the Ordinances of the Gospel:
in the State of New-York
PRINTED BY OLIVER STEELE
THERE is something inexpressibly awful in this declaration. That Being, whose glory the heaven of heavens cannot contain; whose power laid the foundations of the earth; from whose justice the purest seraphim flee in dismay--dwells here.
"Here will I dwell."
There is something inexpressibly delightful in this declaration. That Being, whose mercy was not displayed towards the angels that rebelled, but who gave his only begotten Son a sacrifice for our sins--dwells here. And here, Christian, thou mayest embrace him as thy reconciled God and Father in Jesus Christ.
We cannot doubt the fulfilment of the promise of the God of truth and goodness--"In every place where I record my name, will I come unto thee and bless thee." We cannot hesitate to believe the declaration of that most affectionate Master, who loved us even unto death--"Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Yes--Christians--here God your Saviour dwells.
 He who fills heaven and earth, is every where present; and is able every where to hear and to bless. But social worship is necessarily connected with the circumstance of place as well as of time. Every part of that blissful garden, where our first parents enjoyed their Maker's favour, was enlivened by his presence. But there was doubtless some place distinguished by the visible display of the Creator's glory, to which the parents of our race resorted, to offer him their grateful homage, and to supplicate his continued favour.
When the fall rendered expiation necessary, man approached his Maker by the sacrifice and the altar. In the solitude of the grove, in the retirement of the valley, or on the elevation of the mount, did the Patriarchs, as they journeyed, erect the altar and offer the sacrifice, to expiate their guilt or to express their gratitude and homage.
To God's chosen people, the tabernacle was the symbol of his presence. Where the tabernacle rested, did Israel worship. And, finally, the temple on Mount Zion, the most splendid and costly work of a monarch who commanded all the treasures of the East, was by the Divine command erected, and by the most magnificent rites consecrated to his service. There his glory displayed itself; there his honour dwelt. "The Lord loved the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob."
But the patriarchal altar and the Jewish temple, were only preparatory to a more spiritual worship, to be established by that Divine Personage, whom the services of the temple and the altar were chiefly designed to prefigure. Jesus Christ, the Head and Ruler of the Spiritual Israel of God, conveys the blessings of his salvation through the channel of his Church, a society which he hath constituted with ordinances, with worship, and with ministers. Essential, therefore, to the Christian dispensation, is some place where the ministers of Christ may execute their divine commission, proclaim the word of reconciliation and the commandments of the Most High; lead the worship of the faithful; and dispense the ordinances of salvation.
 To these holy purposes, this edifice is now devoted. The act of consecration, of setting it apart for religious uses by prayer and praise, is certainly not deemed essential to the efficacy of the ministrations which may be performed in it. But that association of ideas, which is an important law of our nature, leads us to transfer to the place, where the rites of religion are celebrated, a portion of that reverence which the rites themselves command. And it is therefore reasonable and proper, that the dedication of this place to the administration of these rites, should be marked by solemn religious exercises.
O our God--hear our supplications.--To this edifice, erected to thy honour and worship, apply thy gracious promise--
"Here will I dwell."
Invisible indeed to the eye of sense, is the glory of that Holy One who makes this temple his habitation--but not less real to the eye of faith. The name of JEHOVAH is recorded on these walls. The throne of salvation he has here established. And here he will dispense the inestimable treasures of his grace to the congregation of his faithful worshippers.
Invisible his glory, and incomprehensible the operations of his grace; it is only in the ordinances that are there administered, that we can realize the presence of God in the Christian temple.
And, that you may justly appreciate the institutions, to the celebration of which this edifice is now devoted; that you may be guarded from the extremes of formality, which discerns not their spiritual import; and of enthusiasm, which decries them, as arbitrary and unprofitable ceremonies; let me call your attention to the MORAL EFFICACY AND THE POSITIVE BENEFITS OF THE ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL.
I. The Ordinances of the Gospel are, in their own nature, instructive.
II. The Ordinances of the Gospel are, in their own nature, or by the conditions annexed to them, and the qualifications required for them, of an holy tendency.
 III. The Ordinances of the Gospel are, by Divine appointment, the means and pledges of mercy and grace.
IV. The Ordinances of the Gospel, in the mode in which they are administered by the Church of which we are members, are scriptural, primitive, and edifying.
V. The Ordinances of the Gospel are effectual to salvation, through the agency of the Divine Spirit, only to those who partake of them with those dispositions which that Spirit excites.
I. The Ordinances of the Gospel are, in their own nature, instructive.
There never has been a religion, whose truths were not conveyed by the aid of symbols. Man receives information through the inlets of his senses. External rites are, therefore, an important medium of religious instruction. Divine truth, being abstract in its nature, is rendered more easy of comprehension, when it is conveyed by the analogies of outward objects; in other words, when it is embodied in institutions which address the understanding through the senses. The fitness of external rites, in order to convey, and to impress religious truths, results from the nature of those truths, and from the constitution of man.
