Project Canterbury












MAY 18, 1848.









"Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

SUCH is the language of the inspired Psalmist. In it, we recognize a principle that pervades the universe. It is that of man's nothingness and God's all-sufficiency; that in Him we live and move, and have our being; and that without His aid and approval, we can do nothing effectually; and with it, we can do all things.

This same principle is most manifest in the declaration, that Hezekiah of old, "in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the Law, and in the Commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart," in humble reliance on God, and prospered.

So, too, in the history of all God's dealings with the children of men, we find it indelibly [3/4] written on every page, "That man is but weakness and that God is all-sufficient:" "That power belongeth unto God;" and that man is but the instrument with which He executeth his power, as seemeth to Him good.

Let us, therefore, look back for a moment and learn how, by His own power, God hath enabled man in his weakness, to advance His glory, by the erection of Temples made with hands, in which to worship and adore Him.

In the hands of God, Moses was used as an efficient instrument in the erection of the first Tabernacle, called the "Tabernacle of the Congregation," as a place of religious worship.

The second Tabernacle, Moses built, in all its parts, by God's express command; partly, as his residence as King of Israel, and partly, to be the medium of that solemn worship which the people were to render to God Himself.

The third public Tabernacle was that which David erected in his own city, for the reception of the Ark, when he received it from the house of Obed-edom.

The fourth, and that which surpassed by far, in extent, in grandeur, in magnificence and costliness, all the others, was the Temple at Jerusalem, designed by the same Divine Architect and built by man as His instrument.

[5] To David, God committed the work of providing the material for so vast a structure, and to his son Solomon, the work of executing His design.

But how were the means provided, for carrying on and perfecting these vast and costly structures?

As to the second Tabernacle, which Moses built after the pattern which God gave him, we are told, "That Moses called the people together and informed them of the instructions which he had received from God, and offered them an opportunity of contributing of their substance, toward so noble a work. And so liberally did the people bring their offerings for carrying forward this work, that Moses was obliged to restrain them in so doing;" although the structure to be built was of extraordinary magnificence and at a prodigious expense, suitable to the dignity of the Great King, for whose palace it was designed, and to the value of those spiritual and eternal blessings, of which it was also designed as a type or emblem.

Now, in all of this work, who can fail of perceiving an evident display of Divine power, in causing the weakness of man to praise Him?

So, too, in carrying forward the far greater work of building the Temple at Jerusalem, man was but the instrument, and God the [5/6] never-failing source of ability and power to perform the same.

It is often so wisely ordered, that when man's ability seems the least, he is enabled by God to perform the more, that all may see that it is not by the wisdom or the might of man alone, that the work he has in hand is to be accomplished.

For when God had suffered the first Temple to be destroyed and His chosen people to be scattered abroad; to make His power the more manifest, a few of His people, with but little ability, He caused to return, and commence the work of rebuilding their Temple. When, after a year's preparation, in the second month of the second year, they assembled to lay the foundation of their proposed Temple, which was done with great solemnity; Zerubbabel, the governor, and Jeshua, the high. priest, being present, with all the congregation, the trumpeters blew their trumpets, and musicians sounded their instruments, and singers sung, all in praise to the Lord, their God; and all the rest of the people shouted for joy, while the first stones were laid; but those who had seen the glory of the first Temple, had no expectation that that which was then begun by a few poor exiles, lately returned to their country, could ever equal that which had all the riches of David and Solomon expended in its erection and adornment: for they [6/7] looked not to the power of God, who spake to Zerubbabel by the mouth of Haggai, his prophet, saying: "The silver is mine and the gold is mine. The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts."

Now, my Brethren, in the work before us, we have, from the first, recognized and acted upon this same divine principle. "The nothingness of man, save only as he receives assistance from God, and God's all-sufficiency; and hence, ability to do what he wills, making man, though weak in himself, yet strong to accomplish what seemeth to Him good.

