Project Canterbury





Born August 29th, 1809
Died September 29th, 1872









Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2007



AT the request of the Bishop of the Diocese, a number of the clergy assembled in the School Room of Trinity Chapel, on Friday evening, October 4th, 1872, to consider what action should be taken in relation to the death of the Rev. Dr. VINTON.

The Bishop presided, and on motion of Rev. Dr. VAN KLEECK, Dr. OGILBY was appointed Secretary.

The Rev. Dr. Dix read a letter from Dr. GALLAUDET, Rector of St. Ann's Church for Deaf Mutes, regretting his necessary absence, and bearing his "testimony to Dr. VINTON's fidelity and zeal as a member of the Board of Directors for Deaf Mutes in this City," also recording his gratitude for Dr. VINTON's earnest efforts as a friend of St. Ann's Church, appreciating its special mission to these children of silence.

Remarks were then made by the Rev. Drs. DIX, OGILBY and VAN KLEECK, the first two referring especially to the impressions made by the near relations existing between them for so many years in Trinity Parish. The Rev. Professors SEYMOUR and BUEL followed in a course of remarks setting forth the energy and success which marked the course of Dr. VINTON at the Seminary in the Professorship founded through his influence, and the labor and extended research and knowledge displayed in the work on the Canon Law of the Church prepared as a Text Book for his classes. During his severe illness Dr. VINTON had also, with great labor, prepared a course of study for his classes during the year.

[6] The Rev. Dr. Dix moved that a committee of three, afterwards increased to five, be appointed to prepare a minute, expressing the views of the clergy on the ministerial life and services of Dr. VINTON.

This motion being carried, the Bishop appointed as this Committee, the Rev. Drs. OGILBY, FORBES, HALL, SCHENCK and FAIRBAIRN.

On motion of the Rev. Dr. TWING, it was resolved that a memorial sermon of Dr. VINTON be preached at a suitable time and place. On motion of the Rev. Dr. BUEL, it was further resolved that the Bishop be requested to take such order, as he shall deem best, with respect to the Memorial Sermon.

The Bishop after some closing remarks dismissed the meeting with the Benediction.

The committee appointed by the Bishop and clergy at their late meeting, to prepare in their behalf a brief record of the feelings excited by the death of the Rev. FRANCIS VINTON, S.T.D., D.C.L., in view of his ministerial life and services, as a priest and pastor, and teacher, in the Church of GOD, have adopted the following Minute:

The Bishop and clergy, having in mind the prominent position and high offices held by our departed brother, in a long life of ministerial usefulness and the varied gifts and attainments which made him so conspicuous in the Church, and before the world, have felt that a due commemoration of these demands a memorial sermon, wherein a fuller and more particular record can be made. At present, while the sense of their bereavement is keenest, and many hearts are impressed by the dispensation which has stricken down the strong man in the vigor of life, and called the priest, the pastor and teacher from his work of earthly usefulness, [6/7] his brethren desire to place on record, as a tribute of affectionate remembrance, this minute of the life and services of one, whose name must live in the records of the Church militant here on earth, as we trust it is written in the Book of remembrance, in the Church triumphant in heaven.

It is not often the lot of man to occupy so many and varied places, and to fill them so well, as those which were held and filled by FRANCIS VINTON. First we see him as a cadet at West Point, and in this School where distinction was hard to win, holding a place among the first. Here he learned by heart that patriotism which distinguished all his life. Then as a faithful officer in the army, and during his term of service, filling the office of a civil engineer, and studying the legal profession in the law school at Cambridge. This last profession with his gifts of mind, and indomitable purpose of will, and energy of action must have led him to the highest place of earthly wealth and distinction. Yet, quiting all these worldly hopes, we next find him an humble student of the General Theological Seminary, devoting himself heartily to the work of preparation for the ministry of the Church. Into this great work of his life, he enters as the pastor of an humble rural parish. Soon the Master's call is heard to him, who was content to take the lowest seat, "Friend go up higher." He entered upon the great pastoral work of his ministerial life, as priest and pastor of a feeble and broken-down parish in the city of Brooklyn, and soon, by the blessing of God upon his most faithful and devoted labors, the feeble one became strong, the small one became large, and he built up one of the noblest parishes and churches in the land, and gathered round him a band of faithful hearts devoted to him, and to the Church of God, and all her blessed ministries. From this he passed to the pastoral work of his later years, as an assistant minister of Trinity Parish, New York, first as senior minister in charge of St. Paul's, and last of Trinity Church. During all this time he held a prominent place in all the councils of the Church, and in the management of some of her [7/8] noblest charities. And in these high places he stood prominent, as a bold and fearless champion of the principles which he deemed right, yet ever tolerant and courteous to those who differed from him, and holding among these some of his most intimate associates and friends. The Church gave proof of her high regard for him by the facts that he was called to the Bishopric of Indiana, and came within a very few votes of being elected Bishop of New York.

