Joseph Henry Price.

An historical sketch, delivered at the closing services in St. Stephen's Church, New York : on the first Sunday in July, 1866 online

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Online LibraryJoseph Henry PriceAn historical sketch, delivered at the closing services in St. Stephen's Church, New York : on the first Sunday in July, 1866 → online text (page 1 of 2)
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"For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath." — 90th Psalm, part of the
9th verse.

Wheeevke there is sin, there is siifleriiig ; wherever there
is suffering-, there is the anger of the superior Being, who
causes or permits the suffering. " For all our days are passed
away in Thy wrath." We constantly feel some effect or other
of thine anger, whereby our lives decline exceeding fast ; few
and e^'il are the days of our pilgrimage. Our lives pass away
in the vanity of sin, and in the miseries of this evil world,
and at last we sink in death oppressed, with a sense of thy

All this is true of human life and the various circumstances
that make up human life, apart from that remedial and blessed
dispensation of divine mercy that can transmute every evil
and make it administer good.

Our lives, whether we pursue knowledge or pleasure, or
fame or riches, for themselves alone, are vanity, nay, vanity of
vanities. The changes and chances of this mortal life, to
which we are constantly subjected, come from the prolific
mother Sin, and unless brought to the Christian touchstone,
and pronounced genuine, will entail upon us more or less of

One of tliese changes l)rings together to-day this large con-
gregation of sympathizers.

We take leave; t(t-(hiy of this vcneral)le Irieud— this old edi-
tice — consecrated to (irod more than sixty years ago. It has

been faithfully fulfilling the great purpose of its mission dur-
ii\g the whole of that period. Can we part with this old friend
without a pang? Our American classic, in a passage of his
"Sketch Book" distinguished for the correctness of its senti-
ment as well as the beauty of its language, says : " O the
grave, the grave ! it buries every erroi-, covers every defect,
extinguishes every resentment ! From its bosom spring none
but fond regrets and tender recollections. Who can look
down upon the grave, even of an enemy, and not feel a com-
punctious throb that he sliould ever have warred with the poor
handlul of eartli that lies mouldering liefore him T

With some abatement, we might adopt this sentiment when
we part w\t]\ this venerable friend, not dead nor dying, yet
with whoui, in the same relation in which we now stand, we
never expect to meet again. But our old friend cannot recip-
rocate our endearments, being inert matter, incapable of emo-
tion ; so we must resort to personification to give our language
any meaning.

But this man of wood and stone has one advantage over
some intelligent l)eings. If he is without some of their virtues,
he has none of their vices. He never forged a slander, his
neiglibor's fame to ;*vound, nor propagated one forged by
others, nor cried out lustily for the freedom to slander tlu'ough
the press, nor sate in severe judgment on well-intended ettbrts
in ministerial duty, nor contriluited to degrade that duty to
the low level of a caterer for public amusement. No ! he lias
looked down with the same calm l)enignity on friend and fi»e ;
ou victorious and defeated parties ; on contested elections and
the burial of the contestants ; on the true-hearted and sincere,
and the hollow-liearted and hypocritical ; on those who served
themselves and those who served the Lord Christ.

But come, my old friend, suppose you give us a ra[)id recital
of what you have witnessed ; — not all, — for that would be
somewhat tedious ; but a condensed account of the more inter-
esting matters. What ? you are silent ! Oh, I forgot that
you were educated when modesty was a virtue — and that is a
long while ago. Modesty now finds itself safe only in the
Insane Asylum. Well, as I belong to a recent age, let me
discliarge the duty for you.

Beloved brethren, who have belonged, or do now belong, to
this congregation — The first effective meeting for the erection
of this church was held on the 12th day of March, 1805. A
committee was appointed to take all legal measures to become,
under the law, a rehgious society. The conmiittee were the
Rev. Mr. Stroebeck, Cornelius Schuyler and Isaac Emmons.

