To the HONOURABLE
Joseph Reade and Daniel Horsmanden, Esqrs., Church-Wardens
And the other Gentlemen of the Vestry.
In compliance with your request, I now deliver you a copy of my Sermon preached at the opening of ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL.
If in any shape it may tend to promote the Glory of GOD, the good of religion, and a just idea of the sacredness of buildings dedicated to the immediate service of ALMIGHTY GOD, which I am confident can be your only inducement for desiring this publication, I shall be most amply rewarded. But it will afford me an additional pleasure, if what is now offered to the public, may have any [i/ii] influence in exciting others to follow so laudable an example of diligence, benevolence, and disinterestedness, as you have exhibited to the world, in the undertaking, conducting, and completion of so beautiful and magnificent an edifice.
That it may answer these important and laudable ends, is,
The Sincere Prayer of,
Your Faithful Pastor,
And Much Obliged Servant,
New-York Dec. 1766
EXODUS, Chap. III Verse 5.
And he said, draw not nigh hither. Put off thy Shoes from off thy Feet,
for the Place whereon thou standest is holy Ground.
The King of Heaven and Earth, being resolved to deliver his chosen people the Jews then in bondage, was pleased to employ his meek servant Moses, as a proper instrument to procure their enlargement: in consequence of this determination, he condescended to appear before him, in a miraculous and august manner, on the Mountain of God.
Moses was alarmed at so astonishing an appearance: and well he might, when he beheld a bush on fire, and yet not destroyed by that consuming element, which has no respect of persons, or places, but with merciless fury, too often reduces the proudest palaces to ashes, and lays the work of ages, as it were, in a moment, level with the ground.
When the sovereign Lord beheld the anxiety with which his chosen servant was seized, out of compassion to him, he was pleased to say, Draw not nigh hither. Consider before whom thou appearest, and preserve a proper and an awful distance. Put off thy shoes from off thy feet. The majesty [1/2] of Heaven is now the subject of thy obedience and reverence; therefore, revere him that covers thee with the radiant beams of his glory; and in token of respect, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
The Almighty consecrated this mountain by his especial presence. The ground which before was no more holy than common, is now, from being visited by the Lord of Lords, become Holy Ground.
It is very obvious to all present, that the intention of our present meeting is, to dedicate this beautiful edifice [St. Paul’s Chapel] to the service of the Supreme Being. It cannot therefore be deemed an improper undertaking to shew;
1st, That Almighty God is eminently present in one place, more than in another; and therefore, that such place, with great propriety, may be called holy.
2ndly, That churches dedicated to the Almighty’s service, may be justly looked upon as such places.
From whence will appear,
3dly, The obligations which we are under, while in such a situation, and in the more immediate presence of so holy a God, of behaving with Respect, Reverence, and Devotion.
To mankind, in their present lapsed condition, the divine presence in invisible. We can form no adequate idea of the likeness of God. The most soaring imagination must fall infinitely short of Supreme Excellence, should it be vain enough to attempt to describe it. No man, saith the great apostle to the gentiles, hath seen, or can see GOD at any time.
 The Jews, his chosen people, tho blessed with the Shekinah, or Glory of God, never saw any similitude; [* The Shekinah was the most sensible mark of the presence of God, which was to be observed amongst the Hebrews, and which rested upon the Propitiatory, or over the golden Cherubims, which adhered to the Propitiatory, or the covering of the Ark; There the Shekinah abode in the shape of a cloud. It was from thence that God gave forth his Oracles with an articulate voice, when he was consulted by the High Priest in favour of the people. Thence it is, as it is often said in scripture, that God sits upon the Cherubim, or between the Cherubim; that is to say, that he gives the most evident tokens of his Divine Presence, by answering from hence the Israelites that consulted him. The Jewish Rabbins tells us, that the Shekinah first resided in the Tabernacle prepared by Moses in the wilderness, and that it descended thereon on the day of its consecration, in the Figure of a Cloud. It passed from thence into the Sanctuary of Solomon’s Temple, on the day of its dedication by that Prince, where it continued til the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Temple, by the Chaldeans; and was not afterwards to be seen there. Calmet’s Historical &c. Dictionary of the Holy Bible. Vol. 3rd.] nay, the divine Essence is undiscernable even to the holy Angels above. Those blessed spirits, tho they inhabit celestial abodes, possess a space; their Nature, therefore, must greatly differ from that immense Being, the pure fountain from whence flows every perfection, the God that pervadeth universal nature.
