Psalm 121:7
All evil. All kinds of evil. We may not think that God estimates evil precisely as we do. In this "God's thoughts are not as our thoughts." One important distinction may be Pointed out here. We think evil to be that which injuriously affects our circumstances; God sees evil as that which injuriously affects us. Consequently, some of the things which we call evil God does not so call, because their influence on us is good. And if this be so, the mere change of our circumstances is not the thing for us chiefly to desire; we should rather seek the Divine overruling, which includes defense from what God sees to be evil, and involves making "all things work together for good."

I. GOD MISSES WHAT MAN SEES. For man evil is calamity. This is true in the physical sphere. Disaster, disease, disappointment, defeat, occupy man's thoughts, and are, properly enough, from his point of view, classed as evils. But it is true also in the moral sphere, it is the calamity side of evil which absorbs man's attention. Drunkenness ruining a life is evil. Dishonesty found out is evil. Quarrelsomeness breaking friendship is evil. It is only as man's spiritual nature is quickened that moral evil, as distinct from moral calamity, is apprehended. But God does not call calamity evil. It has, indeed, no moral quality that he can recognize. It is only an agency for securing evil or good. It is a revelation to us to discover that God's supreme interest is not in eyelets, as ours is. He is supremely concerned about us.

II. GOD SEES WHAT MAN MISSES. The moral possibilities that are in all events. Man is profoundly interested in what happens, and is wont to stop there, and miss the meaning of what happens. God always sees in events that happen persons acting; and in their motives and moods and wills he sees evil or good. The spiritually awakened man sees evil as God sees it; and, therefore, when he prays to be kept from all evil, he means kept from himself - from the evil that is in him. If he were but free from the answering of his moral evil, nothing that could happen would be a real calamity. - R.T.







The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil
Lawyers, when they are drawing up important documents, frequently con-elude with some general terms to meet any emergency which may possibly occur. They do this on the principle that what is not in may be supposed to be intentionally left out. In order to guard against this inference, they are not content with inserting a number of particular cases; they conclude with a general statement, which includes everything, whether expressed or not. A similar formula is inserted here. It is of great importance that the feet of travellers be kept front sliding as they pursue their journey. It is of great importance that they be preserved from heat by day and from cold by night. But other dangers await them, from which they require protection; and lest the suspicion be entertained that no provision is made for these being surmounted, they are all introduced in the saving and comprehensive clause. No matter what may be their character, no matter from what quarter they may appear, no matter when they may come, and no matter how long they may continue, the declaration covers them all. Divine grace changes the nature of everything it handles, and transforms everything it touches into gold. Afflictions are overruled for good; and the virtues of the Christian life are developed with unusual lustre. "The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil."

(N. McMichael.)

"Guard me when I am off my guard," prayed one the other day. It was a wise prayer, for it is not the danger against which we have fortified ourselves, the temptations which we know and are watching, which are so likely to compass a fall as some unthought-of point where no peril was suspected. Look back over the days, and you will find that their failures have nearly always been in unexpected places. The task which seemed so easy that you scarcely thought of seeking help for it, the good temper which is yours naturally, the endurance manifested so many times that you were quite confident of finding it ready for any stress — just in these things came surprise and defeat, the weakness that wounded your self-respect and left you heart-sore. You gather your forces for the struggle you foresee, you arm against the enemies whose power you know, but, when human watchfulness has done its utmost, there is still a wide margin for that urgent petition: "Guard me when I am off guard."

(J. R. Miller, D. D.)

He shall preserve thy soul.
Homilist.
I. THIS SOUL PRESERVATION IS DIVINE. "The Lord shall preserve," etc. No one else can preserve it —

1. In the right train of thought. Wrong thoughts are dangerous.

2. In the right objects of sympathy. Wrong affections are dangerous.

3. In the right course of action. One step out of the proper path is dangerous.

II. THIS SOUL PRESERVATION IS COMPLETE.

1. It is a preservation guarding from all evil.

2. It is a preservation extending over all activities. In solitude and in society; in business and in recreation; in all engagements and in all scenes; the shield of His protection is over it. He is with it in all its "ins" and "outs" of life.

