Friends of St Mary's Church, Cricklade, Wiltshire, U.K.


Chairman: Hugh Dudley, 4 Pleydells, Cricklade, SWINDON, SN6 6NG

Secretary: Gerry Dudley, 4 Pleydells, Cricklade, SWINDON, SN6 6NG

Treasurer: Tony Barratt, 13 Boundary Close, Stratton, SWINDON, SN2 7TF


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The Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard 17 Jan 1863








The re-opening services of this church took place, as was previously announced, on Wednesday, January 7th. The morning prayers were said by the Rev. Hugh Allan, rector; the lessons and the ante-communion service being taken by his sons, the Rev. Hugh Allen, jun., of Woodlands, Dorset, and the Rev. William Allan, travelling secretary to the Lord's-day Observance Society. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Charles Kemble, rector of Bath, who selected his text from Haggai ii. chapter, 9th verse.

   How inexplicable, said the Preacher, to a bystander, unacquainted with the circumstances of the case, would have appeared the scene described in Ezra iii., 10-13, at the commencement of the re-building of the temple.

   The children of Israel had returned from a tedious captivity to the home or their fathers. The work to which they were addressing themselves was one of national interest - the labour they had undertaken in a spirit of persevering faith. It ought, therefore, to have excited thankfulness and hope in the descendants of Abraham. They were not assembled, then, to give thanks for an ordinary or imperfect deliverance, but for one which called for unmingled praise for the past, and which gave grounds for the fullest confidence for the future. What then, the bystander would ask, could mean that mingled shout and those discordant gestures, related in the aforesaid passage. They would seem to indicate the absence of that unanimity which is at all times so essential to the success and prosecution of a work, and to them so especially needful, in the face of the opposition and adversaries to which they were to be exposed. How, if they were not of one heart and one mind could they expect to carry out their design. The want of a perfect and mutual sympathy, how greatly would it aggravate the difficulties they had to meet, and what an advantage it would give to their enemies to hinder and distress them.

   And such truly, as might have been anticipated on these grounds, was the result. For fifteen years the work lingered. [The passages which describe this delay were then quoted at length, and the troubles attendant on the work described.] They became disheartened, and the re-building of the temple was intermitted and protracted. Then arose the prophets (Ezra v.,12), to arouse their slumbering zeal, to encourage their drooping faith, to revive their lost energies, to reimpart the earnest spirit with which they had undertaken the restoration of God's house, and to cause them to take shame to themselves for having abandoned a work on which they had the promised favour of God. My text meets the state of feeling which occasioned the scene I have referred to, as taking place, at the commencement of the work.

   The infirmity of the preparations for the temple struck the minds of those who recalled the time when Solomon set about his magnificent structure, and the time when "the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord." I. Kings, viii., 11. Then came the word in the 7th verse, which precedes my text, "I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts," to encourage the down-hearted builder; a message from God, well fitted to stimulate the faith of the people.

   And now, brethren, you have been graciously brought to the opening of a new year, and with it to an event which calls for much thankfulness on your part.

   Your ancient church had fallen into a state of decay, and needed substantial repair before it could be at all properly employed again in the public worship of God. By His good hand upon your labour, it has been now completed, and at the appropriate season of the new year you see it restored to a fit and worthy condition. This work is finished : but you have another before you. With the new year, you want new efforts for the the conquest or self, for the resisting of Satan and the enlargement of Christ's kingdom. With it, and your renovated church, arise to newness of life. To quicken you to this duty let me now exhibit the bearing of the text on yourselves, as urging you to renewed application to this work of the Lord. Here then we have - 1st, the blessing promised; 2nd, the being by whom it is given; 3rdly, the place where it is bestowed. The blessing is Peace - the very essence of the Gospel ; so frequently spoken of, so largely dwelt upon, that if you did not think what it was and realize its blessedness, you would say that the topic was commonplace, and ask for some other subject which might have more novelty and freshness. And yet, who, brethren, would be without it, the blessing of which we most constantly stand in need. In life, how do we crave for it, as a remedy or relief from its cares and troubles. In death, whether for ourselves or those dearer to us, what more would we desire? Before the judgement throne, what else should we seek to give us assurance to stand before our judge? And in the consideration of eternity in its vastness, where else could the mind rest itself?