We thus account for the fact, that there never has been a religion, whose truths were not conveyed through the medium of symbols. In that state in which man held immediate converse with his Maker, religious truth was thus conveyed. The tree of knowledge, and the tree of life, taught the distinction between good and evil, and between immortality and death. The patriarchs had the altar and the sacrifice. And by numerous and splendid rites, were the spiritual and moral truths of the Jewish dispensation conveyed and perpetuated.
The Divine Author of the Gospel accommodated himself, in like manner, to the nature of man. By analogy with sensible objects, he conveyed many of his gracious truths and precepts. And he instituted ordinances and rites, to be standing lessons of instruction to all ages.
 By uniting all who should believe in him, in a visible society, he teaches them their important duties to himself, and to each other. They are taught, by their connexion with the Church of which he is the Divine Head, that they are dependent on him for spiritual instruction, nourishment, and consolation; that they owe him reverence and obedience; and that they are bound to consult supremely the peace and unity of that holy society, which is his spouse and body. They are also taught, by their union in the same visible society, that, as members in subjection to the same Divine Head, they have each their respective offices--some appointed to serve God as the rulers of his household, as the ministers of his word and ordinances--and others, in obedience to those who have thus spiritually the rule over them, to glorify God in the private exercises of the Christian life. And thus, all having their necessary stations allotted them, they are taught to discharge their respective functions, without pride on the one hand, or envy and repining on the other. As members of the same divine body, redeemed by the same Saviour, sanctified and consoled by the same divine Comforter, and rejoicing in the common hope of blessedness and glory, they are taught to exercise the exalted graces of sympathy, of kindness, of unity, and of love.
The Ordinances of the Gospel convey instruction by expressive symbols.
When our children, our friends, or any of our fellow-mortals, are sprinkled with the waters of baptism, we are reminded of our original pollution, and of the infection of sin which taints us. We are taught that, clean as our bodies are washed by the water, pure must our souls become, by the death of all our corrupt affections.
When the laying on of hands, the impressive ceremony of benediction, devotes individuals to God, we are taught that we should be consecrated, our souls and bodies, to the service of Him who made and redeemed us.
When the elements of the Holy Supper are broken, poured forth, lifted up from the altar, we see the Lamb of God, bruised, pierced, lifted up on the cross, a sacrifice for our sins.
 The worship of the Church, where that worship is conducted according to a prescribed form, becomes a most important vehicle of religious instruction. The truths of the Gospel are constantly recited to the People, in that simple and perspicuous language, which carries them to the understanding of the most illiterate, as well as of the most refined mind. It is morally impossible that any person should attend the worship of our Church, without gaining some knowledge of all those great truths of the Gospel, which the liturgy, with so much clearness and correctness, sets forth.
It cannot be necessary to prove, that the ordinance of public preaching is instructive. Religious instruction is its primary object. Explaining and urging the truths of God's word, it exhibits them with clearness to the understanding, and with force to the heart.
II. The Ordinances of the Gospel, in their own nature, or by the conditions annexed to them, and the qualifications required in those who partake of them, are of an holy tendency.
Some of these ordinances in their own nature, tend to excite, and to cherish, holy dispositions and graces.
Thus, the union of Christians in a visible Church, tends to excite their love and gratitude to that Divine Saviour, who hath purchased this Church by his own blood, for whose salvation he is constantly interceding with the Father; which he rules and governs by his Holy Spirit; and whose faithful members he will finally exalt to a state of felicity in heaven. Members of a society thus exalted in its present privileges, and glorious in its future hopes, Christians are powerfully excited to reject the low and corrupt pleasures of a sinful world, and to seek those heavenly virtues and joys, which will prepare them for their eternal home. The order, the purity, and the peace, which pervade the celestial society that constitutes the Church triumphant, present the strongest motives to the members of the Church on earth, to cultivate these virtues, the distinguishing characteristics of the Church, in its glorified state in heaven.
 What penitential emotions--what humble confidence in God's mercy through Jesus Christ--what pious affections--what holy resolves, are the confessions, the adorations, the supplications, the intercessions, which are offered in the worship of the sanctuary, calculated to excite and cherish! There cannot be a more powerful mean of impressing on the heart, our duties and our hopes, than the constant expression and acknowledgment of them in the presence of God, and at the foot of his throne.
How important the efficacy of the preaching of the word!--how often does it enlighten the ignorant, convict the sinner, animate the saint!--how often does it reclaim from error, excite to duty, and, presenting to the faithful their immortal hopes, bear them above the pleasures and the sorrows of the world!
But the holy efficacy of the ordinances of the Church is also apparent, in their being a test of our humility and submission.
The moral precepts of religion, those which enjoin our duties to God, to our fellow-men, to ourselves, appear agreeable to reason. They are approved by the dictates of conscience. They arise out of the relations in which we stand to God, and to each other; they are necessary to promote our own perfection and happiness. The obligation of these duties we are ready to acknowledge; we perceive their propriety, their excellence, and their utility; and in obeying them, we yield to the voice of reason and conscience.