III. THIS SOUL PRESERVATION IS EVERLASTING. From henceforth "even for evermore." Who shall tell the events, the ages, the requirements of the soul in that "evermore "?

1. The soul is to live a life of dependence for "evermore."

2. The Lord will be its support for "evermore."

(Homilist.)

Thy going out and thy coming in.
The title of this psalm, "A song of ascents," is one which it holds in common with a small group of the Psalms. Its reference is to the ritual usage of the psalm by the pilgrims, as they made their way up to Mount Zion. And yet it is not inappropriate to its spirit. The author's thoughts are lifted up, and our hearts and eyes rise with them. The whole atmosphere of the poem is homely and domestic. It sees the world framed in a cottage doorway. The mountains are not peaks of vision; they are the boundaries and the horizons of his prospects. The threshold of homo fills the foreground of the picture. "Going out and coming in" are its simple lines of motion. The hearth and the field are thus suggested to us. We see the labourer go out into the light of morning with an uplifting of the heart to the dawn-clad hills. We watch him returning to the homestead in the evening, and pausing with his hand upon the door for a last glance at the mountains, as they gather their grey cloaks upon them, the sentinels of his security. And as the psalm closes, one almost expects to see the light in the cottage window, shutting out that wizard world which is just suggested in the superstitious fear of the rising moon. This psalm might have been the work of some Hebrew Burns, following his plough, in glory and in pride, upon the mountain side. Its religion is very simple, and yet all his creed. "The Lord Himself is thy keeper;" that is the summary of his creed. "He that keepeth Israel shall not slumber nor sleep." The foot kept from stumbling, the head shielded from the heat of the noonday sun, the blessing and the preservation of the threshold, these are the simple promises of the psalm. And wrought into them there is the recognition of the spiritual dignity of man. The souls of His children are precious in His sight. And my mind dwells with satisfaction upon these elementary and yet large outlines of life, as it is here presented to us. I am fascinated by the thought of the God of the threshold. As I said just now, the home is the centre of the picture. It is the beginning and the end of the daily journey. The motions of it are reckoned not by the points of the compass; its wanderings are not eastward and westward, but homeward, or away from home. "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in." For we, whose life moves in a somewhat narrow and restricted sphere from day to day, very easily form the habit of prosaic and dull outlooks, regarding our life as an ordinary, common affair. We go out without wonder; we return without surprise. We lose that fine fancy of our childhood, which made a journey into the next street an expedition, and brought us back from the woodlands as travellers from a far country. It is quite true that such a diminished sensitiveness saves Us from many terrors that might otherwise play upon us. But it is equally true that that crippled imagination robs us of half the zest and joy that life might otherwise possess. How much is covered for us by these simple phrases, as we take them in their widest meaning — birth and death, sowing and reaping, expenditure and income, giving and receiving, earning and spending, adventure and peace — all of them may be summed up and expressed for us in those phrases, "our going out," and "our coming in." And if we were to take these symbolic suggestions of them, we might find the promise of the text applicable to them all. But let us dwell, at any Fate to begin with, upon the simple and most natural sense of the text. Day by day we do actually and literally go out and come in. The phrase marks the ordered sequence of our ordinary existence — that daily life of the trivial round, and the common task of which we sometimes complain that nothing ever happens; that it is wholly commonplace. And yet the commonplaceness of it is surely in ourselves. The ordinary daily life that most of us live is, if we be spiritually alert, far less certain and far more adventurous than we conceive. It is only while we take a very superficial glance upon our life, that we can speak of ourselves as knowing the daily conditions under which we have to live. To the spiritually alert the street is as hazardous as the wilderness; and the office and the shop are to us as foreign lands. We may not meet a lion in the path, it is true; but we meet, every day, men and women who surprise us with the revelation of unexpected possibilities, and of unhinted thoughts, and whose action is a thousand times more difficult to forecast. We do not all pick up sovereigns in the gutter as we wander forth; but spiritual gold may wait for us at the corner of any street, and the words that alter the destiny of a life be spoken in the clamour and rumble of a railway platform. For the upbuilding and moulding of character the common events of ordinary life have a significance of quite unplumbed possibility. We may meet the spiritual adventure of our existence within a few yards of our own door. And God may come to meet us, supreme, in the street that our feet have trodden every morning. The path where