Such was he as priest and pastor. As a teacher, he gave signal proof of his ability and devotion, in the office of Professor of Ecclesiastical Polity and Law in the General Theological Seminary. Of this fact two of the professors bore honorable witness at the meeting of the clergy. And the Church has full proof of his learning in this department, and his capacity to teach, in the text book on Canon Law, prepared with such promptness and fulness of information immediately after his appointment. To this we feel bound to add the testimony of one who held a high rank as a student in the Theological Seminary, now a clergyman of the Church, in a letter addressed to the committee. "Dr. VINTON was the most dignified and respected Professor with whom I ever studied. He was always thoroughly prepared for his recitations and lectures; and his treatment of his classes was such, that, however much his students differed from him in their views, they were unanimous in their testimony to his kindness and impartiality."

His brethren deem this brief summary of the life and services of their departed brother, the best tribute they can offer to his memory. This record of facts is enough to show that he must have been endowed, by nature and by grace, "with many singular gifts," and that in their highest exercise they were devoted to the glory of GOD, and the good of his fellow men. That he secured a full recognition of this fact, the hearts of all were convinced who attended the funeral services at Trinity Church, and witnessed that remarkable exhibition of public interest, and private feeling. Yet high above all this expression of mortal praise, the ear that was deaf to [8/9] its voice heard, we trust, those words of eternal commendation, "well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy LORD."

Leaving it for the Memorial Sermon, which shall follow this minute, to particularize the noble qualities of mind and heart which gave to Dr. VINTON his position and influence among men, we cannot close our record without noticing the great leading trait in the character of our departed brother, his manhood. All who had intercourse with him, in official or social life, whether agreeing with him, or differing from him, felt that they were dealing with a man. Frank, outspoken, resolute, his life and thoughts were open as the day. If he had ought to say against a brother, he preferred saying it to his face rather than behind his back. And with all this directness of character, and plainness of speech, he was kind, courteous, and winning in his manner, and will live in the memory of a host of friends, as one who added to the strongest characteristics of manhood, the graces and kindly courtesies of the Christian gentleman.

With love and reverence for his memory, with heartfelt sympathy for his bereaved family and sorrowing friends, and with earnest prayer that the lessons of the life and death of our departed brother may be impressed on our hearts, his brethren close their imperfect minute.



By appointment of the Right Rev. HORATIO POTTER, D. D., Bishop of New York, the Memorial Sermon was preached in Trinity Church, on Friday, November 29th, 1872, at twelve o'clock M., by the Rev. MORGAN DIX, S. T. D., Rector. It is now printed by order of the Vestry.


[13] SERMON.

S. LUKE, XX. 38.

"He is not a GOD of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him."

IT is said that these words, with others which He spoke at that time, astonished those who were listening to CHRIST. They are, however, so familiar and so clear to us, that we can hardly imagine how they should have produced that effect. It is a sign of the change which has come upon the world, through the preaching of the Gospel. To us, Immortality is assured; our thoughts are imbued with the grand idea of an endless life; the GOD whom we serve is not a GOD of the Dead: all the Faithful live unto Him. They are with Him, in another state; in an existence, compared with which ours is but a half slumber: it is day where they are; it is night, a twilight at best, with us. This is not the "Land of the Living:" that land is beyond the veil, full of light, calmness, and blessedness. It is the habit of the men of this age, baptized into the Resurrection-Life, [13/14] elevated by its forces, borne forward on its ample current, and witnessing daily illustrations of its power, to think of their Departed as living still; as not dead, except to the sight of men; as but gone before; as scarcely gone, so keen is our realization that all that scene of death was but illusion, and that they, like ourselves, are in life.

