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Of Spiritual Worship.
JOHN IV. xxiv. God is a Spirit, and they that worShip him, muft worship him in Spirit and in Truth.
HESE Words are part of our Savi.
our's Discourse to the Samaritan Woman, and they may without Difficulty be interpreted by their own Light; however I shall begin with considering the Occasion upon which they were spoken, and so with borrowing the Light which that lends.
The Samaritans, of whoin this Woman was one, were a People that had descended from the several Nations, which the Assyrian King had placed in the Cities of Samaria, instead of the Children of Israel, after that he had carried the Ten Tribes away into
Captivity: Which Progenitors of theirs, when Shalmanefer had first transplanted them in Samaria, feared not the God of the Hebrews, and therefore the Lord sent Licns among them, which slew some of them. Where. upon to be delivered from that Plague, they got some Priests of the Captivity amongst them to teach them the Way of worshipping the God of the Place, and so they feared the Lord, and served their own Gods, their graven Images too, 2 Kings 17. But in Process of Time their Posterity left off the Idolatry of serving false Gods, and worshipped the true God only. For these Samaritans inha, biting the Country between Judea and Galilee were Neighbours to the Jews, and at length they learned lome Part of the Fewish Religion, and pretended, when it was for their Interest, that they were a-kin to the Jews, and had descended from Abrabam, Isaac, and Jacob. As for Instance, v. 12. of this Chapter, the Woman pretended that the Samaritans were the Posterity of the Patriarch Jacob. But they came not to ferufalem to offer Sacrifice, but had a Temple in Mount Gerizim, first built by Sanballat, after the Babylonian Captivity, in which Temple they offered Sacrifice. From this Schism there sprang a mortal Hatred between the Fews and the Samaritans, which for the most part excluded common Civility
and Conversation, the Jews truly pretending, that the Temple in Jerusalem was the Place where God would have Sacrifice offered, the Samaritans falfly, that the Temple upon Mount Gerizim was that place. The Woman of Samaria therefore perceiving that Fefus was a Prophet, put this Question to him, Our Fathers, faid
' fhe, worshipped in this Mountain; as if she had said, Abrnbam and Jacob built Altars in this place for Sacrifice, before ever there was a Temple for Sacrifice at Jerusalem, and therefore we think this, as being the more ancient Place for Sacrifice, is that Place where Men are to worship. But ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where Men ought to worship. What sayeft thou to this Difference? What is thy Opinion?
To this our Saviour answers two Ways. :.1. By shewing that, as the Cafe now ftood, there was no great need to trouble themselves about this Controversy. Woman, believe me that the Hour cometb when ye shall neither in this Mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. That is,
" Trouble “ not your self with this Dispute, for the « Occasion of it in a little Time will be taç ken away. For the Sacrifices which are "offered either in Jerufalem, or in this & Mount Gerizim, shall cease, and the Tem
ples themselves shall be destroyed, and so
" the Privilege about which you contend < shall be taken from both.
2. Our Saviour doth however determine the Question positively in these Words: Te worship ye know not what; we knop what we worship; for Salvation is of the Jews. That is, “However for the present I tell “ you, that tho you worship the Father of « all Things, yet you know him not, you
know not his Will, and rejecting the Pro- phets; you also reject that plain Rule, ac6 cording to which God will be served. But " the Jews, who offer Sacrifices according ss to the Law of Moses, and the Rule of the « Prophets Writings, do know that they « observe the Will of God, and particularly “ in this thing, that they offer Sacrifices at
Jerusalem, the Place that God had chosen 6 wherein to record his Name. And as
Jerusalem, and the Temple there, is the « Place which God hath honoured, by rai
sing up Prophets among them, so that is “ the Place, which he does, and will farther
honour, by the publick preaching of the « Doctrine of Salvation. For as the Messias " is of the Jewish Nation, fo in Jerusalem « first is the Word of Salvation to be preach“ed by hiin, and his Ministers. ".
Now our Saviour having thus answered the Woman's Question, returns to the first and more necessary Instruction, viz. that it
was now high time for Men and Women to apply their Minds to Things of greater Moment, than the Controversy about Gerizim and Jerusalem. But, says he, the hour cometh, and now is, when the true Worshippers Shall Worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth; For the Father seeketh such to Worship him, that is, there is another kind of Service and Worship, which both Samaritans and Jews are almost quite Strangers unto, and is of a very different Nature from that of bringing Sacrifices of Birds and Beasts to a Temple, that pretends to the Privilege of being the only Place for that purpose in the World j And this Worship cheifly consists in offering Prayers and Thanksgivings to God out of a Mind full of Piety, Purity, and Charity;
And with this Worship God is incomparably more delighted than with whole burnt. Offerings and Sacrifices: And to make Way for this, all the Frame of your
External Religion shall soon come to an End, and the Doctrine by which it is to be done is already begun to be preach'd to the World.
Then our Saviour ends with the Reason why this Worship is most pleasing to God, as in the Text, God is a Spirit, and they that Worship him, muft Worship bim in Spirit, and in Truth.