we have enjoyed such quiet communions, may be changed in a moment into the scene of temptation and disaster. Any morning and any hour may bring to us the opportunity of either denying or entering into, and sharing the larger and fuller communion of our Lord. And it is just that which sets an expectation upon the threshold of the morning, and sends a man forth with a thrill that is partly of hope and partly of fear. Everything, anything, the supremest things may happen to-day. His going forth is always momentous. He knows that there is not the remotest likelihood that he will return again in the evening exactly the same man as he went forth. Changes will have come and impressed themselves upon his being; temptations will have been met and battles have been fought. And so he goes forth with trembling, with the awe of his hesitant and uncertain destiny upon him. The question prompts itself in one's thought whether all of us whom our Christian faith ought to have awakened to the intense possibilities of daily life in spiritual things — whether all of us do live that daily life with a sufficient seriousness, and the sense of its value in the moulding of Our destinies. Do we go out, too, each day as to a spiritual adventure? To go out — as I fear some of us do — to go out day by day without a sense, a zest of hazard in life, to stumble through our daily temptation without the sense of what we are meeting, or what perchance we are avoiding, speaks, as I said just now, a dulled and crippled imagination. On the other hand, to be finely sensitive and responsive to the menaces and suggestions of life, if that were all, might be just as crippling to us. Hope and fear might simply neutralize one another, and the uncertainty of our destiny keep us hesitant and unwilling to adventure our. selves in such a hazardous quest at all. And if I would have you pause upon the threshold, it is not simply that we may correct the thought which has been too carelessly and flippantly going forth to its daily life, but that we may take counsel of the God of the threshold and find our strength and assurance in Him. This word of the psalmist: "The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in" — how rich and heartfelt it is in its quality! It was surely worth our while to pause to gather the richness of such a promise. This promise of the preservation of God over our going forth and our coming in, can only be realized by those whose purposes are in accordance with the will of God. The confidence of God's presence is not something that we can conjure up at will. It is hot something which by constant reiteration we can impress upon our memory and get into our hearts, except it be confirmed by the testimony of our own conscience and by the assurance that the purposes and plans we have before us are holy in the sight of God. There is no promise of preservation for a Jonah fleeing from the purposes of God; for a Saul who is found to transgress and to fight against God. If we are to reap the rich promise that a text like this holds for us, then we must meet the challenge that it presents to our souls. And only as our purposes are clean and pure in the sight of God can its protection accompany us wherever we go. "The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in." The returns of life are not less momentous than its going forth. There may be something of an over-sensitive morbidness in it, but I confess for one that whenever I have been away a few days from home, it is hardly possible to approach it again through the familiar streets without a vague sense of apprehensiveness. What may have happened in the hours of absence? And it is quite true that in the commonest day of our ordinary life, just as we ourselves do not return the same men that we went forth, so there have been changes in the home in our absence, which mean that the same presences will not wait for us there. The home also has its temptations, its spiritual disciplines, as well as the office and the shop. And it may be that our development during that time has not been upon the same lines, has not been even upon parallel lines; and so when we meet again there is a new point of contact to find. We may be coming home joyous and satisfied from a day in which everything has gone well to a home where the pressure of small tasks has weighed too heavily and has produced irritation and griefs. We have to readjust our relations. And how often is it true that we miss the point of contact. That instead of falling at once into a new harmony our moods strike a discord. So this second half of our text, while it means first of all to me that God, through the absences of our daily life, protects our home for us, and watches over those who dwell there, I think means more subtly that God has to protect our home from us sometimes. As we pass the God of the threshold to get into the street in the morning, we have, as it were, to pass through God on our return at eventide. Some of the things that have irritated, and bruised, and chafed during the day, and that ought not to be carried back into the home with us, have got to be slowed off, that so we may meet in peace, and our peace not return to us as a guest that finds no place. "The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil. He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and even for evermore."

(W. C. Piggott.)