In standing here to-day with such a work before me as that in hand, the first impression is that our departed brother and friend must be still among us. It is hard to believe that he has gone. His death, though preceded by an illness of some ten months, seemed at the last to astonish every one, as though it had not been expected. Some part of this feeling of surprise may be due to the fact, that, outside of a very small circle of relatives and friends, no one knew what was his real condition; his malady presented so many phases that it seemed idle to prognosticate the issue; and again, he had been absent, for almost the whole of the ten months to which I referred, so that we saw no reason why he should not come back to us at any day, alive and well as before. But apart from all religious considerations, and from these obvious occasions for a feeling of surprise at his death, and a kind of half incredulity as to its having actually occurred, another may be mentioned. He who has gone from us was no ordinary man; he was a conspicuous object in the general view, a strong character, one of those persons whose individuality makes itself felt by all about them, even beyond the [14/15] range of their bodily presence: and in such cases, it seems, long after their departure, as if they had not really left us. They whose lives are passed in comparative obscurity, retire to their graves unnoticed; the tidings of their departure make little or no impression, because we seldom thought of them before. But when one leaves us, with whom we were closely connected in common aims, interests and pursuits; with whom our own relations were intimate, and of whose influence and power for good or for evil we could not be at any time unmindful; his death occasions astonishment and surprise; the heart is touched, the spirit greatly moved; the current of one's own life seems for the time to be affected; it is felt that Almighty GOD is near; it seems time to begin to set one's own house in order at that signal of change; while in the maze of these thoughts and emotions, the idea will sometimes pass through the mind, that there must be some mistake and that, after all, the thing cannot be true. As for the departed, it is long before we fully realize that their place shall know them no more. The heart is skeptical, though the reason is convinced. We enter the rooms which they tenanted, and half expect to meet them again; we see the vacant chair, the place at table ; and were they to appear in the old way and take their old positions among us, we should hardly think it strange. Death is the most unnatural of all events; a return to life, the most natural and the most readily conceivable. That a living man should die, seems horrible and monstrous: it would not be strange, nay it seems to be a matter of course, that a dead man should come back. And, therefore, we are slow to admit that the Departed are really gone from us and that we shall not behold their familiar faces and features again. In the case of my brother and friend, it is harder to apprehend what has occurred, because he fell so suddenly. A year ago we remember him, in full strength and vigor, looking as if he were sure of ten or fifteen years more; his eye not dimmed, his natural force not abated; cheerful, hearty, active, engrossed, as usual, in the affairs of his calling. Is it true, that not a twelvemonth has elapsed? Where are the strength, the buoyancy and the pride of life? What was that sudden collapse? Who looked for it? "The days of man are but as grass: for he flourisheth as a flower of the field. For as soon as the wind goeth over it, it is gone: and the place thereof shall know it no more."

The design of this discourse will be to bring together such facts and particulars as may constitute a brief memorial of the life of our departed friend. The task is undertaken, in a most affectionate and tender spirit; I have no criticisms to make nor judgments to pronounce; I shall simply relate some of the acts of one who has gone hence to GOD, and whose name and memory alone are left to us. One of the characteristics of sinful men is their carelessness about the Departed; we let [16/17] them go, as if we had no more concern for them; in a little while we cease to speak of them; yet a little longer, and they are forgotten. There is this worth in discourses like the one in hand, that they constitute a protest against that selfish temper which leads us to neglect the Dead, and help to maintain the recollection of them. The intention must palliate defects in the performance; the work, we trust, will not have been wholly in vain.

