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reasonable service ; and under no circumstances can we indulge in any observances that cannot receive a full justification at the bar of reason. If therefore our services on this occasion shall be marked with great simplicity, and be unattended with pomp and circum. stance, let the remarks which have been submitted be considered their apology.

We have assembled this morning to hallow, with appropriate ser. vices, the commencement of a temple to be erected for the worship of Almighty God, according to the doctrines and discipline of the Me. thodist Episcopal Church. And as the institution and maintenance of public worship involve considerable expense both of time and money, it may be well to consider what are the reasons by which we justify ourselves in this undertaking.

All who have any knowledge of God admit the propriety of worshiping him as God, notwithstanding many withhold that worship. This duty grows out of the relations which we sustain to the divine Being, and the blessings we receive from him. Now he is the God of communities as well as of individuals; and in our collective as well as in our individual capacity we receive blessings from his hand. So perverse and vicious is human nature, that, were it not for the influences of divine grace which are continually exerted upon the hearts of men, it would be impossible to perpetuate human society on the earth. The rights of property, person, and character would not be regarded at all. The restraints of human government would be borne away by the violent passions of men; and the anarchy of society would soon pave the way to the anchoritism of solitude. Were it not for the superintending care and arrangements of Providence, it would be impossible for the various operations and enterprises of social life to be conducted to a successful issue. Not only are our agricultural interests promoted by Him who causeth his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and who sendeth rain upon the just and upon the unjust; but the winds of heaven fill the sail of commerce, and waft“ the ships of desire." The inspiration of the Almighty giveth understapding to our artists, and the Strength of Israel” maketh our operatives " strong to labor.” It is He that teacheth our senators wisdom, and our exactors righteousness. Now all these orders and classes of men are necessary to the prosperity and well-being of society. Indeed, they may be considered its essential constituents. And therefore, as society exists by the appointment and providence of God, it is clear that, in our social capacity, we sustain a relation to the divine Being involving obligations which cannot be discharged in the absence of public wor. ship. 'This duty has, therefore, the clearest dictates of reason for its basis.

But the observance of public worship is recommended by its influence on society at large. We use the phrase," public worship," with some latitude of meaning, embracing the ministry of the word, as well as other religious services which usually receive our attention in the house of God. Now the influence of these exercises is of a most salutary character. Even those who are not brought direetly under the action of saving grace are notwithstanding very sensibly affected by the institutions of religion. The weekly monitions of the minister restrain, if not prevent, the vices of the people. Our churches are the bulwarks of our land. Our pulpits are the palladium of our liberties. The ministry of the gospel maintains the supremacy of law, and inculcates that righteousness which exalteth a nation. And there is nothing that can so purify and elevate the social feelings as the social worship of God. The high and the low, the rich and the poor, meet together, and are made to feel that the Lord is the Maker of them all. And this feeling disposes to the charities of life, curbs or de. stroys those vicious passions which are so frequently indulged and developed in the social state, and gives tone and character to the mo. rals of the community.

But true Christians realize a peculiar benefit from the exercises of public worship. When engaged in this sacred employment, the eyes of their understanding are enlightened, and they are made to know the things which are freely given to them of God. The clouds and darkness which gather around their minds, and obscure their moral vision, are dispelled by the light of truth, which shines upon them from the most holy place. In the sanctuary of God their perplexities are removed, and they are relieved of their anxieties. Here their distress. ing doubts and fears are quelled ; here their sorrows are assuaged ; here their faith and hope are confirmed and established; here their love is kindled and fanned into a sacred flame; here the tumult of passion is hushed by the voice of peace; and here they are made to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Well may the Psalmist exclaim, “ Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple," Psa. Ixv, 4. The union of their prayers, and the harmony of their praises, make their communion inexpressibly sweet-especially when, as the disciples of their common Lord, they gather around his board, and partake of the memorials of his dying love.