It is a promise which should be kept in mind in all our business, in all our movements; amid all the changes and chances of this mortal life. We shall ever more be defended by that ready help, which supposes an eye that cannot close — an arm that cannot fail. But I know of a "going out" and of a "coming in," where we shall especially need the preserving care of our God; and to these, as to every other, may the promise be extended. There is a "going out" from this world, — there is a "coming in" to the next world: the departure through death from the present scene, and the entering on the unknown futurity. But "the Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in." Christ Jesus, according to His own declaration, has the keys of death and the invisible world; He, therefore, it must be, who dismisses the spirit from the flesh, and opens to it the separate state. And why should the believer shrink from the act of dissolution, as though it would be something tremendously awful, when he is thus assured that the Redeemer Him-self will officiate (as it were) at the taking down of "the earthly house of this tabernacle" — be with Him at the "going out" and the "coming in," which he is so ready to invest with terror and dismay?

(H. Melvill, B. D.).

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.
Homilist.
I. REJOICING IN THE OPPORTUNITY FOR ASSEMBLING FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP (vers. 1, 2).

1. One of the grandest social duties of religious men — to invite their neighbours to religious worship.

2. The delight that may be expected from the right discharge of this duty.

II. HIGHLY APPRECIATING THE VARIOUS ADVANTAGES OF HIS COUNTRY (vers. 8-5). He rejoices in it because —

1. It was a scene of material beauty.

2. It was the scene of religious worship.

3. It was the scene of civil justice.

III. EARNESTLY DESIRING THE PROSPERITY OF HIS FATHERLAND (vers. 6-9).

1. He invokes for it the highest good — peace and prosperity.

2. For the strongest reasons.

(1)Personal (ver. 6).

(2)Social (ver. 8).

(3)Religious (ver. 9).

(Homilist.)

I. BEFORE WORSHIP (vers. 1, 2).

1. The joy of a common purpose. Men cannot help approaching one another in approaching one common object.

2. The joy of a common hope.

II. DURING WORSHIP (vers. 3-5).

1. The exceeding beauty of unity.

2. The secret of this admirable unity.

(1)One object of worship.

(2)One priesthood.

(3)One ruler and king.

III. UNITED WORSHIP ITSELF (vers. 6-9).

1. The invitation. "Jerusalem which now is" is not without faults, nor yet without foes. All the more need for her true children and friends to pray for her "peace." It is part of their duty. It is part, also, of their wisdom. "They shall prosper that love thee." When we meet to say "Our Father," let us say also, "Thy kingdom come."

2. The response to the invitation — to its request — to its reasonings.(1) The request is right, and we will gladly accede to it. "Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." May all be right internally and externally too.(2) The reasoning also is sound, and we are prepared to act on it. "For my brethren and companions' sakes," and because I feel that good to them is good to myself as well, "I will now say, Peace be within thee." "Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God," in which house and its common worship this feeling is so especially realized, "I will seek thy good."

(W. S. Lewis, M. A.)

Probably this psalm was composed for the use of the Israelites when journeying up to worship at Jerusalem on the great annual solemnities. We stand in one of the valleys of the Promised Land, whilst it yet flowed with milk and honey, and the children of Abraham had not been exiled for their sins. We see a company approaching: they are a band of one of the distant tribes, and they are hastening to be at Jerusalem on one of the grand anniversaries. As they advance, we catch the sound of their voices: they are beguiling with psalmody the tedious pilgrimage. We listen attentively, and at length we can distinguish the words, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem." Louder and louder grows the melody: the thought of the glories of the city, in which Jehovah specially dwelt, cheers the weary travellers; and the surrounding mountains echo the beautiful invocation, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces."

