“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”—Matthew 28:20
What an encouraging declaration is this of our Jesus, to prompt the faithful to meet together on the Lord’s day; or in short, any day, at all times, and all places. Observe, my soul, how sweet the Lord speaks; ‘There am I in the midst of my people; not by my word only, not as represented in ordinances, not by the ministry of my servants, but I myself spiritually. The calls, the motions of grace felt in the heart, the tender tokens, the manifestations of my suitableness, fulness, and all-sufficiency; these are all truly mine, which, by the influences of my Spirit, I communicate among you.’ Oh, precious, condescending Lord, now we see what it is that constitutes a true gospel church—even thy presence. Thou art the beauty and glory of it; and from thee alone all power and efficacy is derived. Thy churches are, indeed, as thou hast taught, the golden candlesticks; and thy ministers are as stars in thy right hand. But the candlesticks have no light, until thou, by thy presence, enlighten them; neither do thy servants, the ministers, hold forth the light of thy word profitably, until thou openest the heart, as thou didst poor Lydia’s, to receive the things delivered, to the salvation of the soul. Ye ministers of my God! draw all your comfort and encouragement, amidst all the difficulties you meet with, both from within and without, in your: sacred service, from this sweet assurance of Jesus. Whenever you go up to the assemblies of God’s people, hear the footsteps of your Master behind you. And ye, who pant after sweet fellowship and communion with Jesus, seek it by the footsteps of the flock, beside the shepherd’s tents, where Jesus feeds his sheep. Who would be absent from that blessed place where Jesus comes to bless? And Oh, what encouragement to the faithful to bring with them their unawakened friends and relations to the assemblies which Jesus honours with his presence. Surely he who wrought salvation in our hearts, can work the same in theirs. No wonder, when such mercies Jesus brings with him to his people, that the heart of David fainted to go up to the house of the Lord, that he might see the power and glory of Jesus, as he had seen it in the sanctuary.
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."