At a meeting held April 1st, 1805, it was resolved, that
three lots of ground, on the south-east corner of First and Bul-
lock streets, be purchased of Mr. Ray, for the purpose of the
erection of a church, and that Cornelius Schuyler, Thomas
Gibbons and Jordan Mott be a committee to carry out this

At the first election held in a public and legal way, on April
19th, 1805, being Easter Monday, Cornelius Schuyler and
Thomas Gibbons were elected wardens, and Jacob C. Mott,
Jordan Mott, Abraham Fowler, Isaac Emmons, Benjamin
Clark, Benjamin Beekman, George Beck and George Fash
were elected vestrymen.

On the 22d of April, 1805, the Rev. Mr. Stroebeck was
invited to the Rectorship, and being present at the meeting,
accepted. Though not a matter of record, it is a matter of
trustworthy tradition, that this church originated in what
proves the. truth : " That we have this treasure in earthen
vessels.'" Mr. Stroebeck was the minister of a Lutheran church
in Mott street. He and the mass of his congregation con-
formed to the Church. Soon after this event a disaffection
sprung up toward him in the congregation. It was too serious
to be resisted, and his friends retired from Zion Clmrch, and
together with others proposed the erection of this ciiurch as an
act of frieudship to him.

December 6th, 1805, the corporation of Trinity Church
granted to this church three thousand dollars.

On the 26th of December, 1805, being St. Stephen's Day,
this church was consecrated to the service of Almighty God
by the Right Rev. Benjamin Moore, Bishop of the Diocese of
New York. The Rev. Mr. Harris, Rector of St. Mark's
Clmrch in the Bowery, read divhie service, and the Rev. Cave


Jones, an assistant minister of Trinity Clnircli, preached from
Acts vii., 55. Tlie original estimates for tliis bnilding were
fonr thonsand six hnndred and fifty dollars, exclusive of the
land. But at various times more money was expended even
by our prudent fathers.

In the month of April, 1808, the vestry of Trinity Church
presented to the corporation of St. Stephen's, in bonds and
cash, seven thousand two hundred and fifty-four dollars and
fifty-eight cents, to meet some special pressing demand on this
body. In the same year Trinity Church gave to this church
three lots of land, one situated on Greenwich, and two on
Warren street. These lots yielded, in 1809, four Inindred dol-
lars per annum. They are still in the possession of this church,
and constitute the only certain income to meet its current
expenses. The leases expired a few years since, and on their
release, under tlie judicious counsel of a member of the ves-
try, they have been made to yield much more.

And here let me acknowledge, once for all, the debt of gra-
titude this church owes to the venerable corporation of Trinity
Church. Though the amount has been, as usual, greatly over
estimated by the Church public, so that it has been considered
abundantly adequate to support the Rector and defray all cur-
rent expenses, and supposed quite equal to those princely
endowments bestowed by Trinity Church on St. Mark's,
St. George's and Grace Church ; and the present Rector has
sufi'ered much from these false estimates; and though that
amount, under the present Rectorship, has not been increased,
but diminished, yet the gift was generous, and the Rector,
therefore, as the head of the corporation of St, Stephen's
Church, makes this acknowledgment. (1.)

April 25th, 1809, the Rev. Mr. Stroebeck, in an unexpected
and informal manner, resigned the Rectorship, having occu-
pied it about four years.

I have nothing to say concerning the efiiciency or ineffi-
ciency of Mr. Stroebeck's ministry in this churcli. If ineffi-
cient, then it must l)e acknowledged that the compensation
for his services, small and uncertain in its payment, was a fair
ofi'set to his deficiency. I think our better way is to let the

poor man rest, and believe that the most ungrateful task any
man can undertake is, to sow the seed from which others are
to reap the fruit. There are more martyrs in the church mili-
tant than are honored in tJie Church's calendar.

Five days after this resignation, the Rev. Dr. Richard Chan-
ning Moore, then othciating in Richmond, Staten Island, was
elected to the Rectorsliip, and on the 2d of June, 1809, he
forniall}' accepted ; the Rectorsliip having been vacant only
twenty-four days.

