At half past ten o'clock on the Festival of St. Michael and all Angels, the Bishop of the Diocese and the Bishop of Western New York, followed by the Rev. Walton W. Battershall, Rector of the Parish, and the Rev. William A. Snively, S.T.D., former Rector of St. Peter's, together with a procession of nineteen clergymen in surplice, passed out of the Vestry Room across the church and down the south aisle to the tower chamber, the choir in the meantime singing the sixty-first Psalm.
At the tower room the clergy were met by the wardens and vestrymen, and the following service of dedication, put forth for the occasion by Bishop Doane, was pronounced by the Bishop.
V. O, set me upon the rock that is higher than I.
R. For thou hast been my hope and a strong tower for me against the enemy.
V. I will dwell in Thy tabernacle forever.
R. And my trust shall be under the covering of Thy wings.
V. The name of the Lord is a strong Tower.
R. The righteous runneth into it and is set aloft.
V. Glory be to the Father, etc.
R. As it was in the beginning, etc.
It shall come to pass that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it, and many people shall go and say: Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the Law and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
Let Us Pray.
O God, who art "a tower of salvation to Thine anointed," and showest mercy unto them forevermore, and has set Thy church in the earth "for a tower and a fortress among Thy people," accept, we humbly beseech Thee, our solemn offering unto Thee, this day, of this Tower, which They servants have builded in Thy name. Strengthen the foundations of Thy Church upon the holy hills, and make "the gates of Zion" lovelier than "all the dwellings of Jacob." Lift up the thoughts and hearts of those who gather in this Holy House, that they may "set their affections on things above." Keep the feet of them that enter this House, which is called by Thy name, and fill their hearts with an earnest longing for the temple "not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." And grant us grace to walk in Thy light, until "the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every high tower," and "the Lord alone shall be exalted," even the Lord God Almighty, unto whom Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be evermore ascribed all majesty and glory henceforth and forevermore.
Grant, O Lord, that whosoever shall be called by the sound of these bells into this House of Prayer, may enter into Thy gates with thanksgiving, and into Thy courts with praise; and that they who, with their outward ears, shall hear their sound, may be aroused inwardly in their souls and draw nigh unto Thee, the God of their salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Here us, O merciful and gracious God, beseeching Thee for all Thy people who have bestowed their alms upon us; regard not our sins, but their faith, who, in the faith of Thy Thou, O God, who requitest all good works, repay them much for little, and eternal promises for earthly gifts, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O, Almighty God, who has knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of Thy Son Christ, our Lord; grant us grace so to follow Thy blesses Saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those unspeakable joys which Thou hast prepared for those who unfeignedly love Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Inasmuch as it has pleased God to put it into the hearts of His servants to build this Tower, and set in it these bells, we therefore accept this gift in His Holy Name, for His glory, and in sacred memory of His faithful servant, John Tweddle, now entered into rest. Blessed be His Holy Name forever, and blessed be all they that honor Him thus with the substance, and blessed be all they who enter in here, or go forth hence from this time forth forevermore.
As the Bishop concluded the choir commenced the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers," and the vestrymen and clergy passed out the Tower Chamber up the middle alley of the church to the chancel. The Litany was then read, the "Te Deum Laudamus" was sung for the Introit, followed by the service of Holy Communion.
A mural tablet cut in white marble had been placed in the tower chamber by order of the Vestry, and gift of the congregation. The inscription is as follows:
This tower from the eave of the nave was built in the year of our Lord, 1876, to the glory of God and in memory of His faithful servant John Tweddle, some time Warden of this parish. He entered into rest March 9th, 1875, and by the bounty of his wife and children his monument completes and adorns the sanctuary he love. 'And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone. Gen. XXXV. 14.
Upon the base of the tablet is the following inscription:
"This tablet was erected by the Rector and Congregation of St. Peter's church, at the Dedication of the Tower on the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels, A.D. 1876."
What associations may have suggested Michaelmas as an appropriate day for this solemnity, I am not informed. It occurs to me that there are some coincidences in its favour. The fallen angel against whom St. Michael fought is portrayed by the poet in the words:
"He among the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower."
And this tower-like dignity belonged to him, not in his quality as fallen, but as the remnant of a primal nature:
"His form had not yet lost
All its original brightness, nor appeared
Less than archangel ruined and the excess
Of glory obscured."
If, then, the blighted Lucifer "stood like a tower," how emblematic in its fair proportions is the noble tower which we identify this day with this House of God, of that glorious archangel who excels in strength; of Michael the Prince, who defended ancient Israel, and whose shining legions may well be supposed to be the bulwark and defence of this and every place where the church prolongs her ancient hymn; "With angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name."
The holy Herbert bids us--
"Think when the bells do chime
'Tis angels' music."