Relying, therefore, on God for ability to act; relying on God to bless our efforts; relying on God to act upon the hearts of men by the influence of His Holy Spirit, to incline them to give of their substance according as He gave them ability, for the erection of a Temple to be consecrated to His service; we took the preparatory steps, necessary to accomplish the work before us, which is now fairly begun.

Our dependance upon God for aid to carry on the work, hath not been in vain. He who hath said, "Ask, and ye shall receive," hath not in this instance failed to fulfil His promise. He hath influenced and made generous the hearts, and bountiful the hands of many, to give of that [7/8] which they have received at His hand, for the erection of this Temple here begun; and we doubt not, that other hearts are willing and other hands are ready, to bestow with cheerfulness, yea, with thankfulness, all that may yet be required to complete the work, in a manner worthy to be given up and consecrated to His service, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift. And to His name, be all the honor and glory ascribed.

Most, if not all of you, my Brethren, who are here to-day, know in what apparent weakness this work was commenced; and how that many an honest heart (like the good old Israelites', when they saw a few poor exiles return to their country and commence the erection of the second Temple,) doubted as to the ability to perform the work proposed; while others were confident that they heard a voice, saying, "The silver is mine and the gold is mine; the glory of the latter house shall be greater than of the former; and in this place, will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts."

Now, my Brethren, whence come the present ability and strength to go forward in this work? I answer: From Him who never faileth to fulfil all that He promiseth to the children of men, which fulfilment hath been accomplished mostly by individual offerings; [8/9] for which, I trust, God, of His bounteous goodness, will restore four-fold into their bosoms; from Him, who, although He giveth, yet is not impoverished, and although He withholdeth, yet is not enriched.

Blessed by God in our efforts, when the preparatory steps necessary for carrying forward the work were successfully taken; in reliance upon God's all-sufficiency, to enable us to carry forward the work to its completion; sensible of our own inability to do any thing effectually, without HIS aid, and desirous of manifesting our trust and faith in God's promises, by our acts; we came up here: and in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, we commenced this work.

Thanks be to HIM who sitteth upon a throne high and lifted up, that he hath still vouchsafed to bless our efforts! and hath now permitted us, with joyful and thankful hearts, to assemble here this day to offer unto Him our prayers and praises; to implore HIS blessing upon our every work; to prosper the work of our hands, to the advancement of His own glory. That he hath permitted us to lay the chief corner-stone of our proposed superstructure, in which we have deposited a copy of His revealed will to man; which, to all Christians, is the chief [9/10] corner-stone, on which they build their hopes of happiness and Heaven.

We have also placed therein a Book of Common Prayer, which will reveal, perchance, to generations yet unborn, what their forefathers held to be a faithful interpretation and embodiment of the doctrines to be believed, and precepts to be obeyed, as revealed to man in God's Holy Word. Also, in what form of sound words, they confessed their sins to Almighty God, professed their faith in Him and offered unto Him their daily prayers, praises and heartfelt thanksgivings.

The other deposites are faithful records of the Church's legislation, her Constitution and Canons, and a list of the names of all those who, in these United States, now minister at her altars; a history of our own parish, which recounts the difficulties through which we have passed, up to the present; the papers of the day, the faithful records of each event which marks the rapidity of Time's onward flight; and a City Directory, pointing out the abode and occupation of those who, at this time, are called to act their part, in this city, in the great drama of life.

But again. I have spoken to you who are here to-day, of the principle, recognized in a declaration of the inspired Psalmist, which pervades [10/11] the universe; namely, that of man's nothingness and God's all-sufficiency."

