“It is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days.”—MATT. 12:12.
“Call the Sabbath a
delight, the holy of the Lord,
honorable,”—“honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding
thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.”—ISA. 68:13.
The duty of public worship is clearly taught in the Holy Scriptures: 1. From the appointment of one day in seven, to be set apart exclusively for the service of God, we may argue the propriety of assembling together, to acknowledge and worship him in a social capacity. God has made us social beings; and all the institutions of his appointment contemplate us as such. The public worship of the Sabbath is preeminently calculated to cultivate the social principle of our nature. It brings people of the same community regularly together, every week, for the same general purpose. In the house of God all meet upon a level.
2. If we look forward from the institution of the Sabbath to the organization of the Jewish church, we find that God did actually establish a regular system of public worship. An order of men was instituted whose special business was to conduct the public worship of God. After the return of the Jews from captivity, social meetings, held every Sabbath, for public religious worship, became common all over the land. They were called synagogues.[I] Although we have no particular account of the divine origin of these assemblies, yet they were sanctioned by the presence of Christ, who often took part in the public exercises.
Under the gospel dispensation, the plan of synagogue worship is continued, with such modifications as suit it to the clearer and more complete development of God’s gracious designs towards sinful men. A new order of men has been instituted, to conduct public worship and teach the people. As religion consists very much in the exercise of holy affections, God has appointed the preaching of the Word as a suitable means for stirring up these affections. Our desires are called forth, our love excited, our delight increased, and our zeal inflamed, by a faithful, earnest, and feeling representation of the most common and familiar truths of the Bible, from the pulpit. It is evident, then, that the private reading of the best books, though highly useful, cannot answer the end and design of public worship.
[Footnote I: The term synagogue
was applied both to the place of
meeting and to the congregation assembling for public worship, as the
term church is now used.]
3. The duty of public worship may be inferred from the fitness and propriety of a public acknowledgment of God, by a community, in their social capacity.