The public worship of God is furthermore recommended by its affi. nity to the employment of heaven. True, there is a specific difference between the devotions of the church above, and those of the church below. In the former there are no pulpit performances, no sacramental solemnities, no supplicating groans, no penitential wailings. But these constitute only a part of our worship on earth ; and in all the rest we are identified with the worshiping hosts in heaven! Do their devotions bring them nearer the Fountain of excellence, and make them more intimately acquainted with their God? Ours have a kindred influence. Do their exercises sublimate and enrapture the soul? So do ours :

“ Thee they sing, with glory crown'd;

We adore the slaughter'd Lamb:
Lower if our voices sound,

Our subject is the same !" This duty, moreover, claims Scriptural recognition and positive divine appointment. Thus, as far back as the patriarchal age, we find this duty attended to by the servants of God. It was not enough that Jacob should have his places of sacred retreat, and secret inter. course with the Most High, he is also divinely iustructed to engage in the exercises of social worship. In obedience to the divine oracle he " said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: and let us arise and go up to Bethel, [i. e., the house of God,] and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went,” Gen. xxxv, 1-3. And after the redemption of his descendants from the Egyptian yoke, the public worship of God was in a more formal manner established among the Israelites; and the promise of God was given to insure attention to its claims: “ In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee,” Exod. xx, 24. And after Solomon had built him a house, in all their distresses and calamities his people thither repaired and verified the benign assu. rance, “ Mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attend unto the prayer that is made in this place,” 2 Chron. vii, 15. And they were accustomed to exhort each other to this duty : “ Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name,” Psa. C, 4. They mourned in spirit when they were prevented from attending “ the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day;" they longed and fainted for the courts of the Lord, and envied the sparrows and the swallows their near abode to the altars of their God! Psa. xlii, 4; lxxxiv, 2, 3. And O how glad were they when their circumstances were changed, and it was said unto them again, “Let us go into the house of the Lord !” Psa. cxxii, 1. Nor was this duty peculiar to the Old Testament saints. Christ and his apostles were, at every favorable opportunity, in the temple of God; and it would be transcribing a large portion of the New Testament scriptures to adduce the proofs of this assertion. It is a duty which they never neglected, and which they never designed should become obsolete. Hence the great apostle says, “ Let us consider one another, to provoke unto love and to good works : not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the man. ner of some is; but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching," Heb. x, 24, 25.

It is not necessary, my brethren, to offer any other considerations to show the importance of the public worship of God. But it may be asked, Why erect houses especially for this purpose? I might answer this question briefly, Because the Lord loveth the gates of Zion better than any other place that may be chosen for his worship. But it may be profitable to consider this subject somewhat at large.

We do not deny that the ancient people of God offered their public devotions under the canopy of heaven, or the umbrage of the sacred oak; that our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles frequently taught the people on the mountains, and in the streets, and by the sea-side, where prayer was wont to be made ; and that the first Christian so. cieties assembled for divine service in school.houses or private resi. dences. Acts xix, 9; 1 Cor. xvi, 19. But they seized every opportunity to worship in the temple and in the synagogues, until they had fabrics of their own, consecrated, like Paul's hired house at Rome, exclusively to the service of God. When urged by necessity we imi.. tate the first Christians, and in every kind of place offer incense unto his name, with a pure offering.'

But the more excellent way is to erect a temple to his honor, for


in it we can better attend upon the Lord without distraction. The very furniture of the sacred place suggests pious associations in the mind. There we are secluded from all secular objects and all secular concerns. When in the church we are in the province of heaven ; and we can permit our pious feelings to flow smoothly and sweetly through all the services of the sanctuary, without any thing to ruffle them, or to divert them from their course. The genius of devotion seems to preside in the sacred place-or, rather, the invisible presence of God is there ; for it is none other than the house of God and the gate of heaven! But, howsoever devout may be the thoughts of our minds and the feelings of our hearts, it is extremely difficult to main. tain our devotion when the place in which we are conducting our worship is in the wilds of the desert, by the roaring ocean, in the haunts of business, or the scene of domestic duty.

