we taste so little of triumphant joy, is because we shrink from disturbing the quiet lull of our spirits, and awakening to the painful duties of self-examination and repentance. These sources of joy are brought before us by the preceding service, but others are now opened as the Psalmist continues.
" For the Lord is a great God : and a great King above all Gods."
“ In his hand are all the corners of the earth : and the strength of the hills is his also.”
“ The sea is his, and he made it : and his hands prepared the dry land." Creation with all her wonders is here spread before
This wide and beautiful world of ours, let us recal some of its fairest scenes, let us think of the rocky dells clothed with graceful foliage, where we have rejoiced in the wild course of the foaming torrents. “In his hands are all the corners of the earth.” His is all their hidden loveliness, and he rejoices over beauty which the eye of man has never marked. Or let us again in imagination climb the mountain-side, while the prospect every moment widens before us, till at last a bright light in the horizon reveals the distant ocean ; -still “in his hand are all the corners of the earth; and the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land.” There is a joy in all the works of nature, and it is a joy our God would have us taste; a joy we are here invited to recal within the hallowed precincts of the temple. We cannot rejoice in mere abstractions, but when in the beauty, the majesty and the glory of all around, we have traced some features of Him in whom live and move and have our being,” then we can respond to the call of the Psalmist ; “Oh come, let us worship, and fall down : and kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
“For he is the Lord our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”
He is great and glorious, and each year of our lives, as it reveals more of the wonders of his creation, will
enable us to realize more fully, how great and'how glorious; but with all this, he has the gentle tenderness of a watchful shepherd. It is difficult for us under the Gentile dispensation, to realize the depth of feeling with which a pious Israelite must have contrasted Jehovah with the Gods of the heathen around. Perhaps it was on the heights of Carmel, that David composed this Psalm, if so, with what deep emotion must he have looked on the wonders spread around him, and then thought of Him who had made them all; as the God of Israel, who had led them through the wilderness like a flock; who had separated them from all other people, and even condescended to speak with them face to face. “ He is the Lord our God, we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.' Should not a similar feeling of exultation reign in the hearts of the Israel of God. If wealth, beauty, learning, genius, earthly love be all, as his gifts, more or less reasonable subjects of rejoicing, much more may they rejoice who can claim the Giver as their portion, and say of the Lord, he is their God. To-day if
will hear his voice, harden not your hearts : as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness;"
“When your fathers tempted me ; proved me, and saw my works."
“Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said : It is a people that do err in their hearts for they have not known my ways."
“Unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest."
The tone of the Psalm here changes from one of joyous exultation, to one of solemn warning ; it was perhaps mainly for the sake of this warning, that it was