But why should we observe the positive institutions of religion?--Why, in order to our participation of the privileges of the Gospel, should we be required to connect ourselves with a visible society, and to enter into the communion of the Church?--What connexion is there, which reason can discern, between our participation of the favour of God, and our union with a visible society?--Why should public worship be necessary to maintain our communion with God?--Why should our being cleansed from the guilt of our sins, be made in any degree to depend on our bodies being sprinkled or washed with water?--Why should the laying on of [9/10] hands, convey the blessing of God?--And why should the strengthening and refreshing of our souls, by the merits and grace of Christ, be effected by our participation of the elements of bread and wine? Here human reason is confounded.--Here her pride is roused. She is unwilling to perform any act, the propriety of which, she cannot discover; and for the efficacy of which, she cannot account.
The ordinances, then, become a test of man's humility and submission. They ascertain whether he will so far acknowledge the authority of his divine Lawgiver and Judge, as to submit to institutions, the efficacy and propriety of which, are not apparent, but which are enjoined by God. It is, indeed, an obvious dictate of reason, that the Almighty Being who made us, who governs us, and to whom we must render an account, has a supreme right to command our obedience.--Whatever is his will, becomes our duty.--Whatever institution is enjoined by him, claims our reverence. But when the principal efficacy of these institutions depends, not on any virtue which reason can discover in them, but solely on his authority, our obedience to them affords the strongest evidence of our humility and our submission, and of our reverence for his commands.
Thus, "it becometh me to fulfil all righteousness," is the language which, in imitation of his divine Lord, the Christian uses, when any doubts arise in his mind, as to the propriety or utility of the ordinances of the Church, or his duty of complying with them. Shall the thing formed, dispute the will of Him that formed it?--These ordinances bear the stamp of divine authority.--And shall a creature, and a sinner, rebel against the institutions of his Sovereign and Judge?--Is it not sufficient, that he has commanded me, if I would be saved, to be added to his Church; if I would receive the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, to repent and be baptized--if I would partake of the merits of Christ's death, that I receive, in the Holy Supper, the elements of bread and wine? God has so commanded--God, who has a supreme right to command me--God, my Benefactor, my Redeemer--has so commanded--I obey.
 But the ordinances of religion are not merely tests of our humility, and submission to the will of God. By the conditions that are annexed to the participation of them, they have a direct tendency to advance us in holiness and virtue. As proper qualifications for baptism, and as indispensable conditions of participating of its blessings, we must exercise repentance and faith--we must solemnly pledge ourselves to the service of our God--we must renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil; the sinful pursuits and pleasures of the world, the corrupt passions of our nature, and the suggestions of the great adversary. When these promises have been made by others for us, in our infancy, they must afterwards be assumed by us. In the ordinance of confirmation, we devote ourselves again to the service of our God; we renew our vows of allegiance to the great King and Captain of our salvation. In the presence of God, and of the congregation, we promise to believe and to do, all those things which in our baptism we promised, or which were promised for us. When we come to God's holy temple, entering into his presence, we are to come with pure hands and clean hearts, with bodies undefiled, with minds sanctified. When we approach the table of our Lord, to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food, we humble ourselves under a sense of our unworthiness; we lift our souls with lively gratitude and trust, to that Lamb of God, whose body was broken, and whose blood was shed, for our pardon and salvation; we surrender ourselves to Him who bought us with his blood; we pledge ourselves to serve him in newness of life.--By the contemplation of the love of Him who died for us, when we were his enemies, we are warmed with holy charity for all mankind.
And to those who thus participate of the ordinances--
III. They are, by Divine appointment, the means and pledges of mercy and grace.
Where the word of God is made known, and the light of the Gospel shines to teach men the way of salvation, the Church is the channel by which the blessings of that salvation are conveyed. We are told in the Acts [11/12] of the Apostles, that the Lord added to the Church daily the saved--that is, all who by repentance and faith were qualified for participating of the blessings of salvation, were added to the Church, in which these blessings were to be enjoyed. It is only by a participation of the merits and grace of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that the guilt of sin can be remitted, its dominion subdued, and immortal bliss conferred on the heirs of sin and misery. But, in order to participate of the merits and grace of Jesus Christ, it is evident that, in the exercise of lively faith, we must be united to that spiritual body, of which he is the head and saviour. And Jesus Christ, we are told, is the head of the Church, the saviour of the body. He gave himself for it, that he might sanctify it to himself, that he might fill it with the fulness of his grace and mercy, and that of this fulness all its faithful members might partake. As the means of admission into this Church, and of communion with it, he hath established ordinances, and constituted officers, who derive their authority, by regular succession from him, for the administration of these ordinances. All who are admitted into this Church, enjoy a title, on the conditions of repentance, of faith, of evangelical obedience to all the blessings of the Gospel covenant, which blessings Christ hath conferred on this his mystical or spiritual body.
