« PoprzedniaDalej »
rials of God's ancient, eternal goodness? Why should they lament the sacrificial fire, since the one offering of the Redeemer was about to render all other sacrifices unnecessary, and since he would baptize all his disciples with the Holy Ghost, and with celestial fire, that consumes not inanimate victims, but our sins and corruptions. Behold the Saviour standing in the temple: the object of the Father's everlasting love; the source of felicity to angels; the "light to lighten the Gentiles, and glory of his people Israel;" the victim appointed from eternity to atone for the sins of man, and acknowledge that "the glory of the latter house was greater than that of the former!"
You perceive then the great truth contained in these words: it is, that the presence of Christ constitutes the chief glory of any church. Without this the utmost external pomp and splendour are in vain; without this, the towering spire, the decorated ceiling, or the massy column, are viewed with disregard by all the inhabitants of heaven; without this, the most regular attention to the exteriors of religion, the eloquent address and the harmonious hymn, are only" a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” Brethren, you have felt with David, that while your own habitations are increasing in splendour, so should the house of God-you have therefore reared this building. In thus acting you have done well. But be not satisfied with this; unless Jesus be in this temple, its most important, its spiritual glory will be wanting.
Do you ask, How his presence in a church is displayed, and the building rendered glorious by this presence?
1. By the faithful preaching, and the cordial reception, of his gospel.
Believing it to be the word of eternal life, we must announce it plainly and fully; we must continually exhibit to you its essential and peculiar doctrines; those doctrines which Jesus came from heaven to reveal. If instead of this, we present you with disquisitions that have little reference to the Redeemer, or urge you to the practice of morality from motives that have no connexion with the gospel, we are traitors to our Redeemer, our ministry will be unfruitful; and however we may amuse you, on the walls of the sanctuary we may write "Ichabod," the glory is departed. The apostle Paul cries to the Galatians, Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed." And in like manner we cry, Wo to that man who shall ever stand in this desk, and attempt to lay any other foundation than that which is laid in Zion, Jesus Christ; that shall present any other ground of a sinner's acceptance with God, than the atoning blood and justifying righteousness of Immanuel; that shall attempt to derogate from the essential glories and mediatorial perfections of the Son of God! Should such an one ever stand here, and under the garb of a minister of the Redeemer assail those great truths which are our only hope, accursed be the eloquence or ingenuity that he may employ to diminish our attachment to the cross of Christ! I cite against him you, my brethren, who have reared this house for the propagation of the pure unadulterated gospel; I cite against him our pious ancestors, who have died in that faith in which we hope to triumph in our last hours; I cite against him the departed pastors of this congregation, from Zubly down to Kerr, who have taught the same doctrines; I cite against him thee, Son of God, to whose honour we raise this
church; whom we here will bless, and love, and worship! Should such an one ever occupy this desk, whatever may be his talents or his acquirements, the powers of his mind, or the graces of his manner, the true glory of the church will have vanished! Should such an one ever occupy this desk, I repeat, accursed be his doctrines; may they be rejected with abhorrence; but may he himself be brought to the acknowledgment of the truth as it is in Jesus!
But if we would desire that this house should be glorious, it is not enough that we should preach those plain truths of the gospel which God has always blessed; by which, you, believers, were converted; by which you have been so often consoled; in listening to which you have felt Jesus near to you: it is also requisite that to this faithful preaching be joined your constant attendance. Our duties are reciprocal: if we are bound to announce the gospel, you are bound to hear it; and for every unnecessary absence from the house of God, you must answer to him. Hope not that this temple will be glorious, unless we see the seats constantly occupied by worshippers whenever divine service is here performed. And think it not enough to come merely with your bodies, your souls must be engaged; the principles of religion must not only be received by the understanding, but cherished by the heart, and displaying their influence on the life. Let the church ever be filled with such constant, devout worshippers, and this house will be glorious.
2. This effect will be produced also, if the ordinances of religion be here regularly administered, and properly prized.
Here the infant, just opening his eyes upon the world, is to be brought to the holy baptismal font, and dedicated to the God of his fathers. Here the seal of Jehovah is to be impressed upon his forehead. If parents observe this, not as a bare empty ceremony, but as a dear pledge of the kindness of God to their child, and of his readiness to receive and bless him; if they esteem as a precious privilege, the seal of the promise of the covenant, the sign of the grace of the Spirit, the initiating ordinance of the church; if they bring up their offspring in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; we may hope that this house will be glorious, not only in our days, but in those of our descendants also.
Here the sacramental table is to be spread, and the emblems of the Redeemer's sufferings to be exhibited. If the holy festival is attended by numerous and sincere disciples, ardently desirous of communion with the Saviour, Jesus will, according to his promise, be in the midst of us, and render this house glorious.
3. The presence of Jesus is manifested, and his temple rendered glorious, wherever the professors of his religion are distinguished for holiness and spiritual joy, and where sinners are converted.
If all among us who have sworn over the symbols of his broken body and shed blood, to devote ourselves to him, should be distinguished by sanctity, by benevolence, by brotherly love, by zeal, by superiority to the world, by the spirit of prayer; if we should value and experience those pure delights which flow from communion with the Redeemer, which remorse never embitters, which are the foretaste of heaven; if among the crowd who have hitherto been careless and insensible, the voice of the 33
Saviour should be heard, and his power felt, and many of them added to the church: this house will have a spiritual glory infinitely transcending the most splendid external decorations.
You see then, my brethren, the great objects which we should desire, for which we should fervently pray; you see the purposes for which this house is built; it is devoted to God. It never should, I trust and believe that it never will, be employed for any secular concerns. In the tablet placed over the door, you declare that it is sacred to divine worship alone.* Let it be a spot to which we never bring the cares of earth, the occupations of the world into which we never enter without thinking of God and our Redeemer. It is true, the walls and stones have no inherent holiness, unconnected with the pure worship of God in this place; but we cry with the Psalmist," Holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever." We are followers of that Redeemer who with indignation cast out from the temple those who employed it for secular and worldly purposes.
Brethren, there is something unspeakably solemn in the consideration of the effects that will follow the erection of a temple to God. From it every regular member of this congregation will be raised to higher glory, or sunk in deeper despair. To each one of us, the gospel here preached will prove either a savour
* The inscription on the tablet to which the author alludes, is the following:
Patri, Filio, Spirituique Sancto
Hanc ædem, cultui divino sacram, fundatam A. D. MDCCCXVII.
Cives Savanensis sub cura pastorali Henrici Kollock, D. D.