That Almighty Being, then, that reared the mighty fabric of the universe, dwelleth not in temples made with hands: The Heaven of Heavens, the spacious concave above, is not able to contain Him, for He filleth Heaven and Earth. His limits are not to be described.
But, although, Almighty Power is not to be fully ascertained, yet certainly it may be exerted in a visible and extraordinary manner, on particular occasions.
Transcendent Majesty, arrayed in Glory, can certainly display himself in a more conspicuous manner in one place, than in another. This is evident from facts.
In our present imperfect state, much of our knowledge is received by our senses. To investigate the most abstracted ideas, we call to our assistance the most sensible helps. The benevolent Creator of the human race, intimately acquainted with the fallen nature of man, has, upon particular occasions, condescended to exhibit to the world, a kind of visible presence, of his tremendous Majesty. His wise and gracious intention [3/4] in thus acting, is to fix such valuable thought in our minds, as may plant the principles of our most holy religion deep and lasting in our Souls.
We must be sensible, that a being endued with omnipotent power, can upon a particular occasion, actuate a quantity of matter, in such a manner, as must fill the mind of man, with great and astonishing ideas of his Majesty. His power being infinite; He is able to do among the inhabitants of the earth, as well as in the Armies of Heaven, whatever he wills.
In former ages, the Almighty God, for wise and good purposes, condescended to exhibit astonishing representations to particular men, in particular places. These glorious and magnificent signs were generally discovered by a remarkable luminous appearance, bursting forth from dark and thick clouds.
The first appearance of the Glory of the Lord that we have recorded, was to Adam, in Paradise. After our first parent had stained his soul with guilt, his justly offended God, appeared to him, arrayed with awful Majesty; and with a commanding voice, that pierced through his guilty breast, he called the unhappy and self-convicted criminal.
Thus arraigned by his Sovereign Lord, he was seized with fear and dread. In vain he attempted to hide himself from the presence of injured Majesty.
After the flood, the Shekinah was often visible to the Holy Seed; particularly to the venerable Father of the Faithful; for it is said, that God went up from Abraham.
When Jacob returned from Beersheba, towards Haran, to mitigate incensed Esau’s resentment, he was blessed with the Divine Presence. He beheld the Angels of God ascending, and descending, and viewed the Lord of Glory, who promised that his wakeful Providence should watch over him for good.
 Well might the pious Patriarch break forth, and in a religious rapture say, surely the Lord is in this Place. How dreadful is this Place. This is no other than the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven. And on his return to his native country, he (say the scriptures) wrestled with God and prevailed; and in Honor of so signal an event, called the place where he obtained the blessing, Peniel: that is, the Face of God; because he was there favoured with the Divine Presence. After this the same august Being was pleased to display his Glory to his faithful servant Moses; and God called unto him.
And lest the vain, the proud sceptic, should say, that these particular men were deluded, and disturbed with melancholy and whim; the spirit of Divine Wisdom has also recorded the Almighty’s appearing to multitudes infamous for the hardness of their heart. Hear Moses’s solemn and awful account of it, dictated by the Holy Spirit of God. On the third day in the morning there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and Mount Sinai was altogether in a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it; and the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the Top of the Mount.
Thus it is very evident that Almighty God assisted the imaginations of men, by his miraculous presence; not that the Godhead was represented to them, for that is invisible; but he condescended to exhibit to his chosen people, such glorious and amazing appearances, and such visible signs, as convinced them of his invisible Presence, and readiness to help and assist them.
By illustrating the manner in which Almighty God eminently appeared in one place, more than another, we shall be able to put the truth now advanced in a proper Point of Light. And,
First, those persons to whom the Glory of the Lord appeared, were themselves fully persuaded of the reality of the Divine Presence. If men are endued with such valuable faculties as to know God, to serve Him, and [5/6] to be directed by Him; they then are also capable of knowing when infinite wisdom condescends in a particular manner to reveal himself to them. The Fountain from whence all knowledge is derived, so enlightened their understandings to whom the Shekinah appeared, as convinced them by a demonstration from the Spirit of God, that it was no less than the Glory of the Lord that appeared. Nor is such a Divine Illumination either inconsistent with the perfections of Almighty God, or those noble faculties with which he has blessed the Sons of Men.
Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, was fully convinced that the God who had often appeared to him, was the same Being that commanded him to sacrifice his only beloved son Isaac. We cannot suppose that so good and wise a man, so fond and indulgent a parent, could be tempted to commit an action, that had so much the appearance of being barbarous, unnatural and irreligious, had he not received the most ample conviction, that it was the express command of his God, to who he owed intire obedience.
Jacob entertained not the least suspicion but that it was God, that appeared to him at Bethel. The Divine Presence amply supplied those conveniences which he wanted, and rendered his Couch of Earth and Stones vastly preferable to the Down and Tissue of Princes.
Moses, that eminent servant of God, would not have hid his face, and been seized with fear, not daring to look up, if he had not been fully persuaded that the Divine Majesty appeared to him in Glory at that precise time.
And, to mention but one instance more; the stiff-necked Israelites, remarkable for infidelity and perverseness, would never have moved, and stood afar off, and condescended to request Moses to speak unto them lest they should die; would not have worshipped every man at his tent-door, when they beheld the cloudy Pillar standing at the Door of the Tabernacle, if they [6/7] had not received incontestable evidence that the Divine Presence was in a special manner there.
Secondly, The Supreme Majesty of Heaven and Earth always appeared with astonishing Splendor, and amazing Glory, on particular occasions.
At these times, to make use of the sublime and grand description which the sacred Oracles give us, There went up a Smoke out of his Nostrils; Fire came out of his Mouth; He bowed the Heavens, and came down; Darkness was under his Feet; He rode upon a Cherub, and did fly; He came flying upon the Wings of the Wind. At the Brightness that was before him, thick Clouds passed away. The Sight of the Glory of the Lord was like devouring Fire, in the Eyes of the Children of Israel. And, it is recorded that, when God came up from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran, that his Glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his Praise. His Brightness was as the Light. Nay, so transcendently glorious was the Splendor of the Divine Majesty, that it even dazzled the Eyes of Moses, though permitted to talk with his God, Face to Face. Again,
That the Almighty might command the greatest reverence, when he graciously condescended to leave the beautiful Mansions of Glory, and to visit the Sons of Men, (amazing condescension indeed) he was attended by a splendid company of active Angels. The Ancient of Days, says the Prophet Daniel, in a noble and lofty stile, has thousands to minister to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand standing before him. The Chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of Angels, and the Lord is among them in his holy place.
Thus the Patriarch Jacob, when blessed with the Divine Presence, saw the Angels of God, attending on the Majesty of Heaven, ascending and descending: And when Almighty God appeared to his servant Moses, the Angel was in the Bush; and God upon Mount Sinai, was received by the Disposition of Angels.
 Lastly, the Place where the Shekinah, or Glory of the Lord appeared, was esteemed holy. For if the Tabernacle, the Temple, nay, the meanest utensil appropriated for Divine Service, was esteemed as holy, surely the Place honoured with the especial Presence of Almighty God, was eminently so.
For this reason Jacob, when he was fully convinced that God appeared to him in Bethel, cryed out, that the Place was dreadful, and that it was the House of God: And God declareth to his servant Moses, that the Mount on which he appeared to him in Glory, was holy Ground. And whenever the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle, the Israelites worshipped and did Obeysance. The Speciality of the Divine Presence consecrating or making those Places holy, in which Almighty God was pleased to appear.
To us it is very evident, that the Supreme Being is eminently present in one Place more than another; therefore that such Place may, with great propriety, be stiled holy.
I proceed, Secondly, to prove both from scripture and antiquity, that Churches dedicated to God’s Service, may be justly looked upon as such holy Places.
We do not at this Day presume to assert, that the especial Divine Presence is now visible in our Churches.
The ancient Fathers justly suppose, that the Shekinah, or the Glory of the Lord was effected by the Second Person in the sacred Trinity: It was therefore highly reasonable that, when the Brightness of God’s Glory, and the express Image of his Person, became manifest in our Flesh; all those extraordinary Appearances should cease; and accordingly they have long since been withdrawn.