   Consider then, the scource and the means by which it is to be secured. And for this purpose carry on your minds a few years from this date, when the hammer of the workman has ceased, having rendered up the building in so much worthier a condition. Think about how your minister will then look back upon the date when it was heard in the sanctuary of your fathers. What to him will be the question how far it was approved, and the ingenuity bestowed on the restoration of its several parts commended, compared with that which will suggest itself --- has he here been sufficiently diligent in inculcating line upon line, precept upon precept, to train you for God and heaven, and rouse your slumbering souls to the work or life. This it is, that as he looks back upon the sanctuary of his rninistrations, will ever press most heavily upon a minister's soul. Did we dwell upon the atoning power or the blood of the cross, and strive to convince of the peace procured by the Redeemer? Did we warn of worldly compliances and the evil of sin, and at the same time show clearly to the convinced and awakened where to lean his sin burdened soul, and how to draw peace from the grace and justifying righteousness of Christ? Did we put stumbling blocks before our people, or help to guide their feet into the way of peace?

   The question will not then be, were we sufficiently careful about the restoring and adorning of our church, but whether we have been so --- as a far worthier ground of gratulation --- that many saved sinners may be our crown of rejoicing in that day.

   The peace of which we speak then is a pace between fallen man and his offended God ; a settled rest in his favour, a satisfaction from the knowledge that transgression is forgiven, that sin is covered : that one has suffered in our stead, and that we have become the righteousness of God in Him ; that we are free from all the charges to which our guilt had made us liable ; a realisation of the state of mind described in Romans viii, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect," &c.

   We all want this peace : "We are all more or less conscious of that want. And so men seek it : some in the world, in its business, its honours, its riches, or pleasures, and some in self, in vain attempt at devising and working out a righteousness of their own --- a self-justifying righteousness --- of which the Word of God has assured us it "can never profit."

   2ndly, You  will see in the verse from which my text is taken that in making the promise of this peace, God repeats his name both before and after, to show us the certainty of the gift, and that we might have of obtaining it, "I will give peace," and it is "the Lord of hosts" that saith it. And if He be willing to give it who can hinder an anxious recipient. He purposed it for His chosen. He devised the mode of securing it. He sent His son to procure it. He sends His spirit to apply it. As He gave peace to the builders according to his promise here ; so now from Him alone flows peace into His people's soul. And it does so still. He continues to give peace and He ever "will" do it. "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you." And He alone it is you here see that can give this peace. Never look for peace of mind, peace of conscience elsewhere.

   "He will speak peace unto His people." "The Lord shall give His people the blessing of peace." Further too you it is a gift ; gratuitous, without money and without price. His word is past, His faithfulness is pledged. He gave peace to the builders who are addressed in my text as He said he would, and in spite of all who rose up to oppose them.

   And so now His people may say when they find He has said in my text, "I will give peace." "Though an host should encamp against me my heart shall not fear."

   "He will keep him, brethren, in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him." "Ask them and ye shall receive that your joy may be full."

   3rdly, I will give it in this temple now rising, up this place at which the finger of scorn has been pointed ; over whose comparative poverty the tears of regret have been shed. And the promise was fulfilled in two ways. 1st by the personal presence of the Messiah. To that temple came the messenger of the covenant. It is true it was enriched with material adornments. (Luke xxi 5).

   But there was a far higher glory in store for it than this, or than all those several particulars still constituted the peculiar glory of Solomon's temple.

   The gracious visits of the incarnate Jesus to the latter, more than supplied the want of the Ark of the covenant and the ???????? which symbolised him in the former. He came to "make peace," to be "our peace," to "preach peace to all;" and when there was revealed the prince of peace, well might the aged Simeon explain as he took the infant Saviour in his arms in the temple: "Lord ??? lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace ?????????? have seen thy salvation." He finished the types, he bore the cross and thus ere he ascended into heaven, established a peace in which those "who are far off may be made nigh." But secondly this promise was fulfilled in what took place there continually.

   There in the temple was for the devout worshipper a point of contact between earth and heaven. There the sin burdened soul came and was evermore refreshed, in the ordinances and varied rites of his worship, with the appointed memorials of his God. There in each morning and evening sacrifice he beheld in each fresh slaughtered lamb another, and another seat set to the purpose of God of bringing in in times to come a better sacrifice than these, and saw through these victims in the evermore lessening distance "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." And in this way did God there give to his people the blessing of peace.

   And thus too is this word of my text true how with regard to the house of God. Where two or three are met together in my name says Jesus, there will I be in the midst of them. Still does God wait to give us there His promised blessing of peace ; and in His earthly sanctuaries to give His "peace to rule in our hearts." And here is the sure glory of our temples in the blessings we are authorised to look for there, in the promised presence of Jesus the author and giver of peace. Not in the splendour of the decoration, not in the gorgeous tracery or delicacy of its colouring, consists the beauty of the house of God now. That church is most beautiful where Christ is most exalted.