Another advantage derived from the separation of a house exclusively to the worship of God is this :-Here all persons may come without any reserve, and feel perfectly at ease in the occupancy of their seats. There are a great many that cannot feel and act thus in a private house, although for the time being it may be occupied for public worship. Besides, there are exceedingly few private residences that are sufficiently large to accommodate a considerable congrega. tion. Sometimes, moreover, there are grudges and animosities among neighbors which preclude all intercourse. These, I grant, are inexcusable ; but they are not so much in the way of persons attending the church,“ where they may hear words whereby they may be saved” from these as well as all other evils. The church is common property. Every one recognizes an interest in it, especially among us where the free-seat system obtains. A stranger from any part of the globe may consider himself perfectly at home in a Methodist church.

Again: by the consecration of a house to the worship of Almighty God permanency is secured to the religion of the place where such a house is located. Of course we speak in a general sense. How frequently in the history of Methodisın has it been the case that when her ministers have extended their operations to a particular town or neighborhood, a gracious work of God has speedily followed; a so. ciety has been formed; their meetings have been continued in a private house, until after a while, by reason of death, removal, or ex. pulsion, they find no place for the soles of their feet. They conse. quently forsake the assembling of themselves together, and the interests of religion become entirely prostrated in that place. All this may have been prevented by the erection of a church. In it the minister of religion may attend to all its sacred services mauger the changes and vicissitudes of society. Whatsoever declensions may take place, there is a hope of reform while facilities are afforded for the use of the means of grace. The church is a hospital, where the sick, the conva. lescent, and the relapsed may be brought-be privileged with the atten. tions of the spiritual physician, and be restored to perfect soundness. It is a kind of nucleus, around which the piety of the neighborhood instinctively gathers. A healthful influence emanates from the holy place; and a feeling of solemnity comes over the mind of the careless and most profane when shaded beneath the sacred roof. The passing stranger turns aside for a moment to indulge his religious feelings within the peaceful inclosure ; and by the most agreeable associations every one is made to feel perfectly secure while within the precincts of the hallowed fane. We need not enlarge on this subject. I dare affirm, that there are none here this morning who do not approbate our course, as it is one which is now pursued by all classes of Chris. tians.

If, however, there are any who think that we have no right to mul. tiply our schismatical temples and conventicles, let such be assured that we are not concerned at the delicate terms which their charity may suggest when speaking of our operations in this particular; nor shall we cease to erect houses to the honor of our God while he con. descends to consecrate them by his presence. No, verily; they may expect that we shall fabricate our schismatical temples in an increasing ratio, so long as we can see inscribed upon each of them, 6 JEHO. VAH SHAMMAH," (the Lord is there !) We have scarcely ever erected a place of worship but it has been presently and constantly filled with a multitude of willing worshipers ; and that too frequently when other churches have been almost deserted. Nor have we erected our temples to little purpose ; for in them thousands have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and in them also have they been trained up for the church above. O how has God honored the houses which we have erected for his worship ! and it would be the foulest ingratitude in us not to multiply them. Yes, my brethren, when our houses of prayer are deserted, and but few come to our solemn feasts; when the showers of heavenly grace shall cease to descend upon the little hills of our Zion ; when the Shechinah of the divine presence shall be removed from our sanctuaries, the celestial fire be quenched upon our altars, and the lamp of God shall be extinguished in our temples—then, and not till then, will we forego such interesting exercises as those in which we are now engaged.

The present occasion, my brethren, justifies the indulgence of the most joyous feelings of the heart. First, on account of the interesting associations which are suggested to our minds. Who can witness the laying of the corner-stone of a church without recurring to that divine declaration, “ Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone; a sure foundation : and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded,” Isa. xxviii, 16; 1 Pet. ii, 6. Thousands have built thereon, nor have they built in vain. On it we build, and the spiritaal fabric is ascending higher and still higher; and soon the head-stone will be brought forth with shoutings, Grace, grace unto it! He who, in spite of envious and opposing scribes and priests, laid in Zion the foundation-stone, will guard the sacred edifice until it is complete. The rain may descend, the floods may come, the winds may blow, and beat upon this house ; but it shall not fall, because it is built upon The Rock. Infidels may endeavor to under. mine the foundations of this building ; hypocrites may seek to incor. porate corruptible materials into its superstructure ; unskillful and unfaithful workmen may attempt to daub it with untempered mortar ; but the word has gone forth from the mouth of the Eternal, and shall not return unto him void, “ Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

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