But though the Glory of the Lord is not now visible, yet we may reasonably conclude, that the Sovereign Inspector of Men, and their Actions, has [8/9] a peculiar regard for those places dedicated, and set apart, for his particular Service, by his religious and faithful Servants. And, though our senses are not struck with those radiant Beams of Light, which holy men, before the Appearance of the Lord of Light and Glory, were blessed with; yet the Great God, though imperceptible to us, is more eminently present in Places dedicated to his Name and Worship, than in common buildings.
In all Ages, and among all Nations, we find that particular Places have been appropriated, and set apart for religious Rites and Ceremonies.
Jacob vowed a vow, that the Place where God appeared to him, should be God’s House. And whenever this was done with Piety and Sincerity, the Supreme God, as an encouragement to his faithful Servants, was pleased to declare his Approbation by manifest Signs.
Thus when Moses finished the Work of the Tabernacle, a Cloud covered the Tent of the Congregation, and the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle: and when the magnificent Temple of Solomon was finished, which for Grandeur, and Refinement of Taste, exceeded every Thing of the Kind before or since, the Cloud, as a Sign of Approbation, filled the House of the Lord.
Though our senses are not, in these days of degeneracy, struck with extraordinary appearances for the reason already given; yet we may, with great Truth, I am confident, presume, that Almighty God will equally delight in every Place, or Church, which the Piety of his obedient Servants, with a View to his Glory, and the present and eternal Welfare of the human race, has dedicated to Him under the Gospel, as he delighted in those dedicated to him under the Law; He being the same Yesterday, To-day, and for ever.
Now indeed, neither Jerusalem, nor Mount Gerazim, are more holy to God than other Places; but from the Rising of the Sun to the going down of the same, God’s Name shall be great in every Place. Incense shall be offered in his Name.
 The Goodness of God is not now confined to Palestine, neither is Jerusalem the Place that his Holiness delighted to dwell in; but in every Country his faithful Worshippers may erect Buildings, and dedicate them to the Service of their God and Redeemer; And, when ever the Almighty is properly invoked in such Places, or Churches, in Spirit and in Truth, we are assured that his Votaries perform as acceptable a Service, as was anciently performed in those Places called by God’s sacred Name.
I would not be understood to say, that our Churches have any intrinsic Holiness in them; but, by being solemnly dedicated to the sole Service of the Almighty, they certainly have an immediate Relation to Him, and are derivatively Holy.
Both the Laws of God and Man require, that the stated Times for the public Worship of the God that made us, supports and protects us, be observed in a different Manner from other Times. Why therefore, by a Parity of Reasoning, should not hallowed Places, which are appropriated, and dedicated entirely to the Service of Almighty God, be treated with greater regard than ordinary Houses?
The superb Palace of a Monarch is approached and entered with Respect and Deference; should not then noble and majestic Edifices erected for, and dedicated to the Service of the Sovereign Being, the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings, be treated with the greatest Awe, and most profound Veneration?
If outward Marks of Reverence be not paid to things belonging unto God, in a very short Time, (such is our Propensity to forget our Duty,) we may become so lost to Decency, and our most reasonable Service, that we shall fail in that inward Veneration we yet pretend to have for the Divine Majesty Himself.
It is a just Observation of an eminent Prelate, (long since with his Maker) that [10/11] the inward Worship of the Heart is “the great Service of God, and that no Service can be acceptable without it: But, (he proceeds) the external Worship of God in his Church is the great Witness to the World, that our Hearts stand right in his Service.”
“The Church or Temple (say our Homilies) is counted or called holy, yet not of itself; but, because God’s People resorting thereunto are holy, and exercise themselves in holy and heavenly Things.” [* Book Hom. Page 162] But permit me to dwell a little longer on this subject.
Persons and Things when set apart to the peculiar Service of Almighty God, claim a Right to external, and relative Holiness; and this Right is founded on their being thus appropriated.
Thus the Sabbath was called Holy, as it was the Day fixed for public Worship: Thus the Oil under the Law was called holy, being appropriated to Divine Uses: Thus the Jews were called an holy People, being separated from the idolatrous Nations by Almighty God. And our Churches by solemn Dedication become the Houses of God, and so are made holy.
I might now mention many Dedications under the Law, to elucidate what has been said on this subject, were it needful; but I rather proceed to observe, that after the Ascension of the Lord our Righteousness, his disconsolate Spouse, the Church, was, for some Time, clad in Mourning, weeping, and afflicted; and his poor persecuted Servants were so watched by their cruel Enemies, that they were obliged to make Use, not of the most decent, but most solitary and safe Place, for their Religious Assemblies.
