That Converted Persons are very Carefull and Tender of the Worship of God, observing that and only that which he hath commanded.
EZEK. 36. 27.
WE subdivided the Grace here promised in the later part of the Chapter, wherein was considerable, The Action, I will cause you to walk. 2. The Object of the Action, In my Statutes; and this we are to treat upon at this time.
Now although there are three words in the Scripture, which often are used for the same thing, Commandments, Statutes and Judgements, yet there is also in many places a difference between these.
Commandments being properly those perpetual rules of the moral Law, which * enjoyn the same Duties in all ages of the Church.
Judgements are strictly used for, those Duties of the Judaical Law, which con∣cern * Justice and equity one to another.
Statutes are all those Rites, and that manner of worship which God had com∣manded; * and howbeit we may in this Text make Statutes and Judgements. all one, yet its better to distinguish them, because the holy Ghost doth here seem as it were to branch out the whole practice and life of a converted person, which lieth in two things, His Duty to God, and that is, To walk in Gods Statutes; His Du∣ty to man, and that is, To walk in his Judgements to do them. And although in the New Testament, we have not the same Statutes of worship as they had, nor the same judicial Law for justice and equity between man and man, yet the mea∣ning is, that God will cause his people to walk in all that worship and equity which God at any time shall command: And it is very usual in the Old Testament to expresse the Worship of God, which shall be used in the times of the Gospel, under these names, which were proper to the legal Administration. This then is the sense, That when God hath put this new heart and new spirit into his children, he will make them diligent in all that worship which he hath commanded, they will be careful to worship him in that pure and holy manner, which is appointed: All their Worship will be Statute-worship, there is the Statute-Law of the Scri∣pture for it. They dare not take up any form or manner of workship con∣cerning of which God may say to them, Who hath required these things at your hands? From whence observe,
That converted Persons are very carefull and tender in the worship of God, obser∣ving*all that, and onely that which he hath commanded.
You may discover the work of Grace in a man, as much about h•s principles and Page 560 practice in the worship of God, as about moral principles and actions. Idola∣trical and superstitious worship grosly practised, is no more consistent with grace, then prophane and ungodly wayes. I grant indeed that even godly men may for want of light and better information live in some rel•ques of superstitious wor∣ship. As in some good Kings Reigos, the high-places were not taken away; and Johns Disciples, yea and Christs Disciples they were but old bottles, they were not able suddenly to receive such pure and spiritual worship, as Christ intended for them: Nay in the Infancy of the Church how much were Believers led aside with their love of, and doting upon the ceremonial Worship! they would be cir∣cumcised still, they would observe meats and dayes still, yea the worship of Angels was brought in under pretence of humility.
To open this point consider, *
First, That Divines make a two-fold Worship, Internal and External, Internal are all those spiritual graces of the soul, which are immediatly terminated upon God himself. Thus faith in God, and love of God, to give him the preheminency and chief room in the heart, is the worship of God: This is spiritual and inward, and this Worship is commanded in the first Commandment. But the external Wor∣ship of God consists in all those visible parts and means of worship which God hath appointed, as in the Old Testament praying, reading the Word, offering of Sacrifices, and many bodily adorations; and these are commanded in the second Commandment: for when God forbids the worshipping of him by Images, he doth thereby forbid the making to a mans self, without the Commandment of God, any part or means of Divine Worship. In the New Testament Gods ex∣ternal Worship lieth in prayer, reading and hearing the Word, administration of the Sacraments, sanctifying of his Sabbaths, and singing of Psalms; so then he who is truly godly, he will be carefull to perform all those Duties of Religious Worship, which are commanded in the New Testament. He doth not take up the vain customs of men, neither doth he follow the traditional worship of his Fathers, but he worshippeth as it is written, he knoweth God is most jealous of his Worship; God is very sensible of any abuse of his Worship, any corruption or mixture of it by humane presumption.