Baptism is the mode of admission into this Church. It thus confers on those who receive it, whether infants, who, being brought by circumcision within the pale of the Jewish covenant, cannot be supposed to be excluded from the blessings of that better covenant of grace and mercy, contrary to their Lord's command, who pronounced that of such is the kingdom of God--or adults, who profess repentance and faith, and promise obedience; all the privileges of that spiritual body into which it admits them, making them members of Christ, children of God, and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. But the blessings of this state of grace or salvation, into which baptized persons are brought, must be secured by the fulfilment of their baptismal obligations; by their dying unto sin, and rising again unto righteousness; by the constant exercise of repentance; and by their [12/13] maintaining, in the participation of its worship and ordinances dispensed by its authorized ministers, their communion with that Church, which, as the body of Christ, enjoys his mercy, his grace, and his everlasting favour. For the renewal of the vows of baptism, and for confirming its privileges, Confirmation, styled in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "the laying on of hands," is the ordinance appointed by the apostles, and from them continued to the present day. For maintaining that communion with Christ, by which we shall receive the constant supplies of his grace and mercy, spiritual nourishment, strength and consolation, everlasting life, he hath instituted his Holy Supper. And those who worship him sincerely in his temple and Church on earth, God hath promised to advance from strength to strength, till he exalts them to his holy hill, to the heavenly Zion, the Church eternal in the heavens. Thus are the ordinances the means and pledges of mercy and grace.
I proceed to observe,
IV. That the Ordinances of the Gospel, in the mode in which they are administered by the Church of which we are members, are scriptural, primitive, and edifying.
In the first place, the ordinance of Preaching. This must be regulated among us by the doctrines of the Articles and Liturgy, to which the clergy solemnly promise to conform. And these, in their leading doctrines, are agreeable to the Scriptures.
The Scriptures teach, what reason and observation evince, that man is a sinful and guilty creature, and that he must be sensible of his guilt and depravity before he will have recourse to the remedies which are provided for him. What says our Church? and what should her ministers say in their preaching? In her Articles she declares, that "man is far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil." In her morning and evening prayer, she offers up the humble confession, "We have done the things which we ought not to have done, and have left undone the things that we ought to have done." And in the office for the [13/14] communion, she teaches her members to humble themselves, in the acknowledgment of their sinfulness and guilt--''We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickednesses, which we from time to time most grievously have committed."
The Scriptures teach, that there is but "one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus"--"the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person"--and that as God, mighty to save, yet as man, touched with a feeling for our infirmities, he "ever liveth to make intercession for us;" and that, "justified by faith in him, we have peace with God."
In accordance with these declarations, our Church teaches, and her ministers should preach, that "we are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith"--that he is "the word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, very and eternal God." In the general confession of the Liturgy, God's promises of mercy declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus the Lord, are set forth as the only ground of pardon and acceptance. In the Litany, Jesus Christ, the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world," is invoked to "have mercy upon us, and to grant us his peace." And in the numerous Collects or short Prayers, into which the supplicatory and intercessory parts of the service are divided, there is not one which does not, with precision, with force, and with fervour, acknowledge the merits and mediation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures teach, that they who have believed in Christ, must be "careful to maintain good works"--that they must ''follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"--and that, "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we must live righteously, soberly, and godly, in the world." Maintaining, in like manner, the indispensable necessity of holiness and good works, our Church inculcates in her Articles, and her ministers should preach, that "good works, which are the fruits of faith, are pleasing and acceptable unto God in Christ." And the supplication animates all her collects and offices, that "we may live a sober, righteous, and godly life"--that "our hearts may be set to obey God's [14/15] commandments"--and that "we may amend our lives according to his holy word."
The Scriptures teach, that, owing to the weakness, and corruption of human nature, man must be "enlightened, quickened, and sanctified by the Divine Spirit"--must be "transformed" by "the renewing of the Holy Ghost"--must be "created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works." The necessity of the Divine influences, and of the renovation of the heart from sin to holiness, the Church strenuously maintains, and her ministers. should faithfully inculcate--declaring, in her Articles, that "we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us," (going before us,) "that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will." In various Collects and supplications of the Liturgy, she beseeches God that "he would make clean our hearts within us"--that "his Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts;" and that his "grace may always prevent" (go before) "and follow us, and make us continually to be given unto all good works."
There is every security then, which the most solemn, varied, and authoritative declarations of the Church can afford, that the preaching of her clergy will be scriptural and evangelical.
It is, indeed, her peculiar characteristic, that the doctrines of Scripture are set forth by her, not only in technical formularies of faith, but in the forcible and pathetic language of public devotion. The fundamental doctrines of the Gospel pervade her liturgy and offices. Ministers and people express and acknowledge these doctrines with their hearts and their voices, in every act of public homage to God.
Thus does our Church secure a scriptural and evangelical worship; setting forth the great truths of the Gospel in that devotional spirit and language, which is peculiarly calculated to interest the heart, as well as to inform the understanding.
The worship of God's ancient people was conducted agreeably to a prescribed form. Forms of blessing the people are contained in the Old Testament: and the [15/16] Psalms of David are forms of confession of sin, of supplication and adoration, as well as of praise, which were statedly used in the service of the temple. Christ prescribed for his disciples, and for his Church, a form of prayer, in the injunction which prefaces the Lord's Prayer--"When ye pray, say." Many ancient liturgics are still extant; and their language is in great part incorporated with the service of our Church--so that, uniting in its devotions, we worship in the same manner, in the same spirit, and almost in the same language, with which the great body of Christians have always lifted their hearts and voices to the God of their salvation.