Stately Fabricks, noble and magnificent Edifices, were not then erected. But as mean and solitary as those Places were, which were set apart for Divine Worship; yet they were treated by the primitive Christians with the greatest Respect; and the Profanation of them was universally detested and condemned.
 Some ages after, the Rage of Persecution abated, the dark and dismal Cloud, replete with Mischief and Vengeance, was, by the Interposition of Heaven, dispersed and dissipated, and a radiant and glorious Light shone forth. Kings gloried in being nursing Fathers to the true Church of God. The strong attachment, the sacred veneration, which the first Christians had for the Houses of their God, now openly appeared.
The great and celebrated Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, immediately set about finishing the Church at Jerusalem, built (as profane Historians inform us) over our Saviour’s Sepulchre: And such was his Sense of the Propriety and Decency of solemnly dedicating it to the sole Service of Almighty God, that he ordered the greatest part of the Bishops of Christendom to assemble themselves together for that purpose. This they very readily complied with; and some with Orations, others with Sermons, others with Prayers for the Peace of the World, for the Safety of the Church, and for the Prosperity of the Emperor and his Children, solemnized the Dedication to the best of their Power. This pious Emperor also laid the Foundation of a famous Temple, called Sancta Sophia, and Magna, which was finished, and dedicated Thirty-four Years after, by his son Constantius, [* Vid. Bingham, page 286] who joined the Temple of Peace to it, including them both in one.
Constantius was followed in his Piety by the succeeding Emperors, but especially by Justinian, who, among other Works of this Nature, rebuilt the Church of St. Sophia, which had been burnt down in the Time of Anastasius.
This Church was justly esteemed the Glory of the World, for its Greatness, curious Architecture, Richness and Beauty; insomuch that Justinian himself having finished it, was heard to say, I have out done thee, Solomon.
 Socrates observes, that in like manner the Council of Antioch was summoned on Purpose to dedicate the famous Church there, called Dominicum Aureum, which was begun by Constantine, and finished by Constantius. Many examples of the same Nature are to be met with in profane History.
From these Instances therefore, of Solomon, under the Jewish, and Constantine, and others, under the Christian Dispensation, it plainly appears in what sense the Church is said to be Holy.
Again; it is called holy, from the sacred and solemn Offices that are performed in it. The blessed Jesus himself, who always spoke the Words of unerring Truth, assures us, that where two or three are gathered together in his Name, He will be in the midst of them; and we cannot doubt but that the Father of all Mercies, will also be present with us in this House, now devoted to his Service, by the Influence of his blessed Spirit; who is to renew us in the inner Man, to incline us to will and to do what is acceptable to God.
Within these sacred Walls, publick Audience is to be given to the Ministers of Christ, who preach the Gospel of Peace, and bring glad tidings of good Things; to the Stewards of the Mysteries of Christ; to the Ambassadors of God; who, with repeated solicitations, beseech you in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled unto God.
In this elegant House of God, the Laws of the great Jehovah will be promulgated; Obedience demanded; the Rewards that attend the Observance of them, and the great Danger of a contrary Behaviour, laid before you. Here, the benevolent Creator offers to heal the broken Spirit, and the contrite Heart;--to meet with open arms the poor, humble, dejected Penitent;--to receive the sincere Petitions of his obedient Servants, and to hearken to their earnest Prayers. Here, at the sacred Altar, we are to commemorate the Death and Passion of that immaculate Lamb, who was slain [13/14] for the Sins of an ungrateful World. Here, we shall feast upon the Banquet of redeeming Love; and receive the Elements of Bread and Wine, to our great and endless Comfort. In a Word, Here, every Ordinance of our Religious Worship, for the Advancement of God’s Glory, and the Honor of his beloved Son;--for the Edification of the People of God, and promoting the eternal Interest of our immortal Souls, is required to be piously discharged by the Congregation of the Faithful.
We readily allow that the sacred offices of our most holy religion, may be performed in private Houses; but it is evident from the Prayer at the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple, that religious services performed in the House of God are more effectual in removing Judgments, and procuring Mercies, than those offered in private Places. The Goodness of the Lord never shines with a greater lustre, than when the united Devotions of his faithful Servants, wrestle as it were with the Almighty in his own House.