In August, 1809, Mr. John Pollion gave the tablet now
over the front door of the cluirch. Dr. Moore was instituted
October 6tli, 1809. The Rev. Cave Jones preached the ser-
mon. In 1810, Mrs. Mary Delancey gave the service of com-
munion plate still in use. It was a most valuable and pious
gift. Would there were more such honorable women in the
Church !

On the 10th of May, 1810, a petition, with the name of Mr.
George Warner at the head of the list of subscribers, was pre-
sented for leave to erect a chapel of ease, so that many for
whom there was no room in St. Stephen's might enjoy a por-
tion of Dr. Moore's very acceptable services. The vestry
received the proposition coldly, fearing that eventually it
would involve St. Stephen's in debt, and so it was dropped.

The Rev. Dr. Moore, while Rector of this church, was
elected Bisho}) of the Diocese of Virginia, and consecrated to
that high ollice on the 18th of May, 1814. lie resigned the
Rectorship, May 26th, 181-1 ; so that he remained Rector a few
days after he was Bishop. St. Stephen's enjoys the distinction
of having been, for a few days at least, a cathedral. He was
Rector about live years.

Bishop Moore's ministry in this church was eminently suc-
cessful. He was a perfect gentleman of the old school. He
Avas genial to a degree tliat in this age would bring one under
suspicion. His preaching was simple, direct, earnest and
evano-elical. It was not remarkable for theological learnino:
or l)readtli or depth of thought, but was addressed by a loving
heart to the consciences of his hearers, and found a ready
reception everywhere. He spoiled this congregation for any

severe presentutiou of divine truth. He scarcely knew of any
way of serving God but from love.

On the 3d day of June, 1814, the Kev. Dr. Feltus, then
Rector of St. Ann's Church, Brooklyn, was elected Rector, on
a salary of fifteen hundred dollars, and declined. The call
vras repeated on the 8th of June, 1814, on a salary of seven-
teen hundred and fifty dollars, and accepted. On October
23d, 1823, the land on which the church stands was purchased :
till then it had been leased.

During the Rectorship of Dr. Feltus, it was proposed to
Ijuild a ]iew church in the Bowery, but the purpose was never
effected. The gift of Zion Church was asked from Trinity
Church, provided it could be without incumbrance. In 18i^3,
a lot adjoining the church was purchased of Philip Hone, Esq.
In 1825, an organ, costing nine hundred and fifty dollars, was
first introduced into the church.

The playfulness of Dr. Feltus' temper is aptly illustrated by
a singular event of his administration. A contested election
on some point supposed to involve materially the interests of
the Rector was expected at Easter. The feeling in the parish
was at boiling temperature. The ladies, as usual, did not fail
to sympathize. Accordingly, the mass of females, with more
zeal than order, presented themselves at the polls and offered
their ballots. Dr. Feltus, as presiding officer, was embarriis-
sed ; on a moment's thought, however, he saved his gallantry
by accepting the ballots, and his submission to law by quietly
putting the ballots under the table. I wonder if our legisla-
tors will be able as easily to dispose of the question of woman's

Dr. Feltus, after an illness of four weeks, died on the 10th
of August, 1828, having been Rector fourteen years. His
death produced a great sensation throughout the city, both
within and without the church. On account c»f the intense
heat of the weather, he was buried on the day after his death,
Monday, August lltli, 1828. At the funeral services the pall-
bearers were Drs. Harris, Lyell, Barry, Onderdonk, Wain-
right, Berrian, Milnor and the Rev. Mr. Creighton. The
officiating clergy were Drs. Wainright, Lyell and Milnor, and


an appropriate and impressive address was delivered l)y Dr.
( )nderdonlv.