1. Now, it is not required of us to undertake any wearisome journeys: we are not called to incite one or the other by holy melodies to the leaving of our homes, that we may seek the Lord at some distant shrine. But, nevertheless, we are still bound to the duty of public worship; the privilege is left us, though graciously freed from inconvenience; and it may be as necessary as ever, seeing that the removal of difficulties is not unlikely to produce indolence, that men should exhort one another with the words, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." We know, of course, that there is a sense in which the Almighty "dwelleth not in temples made with hands"; "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him;" how much less the houses which His creatures build l But, nevertheless, just as He may be said to dwell especially in heaven, though, in virtue of His omnipresence, He is equally everywhere, because in heaven He manifests Himself with greater brightness than in any other scene; so may He be said to dwell specially in our churches, if He there give extraordinary tokens of that presence which must indeed be the same in all departments of creation. And when a true servant of God goes up to the sanctuary, it is in the humble but earnest hope of gaining greater knowledge of doctrines which concern his salvation, of gathering fresh stores of that manna which "cometh down from heaven," and of drinking a fresh draught of "the water of life." Neither is it only on account of the advantages derivable from the preaching of the Word that the sincere Christian is earnest in attending the sanctuary. There is a charm and a power to him in public worship, in the being associated with a multitude of his fellow-men in acts of prayer and praise, which would draw him to God's house. It is an inspiriting and elevating thing when numbers loin, with one heart and voice, to ask Divine protection, and celebrate Divine love. There is more of the imagery of heaven in such an exhibition than in any other to be seen on this earth. But we must not omit, in our survey of reasons, why a Christian is glad, when invited to the house of the Lord, that in this house are administered the Sacraments, those mysterious and most profitable rites of our holy religion.

2. We have hitherto enlarged on the motives to joy which are furnished by the ordinances of religion: we will now examine whether there be not also motives in the finding that others associate themselves with us in those ordinances, yea, incite us to their most diligent use? And what more evident than that, if it be a joyful thing to the Christian to go up to God's house, it must be yet more joyful to go up with a throng? Anxious himself to obtain spiritual strength, it will delight him to mark the like anxiety in others. For there is nothing selfish in genuine religion: on the contrary, it enlarges and throws open the heart, so that the safety of others is eared for in proportion that one's own seems secured.

3. It is one of the predictions of Isaiah in reference to those days when the dispersed Jews are to be restored, and Jerusalem made "a praise in the earth," that "many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountains of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob." Who would not be glad to have it said unto him, "Let us go into the house of the Lord," when the saying implied that God had at length fulfilled His mightiest promises, that His banished ones were gathered home, and that there had broken on this creation days for which kings and righteous men had longed, days when "out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem," till earth, in its remotest tribes, yield homage to the Christ? We may not live to hear the summons thus applied; but we may show our desire for the glorious triumphs which Christianity has yet to achieve, by the earnestness of our endeavours to promote its diffusion.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

These words show us that the psalmist was thinking —

I. About WORSHIP. "The house of the Lord." That, to the pious Hebrew, was the scene and symbol of worship. There are two aspects of worship, both of which are right. One is, that in the house of the Lord we get from God what, as sinners and sufferers and suppliants for others, we seek. The other is, that we give to God the adoration and praise He condescends to receive.

II. About SOCIAL WORSHIP. "Let us go." The solitary worship in "the still hour ' and in "the quiet resting-place" is good. But prayer has special promise attached to it when "any two agree"; and praise has special glory when "young men and maidens, old men and children" blend their hallelujahs.

III. About INVITATION TO SOCIAL WORSHIP. There are times when, to the neglectful, or the depressed, or the sinful, this human invitation seems an echo of the Divine welcome. There is gladness

(1)because God may be worshipped.

(2)Because others are worshipping God.

(3)Because others are caring for us.

(U. R. Thomas.)

The house of the Lord suggests such subjects of thought as these — they may not come to us in this order, but they are such as these: —

I. THOUGHTS OF THE LORD HIMSELF. The house of the Lord. A gladdening thought this to David, and to every man who knows God as Jesus Christ teaches His disciples to know the Father. There may be very little gladness through simply saying "there is a God"; but surely joyfulness must spring up in the soul when a man can add "O God, thou art my God."

II. THOUGHTS OF THE VARIOUS GLORIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD.

III. THOUGHTS OF HIS MERCIES.

IV. THOUGHTS OF THE EXERCISE AND THE ACT OF WORSHIP. How pleasant to praise! What relief is there in the confession of sin! How soothing is prayer!

V. THOUGHTS OF MEETING GOD AS HE IS NOT MET ELSEWHERE.

VI. THOUGHTS OF RECEIVING SPECIAL BLESSINGS FROM GOD.

VII. THOUGHTS OF THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.

VIII. THOUGHTS OF ENJOYING A PRIVILEGE IN THE PERFORMANCE OF DUTY.

(S. Martin, M. A.)