And surely the sweet-voiced bells that will henceforth sound forth from this Tower of Memories will the rather prompt such thoughts, so long as it may be borne in mind that your bishop gives them their "Mission" on this Feast of All Angels. If these ideas are not wholly irrelevant, you will pardon them; but let us turn to the Word of the Lord for those most appropriate to the celebration of this Festival.
As in the text, so elsewhere in Holy Scripture, the Tower is made an expressive symbol of things sacred and divine. "The tower of the flock," of which Micah speaks, connects with pastoral oversight, and "the tower of the watchmen," mentioned in the Book of Kings, suggests the position of the Episcopate in the church. The tower of the vineyard, in Isaiah's parable, reminds us again of the pastor's work and duty in tending the husbandry of the Lord, defending the tender grapes against "the little foxes," and watching the branches of "the True Vine." In the Canticles the Church's beauty and fair proportions are likened to "a tower of ivory." Jeremiah is made "a tower and a fortress" to God's people. The divine Redeemer himself, renewing the figures of Isaiah, makes mention of the "tower" in the vineyard which was let out to husbandmen. Not to pursue any further such Scriptural similitudes, we may remark that these are enough to justify that costly feature in the architecture of churches, which recalls so many of the Spirit's oracles; which gives us so many "sermons in stone," and which stands like a massive bulwark of the Truth.
But it is a symbol of the Lord himself that a tower makes so fitting and so prominent a part in the architecture of a house of God. There it stands as an embodiment of the text, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower," while, as a portal of the house of prayer, upholding the aerial belfry from which the call to prayer sounds forth, the residue of the text is applicable also--"the righteous runneth into it and is safe"--or, as the margin hath it, is "set aloft;" is lifted above the world; is set upon the Rock that is higher than human wants. Bishop Andrewes sometimes dwells on words in this somewhat fanciful way, and I cannot but remark, in venturing to imitate the holy playfulness of that Master in Israel, how fruitful are his suggestions, often even when he seems to trifle, in multiplying sweet associations with the Truth, as it is in Jesus.
To deal more immediately with the text, let me remark that its force lies in that word which our version reverently obscures--the word "Jehovah." That Name is "the strong tower of Israel"--the fortress and defence of His people. The practical knowledge of the true God, by His awful and incommunicable Name, was the peculiar gift of God to the Mosaic church, as the fuller knowledge of Jehovah in the Trinity is the glory of the Christian Dispensation. Verbally this Name was not new, but in a day of world-wide apostasy it was the Mission of Moses to make known the power of that Name, as of the self-existent Maker of all things, alike to Egypt and to Israel. By signs and wonders He demonstrated His supremacy. But we lose the great feature of the Song of Moses when we substitute Adonai for Jehovah, and say, "the Lord is His Name." It was in their first exultation over the discovery of the true Name of their God, in its significance and its power, that the children of Israel, under their great Law giver, sand their Paschal Hymn: "The Lord is a man of war, JEHOVAH is His Name." And it is a passionate idea of gratitude for this great privilege of knowing God, among so many Nations that knew Him not, which so often inspires the Psalmist; as when it is said, "In Jewry is God known, His Name is great in Israel."
The tower which we set up this day proclaims this truth. It says: "We know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent." We know Him in all the wealth of His Holy Name, and in the experience of its power. We know Him as a strong tower, our citadel and defence. We know Jehovah; "He is our strength and our song, and He is become our salvation; He is our God, and we will prepare Him a habitation; our fathers' God, and we will exalt Him."
But we live in a day when a Materialist philosophy has largely occupied the minds of men; when mockers and scoffers abound, and when, from the chief seats of reputed science, the world is informed that if there be a great First Cause He is "unknown and unknowable." Such an insult to Christendom and to science itself ought to consign its authors to a hospitable mad-house. Such spitting upon the lofty Christian Science of Newton and of Leibnitz, to say nothing of the Word of God and His Living Church, ought to be rebuked by the common voice of Christian civilization. But it is far otherwise; and the ignorant and unstable are mystified when they see Christians giving honour to false Science, and welcoming its emissaries to the halls in which the plastic mind of youth is moulded. In an age so feeble and depraved, thank God, you have built your tower; there it stands like a defiance. It will long outlive the Sciolism to which it speaks, as it were, in the words of the prophet, "Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed, and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice and lifted up thine eyes on high? The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee."
But, it will be answered by the Sciolist, that the testimony of the rocks is against the testimony of the Book. Once, material things became animated by the holy imagination of Faith. Wood and stone sung anthems. The stone cried out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber responded. But now they say "the very stones of your tower cry out against you; the walls of your church refute the voice which echoes from the pulpit; the outside of the church is a testimony against the Word and sacraments within." Is it so, however? On the contrary, that tower is built of Rock as if on purpose to defy the enemy. It proclaims the truth that genuine science finds the Rocks inscribed with the name of Jehovah; nay, more, that a true Philosophy has realized the idea of Job, and graven the rocks as with an iron pen with His sublime confession--"I know that my Redeemer liveth."