It is a delightful, it is an elevating reflection, brethren, that the sentiments and language, which, in the early ages of Christianity, warmed the hearts of a Chrysostom and a Basil in the temples of the East, have been transmitted to this distant age, and now glow on the lips of the worshippers in the temples of this Western world. More elevating reflection--the strains of this temple are the songs of angels--the worship of earth mingles with the worship of heaven.
But, independently of scriptural and primitive authority, Reason dictates the use of forms of prayer in public worship. The address that is designed to celebrate the fame, or to supplicate the favour of a human personage, is always previously composed with joint deliberation and the greatest care. It would not be thought possible, were there not the most respectable instances of the fact, that the Majesty of heaven and earth would be approached in the assemblies of the saints with addresses marked with less deliberation and care, than those with which we would approach a worm of the dust.
Are precomposed forms destitute of the charms of novelty? And yet, in the use of our Liturgy, new excellencies and new beauties constantly appear, and bind closer and firmer our attachment to it by the strongest convictions of the judgment, as well as by the warmest feelings of the heart. How admirable, how judicious, how interesting, the variety which distinguishes it! Instruction in the Lessons, and devotion in the Prayers--supplication and intercession, in the Collects, adoration [16/17] and praise in the Psalms--solemn invocations from the minister, lively responses from the congregation--continued and grave addresses, short and fervent ejaculations. Sluggish must be the understanding that is not excited, cold the affections that are not roused.
If ever varying language be indispensable in devotion, then it is impossible to render an acceptable worship in the use of the unchanging words of the Prayer of our Lord. The only essential constituents of prayer are laid down by the Apostle--that "we pray with the spirit, and that we pray with the understanding also." We worship with the understanding, when the prayers are previously known, weighed, and understood by us. And we worship with the spirit, when in sincerity, with our hearts as well as our voices, we unite in the prayers which we have previously known and approved. In order to "sing with the spirit and with the understanding," psalms are always previously composed. And surely the principle will equally hold in public prayers.
It is an interesting characteristic of our worship, that it is social. It unites the people with the minister and with each other, in adorations, supplications and praises; thus cherishing the benevolent and social afflictions; and thus imitating, in the Church on earth, the celestial choirs in the sanctuary of heaven, who call one to another, and say, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts."
Nor is it an unimportant advantage of our Liturgy that it preserves sound doctrine, and secures a correct and reverential devotion. If the minister, disregarding the most solemn obligations, should, in direct opposition to the formularies of the Church, preach heresy, the devotions of the people are secure from his contaminating innovations. The Liturgy will be their security, and his reproof--a reproof which he is compelled constantly to pronounce on himself, in the sanctuary of God, and at the foot of the altar. Nor can improprieties of language offend the judgment, disgust the taste, or destroy the devotions of the people. These are expressed in language, which will continue to be a model of simplicity, of purity, and of pathos, as long as these graces of style shall be understood and admired.
 Nor must it be forgotten, that our Liturgy is adapted to the nature of man as a being composed of a body as well as a spirit, and whose understanding and affections may be impressed through his senses. The appropriate gestures of the body, in the various postures of sitting, of kneeling, and of standing, are to accompany the reading of the lessons, the prayers and praises. And her ceremonies, unlike the numerous gorgeous and unmeaning ceremonies of papal worship, which are calculated to occupy only the animal sensibilities of our nature, without affecting, the understanding or the heart; are few in number, simple and significant.
The language and the rites by which the ordinances of the Church are celebrated, it would not be difficult to prove, are agreeable to scripture, appropriate, and deeply impressive. And we may also enjoy the confidence, that they among us who celebrate these ordinances, derive their authority by an external commission from the divine head of the Church--scripture, and the voice of history, attesting what our Church declares, that the orders of the Ministry, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, have been from the Apostles' times. In union with them, we enjoy valid ordinances.--In union with them, we preserve the unity of Christ's mystical body; and in the powers of superintendence and supremacy enjoyed by the first order, is secured, a vigilant and vigorous, yet prudent administration of ecclesiastical affairs.
But I proceed to the last division of my subject, and observe,
V. That the Ordinances of the Gospel are effectual, through the Divine Spirit, only to those who participate of them with those devout dispositions which that Spirit excites.
This is a sentiment which cannot be too earnestly inculcated. God's Spirit alone gives efficacy to his ordinances. They do not confer salvation of themselves, independently of the dispositions which influence those who partake of them. And by his preventing grace, God prepares the heart, worthily to receive his ordinances.
To lay before you the particular dispositions with [18/19] which we should partake of each of the ordinances of religion, would lead me into a field too extensive. As more appropriate to the present occasion, and as of more importance in reference to the principal ordinance, the worship of God, for which this edifice is set apart, let me detain you, while I observe on,
1. The dispositions;
And, as resulting from these, on
2. The manner,
which should characterise our worship in His holy temple.
These will be in a very principal degree influenced, by our views of the character impressed on this sacred edifice, and the nature of the service appointed in it.
