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On the thirteenth day of April, the new Board of Trustees held their first meeting, and organized the College, under the provisions of the Act. As they found that the place had already become too strait for us,' by reason of the number of students, which had increased to nearly one hundred and forty, their attention was seriously turned to the erection of a new building ; but owing to pecuniary embarrassments, no measures were taken to effect the object, till the annual meeting in August. By that time, the call for a chapel and other public accomınodations had become too urgent to be postponed, without sacrificing the interests of the College. In this emergency, the Trustees could not hesitate. They saw but one course, and they promptly empowered a committee to contract for the building of the Edifice in which we are now assembled. The work was commenced early in the spring of last year, and under the smiles of Providence in its completion, we have assembled this day, publicly to record our Hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and solemnly to dedicate this comniodious and beautiful structure to the service of Almighty God.
In looking round upon all that is here, upon these great buildings, these fine accommodations, these students, this crowded and joyful assembly; and in thinking of the unparalleled growth of this young Seminary, how can we help exclaiming, "What hath God wrought ?' How distinct is the seal of his approbation upon this great work! Entire freedom from mistake, and perfect disinterestedness of motive, cannot indeed be claimed for any body of men, or any human enterprise. But I do believe that after making every abatement on this score, it will be found in the great day, that much prayer and much
faith have been embarked from the beginning in this undertaking; and that God has mightily assisted in carrying it forward. And it is a circumstance which demands our particular and grateful acknowledgements on this occasion, that not a life, nor a limb has been lost, and that no serious injury of any kind has been experienced, in the erection of these buildings.
Again I feel constrained to say, "What bath God wrought?' Five years ago, there was one building for the accommodation of between fifty and sixty students on this ground: four years ago, there were between ninety and a hundred young men here ; one year ago, there were a hundred and fifty; and now there are a hundred and seventy. In 1820, this Seminary did not exist. In the fall of 1821, it was first organized. For more than three years, it had to struggle with all the disabilities and discouragements of an unincorporated institution. It is scarcely two years since it was chartered ; and yet, I believe, that in the number of undergraduates, it now holds the third, or fourth rank, in the long list of American Colleges! God forbid, that this statement should excite any but grateful emotions, in the bosoms of those by whose instrumentality so much has been accomplished. Let all boasting be excluded.
There is no place for it here. The occasion calls, not for the mention of what they have done, but for devout acknowledgements to Him who justly claims all the glory. But though no man has anything to boast of, it is meet that we should carefully look over this ground to-day, that the inscription may be indelibly graven upon our hearts, -Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.
I am fully aware, my hearers, that the brief historical sketch which I have given, of the rise and growth of this
College, exibits but a very faint and imperfect view of the perils through which it has passed, and of the gracious interpositions to which it is indebted for its preservation and advancement.
The present outline wants that filling up, which time forbids me to attempt; and indeed if I had time, I should feel incompetent to the task. None but those who nurtured its infancy, and witnessed its early struggles, and trembled for its very existence, can ever fully realize the greatness of its obligations to Him, who hath at length established it on so broad and firm a basis. How often, my friends, in your early efforts to sustain and carry it forward, did discouragements come so thick and fast upon you, as to demand all your resolution to bear up under them. How often did darkness hang so black
upon all the future, that no man could see his way before him.
And yet, was there ever an extremity from which you were not spon delivered—or a night so dark that the eye had nothing to cheer it—or an event so adverse that you found no place to set up your Ebenezer, and write upon it, · Hitherto hath the Lord helped us ?'
When the Charter was withheld, session after session, and the opposition was powerful and respectable and active, and your friends were beginning to despond, and you were required to pass the unprecedental ordeal of a' public investigation, you were no doubt ready to say, 'All these things are against us.' But were you not entirely mistaken ? Could you have chosen so wisely, as God was ordering events for you? Who is there that does not now see, how much this College is indebted to that long and arduous conflict, for its present elevated standing? Had the prayer of your first petition been granted, without debate or opposition, how many years would it
have put the College back ? And can you name one struggle, or one disappointment, which has checked its rapid growth ? Has more than one cloud ever passed over it, which had not its bright as well as its dark side?
Sitting and rejoicing as you do to-day, under the goodly shadow of this wide spreading tree, can you realize that it is the same which five years ago was a mere twig, exposed to be nipped by the frost, broken off by casualty, withered for want of root and nourishment, or trodden down in the eager conflict of opinion ? That it lives and sends abroad its branches, and shoots up its top, and thickens its foliage, is owing more to the rain and the sunshine, than to human culture : while the praise of whatever culture has done to quicken its growth, belongs to God, from whom the ability and skill to cultivate it were both derived.
4. From the rich experience of the past, we derive great encouragement for the future. Hath God already done so much to build up this College and make it a public blessing, and will he now withdraw his gracious patronage ? Hath he once so copiously refreshed it, by the effusion of his Spirit, and will he not in answer to the prayer of faith, again and again revive his work' within these walls ? Hath he given it favor in the sight of the church, and secured for it hitherto a daily remembrance in her supplications ? Hath he raised up benefactors, when its disposable funds were exhausted, as in the case of him, to whose munificent bequest we are so much indebted for these ample accommodations, and are not the hearts of all men still in his hands ? Have our civil fathers placed upon it the seal of their approbation and adoption, by giving it a charter, and securing for themselves a direct participation in the management of its con
cerns, and may we not confidently look to them for still more substantial proofs of their friendly regards ?
It might be thought presumption in us to say, that our confidence in the stability and prosperity of this College is a divine faith; but what reason have we to doubt, that so long as the advancement of the Redeemer's kingdom shall continue to be its primary object, he will cherish its growth and hear the prayers of its friends ? If we are not greatly deceived, we behold in the past and in the present many an animating pledge of approbation. And as he hath · Hitherto' so manifestly helped us,' may we not hope and believe, that he will continue and multiply his favors—that he will sustain that which he hath quickened into life, and nourished up in its sixth year, to so goodly a stature ?
5. The subject of our present discourse, furnishes the best possible reasons for dedicating this noble edifice to God. All the materials were his, while yet they lay in the earth, or grew upon the mountains. He permitted us to take them away for his own use, and not simply, or chiefly for our convenience. They were all prepared and brought hither by his aid. And since they were collected, not a tool has been lifted up, not a stone has been laid, not a nail has been fastened without his help. The skill which planned and the strength which executed, were both alike from him. That the builders fell not from their giddy heights, and that they were not crushed to death by falling timbers, was owing to his constant protection. If the Lord had not helped us, this massive structure had never risen, had never been commenced. It is his by every right, ' from the foundation to the topstone; and let us devoutly recognize him as the sole Proprietor, in the religious services of this day.