Secondly, Although God hath commanded this Statute-worship, yet that golden Rule of our Saviours must alwayes be remembred, John 4. where Christ taking off * the woman of Samaria from her old traditional worship, thinking that such a Mountain was better to worship God on, then other places, God (saith he) is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and truth, and my Father seeketh such: By this we are admirably instructed, that all external worship of God must yet be spiri∣tual: It is not the bowing of the body, nor the external humiliation that God looks after, God is a Spirit, and so doth chiefly require Spirit-worship: This Text would have been like the flaming fiery sword to have kept off that intollerable bur∣den of false worship which afterwards crept into the Paradise of God. It is a sin that we are very prone unto, to rest upon an external worship, not lifting up our hearts unto God, and that made the Apostle speak so contemptibly even of the ceremonial Worship, and all those Jewish Ordinances though appointed by God, calling them carnal and beggarly elements. The superstitious Jewes made them Elements, even the first principles and foundation of Religion, but he cals them beggarly, because they were without Christ; so that all thy outward service and worship of God is but an empty, beggarly Religion, unlesse it be spiritually per∣formed, and that is mainly by resting on Christ in those Ordinances. But I do not intend an exact treating upon the religious and divine Worship of God; I shall therefore in the next place instance in two or three of the New Testament Statutes which God hath commanded to be religiously observed, and then shew the grounds of this pious and religious disposition in converted persons.
And first one of Christs main Statute-worships is Prayer. Not in the Socinian sense who make Pryera new instituted worship by God, and that it was not a *Page 561 Duty commanded before; Not so, only Christ continueth and confirmeth this Du∣ty, revealing the manner of it more clearly. Thus you have many Precepts and Examples for prayer, yea and this is to be done fervently, humbly, incessantly; and it is recorded as a sign of Pauls Conversion, Behold he prayeth, Act 9. 11. and Zach. 12. The Spirit of Prayer and Supplication, with mourning and hearty grief is promised under the Gospel: Insomuch that you cannot have a surer signe of a graceless man then one who is not diligent in this Duty and worship of God, Pray∣er. For although our own manifold necessities of all sorts might provoke us to this Duty, God hath also so diligently enjoyned it, that there might be an oppor∣tunity to open the fountain of his mercy to us. Oh then how few are there that partake of this benefit? Where is he of whom we may say, Behold he prayeth, constantly, fervently, effectually? nay in stead of Prayer there is cursing, swear∣ing and blaspheming; if they do pray, they have some short prayers of rote, which they utter as Parrats understanding nothing of it, and so irreligiously dis∣charging of it: Now Prayer is three-fold, Private, personal Prayer, of which David speaks much, and Christ went many times apart to prayer. Tell me then, Dost thou take Christs command, Enter into thy closet, and shut thy door after thee, Matth. 5. Doth God see thy secret groans, thy secret tears, thy private debase∣ments? if grace be in thee, thou wilt be diligent in this course. Then there is pub∣lick prayer, of which the Prophet Jeremiah speaks, and Christ alledgeth it, That his house shall be called an house of Prayer; and our Saviour speaks of two or three, any company gathered together, Matth. 18. 20. to ask any thing of the Father in Christs Name. Now this publick Prayer is also much observed by the new heart, for therein is an united strength and force to lay hold upon God, and God is in the midst of his people so gathered together, to open his hand plentifully to bestow on them his mercies.
Lastly, There is Family-prayer, so Joshua, I and my house will serve the Lord, Josh. 24. 15. And God takes special notice of Abraham, He knew Abraham would make his Family to serve the Lord, Gen. 18. 19. Jeremiah prayeth, That God would pour his wrath upon those families that call not on his name, Jer. 10. 25. You may reade of the Churches in some Christians houses, because of the spiritual worship of God therein. If then God had ever wrought this new heart in thee, how dili∣gent wouldst thou be to walk in all the statutes of Prayer, Private, Publick, Fa∣mily-prayer; Thou darest not for a world so sinfully neglect this worship of God, as thou doest; Think not that any civil and honest conversation in the world is enough without this worship. Oh but what unclean dens, yea noisome hels are some mens families! Is prayer there? Is there constant religious calling upon God? No, in stead of these, dissolutenesse and prophanenesse; Oh the pillars of the house, and the wals thereof will one day witnesse against such.