I. THERE HE IS WARRANTED TO EXPECT THE PECULIAR ENJOYMENT OF THE DIVINE PRESENCE. To an affectionate friend nothing is so delightful as his friend's society. To a fond child nothing is dearer than the embrace of his father. He delights when absent to return to him. Such is the emotion with which a sincerely pious mind welcomes the coming of the Sabbath, and the returning solemnities in the house of God. And this is a state of feeling that must continually increase in proportion to the increase of his spirituality and piety.

II. THE GRATIFICATION THUS EXPRESSED ON APPROACHING TO THE HOUSE OF GOD, SPRINGS ALSO FROM THE HAPPINESS OF A NEAR AND INTIMATE ASSOCIATION WITH OUR BRETHREN IN ALL THE EXERCISES OF UNITED DEVOTION.

III. THE TRULY PIOUS MAN WILL REJOICE IN APPROACHING TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, BECAUSE OF THOSE SACRED AND SOLEMN EMPLOYMENTS SO CONGENIAL WITH HIS BEST FEELINGS THERE AWAITING HIM. For there may he freely, and in concert witch his brethren, engage in those avocations, and delight himself with those pleasures, which are to be his business and his felicity for ever.

IV. WE SHALL REJOICE TO ENTER AGAIN INTO THE HOUSE OF GOD, BECAUSE OF THE PROGRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT IN ALL OUR CHARACTER THERE CONSTANTLY EXPERIENCED. And in order to the attainment of this advance in the Divine life, derived from all the engagements of the sanctuary, meditate much on their importance. Seek to approach in a state of sacred preparation. Think not of man, but of God. Remember that you stand immediately before Him. Call frequently to mind the account you must render hereafter, and ask with solemnity of spirit how you would be able even now to render it. Be not satisfied, unless you can discern, after each season of devotion, some benefit experienced; some grace attained or strengthened; the soul melted into deeper humility on account of sin, or else kindled into loftier exultation, and conscious of a purer love for all the joys of pardon, and the hope of glory.

(R. S. McAll, LL. D.)

To know a real and undying happiness, the soul must be bent away from earth and bound back to God. This is religion. But how few know it to be so in this mammon-worshipping world. How few can catch at the sentiment of this text, and breathe it through the heart — "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Tell the world it will find happiness anywhere but in religion, and it will go anywhere, and will never give up the hope under its vain Search. But tell it that the springs of abiding gladness are here, in the house of the Lord, that they are within the reach of all, and you will immediately find its credulity changed into incredulity, and its activity into idleness. Now, why is this? The more I search into it, the more am I convinced that what is wrong are the false conceptions that have been steadily growing up in our midst as to what the Church is, and the mistaken relations we have been entertaining to it. To a great many people who have enough of religious sentiment left in them to forbid them wishing to see the Church entirely effaced, it is anything but gladness to be told to go into the house of the Lord. They have no inclination to be in the sanctuary, but a very strong desire to be anywhere else. All this is the fruit of a mistaken notion of what the Church is. They regard it very much as a schoolboy regards compulsory attendance at school, not as a privilege, but as a hardship; not as offering untold benefits, but only as so much restraint and drudgery that ought to be escaped from as much as possible. And so, when they do go, it is under a sense of constraint or decency, to bestow favour and not to expect good. But if these are glad to escape church attendance and to be let alone, there are also those who are really glad when the Sabbath invitation summons them to the church, but of whom it can, nevertheless, be said that they are not worshippers; they are simply sermon-hunters. But if people are glad to go to church sometimes because they hear clever sermons, just as if they are drawn to a hall to listen to some great political orator or candidate, so are there some who enter church neither to be instructed nor amused, but to bear themselves as critics and judges, and to take no other part in the service. This also grows out of a false conception of the Church. For it is not a place where man is at liberty to sit in judgment on his fellow, or where the instrument is greater than the hand that wields it; but the place where men ought to be humble and not presumptuous, and where they ought to serve and not judge. But if the influence of the Christian Church has been hindered and impaired because of the false notions with which we have so often entered it, we have also weakened it and prevented its power by the wrong relations we have borne to it. It has been to us too long no more than an earthly temple of stone and timber, with a human voice sounding in our ears, and human creatures like ourselves our only companions. It has been to us the resort of habit, and the place where by inherited faith we have been trained from childhood to repair to. But the stone and timber of the sanctuary are no more than the stone and timber of any other building, neither are those we meet with here other than those we meet with in the world, nor yet is the habit acquired nor the faith inherited which carries us to the sanctuary of any value. Our true and sole relation to the place is not in the visible, but in the invisible. When we repair to it we ought to see nothing, and feel nothing, and desire nothing but God. For it is "the house of the Lord." We have to please God, and this is how we will please Him, by remembering, when we are in the house of the Lord, that He is there, to receive our praises, to hear our prayers, and to instruct us not after our own choosing, nor with the words of man's wisdom, but in the simplicity of the truth. This is worship therefore when we sing, and when we pray, and when we listen for spiritual edification, and not because we have an itching ear. Then shall carping criticism be dead, and the small shall become really great; for the poorest sermon shall have much in it then, and the best sermon shall have more spiritual momentum, and all the Church's service will be worship, and the Church shall awake and put on her strength, and God. shall be glorified; and we shall find enduring happiness and salvation in the harmony of the new life.

