Then said he to me, See you do it not: for I am your fellow servant, and of your brothers the prophets…
The theme contained in this one word "worship" is much larger and profounder than any of us assume. We, all of us are likely to take it for granted that we know what "worship" is. Our simplest idea of it identifies it with the public services of the Church and with family and private devotions. The word "worship" necessarily associates itself with these. But these do not by any means exhaust its meaning. Let us inquire, then, more in detail what worship is; then we may possibly be able to see how necessary it is to the lifting all our faculties into a receptive attitude towards that Divine life out of which our life continually comes.
1. Worship implies some sort of knowledge. Agnosticism cannot worship. It may not be intellectualised knowledge, and yet it must be of the nature of knowledge. Many an unschooled man is intuitively a more knowing man than is many a schooled man. His insight, judgment, wisdom, are more trustworthy. I believe, however, that every man, in being a man, constitutionally that is, has knowledge enough of God to create in him worshipful tendencies and aspirations. In order to a fulness of knowledge there must be a fulness of humanity, and there has never been but one in whom dwelt the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
2. Let us say, then, that worship is the effort of the soul to realise the Divine presence and to partake of the Divine life. When the soul is perpetually as conscious of the Divine presence as of the presence of an external world, and partakes of the Divine life as really and as consciously as we partake now of each other's life, then worship becomes no longer an act to which we compel ourselves, but a state — the constant state of the soul before God — as real, as natural, as unforced, as genial, as sufficing, as gently reciprocal as that of two souls who, together in the same place and under the same conditions live one life. "Beholding" the glory of the Lord, ever doing it, constantly doing it, sitting with eyes fixed like an artist student before a great masterpiece, until the work becomes so real and living that it speaks quietly, silently, with unsyllabled speech to the soul of the man beholding, until his feeling is changed and his ideas are changed. The old ignorant self is no longer there — into the image of the great master he is changed, and the change keeps going on from state to state, each an advance upon the other, and all by the Spirit of the Great Master entering into him and subduing him.
3. There must also be, as has been suggested by the greatest of living English statesmen, a sufficient self-knowledge. This is the first indispensable condition for s right attitude towards the Eternal. Then, too, there must be a suitable frame of the affections — that humility and aspiration which self-knowledge ought to bring; and, again, sustained mental effort, in which each worshipper recognises that he is a priest unto God; to carry our whole selves, as it were, with our own hands into that nearer presence of God, putting aside every distraction of the outward sense, so that the feeling I am a living soul in the presence of the living God may be the controlling thought. Is it not Ruskin who says, "There is only one place in the human soul that God can occupy — the first place"? To offer Him the second place is to offer Him no place at all. How much of our public presentation of ourselves in Church services fails of being worship I need hardly suggest. Formal worship ceases to be worship. There is no worship when the heart is not in it, and yet worship is a Divine command, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve."
4. There must be some imperious necessity in our nature why we should worship, or such a command would not be recorded. There are some faculties which have the telescopic power to draw the distant near: to make that visible which, in the non-exercise of them, remains invisible. On its upper side, the faith faculty has this use. Does not the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speak of it in this wise: "Now, faith is the giving substance to things hoped for — the proving of things not seen"? Doubt refuses to act, but faith acts, and so gets its proofs of things not seen. The imagination, again, is the right royal faculty of the soul. Without it we should have no poets and no prophets — many painters we might have, mere copyists, but no artists; no great masters in any department of things. We say such men have "genius" — the Bible says "vision." They see, while we reason as to whether we can see or not. Faith, imagination, vision, these are the wings of the soul — its faculties which help it to soar, to bring the distant near" to worship. If we were doomed to a prosy, mathematical, legal, commercial life, there would be no need of them. When God gave them He said to man in the giving, "Thou shalt worship." We are living in the midst of a spiritual world, whose presence, if we are living rightly, i.e., according to God's laws for life, will be as real to us as is the presence of the material world. This spiritual world contains facts which we cannot deny, such as these — intellect, conscience, reason, imagination, affection, will — none of these are material facts. No chemist, however minute and thorough his analysis, can find them in matter. They do not belong to the material. They must inhere in some substance not material. Is it not reasonable to infer that we are here not to develop the material world, except as a secondary object, but to develop ourselves, these mental and spiritual powers in us? That if we fail in developing these our failure is complete? And in order to do it we must worship that which is above us. There is no other way. The highest response we are capable of giving to the spiritual world around us is the act we call worship. It is an attitude of soul, yet an act with an infinite variety in it. They who stand and wait before God in speechless expectancy, their face ever God-ward, even when making no verbal prayer, offering no syllabled request, yet hoping ever in God, are true worshippers. Wherever there is a soul delighting in God, rejoicing in God, there is worship. The perfected, glorified humanity will be one in which the worship of God is an instinct; a state of habit, an attitude of soul unforced and universal.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.