The second Statute for religious duties, I shall only instance in, is of The Lords*day, and the strict holy Observation of that: Where godlinesse is, there they will call the Sabbaths a delight, Isa. 58. 13. and not speak their own words, or think their own thoughts; that is a promise to be fulfilled in the times of the Gospel. That the observation of a seventh day is not Jewish, is plain, because it was instituted for Adam in innocency; so that although Adam was made so pure and holy, that in all his works of his calling, viz. To till the garden, &c. he could not but have an heavenly heart, yet God would have him to have one day, which God blessed and sanctified, for the wholly applying of himself to the immediate worship of God; and for the continuation of a seventh day, though the Jewish day be alter∣ed, you have upon Christs Resurrection plain examples of the altering of it to the first day of the week, so that we reade of their Church-assemblies on that day; and John cals it, The Lords day, Rev. 1. All which conjoyned make it appear, That there is a moral and perpetual obligation lying upon us to the diligent obser∣ving of it. So then, Where God puts his new Spirit, there he makes a willingnesse, a tender conscience and delight to sanctifie it; Oh then take heed of those licenti∣ous Page 562 Doctrines that cry down the Lords-day, for by the holy sanctisying of it, thou wilt come to delight in the Lord more, thy graces will increase and flou∣rish; As some from corrupt principles neglect it, so others from vicious and prophane affections, or from worldly covetous desires. Thus they in the Pro∣phet asked, When will the Sabbaths be over, that they might buy and sell and get gain? Amos 8. 5. Thy tender conscience therefore about the holy sanctisying of the Sabbath, will much demonstrate the savoury work of grace upon thee. This may suffice for two examples of the Statute-worship of God in the New Testament.
Now let us see, why the godly are so careful and tender about Gods wor∣ship. *
And first it is, Because God himself is so tender about it. There is no sin about which Gods jealousie is so much said to he provoked, as in matter of false wor∣ship: Reade the Prophets, you shall see the great controversie God had with his people, was for the corrupting of his worship; This in every Chapter is almost complained of; therefore the common word the Scripture useth for Ido∣latry and false worship is Abomination: And Christ using that expression, What is highly esteemed amongst men is abomination unto God, speaketh it chiefly to that pharisaical instituted worship, wherein they did place all their righte∣ousnesse; now this, that was so highly advanced as the onely religion and ser∣ving of God, was abomination unto him: Seeing therefore that Gods worship is the apple of his eye; the main thing he is so jealous about, and his judge∣ments have been so terrible upon men, who have in any manner violated his order about religious things; as his punishing Nadab and Abihu for offering with strange fire, and striking Uzzah dead for not keeping meerly to order, makes a godly man very carefull about the worship of God, to see he giveth no∣thing but that and all that which God requireth.
Secondly, He therefore is diligent in this, because the word of God is the onely Rule of worship, and so every one must be able to give a reason from Scripture, be∣cause*of such and such religious Duties. Those that have a new heart are made light in the Lord; They take the Scripture for the way to walk in; and whatso∣ever is not Scripture-worship, what Religion is not Scripture-religion, they dare not own it. Tell a godly man of the Antiquity of such worship, of the universality of it, of the excellent fitnesse it hath to keep humble and devout, all these are but fig-leaves. Is it commanded worship? Is there the Statute Law of the Scripture for it? Alas, let thy Fathers and Grand-fathers, yea let all the world admire such and such worship; if it be not Gods command, it is a vain thing: How clear is our Saviour, In vain do they worship me, teaching for Doctrines the traditions of men. Our Saviour told the woman of Samaria, She worshipped she knew not what, because she had not the Scripture, Joh. 4. Oh then, how might this put to silence all the cavils and foolish pleas many people have, for superstitious false wayes of worship, bring thy Scripture for it, shew Gods word for it: Thy doting and raging for these things, where Gods word is no light to thee, is as great an argument of a carnal heart devoid of grace, as well as pro∣phanenesse, and they for the most part goe together; Those that are for such superstitious worship are commonly prophane, and ungodly in their lives.
