LOVE TO ORDI A CES.
BY JAMES SMITH
A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. PSALM hxxiv. 10. O E know the value of the ordinances of the gospel, but those who are deprived of them. But they are always highly esteemed by every truly spiritual person, and in proportion as the mind is spiritual will ordinances be prized. They will not be put in the place of Christ, or made a substitute for fellowship with God ; but they will be valued as means of grace, as the meeting places between God and the soul. The healthy man is naturally hungry at meal time, and seeks the food provided and placed on the table for him ; so the healthy Christian, hungers for the bread of life, and goes to the ordinances with appetite to feed on the Lord Jesus Christ. The child who loves his parent, and enjoys his company, will be sure to remember the time fixed for meeting with that parent ; so the child of God when influenced by love to God, will be sure to go where God has appointed to meet him, and hold communion with him. When we see Christians absenting themselves from the meetings of the Lord's people, or habitually coming late to those meetings, we may be sure that the soul is not in a healthy state. " Lord," said David, " I have loved the habi-
LOVE TO ORDI A CES. 215 tation of thy house, and the place where thine
honour dwelleth." And how did, -he manifest his love ? By-regular and early attendance when he could, and by ardently longing to do so when he could not. "A day in thy courts," said lie, " is better than a thousand ; I liad rather be 'a door keeper in the house of my God, than to, dwell in the tents of wickedness." And again, " One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple." Once more, "Blessed is the man whom thou ehoosest, and causestto approach unto thee, that he may dwell in. thy courts : we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple." ow reader, do these portions express the feelings of your soul ? Do you go up to the Lord's house as to the place which of all others you love most ? Does your regular and early attendance, both on Lord's days, and on the week day evening services say, " I love the Lord's ordinances, and prize them above gold?" Or, does the irregularity of your attendance, and your late appearance among the saints say, " These ordinances are not of much account, we should be almost as well without them as with them ?" Remember, they were instituted by an infinitely wise, and infinitely gracious God. He saw they were necessary for us, and in his love lie ordained them to benefit and bless us. To neglect them, is to. insult him. To desoise them,
216 LOVE TO ORDI A CES. is to grieve him. To allow any trifle to keep us from meeting him in his house, is to grieve his love and wound his tender heart. He says, " Let us meet together in my house." The time is
fixed, the hour arrives, and he is present ; but we either neglect altogether, or come long after the hour' appointed. If this is not insulting him, is it not very much like it ? If we had made an appointment with any one, and were thus kept waiting, and we knew that it was only some trifling matter that was allowed to he the occasion, how should we feel ? Should we act so towards an earthly friend? Should we thus treat our earthly sovereign ? Indeed we should not. Can we then justify our conduct toward the King of kings, and Lord of lords ? I should think not. And yet how many, how very many . professors act thus. Many church members, who could if their hearts were set upon it, never enter the house of prayer except on the Lord's day, and sometimes only once then. They never meet with the saints for prayer, or to attend to the business of the church. They never come out to hear a sermon on the week day evening. Is it any wonder if their souls are lean from day to day ? Is it any wonder, if they become cold, carnal, and worldly ? Are we surprised that they have no relish for savoury, experimental conversation ? Indeed we are not surprised, but we should be surprised if they had. Such cannot say, " Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, they will be still praising thee."
t/OVE TO ORDI A CES. 217 Header, how is it with you? The present state of things in God's church, calls upon every one to examine himself, and to ask, is it any thing in me, or in my conduct that has grieved the Holy Spirit, and caused him to withhold his influences and his blessing? How is it then with you ? Do you prize the ordinances as you
ought ? Do you walk in them, as Zacharias and Elisabeth of old did, " blameless ?" Are you regularly in your place in the " house of prayer ?" Are you always in your place before the service commences? Or, if you are not, do you feel grieved, and examine whether the circumstances which made you late, were such as would justify you in being so ? How can you expect God to meet you, to make the ordinances a blessing to you, if you do not honour him by valuing his institutions, and keeping your appointments with him ? Is it any matter of surprise, that many professors find the ordinances barren, and the means of grace powerless and dry? Hather would it not be surprising if they did not ? Can they expect the Lord to bless them in any great measure ? Has he not said, " Them that honour me I will honour, but they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed ?" Would this be true, if, while they dishonoured him by their neglect or slighting of his ordinances, he should bless them to any great extent ? I fear that unbelief is very strong in the hearts of many who little suspect it. They do not .believe that God will do as he Jias said, or they never could act as they do. It
218 LOVE TO OEDI A CES. is well for us, that lie is <e slow to anger," "plenteous in mercy," " longsuffering," and " abundant in goodness and truth." that he would teach us the value of his ordinances, without depriving us of them ; or rendering us incapable of attending to them ! The time is coming when we shall look upon these things differently to what we do at present, may it be mercy and not judgement that shall produce the change. The "Lord is now warning us that he may not strike us,
his words to many of us are, " Repent ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against thee with the svrord of my mouth." "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten ; be zealous therefore, and repent." " Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do the first works ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Lord of hosts, how lovely fair, E'en on earth thy temples are ! H ere thy waiting people see Much of heaven and much of thee. From thy gracious presence flows Bliss that softens all our woes ; While thy Spirit's holy fire Warms our hearts with pure desire. Here we supplicate thy throne, Here thou mak'st thy glories known Here we learn thy righteous ways, Taste thy love, and sing thy praise,
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