Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Worship with your Body

Desiring God recently post an article from Jonathan Edward on Bodily Worship. I found the article to be very insightful so I hope this is helpful for you all as well.


"I don't suppose that any understanding men, of whatsoever sect or opinion, will say that God is really pleased with bodily worship as such, that is, that merely such and such gestures and motions of body are what delights him as a part of virtue; but only as they are helps to the exercise of real virtue and the worship of the mind. Now there is an indissoluble, unavoidable association, in the minds of the most rational and spiritual, between things spiritual and things bodily. Thus when we are joyful and express our joy, 'tis natural to do it with a lively voice; and when we express sorrow, to do it with what we call a mournful voice. This is natural to us, and the association becomes much stronger by use in other matters.

Therefore if, when we come to praise God or confess our sins, we resolved not in any measure to alter our manner of expression for sorrow or joy, we must restrain that which is strongly associated with the joy and sorrow; and thereby shall unavoidably, in some measure, forever restrain the spiritual affections themselves, till we quite dissolve the association: which cannot be, in the most rational, while in the body. So we are necessitated to join some gestures to some habitudes of mind in common affairs, as uncovering the head, and some other gestures besides fitting with reverence. Thereby there grows a strong association, so that if one be restrained the other will unavoidably be restrained too. So that some bodily worship is necessary to give liberty to our own devotion; yea though in secret, so more when with others. For we having associated the idea of reverence and other habitudes of mind to such and such gestures of body, it would restrain our notion or apprehension of another's reverence, etc., if we should see those gestures which we have associated to contrary dispositions; so that our own devotion would not be so much assisted by theirs but restrained, and the communion in the duty in some measure destroyed, and so the end of social devotion. 'Tis necessary that there should be something bodily and visible in the worship of a congregation; otherwise, there can be no communion at all.

I acknowledge, that the more rational a person, the less doth his disposition of mind depend on anything in his body; and that if he practises gestures of body in worship, where there is no necessary and unavoidable association, it tends to make him, or to keep him less rational and spiritual. But yet there are some associations of this nature that [are] equally unavoidable, and coeval with the association of soul and body. So many as are thus necessary, we are allowed in gospel worship, and more [than that] are contrary to its nature; for the gospel supposes the church to be no longer an infant, but as come to the stature of a man. Wherefore the weak and beggarly elements are rejected, and the childish bodily ceremonies cashiered, as being fit only for children, and unworthy of those who are come to riper years; and the worship that is now required of [us] is only that which is manly, rational and spiritual."

Grace upon grace,

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