Thirdly, Therefore the people of God are carefull of worship, and that only which God hath commanded, because they are a spiritual heavenly people, endowed with know∣ledge*and wisdom out of Gods word, and so able to discern of things that differ. The Apostle Col. 4. useth this argument against observation of superstitious worship, which he had spoken against in the Chapter before, If ye be risen again with Christ, seek those things that are above, and set your affections on things above; which Calvin doth solidly understand, not only of lusts and earthly things, but also of those humane Ordinances and will-worship he had immediately spoken Page 563 of before; so that he is of a brutis, blinde minde, an unclean beast that never cheweth the cud, who doth not consider and well advise about the worship of God, but takes every thing out of custom, and what is obtruded upon him; but a godly man is of a more noble rational spirit, he will search the Scripture whe∣ther such things are to be done or no.
Fourthly, Therefore the godly are diligent in the pure worship of God, because God*draweth nigh in those religious Duties; where every thing is done according to his will, there he delights to be present; How many glorious blessings did God promise to his pure worship in the Temple, till they defiled it by abominations; and then he destroyed both the Nation and the Temple. Where therefore the pure worship and ordinances of God are, there he walketh, there he poureth out his love. The Church is then in no strange habit, but the beautiful orna∣ments God hath decked her with; and when Gods worship is thus purely perfor∣med, he addeth to their graces; None seek Gods face in vain, his promisé and institution go along together; let a man a thousand times over use such Cere∣monies and worship God hath not commanded, he will never be the more holy. There cannot be any spirituall effect communicated unto him, because God will onely work where he hath promised, and his promise is only to his own in∣stitutions.
Fisthly, They are careful to observe his Statute-worship, because it is a Duty to God;* He is their Lord and God, their Soveraign from whom they have all, and outward worship is a paying of homage to him, as an humble and submissive acknow∣ledgement of God; Come (saith the Psalmist) let us fall down and worship before him, because he hath made us and not we our selves; All solemn religious Duties, they are not onely instituted means of grace, but solemn testifications and ac∣knowledgements of our humility, submission, dependance upon God, and ex∣altation of his great excellency; so that if the godly man should be negligent here, he should not give unto God that which is Gods: And hereby is greatly discovered the falshood and arrogancy of those spirits who think they are above Ordinances; for suppose (which is not in this life) that thou wert already so holy and perfect, that thou wert above any benefits by the Ordinances, that thou didst not need the benefit of the Word preached, and the Sacraments; yet thou canst not be above them, as they are testifications of thy duty towards God. Hence the Angels in Heaven they worship and serve God according to their * way; and wilt thou (O vain man!) set up thy self on so high a pinacle, as not to worship God? Remember Ordinances are not only means of grace, but so∣lemn testifications of our humility and dependancy on God.
Use of Examination, Try the work of grace in you by this particular, how * tender and carefull are you about the worship of God? Are you such who pray for the purity of Ordinances, to have every thing in Church-assemblies done ac∣cording to the patern in the Scripture? David cried out, How amiable are thy Taber∣nacles, O Lord of hosts? In what zeal was Christ, when he saw the Temple of God turned into a den of thieves? What holy invectives doth Paul in his Epistles make against superstitious worship? yet how few are the men that minde the pure instituted worship of God, that would have the fountains of Israel with∣out the mixture of any mud in them? Outward oppressions in Popery were no∣thing so heavy upon the godly, as the corrupt mixtures in Gods worship; but if you observe the general disposition of men, they are wholly carried out to some sensible superstitious wayes of worship. They love not the simplicity and purity of Gods worship. It is great proficiency in Christianity not to have our minds corrupted herein. As children delight in babies, so do men in some wor∣ships of their own that they have made. What is Popery but a meer stage-play in the worship of God? And if you ask of hundreds of Ceremonies they have, Whose Image and Superscription is upon them? you shall finde none of Gods im∣printed on them. There were the Statutes of the Heathens, Levit. 20. and these Page 564 the people must not go in, Ezek. 20. There are statutes of our fathers we must not walk in: Oh there is too much of this superstition still in men! Men by false worship, manifest they have not spiritual hearts.