Imatges de pàgina
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mised to preserve entire-every presumptuous introduction of our own effusions into that full and impressive service by which the wisest and the best of men have deemed it an honour and a privilege to be regulated, and which the most solemn obligations guard from this unhallowed freedom. For every assemblage of her members for public worship, the church prescribes her morning and evening prayer; and in every place where that assem→ blage is held for this sacred purpose, God is especially present. The reasons which urge a prescribed form for public worship, apply to all occasions of this nature; the law of the church makes no exceptions. Inconsistency is the least censure to which a different course is justly subject, and this course of mutilation and of unauthorized prayers unavoidably and powerfully tends to destroy the respect and affection for a service which is thus rudely treated. If general, it would terminate as at a memorable period of the history of the church from which our church is descended-it did terminate in the demolition of that liturgy which is not only the best manual of rational, sober, and fervent devotion, but a most powerful guardian of the distinguishing and fundamental doctrines of salvation, through the merits and grace of a divine Mediator. Let then the people also, as they prize these doctrines, revere, and cherish, and guard from violation the liturgy that expresses them with such clearness, and strength, and pathos, and sends them forth warmed with the pure and fervent spirit of devotion. Let the pure and fervent spirit of the services here celebrated animate their affections when they here come into the presence of the Lord. With errors to be corrected, with sins

to be forgiven, with necessities to be relieved, with benefits to be acknowledged-with friends, with families, with their great Christian fold, with their country, with the whole human race for whom to intercede-they should unite in this service with hearts excited by penitence, by humility, by gratitude, by the holy spirit of universal love. Their voices, in the responses which enliven its strains, should speak the language of their hearts. Reverence should chasten their devotion, for the Lord whom they worship is great and terrible; faith and hope should enliven their supplications and praises, for he is good-in his Son Jesus Christ, merciful to their sins. Let them feel the language which they, or the minister of the sanctuary utters for them-let them feel that the Lord is in the place where they are worshipping, and a pure, and holy, and acceptable homage will ascend to his throne.

"The Lord is in this place."

3. Let, then, its ministrations and ordinances be duly celebrated and honoured.

For it is in these that he particularly manifests his presence. These are the divine bands that keep together that society of faithful men which, thus associated under divinely appointed ministers and ordinances, constitute that church which is denominated the body of Christ, the body which it is said he purchased with his blood, the body, of which he is represented as the head; to the members of which, through the word which its ministers proclaim, the declarations of forgiveness which they authoritatively pronounce, the sacraments and ordinances which they celebrate, he applies the

merits of his death for the pardon of their sins, and the influences of his Holy Spirit for the sanctification of their disordered natures, and for their exaltation to the bliss of that heavenly kingdom of which they are made heirs. This is that holy society which, by its divinely appointed ministers, and sacraments, and ordinances, becomes the mean and the pledge to the penitent, and the humble, and the faithful, of those blessings of the Christian covenant, pardon, and grace, and immortal life, to which sinful man by nature has no claim-which, merited for him only by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, he must accept on those conditions which his offended Maker prescribes, and receive through the channel of those ordinances which his divine Lord hath constituted.

The Almighty Lawgiver indeed is not restrained by his own institutions-which, however, are indispensably binding upon those on whom they are imposed. He may and will dispense with them in all cases where a compliance with them shall be found impracticable, or the neglect of them occasioned by involuntary error; for he is not a hard Master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed. But one thing appears absolutely and universally indispensable to salvation, which, the free gift of God in Christ, the benevolent heart delights to think he will confer on every man who, according to his abilities and opportunities, to the measure vouchsafed to him of external light or internal illumination, sincerely seeks to know and to do the will of the Being who made him-this is the essence of that faith which believes that God is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; this alone is ab

solutely, in all cases, indispensable to salvation. Still, charity must not dispense with truth.

Our duty is to seek what are the institutions which God has prescribed as the means and pledges of his mercy and grace, and humbly and reverently to receive them. It is infinite condescension on his part, and demands our gratitude, that he bestows on us the visible tokens of his favour; that, through his power, simple and easy observances convey to the humble, and penitent, and believing such incalculable benefits. It is in the reverential and devout administration of the sacraments that the servant of the sanctuary is made the dispenser of the blessings of pardon, and of grace, and of life eternal. It is in the devout and humble reception of these sacraments that these blessings are assured to the faithful, that the declaration is verified, "The Lord is in this place."

May this declaration be verified to you, my reverend brother, the minister of this church, and you, the people of his charge--verified in your experience of the purifying, consoling, and exalting power of the word which is here to be preached, the worship which is here to be celebrated, and the sacraments and ministrations which are here to be dispensed. Past observation authorizes the strong and gratifying expectation, that the duties assigned to my valued presbyter who is here to officiate, will all be discharged under the awful impression of the conviction that involves every motive which can excite or awe, that "the Lord is in this place." We hope, we are confident, that the word of God will here be proclaimed with fidelity, his worship devoutly performed, and his ministrations and ordinances duly celebrated by him who has given VOL. II.

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such full evidence that he knows his high duties, and that, through God's grace, he will perform them. But what if the people of his charge be not influenced by the same awakening and solemn sentiment? Alas! the word, the worship, the ordinances, and the ministrations of this temple will then only tend to their condemnation. Brethren, we hope better things of you. With most laudable zeal, and taste, and art, and singular liberality, worthy of the highest praise, and which we hold forth to imitation, you have erected an edifice which will be the pride of our church and the ornament of our city, in that grand, and imposing, and majestic style of architecture which is calculated to awaken and cherish the feelings of solemnity and Let these feelings be heightened and confirmed by the consideration of the invisible Majesty which fills this sanctuary. "The Lord is in this place." Never enter this temple but with this conviction; never let its awful energy cease to operate on your minds. The Lord is present, to hear your confessions, to answer your supplications and intercessions, to accept your homage and your thanks. The Lord is here present, to bless to you his holy word, to make the ministrations and ordinances of this sanctuary the means and pledges to you of pardon, of holiness, of life eternal. Alas! when we contrast our imperfection and unworthiness with the majesty, and holiness, and justice of that God who here invisibly dwells, and who witnesses and will bring into judgment our sins, we are led to exclaim with the patriarch, under similar emotions-"How dreadful is this place!" But when we turn the strong vision of faith to the mercy-seat which is here invisibly erected, and behold the great

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