(R. Sinclair.)

It should be a source of joy to us, even as it was to David, to be regular and punctual in our attendance upon the public means of grace —

I. WITH A VIEW TO GOD'S HONOUR AND GLORY. If, on the one hand, the devout and humble worshipper contributes, as he most undoubtedly does, to that great end, then, I ask you whether it does not follow, upon the other hand, that his unnecessary or inexcusable neglect to attend the services of the sanctuary positively dishonours God?

II. FOR OUR OWN SPIRITUAL REFRESHMENT AND EDIFICATION. We have our own individual cares and anxieties, and our own hard struggles in the race of life, and ofttimes we feel so worn and fagged with the hurry and bustle of the world that we are well nigh ready to sink beneath the pressure upon us, and we experience an intense yearning for rest, an earnest longing for something — perhaps some of us scarcely know what — but something that certainly we find not in the whirl of business or the excitement of pleasure. Ah! thank God, that peace which the world cannot give is to be found here, here in the house of prayer. Every time these doors are opened for public worship, God awaits His hungry, and thirsty, and fainting people, and whispers to each poor, needy, longing soul, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you."

III. THAT WE MAY BECOME EXAMPLES FOR GOOD TO THOSE AROUND US. Let me assure you that when you give up for a time the sweet converse of friends and the cheerful glow of the bright fireside, and turn out, it may be, into the blinding snow, or the pelting rain, or the dismal fog, that you may go into the house of the Lord, you do far more by these your silent, but practical, examples than we can hope to accomplish by any amount of persuasion. It was a noble answer that an old saint of God who had been for years very deaf once gave to her minister when he asked her why she was so constant in her attendance at church: — "Though I cannot hear, I come to God's house because I love it, and I love the service, and I wish to be found in His ways, and He gives me many a sweet thought upon the text when it is pointed out to me. Another reason is because I am in the best company, in the most immediate presence of God, and among His saints, the honourable of the earth. I am not satisfied with serving God in private; it is my duty and privilege to honour Him regularly and constantly in public."

(J. F. Haynes, LL. D.)

Why glad?

1. That you have a house of the Lord to which you may go. David's zeal for God's house. The incident with Araunah. Removal of the ark to Jerusalem. His reasoning about a house for God. His large liberality toward building the Temple. That which costs us nothing we do not prize. When our money and labour and brain and heart go into God's house, we are "glad when," etc.

2. That any feel enough interest in me to say, "Let us go," etc.

3. That I am able to go to God's house. That my Sabbaths are my own. Sabbath and government and capital — the right of the working-man. That I have bodily health. That I have mental health. Able to-day, may not be to-morrow.

4. That I am disposed to go. "Where there's a will there's a way." Many excuses, but true of the mass of non-church-goers, that they have not the will.

(J. G. Butler.)

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