Francis Vinton was born in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, on the 29th day of August, in the year of our LORD 1809. He was the son of David and Mary Vinton, and the youngest of five brothers. [* Amos Maine Vinton, born 1798; John Rogers Vinton, born 1801; David H. Vinton, born 1903; Alexander H. Vinton, born 1807. There were two sisters, Elizabeth, born in 1805, and another who died in infancy.] His mother was a woman of very strong character, whose individuality was reproduced in her children. Of the five brothers, three sought the profession of arms; to that profession, the mind of Francis Vinton first turned. Entering the United States Military Academy at West Point, he passed through the course of studies at that severe and renowned school, with so much credit, that he graduated as one of the head five in the class of the year 1830. Receiving his commission as Second Lieutenant in the Third Regiment of Artillery, he spent six years in army life. During a part of that time he was stationed at Fort Independence in Boston Harbour; and at another [17/18] time he saw active service in Georgia and Alabama, in the war carried on against hostile Indian tribes in the Southern country. In the year 1836, however, he resigned his commission, and the first chapter in his professional life was brought to an end.

The Army is a great school for the development of manhood: the influence of a military education will almost inevitably be felt and observed, whatever profession a man so trained may subsequently pursue. It was thus with our departed friend; he never outgrew some of those old ideas, which form the habit of a soldier's character. A high estimate of discipline and authority; respect for rank in others, with readiness to assert one's own position; a peremptory way of dealing with juniors; a rapidity, a promptness, a directness in doing what has to be done, very unlike the slow dalliances, the cautious hesitancy, and the provoking irresolution so characteristic of civic and political movements: we look for these things in the soldier as a matter of course; and are not surprised to find them, in men who though not soldiers now, were bred to be such. And this should be borne in mild, when we make our estimate of him who is gone: for it explains what was sometimes complained of in him, and what formed the basis of unfriendly criticism, on the part of those who judged by what met their eyes. He had, indeed, much of the positive, the peremptory and the downright, in manner and in speech, when occasion seemed to call [18/19] for it: that was the old tradition of the School of Arms; a lingering relic of a past outgrown and turned to something new and higher; the less observed the better we knew the man, and the more we saw of his kindly, tender, and affectionate disposition.

Such was the first choice of our friend, in seeking, as all men must, a vocation: but it did not satisfy. A brief trial convinced him that it was not the life in which he could be content. What first turned his thoughts to the Ministry of the Gospel, we hardly can tell; they say that it was the death of his sister, Elizabeth; it may have been; or that occurrence may have given a new impulse to thoughts previously waking within him. Perhaps none knows but GOD the moment at which the salutary Cross was first seen, dimly disclosed afar off, and announcing itself as the emblem of his final profession: but, at all events, he was not satisfied in the military service. I remember his telling me, when speaking of that part of his life, that during his first and only campaign he was haunted by a verse of the fifty-first Psalm: "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O GOD." The dread that the blood of any human being might be on his hands, was ever before him when the harbingers of battle appeared. It was a strange mood for a soldier; it showed the variance between the man and the business in which he was engaged. Very soon the end came; he resigned his commission, and left forever the scenes of the camp and the field. They faded away, "the battle of the warrior, [19/20] the confused noise, the garments rolled in blood, the burning and fuel of fire." His life was not to be in tents or barracks, or in the midst of the array and alarms of the stormy field of War. Two brothers remained in the army; each has his honorable record on its list; one, John Rogers Vinton, was killed, March 22d, 1847, by a cannon shot in the trenches at the siege of Vera Cruz; the other, David Hammond Vinton, still survives, with the rank of General, though retired from active service. But the youngest brother left them in the field; and turned away, taking another path, and going whither he was led of GOD.