The facts of science, as distinguished from the dotings of speculation, not only appear to be highly in accordance with Revelation, but to me they seem to be a supplementary Revelation in themselves. They freshen the Scriptures and bring out its hidden meanings, its latent Philosophy of Nature. To me they have furnished new joys and confidences, for which I bless God. Even when the old philosophy of the universe ruled in the schools, believers might sing, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork;" but not as we do so now, who know how much more that handiwork is wonderful than even the Psalmist dreamed. Alphonso of Castile, who discovered the clumsy construction of the Ptolemaic Universe, is reported to have said, "that if he had been in the Creator's council when He made such a world he could have advised Him better." It was almost a pardonable irreverence, but God gave us Copernicus and Galileo and Newton; and lo! it is philosophy that made the bundling. The true theory that had been broached before the Christian era, but Science cried it down. The church learned a narrow material system from the philosophers. God alone is wise. And now we "sing a new song" when we chant, "The firmament sheweth His handiwork." We begin to know something of His power and greatness. The Scriptures, like their author, seem to be unfathomable in their wisdom and knowledge. "Oh! the depth."
Ever discovery of science seems to me, therefore, a new challenge to "Search the Scriptures." The Sciolist does not even read them intelligently; but they were given to be searched; and we must dig in them "as for hid treasure." And, depend upon it, the treasure is there. I do not know that modern science is true, even as to the facts which it reports; but I think it is, fundamentally, because so many of its facts not only agree with Scripture, but bring out its beauty and invest it with new force. The Newtonian Science of Light, and the corresponding system that explains the phenomena of Sound, minister to my sacred joys on this Feast of Angels. The vibrations on which sight depends must bear a certain proportion to the sensitive capacity of the retina, or we fail to see what, nevertheless, may be present here with us at this moment. Balaam's eye was made a little more delicate than ordinary, and he saw the angel. Elisha's servant had his eyes opened, and "behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire." Sound depends upon similar conditions. And an accomplished scientist [Prof. J. P. Cooke, of Harvard] has said with equal eloquence and truth: "There may be innumerable sounds in nature to which our ears are perfectly deaf, although they are the sweetest melodies to refined senses. Nay, more, the very air around us may be resounding with the hallelujahs of the Heavenly Host, when our dull ears hear nothing but the feeble accents of our broken prayers." Let us think of this at the Trisagion.
God is always able to make the wrath of man to praise Him, and in like manner He overrules the dotings and extravagances of scientific unbelief. They are challenges to Faith. They make believers study and understand the "Strong Tower" in which they confide. We read our Bible more, and with a keener relish and a deeper insight, when we see its precious truth impeached and insulted. No words can express my compassion for the petty minds which can go back to Epicurus for their philosophy of Nature; who dress it up in new phrases and call it Modern Science, imposing upon themselves and others. Their insult to human intelligence, and the impudence with which they treat the great colossal names of true Philosophy, are unpardonable. But God can yoke even the wild ass's colt to the plow of His Providence, and make it break up the fallows for new harvests of His glory. I believe in one sort of evolution. I think these pretenders, with their infinitesimal germs of true theory and their petty discoveries, are the "primordial forms" of something that is coming. Out of these microscopic protoplasms we shall see developed a true Philosophy. The Newton of new science will spring forth from the half-developed figures that now shocks us by their deformity; the human will supersede the bestial; and, depend upon it, like a Kepler or a Boyle, the true Master of Modern Science will have "a new song in his mouth, even praise to our God." Meantime, while we pity the intoxication with which little minds are always affected by draughts from the Muses' well, however, minute, let me thank God for what is real and true in their observations. I am grateful to them for their facts, even while I smile at their imaginations; and I must own that the unity, order and beauty which they seem to me to have proved, as a characteristic of the Divine plan in the Universe, give me new conceptions of the Maker and freshen my appreciation of His Word. The 104th Psalm, for example, has a new meaning for me, as a sublime review of animated nature and of the material universe, when I connect it with the harmony of creation which is now demonstrated, and hence with the renovated world which the Psalm foretells. I consult these outlines of the regenerated earth and heavens, and they enable me to comprehend, in some degree, the four Zoa, or Livings ones, of the Apocalypse, and the wonderful symbols of Ezekiel's Vision. Thus I learn that there are certain relations between man and inferior natures; that there is a scale of ascending and descending correspondences among all living creatures, included in that System of the Universe which Ezekiel's Vision seems to signify, by its "wheels within wheels," to which the Spirit imparts the mystery of Life. Now the Psalmist celebrates this mystery and promises us a new creation, in which the "groanings and travailings" of this present world shall be no more. The new discoveries harmonize with this. They fill my soul with new views of that mercy of God which saves both man and beast; they lend sweetness to that promise--"the glorious Majesty of the Lord shall endure forever; the Lord shall rejoice in His works."
