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Church, we also must be supposed to have sufficient conviction in our own minds for the choice we have made. We must be allowed to think the faith of that Church the same that “ was once delivered to the Saints." We must be allowed to consider her worship as social in its nature; plain yet solemn, and keeping the golden mean betwixt those idle pageantries that distract the attention to things purely sensible, and those illusive reveries that pretend to refinements which human nature cannot reach. We must be allowed to pay a due regard to her ancient discipline, her venerable order, and her wise constitutions, that were planned by men of superior eminence, and have stood the test of ages. And, lastly, we must be allowed to look upon these things as matters, not lightly, wantonly, or rashly, to be given up.
I shall only detain you while I recommend one thing more to you, as a Religious Society; and that is, a liberal and beneficent spirit in contributing to all works of Charity and common concern. And, on this head, it is with pleasure that I confess myself almost absolved from the necessity of saying any thing. I am rather called to congratulate you on the excellent spirit that hath already been shewn, than to doubt of its continuance.
This house hath been almost wholly built within yourselves; by the free, voluntary and cheerful contributions of your own members. Some have spared in their exigence, and some out of their abundance, and that too with surprising liberality. Blessed are ye “ for this loan that ye have lent unto the Lord.*
• 1 Sam. ii. 20.
“ May God remember you concerning this, and “ wipe not out your good deeds that you have done “ for the House of your God and for the Offices “ thereoft.”
Proceed with the same liberal and pious spirit, in what remains of this good work. Remember that God hath blessed you with every instance of prosperity, in times of extremest danger. And surely, when our harvests have been multiplied, and our cattle and our fields encreased ;--when we behold our children growing up and prospering round us, and even wanting room in the House of the Lord, then, Oh then! it is one of the noblest Charities to offer back to God a part of what He has so liberally bestowed, and to make a provision for continuing the Worship of His adorable name among our posterity to the latest generations! Whatever we may give this way, according to our best abilities, God will accept as an offering of our Love to Him; and let us look what we lay out, and it shall be returned to us“ after many daysț.”
I come now to the last verses of my text, which were these—The Lord God be with us, as he was " with our fathers. Let him not leave us nor forsake
us—That all the people of the earth may know, that " the Lord is God, and there is none else.”—And the very tenor of these words, as well as the nature of this occasion, calls us to conclude in the most humble and supplicant manner with
BUT with what language shall we address thee, O thou most holy and exalted Being! our God and our Fathers' God - who inhabitest eternity, and art the Life and Light of the world What shall we render unto thee for ten thousand times ten thousand mercies, which language would fail us to express, and the whole period of our lives to recount! Above all, what shall we render unto thee for the Knowledge of thine everlasting Gospel, and those glorious privileges to which we are called as members of thy Church militant on earth—even to that exalted Privilege of Angels--the Privilege of enjoying Union and Communion with thee! Oh then, that our hearts could now conceive, and our tongues could utter, such strains of praise and adoration and thanksgiving to thee, as Angels, and glorified Spirits, and the Church triumphant, pour forth to thee in Heaven above!
It is good for us, Almighty Father, that thou hast called us to this Knowledge, and hast vouchsafed us these Privileges! It is good for us that thou didst put it into our minds to build thee an house to dwell in, and hast permitted us to dedicate and set it apart (as we hope) to the glory of thy name for ever! Yet, inasmuch as we are taught not to put our trust in these outward marks of Devotion, but that each of us must prepare for thee an habitation inwardly, and a temple in our Hearts; we do, therefore, now come to make a nobler and more important Dedication unto thee! We come, as is our bounden duty, through the merits and intercession of our blessed Redeemer, to Dedicate Ourselves, our Souls and Bodies, our whole Lives, to thy service. And, O thou who art the Hearer of Prayer, “ to whom mercies and forgivenesses belong, though we have rebelled against thee," we most earnestly pray that our past offences may be blotted out, that we may be washed in the Blood of Christ, and that the vows and offerings which we now make may be accepted in Him, and rendered effectual to our everlasting salvation.
For this end, () merciful God, let the Grace of thy holy spirit assist and strengthen us in all our Supplications and Prayers, that we shall thenceforward offer up to thee in this
Place; and be thou graciously pleased to vouchsafe us thy Presence therein continually. As thou wert with our Fathers, O Lord our God, so be thou with us. As thy mighty power brought them, like the Israelites of old, through the perils of another raging Sea; as thou didst support them in a remote Land, while it was yet another Wilderness; as thou didst at length give them goodly habitations therein, and, in thy divine favour, made choice of them and their children after them, to plant and propagate thy everlasting Gospel to the ends of the earth--as thou wert with them in these things, so be thod with us. Let not our unworthiness provoke thee to leave us nor forsake us;" but let our light shine continually forth, till all the people of the earth shall know—till the Heathen around us know that the Lord is God, and there is none else; till they know and confess that the Gods whom they have served are no Gods; that they and their Fathers have inherited Lies and Vanily from the beginning; and that there is none in whom Salvation may be found, save in thee, O Lord most mighty and most high!
And in order to hasten this happy time, when all the ends of the earth shall bow down to thy Majesty, and Kings and Princes cast their Crowns before the throne of the Lamb, we pray that thou wouldst give success to all foundations of useful knowledge, and to the blessed Gospel, wheresoever and by whomsoever it is truly Preached. In a particular manner, be pleased to give continual success to the Preaching thereof in this House, which we have now openly and solemnly set apart to that sacred purpose. May all who are called to minister therein, put off their own Righteousness, nor seek the applause of Men; but may they be clothed with the Humility of Christ, rightly and duly administer his Sacraments, explain his Word, and be anxious for nothing so much as to advance his Glory, and preach him crucified. May this place never be prostituted to the purposes of Vanity and Ambition, Error or Enthusiasm, Coldness or Lukewarmness. May it continue the Habitation of the “ God of Jacob forever; a place where Prayer shall ever be made unto Him, and where daily shall He be praised!" May it continue a place where the Service of our Church, the Preaching of the
Word, and the Administration of our Sacraments, may be rendered effectual, through the atonement of Christ, to the Salvation of thousands !
Finally, O Lord, we pray that Love and Union may prevail among all the Members of this Church through life ; and, at their death, may they be translated into the general Assembly of the Church of the first-born that are written in Heaven; where, being freed from all human frailties, and admitted to the beatific presence, they may offer up unwearied Hallelujahs to Him that sitteth on the Throne, and to the Lamb forever and ever!*
• A conclusion was made by singing the words of the text, as an Anthem.