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forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven;"—I beseech you in the name of him who commanded us to be “ merciful as our Father in heaven is merciful,” now to prove yourselves worthy to be his disciples. Then will the recollection of this evening's bounty come over your memory with a sweet and consolatory influence. These children, and the widowed sufferers who will share your bounty, will rise up, and call you blessed. Their prayers will ascend for you to the throne where mercy dwells; and after a course of piety and benevolence on earth, their voices will join the acclamations of angels, and hail you among the eternally blessed in the happiness of heaven and with the
ON LEAVING THE OLD CHURCH.
PSALM XXVI. 8.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thine house, and
the place where thine honour dwelleth.
To any man, with whom devotion is a sentiment of the heart as well as a dictate of the understanding, and who has therefore the idea of pleasure as well as that of duty connected with social worship, these words of the Psalmist will need no explanation. By a well known and universal law of our nature, our attachment to whatever gives us pleasure embraces all its accidental concomitants ; and the truly devout worshipper not only takes delight in the act of adoration itself, but extends some degree of his complacency to those who habitually unite with him in it; to the voice which leads his devotions, and even to the place which is wont to be the scene of them. With the idea of the house of worship is associated the recollection of the purposes to which it is devoted, the blessings and consolations of religion, the hope of the favour of God, of communion with Christ, and of the
pure and immortal happiness of a better world. Thus, with every mind of religious sensibility, a degree of dignity and even sanctity is imparted to every spot, however humble, which is consecrated to the service of God.
These feelings are not confined to those who are familiar with the deep and solemn pleasures of devotion. All who are accustomed habitually to attend public worship, especially if they have done it from early youth, in some degree partake of them. They may indeed sometimes be so faint, that we are hardly aware that they exist at all, till we find them, as we now do, about to be interrupted. I suppose there is not one among us wholly unaffected by the thought, that this house, hallowed by the prayers of our forefathers, and so long the scene of our weekly worship, is about to be resigned to ruin. It is true that the liberal and rational genius of our religion has taught us that God is not worshipped in this place, or in Jerusalem, alone; that it is the spirituality and truth of our services, not the place or the manner of them, which makes them acceptable; and that wherever he records his name, there he will come unto his people and bless them. It is true also that our leaving this house at this time is voluntary; that all of us either originally felt, or else, by a generous surrender of individual judgment to the general opinion, are now led to acquiesce in
the propriety of this measure. Yet still, notwithstanding we all believe and hope that this house is to fall only to give place to one more commodious, and more suited to the dignity of public worship, there are none of us who can think with absolute indifference that we meet within these walls for the last time. “ There are few things," it has been said, “ not purely evil, of which we can say without some emotion of uneasiness, this is the last. Those, who never could agree together, shed tears, when mutual discontent has determined them to a fmal separation, and of a place, which has been frequently visited, though without pleasure, the last look is taken with heaviness of heart.” “ We al
66 ways make a secret comparison between a part and the whole ; the termination of any period of life reminds us, that life itself has its termination; when we have done any thing for the last time, we involuntarily reflect that a part of the days allotted to us is past, and that as more is past, there is less remaining."
This occasion then is fertile of remarks, which though common, and some of them melancholy, are yet of a salutary tendency. I shall endeavour to suggest some of them to your remembrance, without any very scrupulous attention to the order in which they are offered.
1. In taking leave of this ancient edifice, we are naturally led, in the first place, to think of its original founders. Its annals commence in the year 1715; and we find that the spot on which this church now stands, had at that period been so long designed for a place of religious worship, under the name of “ Church Green,” that the tradition was probably lost of the time when it was thus appropriated. As but seventy-nine years had then passed since the first settlement of the town, we may fairly conclude that it was among the earliest acts of the original settlers to mark out this spot for the service of God.
We are led therefore to think of the labours and virtues of those noble and venerable men, before whom the founders of every other nation fade into insignificance; men, over whose minds religion exercised so powerful a sway, that its honour and its interests were ever first in their thoughts; men, who were so far elevated above the ordinary motives of human action, that conscience was ever to them the supreme law; who feared nothing but the displeasure of the Almighty, and who were ready for every sacrifice in the cause of truth and virtue. There is something refreshing in merely thinking of such men. We feel our natures ennobled by being allowed to claim kindred with them. I know that they were not faultless. It is true, that from their dread and detestation of
popery, which had been the recent cause of so many wars and persecutions, some of their religious sentiments had contracted a too austere and polemical cast; and it is not surprising that in common with all Eu