One of the world's greatest cathedrals is that at Toledo. He who has seen it can never forget it. It is worthy of the description of Bescauer. In this description he speaks not only of the beauty of architecture but of the beauty of worship also when he says: "Imagine a world of stone, immense as the spirit of our religion, somber as its traditions, enigmatic as its parables, and yet you will not have even a remote idea of this eternal monument of the enthusiasm and faith of our ancestors—a monument upon which the centuries have emulously lavished their treasures of knowledge, inspiration, and the arts. In the cathedral heart dwells silence, majesty, the poetry of mysticism, and a holy dread which guards those thresholds against worldly thoughts, and the paltry passions of earth. Consumption of the body is stayed by breathing pure mountain air; atheism should be cured by breathing the atmosphere of faith."
On the Gothic towers of this church, looking down upon you as you come into the church and leave it, are the gargoyles, not less hideous than those which are to be found on the towers of the medieval churches. There is something mysterious about putting a gargoyle with his devilish countenance on the house of God. The gargoyle seems to have been a symbol of how worship and faith in Christ cast out the evil spirit from the heart of man. However that may be as a true explanation of an architectural monstrosity, there is no doubt that worship and prayer in the church subdue passion and cast out evil spirits. There are those who have entered the doors of this church who had evil purposes in their hearts, or who were about to yield to what would have been fatal temptation; but they left the church changed, emancipated, and delivered.
The Jews have a legend that when Abraham started on his journeys he saw the stars in the heavens and said, "I will worship the stars." But ere long the stars set. Then Abraham saw the constellations—the Pleiades and the rest of them—and he said, "I will worship the constellations." But the constellations also set. Then Abraham saw the moon sailing high in the heavens and he said, "I will worship the moon." But the moon also vanished when her season was over. Then Abraham saw the sun in all his majesty, coming out of his chamber like a bridegroom and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. But when the day was spent, he saw the sun sink on the western horizon. Stars, constellations, moon, and sun—all were unworthy of his worship, for all had set and all had disappeared. Then Abraham said, "I will worship God, for he abides forever."
God alone is worthy of your worship. Whatever else you worship—ambition, money, appetite, beauty, affections, friends—all of them, one by one, like the heavenly bodies, set and disappear. But God remains. Jesus Christ remains. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Give him first place in your life. Give him your devotion, your strength,
and your love.
In More's Utopia the people have beautiful churches and a rich ritual, with lights and incense and sweet odors, not because these have any particular power with the Deity, but because this "unhurtful and harmless kind of worship pleaseth them." All the people at church wear white apparel. The holy days are two each month, the first and the last. On these days, before repairing to the churches, the wives fall down before the husbands and the children before the parents, confessing their faults or omissions. "Thus if an cloud of privy displeasure was risen at home, by this satisfaction it is overblown, that they may be present at the sacrifices with pure and charitable minds. For they be afraid to come there [to church] with troubled conscience. Therefore, if they know themselves to bear any hatred or grudge towards any man, they presume not to come to the sacrifices before they have reconciled themselves and purged their consciences, for fear of great vengeance and punishment for their offence."
Lyman Beecher Stowe, in "Saints, Sinners, and Beechers," tells of one occasion when Thomas K. Beecher substituted for his famous brother, Henry Ward Beecher, at Plymouth Church, Brooklyn. Many curiosity seekers came to see and hear Henry Ward Beecher. Upon Thomas K. Beecher's appearance in the pulpit the sightseers started for the doors. Thomas K. raised his hand for attention, and made this announcement: "All those who came here this morning to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now withdraw from the church; all who came to worship God may remain."—Christian Beacon.
The moment seemed inopportune for worship. So many things needed prompt attention. No home for his wife and children. No shed for the cattle. So much required to be done that called for thought, plan, arrangement, effort, toil. If ever there lived a man who could plead that distracting necessities excluded the worship of God, that man was Noah. But not so with Noah. All shall be yielded to Him who is above all. He who is first shall be the first. He who is best shall have the best. The earth's first building after the judgment shall be an altar for the worship of Jehovah. Noah's first care is to bless the care which has so cared for him. His first posture is the bended knee and uplifted knife.—"Christ Is All."
John Wesley conducted an open-air service in a little village in Cornwall two hundred years ago, and said concerning the same: "I preached Christ our 'wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.' I could not conclude till it was so dark that we could scarce see one another. And there was on all sides the deepest attention: none speaking, stirring, or scarce looking aside. Surely here, though in a temple not made with hands, was God worshiped in the beauty of holiness."—Methodist Recorder, London.
In the summer of 1927 we were driving from Seattle to Boston. Coming down the Black Hills Highway in South Dakota, we stopped late one afternoon at an isolated tourist camp. No other campers had arrived. At dusk, however, to our surprise, five carloads of Sioux Indians drove in. We learned that they were on their way to a Christian convocation service. At 4:30 next morning I looked out of our tent, and there about two hundred feet away, motionless as a bronze statue, silhouetted against the pale glow of the coming dawn, was an aged Indian kneeling. His hands were clasped, his face was up-turned, and his whole attitude was one of adoration and worship. Filled with wonder and awe, I quietly wakened the others in our party. Then as we looked out over the camp. we saw that in the lifted doorway of every tent, other Indians were kneeling. Silently our heads, and our hearts, too, bowed with those of our brothers in Christ.—Secret Place.
A traveler called his companion's attention to a firm's peculiar name. It was "Head & Hart." The companion remarked: "Poor Hart has died and left Head alone." This often occurs in Christian life, worship, and service—all head and no heart.—Sunday School Superintendent.