MY BELOVED BRETHREN--
On Tuesday, the 12th instant, I received from the Wardens and Vestry of St. Mary's Church, Burlington, in this State, a unanimous call to the Rectorship of that parish, and a letter from the Bishop of the Diocese, expressing his earnest hope that I could see it my duty to accept it. After a week's mast serious consideration of the case, in all its bearings, with such advice as I could avail myself of, and fervent prayer for the guidance of that HOLY SPIRIT, by whose aid alone we can hope to "have a right judgment in all things," I was constrained from a sense of duty, at the sacrifice of personal feelings, which was like tearing asunder the very chords of my heart, to address the following letter to the wardens of your parish:
CHRIST CHURCH RECTORY, May 21st., 1863.
Messrs. WILLIAM C. DAYTON, and
HENRY S. HAYWARD, Wardens, &c.
GENTLEMEN:--It is with no ordinary emotions that I am called upon to request you to announce to the Vestry of the [1/2] parish of Christ Church, that I have this day accepted a call to the Rectorship of St. Mary's Church, Burlington, N. J. The separation of pastor and people at any time, has always seemed to me only to he compared to the sundering of the marriage relation. And when to this it is added, that my proposed removal involves the separation from a parish, which, by the Divine blessing, has grown up under my hands, where I have had my only home since I became a man, and in which I had fondly hoped to spend my days until called to rest from all earthly labors, and from a faithful, united, and beloved congregation, in which there is not a single dissenting voice; the Vestry will, I am sure, appreciate the struggle which it has cost me to sunder ties of ten years standing, and to take a step which nothing but the strictest sense of duty, after the most careful and deliberate consideration, could compel me to take. But when I consider that the present change has the entire approval of the Bishop of the Diocese, and of those whose advice I am bound to respect, as well as of my own judgment, as to the interests of the Church at large, (putting aside, as one solemnly set apart to the service of the LORD, all personal and private considerations,) I am led to believe that it is a call from GOD to work in another portion of His vineyard. It is no slight satisfaction to me to know that the parish is to-day stronger, in every respect, than at any former period of its history, and that I leave behind me so many faithful hearts, by whose exertions, under GOD, it may be worked up to a- still greater degree of efficiency in all those points for which it has so patiently toiled--the Daily Prayer, the Weekly Eucharist, Parochial Schools, and the system of Free Seats.
In earnest reliance on the forbearance and consideration which has always marked your relations to me as your Rector, I ask your acceptance of this, my resignation, to take effect on the first of June; that I may enter on the field to which Providence now seems to lead me. Heartily thanking [2/3] you for your many acts of personal kindness to me and mine, and asking still an interest in the daily prayers of the beloved flock, to which I shall never cease to be bound in heart, if not in person, I am,
With the highest sentiments of regard and affection.
Your obedient servant.
EUGENE AUGS. HOFFMAN.
For myself I can truly say, that having that which more than repaid me for all the toils and trials of the pastoral office,--of the love and confidence of all the flock which the great Shepherd of the sheep had en trusted to my care--I was happy in my work, and had no thought in my heart, but "to live and die with you." But the great Head of the Church has ordered it other. wise, and in an hour when I least expected it, He has called me to preach His word and to care for souls, in another parish. And now I dare not trust myself, to do that which some may expect of me, to preach a farewell sermon. I feel that I have too much need of comfort and support in this trying hour, which separates me from a congregation that I have loved as my own soul, to be able to say on that occasion what I desire; and I am compelled to do the next best thing, and address you these few words in the form of a letter. My official connection with the parish will terminate with the public services of Sunday next, the festival of the Holy Trinity.
With GOD'S help, we have, by our united efforts, built up a Parish which, even those who differ from us being the judges, has been a blessing to the community in which we live. That which I have sought, GOD helping [3/4] me to make it, and which now is its highest praise and glory, is a working parish. The continual comfort of a Church, to which the sin-wearied soul may turn aside from the turmoil and strife of an overworked generation, and find, whether he be rich or poor, in the house of his heavenly Father, a quiet hour for daily prayer, and weekly feed upon the Eucharistic feast of the Saviour's love, has been more than vindicated by the experience of nearly ten years. The sound wisdom of sheltering beneath the Church's wall, Parochial Schools where the children of the Church may be daily taught "all things which every Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health," has every year approved itself in more ways than I can tell you now. And the untold blessings which you have reaped for yourselves by caring, with your own hands, for the poor of the city, is too well known to be more than referred to here. Let me then entreat you, as my parting counsel, by the memory of those blessed saints who have been called from this parish to their heavenly rest, after having given their dying testimony to the value of these things, by the love which you have ever so lavishly bestowed upon me, and by the regard which you have for the salvation of your own souls, never to let it be said, so long as you have a Church, that any of these things have ceased, and Ichabod (the glory has departed) be written on its walls. For CHRIST'S sake, my beloved brethren, I beseech you, "be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the LORD." "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; [4/5] but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Let these never fail to be offered on the altar of your Church the perpetual memorial of CHRIST'S precious death and sacrifice, by which we show it forth until He comes again. Indignantly frown upon any attempt that may ever be made to introduce the distinctions of worldly wealth in the House of GOD, where the rich and poor now meet together before the LORD, who is the maker of them all. Support with your means and your prayers the parochial schools, which are now so successfully feeding the lambs of the flock with food convenient for them. Rally around him whom GOD shall send to be my successor; uphold his hands as you have hitherto upheld mine. And, above all, forget not to care for the poor, to whom the LORD shall grant you the privilege to minister in His Name, remembering always that He will say in that dreadful day when we shall all feel ourselves poor to stand in His sight, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
The review of a more than ten years' ministry for your souls, as I think of how much has been left un done, and how much might have been done better, can not but be filled with many anxious fears, lightened, it is true, or my soul would sink under them, with holy hopes, as I call to mind the seals which GOD, in His mercy, has granted to my labors. Of one thing alone my heart acquits me, that whatever I have done, has been done with the single, earnest, desire to promote the glory of GOD and the salvation of your souls. And while those ties which have twined our hearts together can [5/6] never in this life be severed, and no distance of time or space shall ever make me cease to remember, with grateful love, the patient forbearance with which you have passed over all my imperfections, I still bid your prayers with mine, that they may be forgiven by the Great Head of the Church, that I may "find mercy of the LORD in that day," when I shall be called upon to give an ac count of my stewardship. "Finally, therefore, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace: and the GOD of love and peace shall be with you." And now, again, "I commend you to GOD, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified." May the Great Shepherd of the sheep have you ever in His holy keeping; build you up in His most holy faith; and make us one again in
A brighter, better world, where no farewells are spoken
Where hearts that truly love, love on, and are not broken;"
Faithfully and affectionately,
Your friend and pastor,
EUGENE AUGS. HOFFMAN.
CHRIST CHURCH RECTORY,