We find that our blessed Saviour paid particular Respect to Places dedicated to the Service of God. The sacred Jesus coming to Jerusalem, was filled with a pious indignation at seeing his Father’s House vilely prostituted. When his Person was treated in the most cruel and ungrateful manner, he bore it with wonderful patience; but when the Temple of God was prophaned, an holy Zeal instantly kindled in his breast. The meek Lamb of God, thus provoked, had Recourse to holy Violence, and whipped the impious merchants out of the Temple. But,
Lastly, If particular Edifices or Places are thus made holy, then many are the Obligations that Christians are under of behaving, while in such a Situation, and in the more immediate presence of Almighty God, with the greatest Respect, Reverence, and Devotion.
Whether we reflect on the Divine Nature, or our Relation to God, our Judgments must be fully convinced, that it is our reasonable Service, and [14/15] our undoubted Interest, to rejoice to enter into the House of the Lord, and there serve him in the Beauty of Holiness. God’s Service is now perfect Freedom; the Yoke of Christ is easy, and his Burden light. It is not now required of us to come before God with calves of a Year old; to present thousands of rams, or ten thousand Rivers of Oil; much less to give our first born for our Transgressions, the Fruit of our Bodies, for the Sin of our Souls; but we are required to sacrifice our Lusts and Passions, to serve the Lord our God, with all our Hearts, and with all our Souls, &c. and to become new Creatures in Christ Jesus. Can we possibly attain this blessed and desirable End by any means so likely, as a constant Attendance at the House of God,--the Place where his Honour Dwelleth?
The Royal Psalmist, with the most ardent Affection, longed to enter into the Courts of the Lord, &c. He wisely esteemed them completely blessed, who dwelt in the House of God. One Day in his Courts he esteemed better than a thousand: Therefore, the one thing he desired was, that he might dwell in the temple of the Lord all the Days of his Life.
If the Law, which made nothing perfect, thus strongly influenced that holy Man, how inexcusable then must Christians be, if they now neglect the invaluable Means of Salvation offered them in the Gospel? Unpardonable must they be, if they now refuse daily to walk with God, and reverence his Sanctuary.
But, barely to frequent the House of God, will not sanctify our Natures, and render us amiable in the Sight of so pure a Being, unless we behave while in his Courts, with the most intense Fervency and Devotion.
“Before we enter the Church, says St. Chrysostom, we must divest ourselves of the Care of this World. Let no man (he goes on) enter with a troubled and distracted Mind; let him lay all these down at the Doors, and so let him come. For coming thither, we come to Heaven, not in respect of the Place indeed, but of the Temper and Disposition of our Minds; [15/16] for a Man while he lives on Earth, may ascend to Heaven, and take a view of the Things that are there: Let no Man therefore, in the Church, think of his domestic Affairs, but on the contrary, while he is yet at Home, let him begin those Things he is to do in the Church.”
The like was observed among the very Heathens. They had their Nudipedalia Sacra; and they put off their Shoes when they entered the temple of Apollo. And History informs us, that the Turks and Ethiopian Christians do not go into their sacred Assemblies, but with their feet naked. This was the ancient Way of expressing Reverence and Respect, as uncovering the Head is, at present.
Doctor Cave, in his primitive Christianity, says, “that the pious Christians came into the Church as into the Palace of the Great King, with Fear and Trembling. Nay, the Emperors themselves, when they went into the House of God, left their Guards behind them, and took off their Crowns, in Token of that high Respect they paid to Houses dedicated to the Service of Almighty God.”
Let modern Christians then follow these examples. Let us worship the Lord our God, fall down and kneel before him. When we reflect where we are, we must be lost to all Sense of Goodness, if we neglect to serve our Creator with Reverence and godly Fear. Let us endeavor to form just ideas of the awful Majesty, of the Heavenly King. Let us be properly impressed with a sense of our own Unworthiness, and then we shall be induced to approach the Sanctuary, with Lowliness, Reverence and Devotion. Can we reflect that the Lord is certainly in this Place, and be wanting in our Endeavours to order our Affections, and regulate our Actions, in such a becoming Manner, as that no Thought of the Mind, or Gesture of the Body, may render us unfit to appear before so great and powerful an Inspector?
