ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP. STEPHE OLI , D.D., LL.D.

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Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. — Psalm xix., 14. This is a suitable prayer for those who worship God. How can sinful mortals worship God acceptably ? is the most important of questions. This inquiry is worthy to take precedence of all others. The difficulties attending it arise from our ignorance — depravity — weakness — the dignity and holiness of God — the unspeakable importance of what we seek — pardon — divine favor — eternal life. Prayer involves deeper questions than whether it shall be extemporaneous or formal. Great rhetorical excellence is of little worth. Yet words are important. " Let the words of my mxouth be acceptable in thy sight." " By thy words shalt thou be justified." " Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." Let your words be " to the use of edifying." Our words should be simple — unostentatious — rhumble — penitent. They should be reverent — uttered with deep solemnity. Flippancy — smartness — levity — clamor, all wrong. All familiar addresses to God and Christ wrong. All endearing, carnal epithets also. All use of Scripture — all remarks about God's works should be reverent. Vapid, thoughtless responses pernicious. After all these admonitions, which are not unimportant, the " words of the mouth" are likely to be right if" the meditation of the heart" is so, from which they derive their real

ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP. 359 color and character. Worship is the language of the heart — right, if the heart is right — wrong, if the heart is wrong. Our meditation of God should be profoundly reverent — adoring — of ourselves, humble, repentant, abasing. Of prayer itself we should think, not merely or chiefly as duty, but as privilege — as the means of obtaining blessings. We have done nothing, when we go through the form ever so seriously, if we get no answer. It is the channel of communication with God. We get by prayer, grace, pardon, and eternal hfe, if at all. Our meditation must take in their vital importance. We must pray for proper objects, exioecting to receive. Prayer is unmeaning without this. We should expect the best gifts, because they come from God. It is worthy of God to give them. It pleases and honors him, that we expect great things at his hands. He has promised, and we insult him by doubting. Our ill-desert has no part in the matter, and we must rise above its influence by Faith. This is the victory of faith. The greater our guilt and ill-desert, the more gracious the pardon — the more glorious the mercy of God. We must '' meditate" of him as a great King, of princely liberality — as claiming praise for clemency and forgiveness. We should inculcate on our hearts lessons of lowUest humility. We are guilty — helpless — unprofitable — hell-deserving — unfit to speak to God — io look toward his throne. All this we must feel deeply — overwhelmingly, so as to make us dumb — prostrate in the dust — only stammering, " God be merciful to me a sinner." " Spare, for thy mercy's sake." " Show compassion, that thy name may be praised." And from this depth of despair must we rise to undoubting confidence — "come boldly to the throne of grace," "believing that we receive." This is the condition of success, and a

hard condition it would be, but that " God is our strength." " Our meditation" must recognize him as such. Through

360 GOOD WORKS OT GROU DS OF ACCEPTA CE, Him we can " do all things." We can pull down strong-holds — can bear temptations — can perfectly love him — can turn away from all sin — rise above all weakness — rejoice in all pain and loss. This is the secret, and the power of faith. It enlists Omnipotence on the side of our weakness. It brings Infinite "Wisdom into our counsels. Finally, our " meditation" must dwell on Him as " our Eedeemer" — the propitiation for our sins — the Captain of our salvation — our Intercessor and Priest. In him we find pardon, and are as just persons before God. Through him our sincere, humble offerings are fit to be received of God. We have refuge in him and cleansing. The more distinctly we recognize Christ and his great atonement, the more powerful and " acceptable" will be our prayers.

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