This edifice is now an holy temple unto the Lord.--We do not absurdly attribute any inherent holiness, either to the materials of which it is composed, or to the building itself, apart from the solemn purposes to which it is devoted. But in relation to that Holy Being, whose name is to be invoked in it, whose praises are to be celebrated in it, and whose grace and mercy are to be sought in it, by those ordinances which he hath instituted, this edifice has received a character of holiness, which distinguishes it from buildings appropriated to secular and civil purposes.
Reverence it, then, as the possession of the Lord of Hosts, and devoted to the celebration of his ordinances. Never violate the claims of Jehovah to his temple, by appropriating it to other purposes than those of his service. Never even enter it, but with those feelings of awe, and those expressions of reverence, which result from the consideration, that you are treading the courts where Jehovah is invisibly present. "The Lord is in his holy temple." "Fear before Him all the whole earth."
Contemplating then, this sanctuary as the dwelling of our God and Saviour, the worship which we offer to Him in it, should be characterized by reverence--penitence--faith--gratitude--sincerity.
When engaged in the services of this sanctuary, our souls should be impressed with the deepest awe. We [19/20] are worshipping the Lord--that Being, whose power, justice, and holiness, strike with dismay the cherubims of his presence; for they veil their faces before him, and cast down their crowns. We, then, who are obnoxious to the justice, offensive to the holiness, and dependent on the power, of this infinitely just, holy, and powerful Being, should, with the deepest reverence, come into his presence and worship before Him. We may be fearless in the presence of a being like ourselves, though clothed with justice and armed with power. But We should tremble here! Here dwells that Being, whose justice has kindled the fire that never will be quenched, and before whose power the heavens shall melt away.
In this holy sanctuary we come before God as sinners, and therefore the feelings of penitence, as well as those of reverence, should be excited in our breast. We have sinned, and deserve God's wrath.--The sentence of condemnation is gone forth against us. My fellow-sinners, where is our refuge? In this holy sanctuary. Here dwells the Almighty Sovereign whom we have offended. But he dwells here as a God of compassion and love. His mercy seat he hath erected here--and here we may cling to the horns of the altar, and escape the destroyer of our souls. Here, in the promises of his word, in the declarations of his authorised ministers, in the grace of his sacraments, he dispenses that pardon which the blood of Jesus Christ hath purchased, which releases the soul from the burden of her sins, and cheers her with the reconciled countenance of her God.
But in order to obtain this pardon, and every other spiritual, as well as temporal blessing which we here invoke from the Dispenser of all Good, we must offer our supplications in faith--faith in his power, as being infinitely able, faith in his goodness, as being infinitely willing to hear and bless us--and above all, faith in the Son of his Love, through whom, only, we can come unto him, and through whom, whosoever cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out.
The services of this temple should be animated, also, by the feelings of lively gratitude--gratitude to him, who, infinitely glorious and infinitely good, has manifested for us his glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and [20/21] exerts for us his goodness, by blessing us in this life with countless enjoyments, and providing for us in the life to come, a "happiness which eye hath not seen, which ear hath not heard, and of which the heart of man cannot conceive." "Praise the Lord, O my soul."
And we must come before him in sincerity--a sincerity arising from a lively sense of our wants, our weakness, and our sins--a sincerity which glows in every confession, every supplication, every act of homage--and above all, a sincerity which is distinguished by its genuine fruits, a constant desire and endeavour to serve him in holiness and righteousness of life.
2. The manner
In which the service of this holy temple should be performed, must correspond to the disposition in which it is offered.
The reverence which fills our hearts in the presence of the Lord Jehovah, should repress every action, every gesture, every look, indicative of levity. The seriousness of our deportment, should express our sense that the eye of the Lord beholds us, and that his glory invisibly surrounds us; that we are drawing near to his throne.
Our penitence should be marked by the humility of our posture. Following the dictates of nature, and imitating the example of holy men, we shall kneel before our offended Sovereign, when we acknowledge, with an earnestness that marks the confession as coming from the bottom of our hearts, that "we have done the things that we ought not to have done, and have left undone the things that we ought to have done." We shall bow ourselves, we shall fall down, when we worship the Lord Our Maker.
Our faith and our gratitude, should lead us, with holy ardor, to join audibly in those parts of the service which celebrate the praises of our Father and our Benefactor, and with a loud amen, to testify our reliance on his mercy through Jesus Christ.
Sincerity demands this audible joining in the responses of the liturgy. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." And to be silent, when the Church has provided for us, in the responses of the [21/22] liturgy, confessions, invocations, supplications and praises, calculated to warm the coldest bosom, and to awaken the most sluggish tongue, while it proves our disregard of her injunctions, and destroys the beautiful characteristic of our service, as social in its spirit and its acts, authorises the conclusion, that the affections of the heart are not interested, where so many calls are disregarded to the worship of the tongue.