Between his life in the Army and his service in the Church, appear the indications of another tendency and signs of strong mental activity in other directions. While stationed at Fort Independence, he commenced the study of the Law, at Harvard, and was admitted to the Bar, in January, A.D. 1834. At the same time, or subsequently, he acted as Civil Engineer, on several of the railroads of New England. The fruits of his training at the Law School were evident in after years: then was laid the foundation of his ability and success as a professor of that branch of legal science which deals with the order and discipline of the Visible Church of Christ. And now we come to the time when his thoughts had become perfectly clear, and when the final choice was made. In the year 1837 he is found in the General Theological Seminary, enrolled among those young men [20/21] in whose hearts the desire had been planted to serve GOD in the Sacred Ministry of His Church. As a student he was marked by the same characteristics which always distinguished him; by zeal, fervor, and enthusiasm, running in what is technically known as the Low-Church channel. He was intensely "Evangelical" as they call it; a leader in prayer-meetings among the students and elsewhere, a believer in all that made up that once earnest but now greatly altered and disintegrated system; a system which he, like many other men, outgrew in after years. I may here mention an incident, illustrating the warmth, generosity, and fearlessness of his character. Among the students was one named Cooke, who had devoted himself to serve GOD as a Missionary on the Coast of Africa: this man being taken desperately ill of the smallpox, was speedily removed to Bellevue Hospital, the only shelter for such a case. Then, Francis Vinton came forward, and followed him to that place; and there shutting himself up with the victim of the frightful disease, tenderly cared for the sufferer and nursed him all through it as a brother, when perhaps no one else could have been found to volunteer for such a work.

On the 30th day of September, A. D. 1838, Mr. Vinton was ordained to the Diaconate, by Bishop Griswold, in St John's Church, Providence. His ordination to the Priesthood took place in March of the following year. Henceforth the record is that of a Minister of the Gospel of our LORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. That ministry [21/22] of thirty-four years was marked by many changes and vicissitudes; there was, if we may use the expression, a certain brilliancy about it, derived from those talents and accomplishments, those personal advantages, and those popular manners for which our departed friend was so justly remarkable. It exhibited a slow but steady intellectual growth; onward and outward from narrow schemes and contracted ideas, upward toward great Catholic verities which he saw more distinctly, shining before him, in their broad and glorious beauty, year by year. There are parts of that Ministry on which it delights us to dwell, and others which invite less attention; I can do no more than to note rapidly some of those points in it which most forcibly impressed my own mind, and of which I desire more particularly to speak.

Dr. Vinton's work, as a Priest in the Church of GOD, was done in connexion with five parishes, in which successively his lot was cast. They were S. Stephen's, Providence, R. I.; Trinity Church, Newport, R. I.; Emanuel Church, Brooklyn, L. I.; Grace Church, Brooklyn, in which Emanuel Church was merged; and this parish of Trinity Church in the city of New York. Outside of these parishes also he did much and most important work; being, for example, a Professor in the General Theological Seminary at the time of his death; but the Priest's real life before GOD is in his parish and among his people; and those were the five places in which his pastoral work was begun, continued, and ended. From [22/23] time to time, he was invited to other fields. In December, 1846, he was called to the Rectorship of All Saint's Church in this City; in January, 1847, he was asked to become Associate Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, Ct., with right of succession; on the 3rd of June, 1848, he was elected to be Bishop of Indiana; and on the 19th of Aug. 1862, he was chosen Rector of Trinity Church, San Francisco. To none of these invitations did he yield assent. His election to the Charles-and-Elizabeth- Ludlow Professorship of Ecclesiastical Polity and Law occurred February 3rd, 1869, on the nomination of Miss Elizabeth Ludlow, by whom that Professorship was founded. He accepted that position, and labored in the discharge of its duties, until, worn out by advancing and fatal disease, he could work no longer.

His first parish was at a little place called Tower Hill, in Rhode Island, but the situation was so inconvenient, and so far from the people of his care, that a removal to Wakefield was decided on. At Wakefield he built a church, gathering the funds principally in Providence and New York. This was about 1839. After that he went to Providence, where he built St. Stephen's Church, and whence he removed to Newport, in or about 1840, becoming Rector of Trinity Church in that town. Four years afterwards, he was called to the rectorship of Emmanuel Church in Brooklyn, a parish at that time in a depressed and feeble condition. Accepting the invitation he entered upon a work of revival which was prosecuted with his [23/24] characteristic energy and his usual success. The parish changed its aspect; its weakness was turned to strength, until the congregation, having outgrown their limits, resolved on building a new church. This was done, and Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights was the result. I have heard Dr. Vinton's labours at that period spoken of, as among the most severe and the most devoted of his life. He was instant in season, out of season; unwearied in visiting his flock, in ministering to all their needs and in preaching the word of life; a shining example to all who witnessed his zeal and love for the LORD and His Church. These things are better remembered in Brooklyn than here. He was held in high regard and esteem in that city; they were proud of their townsman, as they always considered him, although he became connected with another diocese and another city. It may be said that some of the best work of our friend's life was done in Brooklyn. The first parish school was established under his direction when he was at Emmanuel Church; and it was he who began that Institution, already so successful, and destined to become so great hereafter, the "Church Charity Foundation." And here it may not be amiss to add, what the children's friends will hear with interest, that the custom of Christmas Tree Festivals was inaugurated by our kind-hearted friend, in his own house in Court street, one Epiphany evening, when Mr. DeKoven, now the Reverend Warden of Racine College, read verses of his own composition to the company of little folks, and each [24/25] child received a seedcake in the shape of a star. We can imagine with what genial and overflowing good humor the inventor of this bright merry-making must have presided over its successful progress.