   The vaulted cathedral with its elaborate symbolism, its thrilling music, may be but a spiritual charnel house, if Christ be not there preached and received. The dark damp cave in which in the early church his worshippers often were compelled to meet, would be more glorious far as the place where Christ was found and where the blessing of peace was given.

   Oh, for a greater simplicity of aim, and externalism will not be unduly thought of or over valued.

   And as with the outward and visible part of our worship, so with preaching. We may be much interested in a sermon. We may be moved to tears, but yet not brought to faith. And thus it will be when our Christ is not there, or when the hearer does not realise his presence. And if it be the former case, if Christ be not set forth as the sinner's peace in any single discourss, the true disciple who hears it will grieve for his fellow worshippers who have been sent empty away, and pine himself as he would for the absence of his necessary food.

   May the Holy Spirit, ever send you pastors after his own heart to feed you and make Jesus increasingly precious to you, while as lively stones you are "built up a spiritual house acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

   It is to little purpose you come here if not with the desire of this blessing ; but to your rich blessing if you do. "For in this place I will give you peace." You come here laden with sin, he offers you a free pardon : heartbroken under a sense of guilt, He offers you a justifying righteousness : you come with renewed stains from your remaining corruption, and you find Him "faithful and just to forgive you your sins, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness." You come with hearts full of cares and sorrows, careful and troubled about many things, worldly disappointments, loss of friends, grieved for your coldness of love to God, the strength of in-dwelling sin, the openness of your soul to the assaults of Satan. And in this place he will give you peace and deliverance from all, For "he that spared not his own Son, but freely gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him freely give you all things." "Oh cast thy burden upon the Lord, for He shall sustain thee." "I am the Lord," He says, "I change not : therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." See here what you should expect when you come up ready to the house of God, and take up the strain with which David checked his murmurings and restrained his unbelief, "Why are thou so heavy Oh my soul, and why art thou so disquieted within me? I shall yet praise him who is the help of my countenance and my God."

   In conclusion, I remind you that this promise was given to stimulate the believers in many discouraging circumstances. So whatever be your doubts in your struggles with sin, to advance Christ's kingdom, to quicken the slothful, to recall the backsliding, to build up believers on their holy faith, and gather out of a world that lies in wickedness a people to God's praise, take the comfort of these words. God hath spoken. Be strong therefore in the Lord and very courageous for him. Act upon his promises day by day. Be content to add your little at a time to his work, and work out your salvation though in fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you. Doubt not his power to save to the uttermost. Wait upon him in prayer, in his house, in his ordinances. Like Gideon, build here your altar in this your now renewed house of God, and call it "Jehovah shalom," that is "the Lord will send peace," in your firm and strong assurance that the Lord is ready to fulfill to you the promise of my text.

   The Holy Communion was afterwards administered by the Rector and Mr. Kemble. The collection at at the door after the sermon amounted to 16l. 12s., and the offertory at the Communion to 8l. 9s. 6d. In the evening, the service commenced at half-past six ; the prayers were said by the Rev. George Allan, incumbent of Hazlemere, Bucks ; the Rev. H. Allan, jun., and the Rev. W. Allan taking the lessons as in the morning. The sermon in the evening was preached by the Rev. H. G. Bailey, vicar of Swindon, from 2 Cor. vi. chapter, 16 verse.

   The Reverend Gentleman opened his remarks by saying that in reading the Bible we must take it as a whole, we must not take one part and leave another, it must stand or fall together, and a careful reader would not fail to observe what very frequent reference was made to the tabernacle and temple through the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, whether we turn to the books of Moses, the historical writings, or those which are prophetical, and how the subject was still constantly referred to and spiritualized in the New Testament, as in the text. He first called attention to the words immediately following the text, "As God hath said," observing that there was this difference between the Bible and other books, that the former came with the assurance "Thus saith the Lord," of which the text is a beautiful illustration. He then remarked that the manifest presence of God in the temple, amongst the Jews, was a striking type of the presence of God in the hearts of His believing people. He next passed on to allude to the striking analogy between the erection of a material temple, and the formation, by the Holy Spirit, of the image of God in the soul. He then alluded to the expressions, "Foundation Stone," and "Chief Corner Stone," applied to our Saviour in Scripture, the former as indicating stability, the latter beauty, and here he drew a distinction between Christ as a foundation for strength and the foundation of doctrine laid by the apostles mentioned in Ephes. ii. chap. 20 verse. He then showed how the natural heart resembles the rough, unpolished stone, when it comes from the quarry ; pointing out how, by the workmanship of the Great Architect above, the Heavenly Builder, the roughnesses are lost, and the character becomes unmistakeably changed, and the bad-tempered, bad-spoken, and unkind man becomes even as a smooth and polished pillar ; and referring to the case of Saul of Tarsus, he showed how the stones which at first were the roughest and the most unsightly, took at length the most beautiful polish ; he remarked how often the work of God's grace was carried on secretly, and far advanced without the knowledge of those around, who are suddenly astonished to behold the mighty change which has been wrought, even as mush is done at a distance from the material building, to prepare the stones, etc., for the places they are to fill, and the beautiful tracery of the windows, and battlements of the tower suddenly appear when the spectators had no idea that any work was commenced upon them : in illustration of this he reminded his bearers, how, at the building of Solomon's temple, no sound of axe or hammer was there heard, every stone was brought ready prepared for the erection of the building. Just so in the heart of man, the process goes on for a time known only to God, becoming afterwards visible in the changed character of the man.