I have endeavored to fix in your minds the truth, that, in obedience to this principle, the weakness of man is made subservient to the glory of God. I have attempted to develop this truth, from the records of God's dealings with the children of men. I have laid it down as the principle, recognized and acted upon, up to this time, in carrying forward the work of erecting on this spot a Temple, to the glory, praise and worship of Almighty God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Permit me, now, to lift, for a moment, the veil which conceals from our view the future and behold the result of our united labor, conducted on this divine principle. For, as I gaze into the future with my eye of faith undimmed by my experience in the promises of God, methinks I see rising upon the corner-stone, this day laid in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, a superstructure, fair in its proportions; simple in its construction; beautiful in its simplicity of adornment; chaste in all its expressions of sentiment and feeling; solemn, from the sacred awe and reverence with which it affects the heart and tunes the soul to high and holy meditation, to earnest prayer and to self consecration to the service of Almighty [11/12] God; and hence, worthy to be consecrated to His service; well suited and fitted, as a place in which man may love to dwell; because there, he feels himself in the more immediate presence of God: a place, too, where God shall be ever pleased to make His abode with man.

The work is now complete; and within those sacred courts, I seem to see many a devout worshipper, on lowly knee. I hear the fervent prayer, the song of praise, in lofty notes ascending; while around the holy altar, are winged hosts attending, to bear away to Heaven the broken heart's deep yearnings for peace and rest above.

There, to the sacred font, the mother brings her offspring dear, and to God presents him, a votive offering, clothed in garments white, emblems of purity; while on his brow, is placed, in token of the faith in Christ once crucified, the symbol of the cross, with prayer, that, in after life, he may prove a faithful soldier under the captain of his salvation.

There, too, beside the holy altar, stands the minister, by God's appointment, and breaks the bread of life; and many a famishing soul draws near and eats and lives forever!

There, too, the Holy Ghost descending, as of old, in flames of fire, each heart is cleansed and purified and sanctified, and clothed in new [12/13] attire: when back again to heaven, the message swift is borne and the Recording Angel writes down the ransom of a soul that never dies. While all the hosts of heaven begin anew that song, which, when men and angels form but one vast throng, shall fill the courts of Heaven and wake the eternal morn.

If such, dear brethren, is in truth but a faint picture of what the future reveals as the result of our labors and our sufferings, directed in accordance with the divine principle which we have attempted to set forth, as that which guides our efforts in the work we have in hand; who, I ask, may not well rejoice that they are counted worthy to be reckoned instruments in the hands of an all-wise and all-sufficient God, in accomplishing his blessed designs-in building Temples, within whose sacred courts there shall be offered, from age to age, upon the altar of man's heart, sacrifices acceptable to God?


The services on the occasion of laying the corner-stone of Trinity Church, in the city of Albany, were conducted in the following manner:

The congregation assembled at the old church edifice, on the corner of Herkimer and Franklin streets, at 3 o'clock, P. M., on Thursday, the 18th day of May, 1848. The clergymen present were the Rector, Rev. EDWARD SELKIRK, the Rev. Drs. POTTER and KIPP, and the Rev. Mr. SPOONER, of Albany; the Rev. Mr. VAN RENSSELAER, of Mount-Morris; the Rev. Mr. FAIRBAIRN, of Troy; and the Rev. GARNER JONES, of Savannah, Georgia. Prayers were read by the Rev. Dr. KIPP; the lessons, by the Rev. Mr. SPOONER. The evening service ended, the clergy in their surplices, with the wardens, vestrymen and congregation, proceeded to the site of the new church in Broad street. On reaching the ground, the 122d Psalm was read responsively; after which, the Rector (standing with the other clergymen, near the foundation wall of the northeast buttress,) read the address and prayers, following in the service appointed for the occasion, and deposited in the northeast buttress, a metal box containing a copy of the Bible, Prayer Book, Journal of the last triennial Convention, Journal of the last Diocesan Convention, Church Almanac, New-York Churchman, Gospel Messenger, City Directory, Map of the City, Historical Sketch of the Parish and City Papers. The corner-stone was then laid by the Rector over the metal box, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, in the manner and form prescribed in the service. The Hymn from the Psalms of David, was then chaunted by the choir, and the prayer following in the service, read by Dr. POTTER. The Address was then pronounced by the Rector of the parish; after which, the whole congregation joined in singing the 47th Psalm, to the tune of Old Hundred; and the services were closed by the Rev. Dr. POTTER, who read the remaining prayers and dismissed the congregation with the benediction.

Project Canterbury