The church was crow^ded to its utmost capacity, and the
streets throug'h which the procession passed were tilled with
sympathizing nniltitudes. Appro}»riate resolutions were pass-
ed by the vestry of this church, and the various bodies in the
church, and among the sects, to which his pleasant face was

Dr. Feltus was held in deservedly high estimation by all
who knew him. lie had all the better qualities of an Irish
gentleman. He had the national vivacity, wit, quickness of
apprehension, readiness in retort, enjoyment of a good joke ;
and, at the same time, a most devoted attachment to his cleri-
cal duties, and a most popular method of discharging them.

He was fond of his books, but no less fond of social life, so
that he was equally interesting in the pulpit and out of it. I
am more and more persuaded every day that he was not taken
from this parish before he had made a mark upon it, never to
be etfaced. If it were lawful to envy, such a life and such a
death might well be the subject of envy. Mrs. Feltus, too,
most satisfactorily tilled her station as a minister's wife. On
the wdiole, he was a man distinguished for the blessings he had
instrumentally conferred on others, and for the blessings divine
Providence had conferred on him.

On ISTovember 6tli, 1828, the Rev. Levi S. Ives, then Rector
of St. Luke's Church in this city, was elected Rector, and on
the 14th of the same month he declined the invitation. This
is the gentleman who was subsequently Bishop of North Caro-
lina, and who laid down his mitre and episcopal prerogatives
at the feet of tlie Bishop of Rome, commonly known to the
world as the Pope. Pity for his weakness restrains me from
any comment on a course of conduct so strangely ludicrous.

December 10th, 1828, the Rev. John Ilenry Hopkins, Rec-
tor of Trinity Church, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was elected
Rector, and on December 29th, 1828, he declined. He was
subsequently assistant minister of Trinity Cliurch, Boston, and
since 1832, Bishop of Vermont, and now, since the death of
Bishop Brownell, is the honored senior Bishop of the Protest-
ant Episcopal Church in the United States.


On the 8th ofJanuary, 1829, the Rev. Henry Anthon, then
Rector of Tnnity Clun-ch, Utica, New York, was elected Rec-
tor. On January 10, 1829, Dr. Anthon accepted. The Rec-
torship had been vacant five months and nine days. On May
17th, 1829, Dr. Anthon was instituted by Bisliop IIoT)art, and
in about a year and a half from this time Bishop Hobart died.
On the 17th of January, 1831, Dr. Anthon resigned, having
received an invitation to Trinity Church in this city. He held
the Rectorship about two years. His scholarship and talent
always connnanded the respect, and his faithfulness in pastoral
duty the affection, of the congregation.

On the 19th ofJanuary, 1831, two days after the resigna-
tion of Dr. Anthon, the Rev. Francis L. Hawks was unani-
mously elected Rector. Dr. Hawks' Rectorship was a splen-
did triumpli. Crowds flocked from all quarters to hear the
great preacher. On the 3d of March, 1831, Dr. Hawks was
instituted, and on December 8th, 1831, he resigned, having
held the Rectorship somewhat less than one year. He removed
to St. Thomas's Church on Broadway.

It is needless for me to describe Dr. Hawks. You all know
him, and can appreciate his remarkable mental as well as phy-
sical endowments. You know that in the power to hold a
popular audience in breathless silence he has no superior. He
is still in the city, and Rector of a church organization, not
having yet a church edifice, but one is in course of erection.
Tlie departure of Dr. Hawks nearly emptied the church, depop-
ulated the Sunday-school, and spread desolation all around.

On the 29tli of December, 1831, the Rev. John S. Stone, of
Connecticut, was elected Rector. On January 9th, 1832, he
declined. January 27th, 1832, the Rev. David Moore, son to
the former Rector of tliat name, was elected. February 3d,
1832, the Church was served with an injunction prohilnting
the vestry from fixing the salary


Online LibraryJoseph Henry PriceAn historical sketch, delivered at the closing services in St. Stephen's Church, New York : on the first Sunday in July, 1866 → online text (page 1 of 2)