Imatges de pàgina
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facts of revelation; let him not attempt to penetrate the glory that dazzles the gaze of the seraph when he comes near the throne, or to lift the vail from those secrets of Providence and of grace into which the cherubim dare not look; oh! let not man rush, where angels tremble. And if that God who has commissioned him, demands that his servant should faithfully proclaim, in their characteristic simplicity and energy, the great truths of his holy word, will he not expect from those to whom this word is addressed, from you, people of the congregation, the humble reception of it? Has he attested this word by signs, and wonders, and mighty works? Does it come, bearing every truth, every precept, every promise that can enlighten, that can direct, that can cheer the dark, the wandering, the desponding? Does it point the way, does it supply the strength to go through the errors, the sorrows, the sins of this mortal pilgrimage, to the regions of truth, of purity, of immortal bliss? Are there those whose commission and whose duty it is to offer and to enforce this blest word of reconciliation to beseech you in the stead, and by the mercies and the merits of their divine Master, to lay down the weapons with which you war against your Maker, and to accept pardon and favour from your Almighty Sovereign? and will you, when the Sovereign Lord of heaven and of earth thus authoritatively dispenses the gracious offers of salvation, heedlessly neglect, or, with the more impious purpose of perseverance in the career of sin, boldly contemn and reject the merciful Overture?

For what purpose, and in what character, brethren, do we come to this sacred temple? Not to VOL. II.

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speculate on things abstruse, as philosophers-not, as the votaries of learning, to have its rich stores opened to our wondering gaze-not, as the admirers of genius, to witness and to extol its lofty flights-not, as the men of taste, to have the feelings delighted by the exhibitions of fancy, or overpowered by the tide of eloquence. Ah! my brethren, here we appear in a station to which are levelled all the human race; here we appear in that undistinguished mass, where the high and the low, the rich and the poor meet together: our station here is that of outcasts, on account of sin, from the divine favour; and here all mingle as sinners obnoxious to divine justice. We ought to know the mode of recovery from this state of degradation, of restoration to the forfeited favour of him who, the only source of felicity, can alone dispense happiness to us. The word of God points out that mode. If philosophy, learning, genius, taste, eloquence, explaining, elucidating, adorning, enforcing the truths of salvation, can bring them with greater conviction on the understanding, and fasten stronger their hold upon the heart, let the minister employ them, let the people welcome them, as grateful auxiliaries; but miserable substitutes are they for the pure and simple truth as it is in Jesus-miserable comforters are they to the soul which, wounded with a sense of sin, sends forth from every agonized feeling the inquiry, "What shall I do to be saved?" With one who proudly excelled in them all, let the servant of the sanctuary count them all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; and, my brethren, with the same great model for people as well as ministers, let your wishes and

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your aim, in this sacred place, be excited by that sensibility to your weakness and your demerit, and that lively view of the mercy and the grace displayed in the plan of redemption, which will unite all your faculties and affections in the holy resolution, "God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"The Lord is in this place."

2. Let, then, his worship be here devoutly performed by minister and people.

Jehovah is in every place. Of this infinite, this all-pervading Being, it may be said with poetic beauty, and more than poetic truth,

"His temple is all space;

His altar, earth, sea, skies."

But, in condescending accommodation to the nature of man, who, in every concern of interest, and especially in the invisible and intangible matters of the spiritual and eternal world, seeks something definite, precise, visible, something marked by time and place, to aid his conceptions, to elevate his affections, to confirm his hopes, to fix and engage his faculties, it has pleased his all-merciful Maker to appropriate certain places where worship is to be rendered to him, to fix certain times for these acts of homage, and to institute certain rites, exhibiting, enforcing, and conveying spiritual blessings. One of these places is now this holy temple; holy, not in the sense of material sanctity, but in relation to the holy exercises of religious worship, and to the holy ordinances which are here to be performed and administered, and to the holy Being who has here promised to accept that worship, and

to accompany those ordinances with his purifying grace. Regarding, then, this edifice as thus the consecrated habitation of the Lord, in which he delights to dwell and to dispense his spiritual blessings to the humble worshippers of his name; and especially viewing this Christian sanctuary as the place where will be fulfilled, in the conveyance to the faithful of all the blessings of salvation, that promise of the divine Redeemer of our race, " Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;" may we not apply to this temple the glowing strains with which the psalmist of Israel celebrated the less glorious temple of a dispensation preparatory to and shadowing that to which this sanctuary is devoted, "O how amiable are thy tabernacles, thou Lord of hosts!" And shall we not, ministers and people, joyfully obey the summons that, at stated times, urges and invites us-"O enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise." "O come, let us worship, and fall down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker." But let devotion, let humility, let reverence mark both ministers and people in the worship of the sanctuary; for "the Lord is in this place." Let them both be grateful, that in a solemnity of such awful moment as that of the public homage of assembled Christians to the Majesty of heaven and of earth, the matter and the language of the confessions, supplications, and praises, in which they invoke and celebrate his name, are well ordered, drawn in part from the pure treasures of primitive times, enriched by the contributions of the wisdom and the piety of succeeding ages, animated by a spirit as fervent and reverential as that which warms

and awes the "rapt seraph;" its aspirations poured forth in words as simple, and pure, and fervent, and pathetic, as uninspired lips can utter. Let it be the object of the minister to be simple, and pure, and fervent, and pathetic in the tones and manner by which he seeks to engage the suppliants and worshippers before him in the various exercises of this inimitable service, and to fulfil one of his highest and most important duties, that of expressing the confessions and the supplications, and animating the praises of the people; and by reading the divine word, and absolving and blessing them in the name and by the authority of his Master, bring them near to God. And for this purpose, let him feel-in confession, that he has sins that are to be forgiven-in supplication, that he has wants to be relieved-in thanksgivings and praises, that he has been crowned with benefits that call for grateful homage to that Lord of all, whose goodness demands all praise-and in reading the divine word, and in absolving and blessing, that while he is the unworthy instrument of conveying divine truth, pardon, peace, and grace to the humble and contrite, he needs the voice of the Master who commissions him, to shed truth upon his own mind, and to convey pardon, and peace, and grace to his own guilty conscience and corrupt soul. Let him feel especially that "the Lord is in the place" where he thus worships, and his affections will be awed, his manner will be solemnized, his whole soul will be occupied in that homage which he offers to his God, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises. The recognition of that presence will stamp with no ordinary criminality every mutilation of that liturgy which, in that awful presence, we pro

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