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honour him for the sake of his work, and for the sake of his office, and for the sake of his Master. “ He that heareth you heareth me
” is his Master's own saying, and He says also, “he that despiseth you, despiseth me."
My dear brethren, honour the office of the ministry. Half the evils from which Christendom is now suffering arise from the false opinion, that there is no difference between clergy and people, and that all the congregation are holy, in the sense of being equal in respect of ministerial things. There is no necessary difference, as to goodness or badness. The being a minister of Christ does not make a man good; and there are,
am sorry to say it, bad priests, who disgrace their order, as well as bad people, who fall short of the discipline of Christ. But whatever the man may be he holds a great office, conferred on him by Jesus Christ. To Him alone it belongs to administer Holy Sacraments, to bless in Christ's name, to speak with the language of authority. If he is bad he must be dealt with by the rules of discipline, but his office must still be respected, for the sake of Christ. Honour him for his office. He is above you in spiritual things. He is your shepherd, your guide, though also your servant, for Christ's sake. Esteem him very highly in love, if he deserves love; bearing with all his faults and imperfections; forgetting the man in his office, and the fellow-sinner in the messenger and servant of God. And even if his character be such that
you cannot love him, esteem his work, reverence his office, honour his ministry. So especially will you promote unity, and bring in a kingdom of peace.
Such, my dear brethren, are some among many lessons which are taught us in the chapter which we have read to-day. I have told you the truth which is written in God's word, as I find it there. It may
be that, to one or other among you I may seem to have spoken of schism among Christians in stronger terms than he is wont to hear. I can only ask such an one, if any such there be, to read the narrative with thought and meditation. For I am confident that no man can read this story of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram with the care which its importance demands, and not rise from the study with a profound conviction, that ambition such as theirs is a monstrous evil, and that schism and rebellion are deadly and soul-destroying sins.
PSALM Xcvi, 7-10.
" Ascribe unto the Lord, 0 ye kindreds of the people: ascribe
unto the Lord worship and power. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto His name. Bring presents and come into His courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. Let the whole earth stand in awe of Him. Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is King."
NHE Psalm to which these words belong may be
called a Missionary hymn. The Psalmist, looking far forward down the long avenue of time, foresees that coming day when the honour of God should be declared unto the heathen; and he calls upon the kindreds of the people who then should acknowledge Jehovah as their King to do that which it would then be both their duty and their privilege to do,~" Ascribe unto the Lord worship and power. Ascribe unto the Lord the honour due unto His name. Bring presents--or offerings—and come into His courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; let the whole earth stand in awe of Him. Tell it out among the heathen that the Lord is King.” The Psalmist, in the high language of poetry and devotion, prescribes to the nations of the earth the work which they must do, when converted to the faith of Christ.
He commands them to flock to the courts of God for purposes of worship. He speaks of God as the great King, to whose courts they must come that they may pay Him that sacred homage, which is due to His majestic holiness. Awe, reverence, religious fear must be the spirit in which they approach Him. Worship, honour, glory must be the service which they render. And they must not rest or end in feeling; but what their hearts feel their actions must declare and manifest. They must bring presents and make offerings when they come before the Lord and enter into His courts.
Now, if having thus explained the import of these words which form the text, I should go on to say that they teach us the object for which, Sunday after Sunday, we come to church, I do not suppose statement would be disputed; but there are some, I do not doubt, to whom it would appear strange. It is not commonly supposed that it is for such a purpose that we meet together in the house of God. I do not think that most men are aware that to go to church is to go to court. If, now at this moment you were all to ask yourselves, 'For what object am I here to-day ? I am far from supposing that all would answer—'I am here that I may worship God.' Some, no doubt, would answer thus; but would it not be said by others: 'I come to say my prayers ;' or • I come to hear a sermon ;' or 'I come because it is the custom, but why or wherefore it is customary I do not know ?' The question is one of those simple inquiries which everybody fancies that any one can answer; and yet which, if answered by one man rightly, would be answered by ten men or a hundred wrong.
And yet the question is one of very great moment. Sunday is one day in every seven, and going to church is the chief business of Sunday, so that, even if going to church was the work of Sunday only, the question would concern the end and aim of one seventh of our time. And if we consider, further,
that Sunday is the greatest day of all the seven, the * pearl of all the week, the bright and morning star of
time, and that every other day should follow in the train of Sunday and be made as like to Sunday as possible, will it not then be true to say that to answer this question rightly is to know the end for which time is sent, and to spend our days well. I am sure, therefore, that I should do you all a good service if I could assist in clearing your thoughts upon this subject, and in setting plainly and intelligibly before
you the business which you have here to do, and the motive for which you assemble as members of God's household in His house, which is the church,
Well, then, why do we go to church? Why are we all assembled here to-day? Why are we not at work? Why are we not gone in search of pleasure ? Why have we been kneeling and standing and sitting, according to the work in which we have been engaged? I answer, not for any selfish ends; not for our own glory; not for our own good. Get rid entirely of the common, but very false and beggarly notion that religion is the highest form of selfishness. Many men,
suppose, think that a man should be good for no other reason but only that he may save his soul. Whether
you and I save our souls, my dear brethren, is, comparatively speaking, a matter of little moment, even to ourselves. There is another matter, so much