My brethren--be it your object, by the dispositions and the manner in which you join in the services of this holy temple, to make the offering edifying to the world, honourable to the Church of which you are members, gratifying to yourselves, and acceptable to God. The style of architecture, in the edifice which has been raised by your zealous exertions, carries back the contemplative observer, to that remote period, when, according to a theory which seems to have some foundation in nature, the sacred groves, in their stillness and gloom cherishing the devout affections, their lofty trees shooting up into slender summits, and their branches interlacing in irregular and pointed arches, suggested, for the purposes of worship, the Gothic temple. The design was worthy of your taste. [See description at the end.] Its execution is honourable to your munificence. May this temple prove to you, to your children, and to your children's children, the house of God, and the gate of heaven, Accept, on an occasion that consecrates to the God of your fathers, an edifice not unworthy of those exalted services which you are to offer in it, my liveliest congratulations. Ah! There is a recollection which crowds on your minds, and throws over them a momentary gloom.--The venerable diocesan and beloved pastors, whose voices you so recently heard in yonder edifice, leading your devotions, announcing your duties, and bearing your hopes to heaven--are not here.--They are not with you to witness, with hearts of gratitude to join in your joy, and with fervent affection to invoke for this temple, and for you, the presence and the blessing of their Father in Heaven. They are gone.--Blessed be God--gone only to the resting place of the spirits of the just.
Could you hear their voice, it would remind you, [22/23] that you can make this sanctuary contribute to the honour of God, and your own salvation, only, by faithfully applying the ordinances that will be here administered, to your advancement in the spiritual life.
In the ordinances here administered, it will be the office of the Divine Spirit to transform the polluted soul from sin to holiness, to translate the sinner from condemnation to favour; and to confer on the heir of mortality, a title to eternal life. If, in respect to any of you, through your perverseness and hardness of heart, the Divine Spirit should exert his power in vain, how great will be your guilt!--how tremendous your account to God! The worship of his sanctuary, the delight of angels, interested not your affections!--the word of God, at which even devils tremble, awakened not your consciences!--the body and blood of your Saviour, softened not your hearts!--What will be your dismay, should you find that you have made this sacred temple, instead of the gate of heaven--the gate of hell! Yes!--impenitent souls, turn the means and pledges of mercy and grace, into seals of perdition.
God forbid, that any of you should thus pervert the ordinances of this sacred temple. Pray then to God, to prepare you by his holy spirit, to come before him in this house, with all those holy dispositions, which fit you for his service. Pray that by this same blessed spirit, the ordinances of this sanctuary may be the means of raising you from the death of sin, unto a life of righteousness; of sanctifying your natures, and of advancing you in godliness of life. Rest not satisfied with that formal participation of the ordinances of this temple, which does not quicken your contrition, your lively faith in your Saviour, your love to God, your devotedness to His service, your aspirations for heaven. This is the work of God's spirit; and unless this work be wrought in you, in vain will prove to you, the ordinances of this sacred place.
But blessed is he, to whom they prove the means of conversion from sin, of establishment in holiness, of sanctification in soul and body. Blessed is he who here advances from strength to strength, increasing in penitence, in faith, in love, in all the fruits of the Divine Spirit. Joyful as is to him, this place where God's [23/24] honour dwelleth; there is a more glorious place, to which his soul aspires. And soon he shall hear the voice that welcomes him to it.--Christian soul--enter into a temple not made with hands--exchange the language of confession and of supplication, for the hymns of adoration and praise--exchange the songs of earth, for the songs of angels around the throne--go into the house of the Lord--go into the house of the Lord eternal in the heavens.--there God dwells!
God of our salvation! There may we dwell with thee!
LATELY ERECTED FOR PUBLIC WORSHIP, BY
IN THE CITY OF NEW-HAVEN;
By Mr. ITHIEL TOWN, Architect.
 THE corner stone of this Church was laid on the 17th of May, 1814, by the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis, of New-York, (in the absence of the Rev. Henry Whitlock, Rector of said Church,) with an address, prayer, and other solemnities, suited to an occasion so interesting: it was finished, and consecrated on the 21st of February, 1816, by John Henry Hobart, Assistant Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New-York.
The Gothic style of architecture has been chosen and adhered to in the erection of this Church, as being in some respects more appropriate, and better suited to the solemn purposes of religious worship. It stands on the south-east corner of the upper part of the public square, fronting on Temple-street; and is in a line with the two Ecclesiastical Churches, lately erected in the same street and square; and perhaps the situation of these three Churches, in a line nearly equidistant, and viewed in connection with the other buildings round the public square, is not surpassed by any arrangement of the kind in this country.
 This Church is 103 feet long, and 74 feet wide, exclusive of the tower at the front end, which is 25 feet square, and projects forward half of its size, making the whole length 115 1/2 feet. The base of the building is 5 feet thick at the bottom, 3 feet at the top, and 10 feet deep; 3 feet of which is above the ground--upon which, the walls are raised 38 feet, with a hard granite, quarried from a rock about two miles north-west of the city, and layed with their natural faces out, and so selected and fitted, as to form small but irregular joints, which are pointed. These natural faces present various shades of brown and iron-rust; and when damp, especially, the different shades appear very deep and rich; at the same time conveying to the mind, an idea of durability and antiquity, which may be very suitably associated with this style of architecture.