Philosophy, when it is true, is always the handmaid of Faith, and specially is this true so far as the Rocks have been in any degree translated into history. I think, though I speak under great correction, that they demonstrate a pre-Adamite world and a former arrangement of our planet and its strata. And I incline to this because the Bible seems to me to require it. I think St. Peter asserts it, and that Moses implies it. I think it alone interprets those Mysterious Names of God--"the Rock of Ages" and "the Ancient of Days."
Had all that we now know been revealed by Moses, it would have been a stumbling-block to generations. The torpid world has been slow to study its own domain of things material; but now, when it begins to examine its own earth--lo! Scripture is before it; its latent beauties shine forth. It is discovered now, as St. Augustine surmised, that the days of Creation must have been Ages? So we begin to comprehend the hoar Antiquity of Him who is called "the Ancient of Days." Are the rocks found to be full of records of worlds before Adam? Lo! He by whom all things were made claims the autograph as His own--He is "the Rock of Ages."
It was as if to be beforehand, and to defy our enemies, that our Master claimed the rocks for His own, when he gave their name to St. Peter and said of Himself: "Upon this Rock will I build my Church." Let us be sure "the gates of Hell will never prevail against it."
So, then, brethren of St. Peter's Church, in conformity with your parochial name you uplift this day your strong testimony for Christ. Yon tower of Rock proclaims, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." And it will speak to your children's children when the foolish dreamers of this age shall have been forgotten. The next caprice of "Sciencee" will demolish theirs. Eighty dead systems of Geology were classified and laid by to moulder on dusty shelves in the first quarter of our century. The next wave of theory will wipe out the follies that amuse us now. But froom age to age your work shall testify, "The Name of Jehovah is a strong Tower."
I have called it a Tower of Memories, and as such it will be known by many claims. Ever let it stand in honour of the good man whom it commemorates. To him Christ was a tower of refuge; he ran into it and he is "set aloft;" he is taken up to Paradise. Nor can I omit mention of the family, which has so worthily commemorated him. While others rear the pagan "mausoleum" in Cities of the Dead, they have cemented the beloved memory of the departed to the corners of the temple, and set up their witness to his faith in the Resurrection. Oh! greatly wise, as well as greatly beneficent. For one who would have paused to read an epitaph in the cemetery, thousands shall here learn of him whom they would commemorate. And, while showy marbles in "fashionable graveyards" are laughed to scorn, we may be sure that unborn generations will rise up to read the name inscribed on yon church tower, and to call it blessed.
Nor can I fail to congratulate you that this Tower of Memories will ever stand as a historic landmark and be associated with the hundredth year of our Nationality. The republic may not survive another century, and if it adopts the vagaries I have rebuked, it will work out its own "swift destruction." But the Church will survive; and so long as this tower is one of her material bulwarks, so long will it proclaim to the republic her own Faith, her own Polity, her own Law, as the spirit which alone can exalt a Nation, or preserve it from "the madness of the people."
The name of William Croswell is entwined with that of your able and devoted bishop; it is dear to many old Albanians, and oh! how dear to me. When that Christian poet, in his youth, saluted his Alma Mater, and praised her beautiful site in New Haven, he deeply felt the contrast between its unsightly Puritan fanes, and the rock-built church, where his white-haired father minister so long, in all the "beauty of holiness;"
"For there my mother church stood near, that warned me of my sin,
That church so gothic all without, so glorious all within,
And, emblem of the ancient faith its hollowed courts that fills,
Reared of the everlasting rock from everlasting hills."
I have reminded you that the sacred poet is philosophically right in claiming the rocks and the hills as the symbols of everlasting truth, and of a Church that cannot be destroyed; and so, Churchmen of Albany, I beg you ever to repeat his song in spirit, when you look at this holy and beautiful house, the third which has risen on this spot of memories, where your fathers worshiped. Long may me beloved brother, your gifted rector, stand here as upon his watch-tower; and long may the people to which he ministers so faithfully, find in him a "tower of the flock;" and in the God whom he serves a rock and a fortress. Long may ever Christian who prayeth in this place, in the sweet experience of the Lord's sufficiency, have occasion to adopt the Psalmist's language: "Jehovah is my rock, in Him will I trust; He is my shield and the horn of my salvation; my high tower and my refuge; my Saviour."