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We live under the more luminous dispensation of the Gospel, and sensible objects are not made use of to convey to us, spiritual instruction.
We cannot look from the place in which we are assembled, and see the pool of Siloam where the man who was born blind washed and received his sight. We are not presented with the lamp which burned without ever going out, “nor with the fire which was kindled from heaven. We cannot see the altar of burnt offering; nor the altar of incense; nor the smoke of the incense, ascending with the smoke of the sacrifices. We cannot see the pot of manna; nor Aaron's rod that budded; nor the table of shew bread with the loaves. We cannot behold the high priest arrayed in the garments of his sacred office, nor the Holiest of all, in which was lodged the ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of stone, whose lid was the mercy seat, covered with the wings of the cherubim. We cannot see the cloud of glory which hovered over the mercy seat, and in which the Lord promised to appear.
Though these things, adapted to make profitable impression upon minds soberly inclined, belonged to other people, and to other times, we may have all which was represented by them; and therefore our condition is one of superior advantage; for many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which we see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things which we hear, and have not heard them.
Our advantages appear, not only in this, that we live at a period when the types have had their accomplishment, but in this also, that while the Israelites had but one place for public worship, at least when the temple was builded; among us a house may be found in almost every place, in which the people may assemble.
When this town had hardly put off the appearance of a wilderness, the people, few in number, and scantily furnished with means, erected a house for the worship of God, which has been kept in existence to the present time; and which, we hope, has not been altogether a building without profit.
We are now witnesses to the godness of God, in that he has so ordered it in his providence, that a new house is
substituted for an old one; and that we are permitted to assemble in it, upon this occasion.
But we are not come together to look at a bauble, to say, Behold what manner of stones, and what buildings are here; nor to admire the foundation, or the superstructure. This is not the time to compliment the master builder upon display which he has made of his skill, and to speak of the proportions of the house, and the arch over our heads, with the columns, and curves; the finishing and painting. We may however recollect with gratitude, that harmony of feeling begins to take the place of animosity; and that the eye of the passenger, in almost every direction, will present him with proof that we maintain, at least, the form of godliness, among us.
Our business at present is to dedicate this house. Have we thought of the solemnity of the business; and have we come from our closets prepared to perform it understandingly? As the organ
of communication at this time, let me say, that we do not dedicate this house to the gods many and lords many, of pagan antiquity; or of modern paganism. We do not bow in the house of Rimmon, nor are we worshipers of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter: nor do we hail, with acclamations, the car of Juggernaut, as the wooden god rolls in sensless majesty over the bodies of his expiring victims. Such abominations belong to dark places where are to be found the habitations of cruelty, and where the people perish for lack of vision.
The land in which we were born, and educated, is a section of the christian world; and we have ever had access to the Oracles of God, to guide us in our faith; and to govern us in our practice. But are errors local; and is truth bounded by lines of latitude, and longitude: or is the moral world divided as the natural world is, so that in speaking of both, it is proper to use the same language; and tell of the zones; torrid, frigid and temperate? Geographical boundaries have nothing to do with a case of this kind. In the most highly favored land upon which the sun sheds his beams, sentiments may be entertained, the most incoherent, and the criminality of error, is always in proportion
to the means possessed, of understanding what is the truth.
Let not this house be dedicated, through my instrumentality, to a God existing only in the disordered imagination of those who deny the Lord that bought them; and who if the scriptures can be depended upon, are bringing upon themselves swift destruction. Let us take warning from the awful ruin which overtook Nadab, and Abihu, in consequnce of offering strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.
To Jehovah let us dedicate this house, and if we find from his Word, that he is One in Three; and Three in One; and that he is called the Father; the Son; and the Holy Spirit; let us not arrogantly inquire, How can these things be? but let us say in the humble, and more suitable language of the apostle, Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness. We can have nothing to object to this character of God but, that it is incomprehensible to us; and surely we must have lost sight of consistency to offer such an objection, for God must be equally incomprehensible whatever may be the scheme of doctrine which we entertain concerning him. If reason is to be our guide, what need can there be of revelation; and if we are to walk by sight, what occasion can there be for the exercise of faith?