   And here he wished his hearers to notice that the stones of the building would soon fall to decay if they were not cemented together ; in like manner are Christians united to their Great Head, and to each other, by that of which George Herbert says "The beautiful cement which binds the whole is Faith, and Hope, and Charity."

   He proceeded to observe the great delight with which we behold the last stone raised to its proper place ; so in the spiritual temple of God's church, when the last stone has been fitted and prepared by Him, it will be raised with shoutings of "Grace, grace, unto it." The reverend gentleman reminded his hearers of the sweet promise in Rev. iii., 12, "Him that overcometh will make a pillar in the temple of my God," remarking that the pillars which adorned & fabric were of two kinds, viz., pillars for support and monumental pillars, and explaining that the believer in Jesus who had fought the good fight, and in the strength of God had overcome, became a monumental pillar in the temple of God, even a monument of the saving and transforming grace of Jesus.

   In conclusion, whilst congratulating the congregation upon the restoration of their ancient church, the rev. gentleman affectionately reminded them that after all the great questions for each were, Am I a temple of the living God? Does God dwell in me? Am I resting on Jesus Christ as the foundation of all my spiritual hopes? Am I different to what I once was? What are the chief objects of pleasure to me now? And to believers he would say that though things might at times arise to vex and distress them, and the thought of separation from those near and dear, might often sadden their hearts, yet it is but for a time, for in the heavenly temple, for which they are being prepared, there is neither sorrow nor parting and they shall go no more out.

   The congregations both morning and evening were exceedingly good. The bells of the church, which have not been able to be rung for some time, owing to the decayed state of the wheels, ropes, and part of the frame work, but which have now been thoroughly repaired, were rung at half-past six in the morning of Wednesday, to usher in a day which ought long to be remembered by the inhabitants of Cricklade with gratitude and joy. Several peals were rung in the course of the afternoon and evening, and the sound of the bells, which though not many are remarkably good, was most beautiful, as they poured forth their music from the ancient tower of St. Mary's, a church which has been standing for nearly eight hundred years, of course much altered and enlarged since it was first built.

   There were a great number of visitors from the neighbourhood, amongst whom we noticed, besides the clergy above mentioned, who took part in the service, the Rev. F. W. Rice (Fairford), Rev. J. Chambers (Garsdon), Rev. H. W. Beadon (Latton), and Miss Beadon, Rev. G. Phillimore (Down Ampney) and Mrs. Phillimore, Rev. S. F. Auchmuty (Blunsdon) and Mrs. Auchmuty, Rev. F. M. Rowden (Stanton), Rev. --- Robinson (Highworth), Rev. G. Hilton (Kempsford), Rev. J. Edwards (Minety) and party, Rev. W. De Quetteville (Brinkworth), Rev. --- Morgan (Charlton), S. B. Brooke Esq. (Malmesbury), Hon. Mr. Burke (Kempsford), T. S. Camidge Esq. (Swindon) and party &c. Lunch was provided in the Infant Schoolroom, a beautiful Gothic structure, after the Morning service, where a number of clergy and other visitors were entertained. The occasion was rendered doubly interesting to the Rector and his family, from the fact of its being the first visit of the Rev. H. Allan, jun., with his bride, since their wedding, which took place, as may be recollected, on the 20th of last November.

   The architect who designed and directed the restoration is Mr. Galpin, of Oxford, and the works were carried out by Mr. Smith, of Highworth, builder, to both of whom the greatest credit is due for the excellent manner in which they each performed their respective duties.

   As we remarked a short time since, the result of the labour which has been expended in the work is most successful. All "Churchwarden's Gothic" has been destroyed, and what was a year ago a mass of mouldering woodwork, crumbling stone, rickety galleries, irregular pews, now presents the most finished specimen of what a country church should ever be.


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