The cornice is ornamented with appropriate ornaments, above which the walls are finished with an embattled ballustrade, with pinnacles at the corners. The height of the tower, from the base to its upper roof, is 100 feet, and is not diminished in size; above which, are four ornamented pinnacles on the corners, with square parts 14 feet high, corresponding with the buttresses of the tower; above which are frustums of octagonal pyramids, finished at the top with a termination, iron-work, and vane to each, making their height 30 feet above the roof of the tower. There are four other pinnacles, 20 feet high, placed at the centre of each side of the tower, between which and the corner ones, is a very heavy embattled ballustrade, 7 feet high, and connecting together the eight pinnacles. The four centre ones are octagonal, with crockets on the corners of the pyramidal parts.
The front of the tower, up to the upper roof, is divided [26/27] into three compartments, and differently ornamented. The lower compartment, which is separated by a belt, 36 feet from the base, contains a large pointed arch, 32 feet high and 14 feet wide, ornamented with a bold architrave, with tracery in the spandrels of its arch, which are recessed within a hewn stone margin:--11 feet of the lower part of this arch, and deeply recessed, are double doors, with a flat Gothic arched top, which open into a vestibule; above these doors is a window, divided by two mullions, which fills the upper part of the arch. There are two other large arches in front, with their doors and windows very similar to this, except that there are not spandrels to the arches, nor but one dividing mullion to the windows; these doors open into the side entries, from which, easy stairs lead to the upper entries, which communicate with the side galleries and organ loft, and are lighted by the windows over the doors, and also by one of the windows on each side of the Church.
The second compartment in front of the tower, is 30 feet high, and has an embattled belt at its top, and a recess 25 feet high, and 14 feet wide, divided by four mullions, and having a small window, and various Gothic arched work and blank tracery, within a margin of hewn stone.
The upper compartment is the same on all four of the sides, and has a recess in each, 26 feet high and 14 feet wide, divided by mullions, and formed into pointed arches, variously ornamented, and large blinds for the accommodation of the bell, which is placed on a roof against the lower belt of this compartment.
There are five windows on a side and two in the rear end, that are 25 feet high, and 8 1/3 feet wide within their facings, which are of hewn stone, 10 inches wide; and [27/28] an altar window in rear, 40 feet high, and 22 feet wide, including its facings, and a small window over it to light the roof, of a figure made by the addition to a pentagon, of 5 semicircles, having their diameters equal, and coincident with the sides of it. The windows and doors have the pointed arch, and the side windows have a mullion, which divides them into two parts below the arch, and by the branching of the mullion at the top, the arch is divided into three sashes of ornamental figures. The altar window, below the arch, is divided into five parts, by mullions, which branch at the top, and connect with a large circular mullion, which circumscribes four squares placed diamond-wise, and elegantly connected by sashes of various ornamental figures. Indeed, the bold and majestic appearance of this window, in consequence of its size, (containing about 1400 panes of glass,) and elegant tracery, it is presumed, is not equalled in the United States.
The windows are all glazed with diamond glass; the corners of the building and of the tower, as well as the jambs of the windows, are of hewn free-stone; and all the wood work on the outside is painted in imitation of it; except the sashes, which are lead colour, and the doors, which are a dark green.
The front appears elevated, and is entered by spacious and convenient stone steps. And when the building is examined from any point of view, its appearance is majestic and pleasing.
The interior of the Church, although somewhat obstructed by its wide galleries, is elegant; and has an air of uncommon grandeur, arising chiefly from its size, vaulted ceiling, and large diamond windows. The ceiling is divided into three pointed arches lengthwise of the Church; the centre one is 46 feet high and 34 feet [28/29] wide; the side arches are 37 feet high and 15 1/2 feet wide: and these three arches are intersected at right angles with four other equal arches, of the same height as the side arches, and 18 feet wide, and corresponding in figure and position, to the side windows, as the other three do with the rear windows. Thus a very bold groined vaulting is formed, supported by eight clustered columns, ornamented with capitals; with corresponding half clusters on the walls. The ceiling is appropriately ornamented with ribs, running in various directions, with knots and roses at their intersections. The pulpit and canopy are constructed like those in the Cathedral at York, in England, and are richly ornamented. The ornaments of the ceiling are also similar to those in that Cathedral. The chancel floor is elevated three steps, and enclosed by a mahogany railing, with suitable ornament work under it. The altar is composed of the imitation of eight large books, relating to the government and worship of the Church, two of which, in front, are open; the idea is a very interesting one, and the execution of their painting is masterly. The front of the galleries, the reading desk, architraves of the doors and windows, &c. are finished in a corresponding style with the other parts. The slips are capped with mahogany, and painted dead white--as are also the front of the gallery, columns, pulpit, and other inside work.
There are 146 slips on the lower floor, and 75 in the side galleries; besides the organ-loft in front. where a new organ is now nearly completed. The cost of the Church, without the organ, bell, and other furniture, was 29,000 dollars.--Its walls contain about 50,000 solid feet of hewn and rough stone.