 External Reverence greatly promotes the Interest of Religion, and must convince all but the Abandon’d and Obstinate, that our God is among us of a Truth. God is greatly to be feared in the Assembly of his Saints, and to be had in Reverence of all them that are round about him. Let us therefore keep our Feet when we come into the House of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the Sacrifice of Fools. Let our Hearts glow with Love to the best and greatest of Beings, and then we shall worship him in the Beauty of Holiness. But a formal Attendance on the House of God will be insufficient, unless,
Lastly, by the Divine Blessing we order our whole conversation suitable to all those means of Grace that we now enjoy. We may draw nigh to God with an outside Piety, when at the same time, it is possible, our Hearts may be far from Him. If the Servant, for not improving the talent committed to his Charge, was deprived of it;--if the Abuse of Knowledge will be attended with Punishment;--if a Neglect in the one Thing needful will be productive of everlasting Misery;--must not Christians dread that eternal Vengeance will be their Portion, if through unpardonable carelessness and presumption, they render abortive the most likely Means of making themselves holy and excellent, in all manner of Conversation and Godliness?
We must be sensible that God heareth not Sinners; that if our Hearts incline to Wickedness, the Lord will not hear; for the Sacrifice of the Wicked is an Abomination to Him: But if, during the whole Course of our Lives, we steadily act upon religious principles;--if we bring our Wills to a strict Conformity to the Divine Will;--if we order our Conversation as becomes the Gospel of Christ;--if our Devotions are, as they ought to be, active, fervent, and lively;--if we give unto the Lord the Glory due unto his name;--if we worship Him in his Sanctuary with an holy Worship;--if it be the principal Business of our Lives to walk in the Courts of the Lord--[17/18] we may then with Comfort hope, that we shall hereafter be admitted, through the Merits of a glorious Redeemer, into the Divine presence, where there is fulness of Joy; and into those beatific Mansions, where there are Pleasures For Evermore.
Having thus finished what I proposed to offer, from the Words of my Text, all that now remains, is sincerely to congratulate you, Worthy Sirs [* The Church-wardens and Vestry who had the ordering and directing of the Building.] under whose wise management, and prudent Direction, this beautiful and convenient Edifice is now so far finished, as to be opened, and dedicated to the Service of Almighty God.
You this Day have the unspeakable Pleasure, of seeing within these Walls, a very respectable, numerous and devout Audience;--And if we cast our eyes around us, and carefully view this elegant Building, which is an Honour to our Church and City, we cannot help expressing our Admiration, at beholding it nearly compleated, with such great Judgment, and uncommon Dispatch.
A Glowing Ardor for the Service of God, and a humane and benevolent regard for the present, and eternal welfare of your Fellow-Citizens, are the only Inducements (noble ones indeed they are!) that have influenced you, Sirs, of the Corporation of the Church of England, in this City, as by Law Established, to devote your Time and Service, to the Erection of this noble Edifice; which will ever redound to your Honour, and be gratefully remembred by the latest Posterity.
To conclude; May that benevolent and most amiable Being, the great JEHOVAH, who is a constant Observer of the Actions of Men, and who always delights in those faithful and obedient Servants, that have exerted themselves in promoting his Honour, pour the Choicest of his Blessings upon you in this Life; and be graciously pleased to crown you with immortal Happiness [18/19] in the next. May he permit this beautiful Building to be employed in his Service from generation to generation.--May all those that are here to assemble, and worship, be sincere in their Devotions, and punctual in their Attendance, at this House of God.--May they come with hearts properly disposed to hear and receive glad Tidings of the glorious Gospel of Peace.--May they be greatly edified, and judiciously instructed by the Ambassadors of Christ Jesus, in that essential Knowledge which alone is able to make them wise unto Salvation.
And, finally, May the whole Assembly of the Faithful, after duly honoring, and devoutly serving God in Houses made with Hands, be so completely blessed, as for ever to praise, adore, and magnify, the benevolent Author of their Being, and their Happiness, in yon glorious and celestial Mansions, whose Builder and Maker is the Supreme God.
To whom, with his blessed Son CHRIST JESUS, and the HOLY SPIRIT, be ascribed, as is most justly due, all Honor, Praise, Thanksgiving, and Adoration, both now, and evermore. AMEN