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(FOR THE INCORPORATED SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING THE BUILDING OF CHURCHES.)
"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts," &c. Psalm lxv. 4.
Introduction.-I would plead for the wants of others, by fixing your attention upon the blessedness you enjoy in the possession of those privileges which hundreds of thousands of your fellow subjects are deprived of. The blessedness of man is pointed out in this verse as consisting in being taught how to draw near to God so as to find satisfaction in his worship
Consider this blessedness,
I. As set forth by the Psalmist in our text.
II. As provided for by the Church established in this land.
"Blessed is the man whom thou choosest;" and this choosing of God is the foundation of all the happiness that man can enjoy. Thus God chose Abraham out of the midst of his fathers' house, who were idolaters, in order to bless him with all the blessings with which he did bless him and his seed after him. Thus the children of Israel were chosen as that seed out of the midst of the heathen world. There was a national choice or election to high and distinguishing privileges; and in addition to that, as in the case of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, and thousands of others, a personal election to eternal life. So in our own land we are, as a nation, chosen to high and great privileges which millions of our fellow men are destitute of; and, in addition, there are amongst us a people chosen of God to salvation.
"And causeth to approach unto thee." The misery of sin is that it has separated between us and our God; the blessedness of salvation that it brings us near to him again. Those whom God chooseth he causeth, saith the Psalmist, to approach to him, he shews them his covenant, the way of access by a Saviour, the great High Priest of his Church. Thus he caused Abraham and his seed, the children of Israel to approach to him, teaching them that only way of which all the rest of the world were left in ignorance. Thus that whole nation were taught to approach him by an outward calling and profession, whilst Abraham, &c. were taught really to approach him, as reconciled, in the spirit of adoption. So too in our own land, as a nation, we have been caused to approach unto God, taught the true and only way; whilst every true worshipper, that worships him in spirit and in truth. does approach him with a true heart in the full assurance of faith, and hope, and love.
"That he may dwell in thy courts." and glorious end for which God chooseth and causeth his people to approach to him is, that they may be fitted and prepared again for that uninterrupted enjoyment of his holy presence which Adam had in his unfallen state; from which Cain, as all carnal men, is said to have fled that presence which formed the heaven below of the Psalmist, as of all the saints of
God, and in which he tells us there is "fulness of joy." To "dwell in his courts" then, is to abide in that presence, to enjoy it in the ways and means in which God is pleased to manifest it on earth, till in his appointed hour we be called to enjoy the full manifestation of it in his courts above.
Now it hath pleased God to manifest that presence at special seasons, and in a peculiar manner. Thus before sin had marred this beautiful world, and hurled from his high estate man, placed in honour as the lord of this lower world; whilst man yet knew no heaven but his heavenly Father's will, desired no happiness but his love, God set apart for his use his Sabbath, as a season which man was specially to reverence; a time when God would specially manifest his presence. Abel's offering, Noah's altar, Abraham's altar builded to the Lord at every place where he halted, Jacob's Bethel, are evidences to the same point; until, when Israel was formed into a national church, the whole machinery of their worship-the tabernacle in the wilderness described by David as the place where "his honour dwelleth," the temple afterwards raised at the command of God by Solomon for the national worship of his people-the synagogues in which our Lord, in the days of his flesh, and his Apostles after him, so constantly ministered in holy things; the Christian churches, which in after times began to be raised upon the ruins of the heathen temples, which corrupted tradition had so seriously set apart for the worship of false gods; and thus in our own land in houses of prayer set apart for the service of Jehovah, have our forefathers for ages past, and we at the present hour, meet to worship the living
and true God." We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
II. Consider what provision has been made by that branch of Christ's Church established in this land for the enjoyment of such blessedness.-Every provision calculated to satisfy the mind of man is to be found within the walls of our Zion. In the public service of her Sabbaths we meet with a "form of sound words," embracing in them, so to speak, the condensed wisdom of God and man. For from the
Lord's Prayer the form of our Lord's own teaching -the Liturgy of our Church was the gradual growth of centuries, partly used by the earliest Christians, and partly drawn from the writings of successive saints and churches in distant and various parts of the world, (we speak not here of the settled portions of 'God's most holy word,' of the book of Psalms, read in appointed order,) till, at the grand revival at the Reformation, tried at that fiery day, which was to try every man's work-the wood, hay, and stubble, with which man's inventions had clogged it with were burnt, and the "gold, silver, and precious stones," remained as materials over which the fire hath no power; such a composition as has been, is, and will be, (allowing for that alloy which is inseparable from all human currency,) a praise in all churches of the saints from generation to generation. In the administration of the sacraments, as the divinely-appointed signs and seals of the blessings of our common salvation ;—the appointment of her ministry solemnly banded together by the articles of her faith and communion; we find a "goodness" which has satisfied her worshipping thousands for the last three-hundred years; a pro
vision which has been the glory of our land, its honour and safety, the means of making this land the glory of all lands.
We plead for hundreds of thousands, nay for millions of your fellow-men, fellow subjects, and nominally fellow Churchmen, who from want of Church room are actually shut out from the enjoyment of these privileges. So rapid has been, and is, the increase of our population, (two hundred thousand per annum,) it is calculated that no less a population than four out of our fifteen millions are growing up amongst us without the possibility of attendance upon the means of grace.
In London it is calculated that in 1841 there will be SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND PERSONS for whom no church room can be found. In Manchester there will be TWO HUNDRED AND TWO THOUSAND in the same awful situation. Let these two instances, instead of many, many, more, teach you their necessity and your bounden duty.
The Society for which I plead has been engaged since the year 1818 in doing what Christian charity has enabled it to do towards remedying this fearful evil. It has expended 280,801 pounds, by which means it has provided Church room for four hundred and thirty five thousand persons, including three hundred and eighteen thousand free sitting for the poor. But what are these among so many? What are these when we consider the hundreds of thousands which in London alone are shut out from the possibility of being satisfied with the goodness of the house of God on his holy day; and who therefore, instead of calling the Sabbath "a delight, the holy of the Lord