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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 with 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 reformation 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
though superior in splendor, was only a shadow of good things to come.
This prophecy of Haggai, it is to be hoped, may with some modification, be applied to the house in which we are now convened. In the former house of our worship, things have been seen, and heard, well worthy of attention, and calculated to enlarge, and enliven the heart. But this house should it be suffered to continue, until by natural, and unavoidable decay, it would crumble into ruins, may be expected, not only to outlive all who are now in it, but to survive generations yet to be born.
During its continuance therefore, many important changes will probably, be effected in the world, and in this place; and many glorious predictions concerning Zion's prosperity will be accomplished. Knowledge in every department, may be said to be on the increase, and the day will come, when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas. Whatever successful efforts the god of this world may make in propagating error among its inhabitants, his triumphs will end in defeat, and holiness to the Lord will be inscribed upon the horses' bells. Religion is making rapid progress, notwithstanding the opposition which, in various ways, it meets with; and he who died on Calvary, will sprinkle all nations with his atoning blood. Things will be so changed, that the prophecy concerning the new heavens and the new earth, will be fully realized.
Here abler men will preach the gospel; and here more faithful pastors will feed the flock. Here the church of Christ will have a fresh unction from the Holy One, and when they gather around the table of their common Lord, to celebrate his dying love, it will not be with the feverish appetite of a sickly man who loaths the most delicious food, but in the vigorous exercise of faith, they will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and find refreshment to their souls in the consecrated symbols of the ordinance.
Brotherly love will so abound, as almost to supercede the necessity of inculcating it as a duty, and it will appear as strange to see the head of a family, a professor of godliness, go abroad to transact the business of the day before he has presented upon the family altar, his morning sacrifice, as it
would be to see him do the same thing before he had partaken of his morning meal.
When such shall be the state of things, it will not be difficult to form a choir of singers, who will sing with the spirit, and with the understanding, and who will be ashamed of the best music which they can make with their voices, if their hearts be out of tune. The sabbath too will be spent with such solemnity, by all the people, that neither sleeping; nor laughing; nor sneering; nor inattention, will disturb the exercises.
The subject will now be brought to a close with a few reflections. The occasion which has convened us is one of great solemnity; and if we do not so consider it, we must be as insensible as the seats which we occupy. How many have gone to the house appointed for all living, since it was in contemplation to build this house; your parents; and children; and brethren; and sisters; and husbands, and wives. Some are now alive, in a feeble, broken state, mere remnants of themselves; and expecting never again to join this congregation, but to be numbered shortly with the great congregation of the dead. Among all those who have taken the deepest interest in the erection of this house, is there an individual, concerning whom it may not, with the greatest propriety, be said, that the shadow of the degrees is going down upon the sun-dial? We shall all soon be forgotten as a dead man out of mind; and laid aside like a broken vessel. But the most melancholy circumstance in our case is this, that religion appears to be thrown into the back ground; and, that it may so generally, be said of the people, that for the present, they come not to the help of the Lord; to the help of the Lord, against the mighty.
It is pertinent for us to inquire in the language of the psalmist, Will the Lord cast off for ever; and will he be favorable no more? Is his ise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious, hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Let us unitedly request, that God to whom we now dedicate this house, will condescend to take it for his resting place; that Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, will here appear in his grace, and glory; and that the Holy Spirit, whose office it is to sanctify the soul, will descend upon us, as he descended at the day of pentecost, with mighty, convincing, and converting, power!
mercy clean gone for ever; doth his prom