Lest my tenacity upon this subject should be denominated bigotry, I ask the patient attention of my audience to some reasons which will be offered. in addition to what has been said, to show that a house for public worship should be dedicated to God with the acknowledgment of that mysterious distinction of his name which has been mentioned.
As might be expected admitting this to be a radical truth, it appears upon the first page of the Bible, and upon the last, gives to the prophecies their principal significance; and explains what otherwise would be inexplicable, the ceremonial worship of the ancient church. It may be said also, that beginning wit. Adam, and following the generations down, we may find, concerning every individual of whom the sacred scriptures give an account, the proof of an agreement among the people of God, in this fundamental article of faith.
The commission of Christ to his apostles, when he sent them out to preach, cannot be made consistent, and intelli,
gible, by those who deny his deity, for it is contained in the following words, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations; baptising them in, or perhaps more properly, into, the name of the Father; and of the Son; and of the Holy Ghost. Here is but one name and yet it is applied to the Father; the Son; and the Holy Ghost; and these are placed upon a perfect equality. If the Son be not God, whatever else he may be, he must be a creature of God; and if the Holy Ghost be not God, he must be a creature likewise; or an attribute; and what a strange mixture of things, altogether dissimilar, would such a supposition make?
Should it be asserted, that Christ never commanded his disciples to worship him, I would ask by way of reply, whether he ever commanded them not to worship him, and whether they could have honored the Son even as all ought to honor the Father, agreeably to his own words, without worshiping him! They did repeatedly worship him; and the last act of St. Steven's life was worship directed to the Son of God, for he died saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit! The apprehensions which the Jews had of Christ, would be considered as valid testimony respecting his claim in any court of inquiry, and they sought to kill him because he said that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. For proof of the personality and deity of the Holy Ghost, it will be sufficient to refer to the case of Ananias, for Peter charged him with lying unto God, because he had lied to the Holy Ghost.
The last reason which will be mentioned to show, that a house for public worship ought to be dedicated to God, the Father; Son; and Holy Ghost, is this, that no instance stands recorded, and it is presumed no one was ever known, in which a revival of religion took place; or to speak in scripture language, in which times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord were experienced among a people, discarding this doctrine. How can this state of things be accounted for, except by admitting, that there is a doctrine which is according to godliness, and a doctrine which is contrary to godliness?
I am sensible, that many who assume the christian name, speak very contemptuously, of what are usually denominated revivals of religion; and congratulate themselves, that their superior understanding secures them from being carried away with such delusions.
Should we call that a revival of religion which is attended with no reformation among a people; and should cheating; and stealing; and lying; and swearing; and drinking; and carousing, be continued as at other times, we should have occasion to look out for some remedy more effectual to cure the evils of society, and of the various individuals who compose it. But was there no reformation in the time of Hezekiah: and after the day of pentecost; and has there never been
any in Europe; or America; in the city; or in the wilderness; or in the various places where idol gods have been cast to the moles, and to the bats?
Those who cast off fear, and restrain prayer; who say, at least practically, Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die; may, consistently with their own principles, be opposed to revivals of religion; but they cannot consistently be opposed to them because they effect no reformation, while no refor· mation is effected in themselves.
If we realize, that we are under the sentence of death; that we are accountable for our conduct, and liable every moment to be called out of time into eternity; our thoughts must be much occupied with the scenes which are before us, and we shall have something to check us in our course of folly, and vice; as well as to engage us in that work for which rational creatures were intended.
What is that doctrine which has a humbling effect upon the soul; makes the sinner ashamed of himself; forces him from every other refuge to the mercy of God; disposes him to a life of sobriety, and circumspection, and engages him to seek salvation. Find what that doctrine is, and you will find what doctrine ought to be preached, and what is the character of that God to whom a house of worship should be dedicated.
When a house dedicated to God, is intended to be a school room for the instruction of the principles of Socratic philosophy, or a theatre upon which to make a display of talents, and erudition, it cannot be expected, that God will record his name in it, and visit it with his blessing.
It was prophesied by Haggai, that the glory of the latter house should be greater than of the former; that is, that the temple builded by Zerubbabel, in consequence of the personal presence of Christ in it, the Desire of all nations, should exceed in glory the temple builded by Solomon; because that