Strength is power in action. Beauty is the assemblage of all graces. The strength and the beauty, being connected with Gods sanctuary, must be divine strength and divine beauty. In what, then, consist this strength and beauty which so emphasize and make distinctive His sanctuary?
Solomon closed the prayer with which he dedicated the temple with these words: Now, my God, let, I beseech Thee, Thine eyes be open, and let Thine ears be attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting-place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength: let Thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in goodness.
Great benefits are conferred by the churches upon communities in the educational advantages they afford, the moral life they impart the basal fluence they exert, and the power of their associations upon individual lives in the formation of character.
The consecration is a solemn transaction between God and the parish, as well as between the bishop and the parishthe parish, through its vestry and by a legal instrument, making the building over to God through the hands of the bishop; and God graciously accepting the gift and ratifying the transaction by the bishops sentence of consecration, which declares it separated henceforth from all unhallowed, ordinary, and common uses, and dedicated to the sole service of Almighty God. Henceforth this edifice is no more yours, but Gods. Given to Him by your corporate and legal act, His name has been recorded here, His presence will be vouchsafed here, and each one of you, as you enter into these courts, can say with joyous hearts, Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
In the sanctuary the strength of Gods promises comes out with intense force. In the sanctuary do we find the strength of divine praise, when the swelling voices of the whole congregation ascend as the voice of many waters; and the strength of fervent prayer, when all the people with one mouth breathe the same prayers, which rise as a cloud of incense from the whole congregation. Thus I might go on and show that there is no conceivable strength that the soul needs which is not found in the sanctuary of the Lord.
Such in spirit is our prayer to-day. Make this house, O Lord God, Thy resting-place. Let the Christian priesthood which ministers here, like the Levitical priesthood of the temple, be clothed with salvation, ever showing forth the sacrificial death of Christ, as well as His perfect life in all its divine glory and beauty; and let Thy saints, Thy devout people, who worship here, ever rejoice in Gods goodness, and shout aloud His praises in the beauty of holiness. Thus shall the services of this house prepare us for the higher services of the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and may this edifice prove to many successive generations of worshipers, as they pass in long procession through these courts, none other but the house of God and the very gate of heaven.
Especially is there beauty in the sanctuary when Christ, the One altogether lovely, shines out of Zion, itself the perfection of beauty. When He reveals Himself there, in all the fullness of His grace and in all the freeness of His salvation, then indeed do we sit down under his shadow with great delight, and our hearts, transported with His loveliness, exclaim, He brought me to the banqueting-house, and His banner over me was love. Let us now sum up in a few sentences the principal ideas of strength and beauty which are found in the sanctuary: Strength, in the strong doctrines, which uphold, like columns, the overarching dome of divine truth. Beauty, in the worship of holiness, which is celebrated therein. Strength, in the Bible, Gods majestic voice speaking to us from the lectern, the font, and the table.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized, in this day of secularism on the one hand and the love of a sensuous ceremonial on the other, that the true strength of the church does not lie in its historic continuity with the apostles days; does not lie in its great creeds; does not lie in its hallowed liturgy; does not lie in its learned ministry; does not lie in its churches and cathedralsit may have all these, and yet, like the apostolic church of Sardis, have a name to live, and yet be dead. Its apostolic ministry may be apostolic in lineage and not in spirit; its grand creeds may be but great petrifactions of orthodox faith; its venerable liturgy may be but the embroidered cerements of a corpse; its beautiful churches and basilicas may be but mausoleums of a lifeless worship. What the church must have, and by which only it can live, is the constant, realized, positive indwelling of the Holy Ghost. All our worship, all our teaching, must be subordinated to this divine Spirit.