My personal acquaintance with Dr. Vinton began, about the year 1849, when he was Rector of Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights, and when I was just entering the General Theological Seminary. My father and he were old acquaintances, and an uncle of mine, Col. Roger S. Dix, of the army, was with him at West Point; but I had not met him before. At that time, he was held in a kind of enthusiastic admiration, by large numbers of the younger Clergy and Students, to whom he seemed to be the ideal of a churchman and a leader in great things. Nothing could be kinder than his ways with those young men, in whose confidence and attachment he took delight; while his position on many great questions, and especially as the exponent of the Church's System as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, strengthened and helped us all. In Grace Church, Brooklyn, we saw the Daily Morning and Evening Service duly performed, and the Holy Eucharist elevated to its position as the central and permanent power and glory of the system to which we had devoted ourselves; that parish was what would now be called advanced; honorably prominent, leading the way, setting up a standard far ahead of the general line of movement, it filled the neighborhood with the sound of its good-works, and its Rector was held in that kind [25/26] of admiration which expresses the enthusiasm of hopeful and truthful youth. He was, indeed, a power in those days, of which, in great measure the memory has passed away. It is strange to observe the present state of affairs on the other side of the river; it is like going into another country. There is, in that city, now containing 400,000 souls, not one Church in which the Daily Morning and Evening Prayer are said; only two in which the weekly Eucharist is offered; and two in which the blessing of early communion may be had by those who appreciate and desire it. With large immigrations from New England, the type of churchmanship has become the same which New England exhibits, made up of moderation, conservatism, and "prudence in affairs," with little of ideality, enthusiasm, ardor, or brilliancy. It is hard for some of us to realize, that there ever was a time, when our spirits would rise, and our eyes kindle, and our hearts beat quicker, when we looked towards Brooklyn Heights; yet so it was; the dreams of the glory and beauty of the future in which many of us found comfort were caused by what we saw, every day, in progress in Grace Church. The feeling which I have endeavored to describe had its culmination in the autumn of the year of our LORD 1852, when that memorable contest occurred about the Episcopate of this Diocese, and when Dr. Vinton came within a few votes of being elected to that office. The scenes of that time are doubtless fresh in the memories of many here present; though the prominent figures have all [26/27] turned to shadows along the margin of the black river. Wainwright, Seabury, Vinton, and a host of others, are all gone hence. GOD help us, sinners that we are, to feel how little is time, how vast and awful eternity! It would be worse than useless to refer to those old transactions now, after so many years, did they not help to illustrate a character on which we wish to throw what pleasant light we can from divers quarters. None but a strong man and a lovable man can arouse and hold the ardent enthusiasm of the young: and that was what Francis Vinton did in the days to which I have referred.

But the Rectorship at Grace Church came to an end. The relation was dissolved in the year 1855, when he was elected an Assistant Minister in this parish.

In that year improvements were made in our working system. In addition to the four Assistant Ministers then in the parish, four more were appointed. Out of these eight, the Seniors in age and experience were assigned to the churches of the parish, to have special charge of them under the general supervision of the Rector; and in this assignment Saint Paul's Chapel was designated as the particular field of Dr. Vinton. The beneficial results of these arrangements were at once felt; they were, perhaps, more evident and more perceptible at St. Paul's than any where else, because that chapel had run down very much. The fame of Dr. Vinton's oratory attracted large numbers; the activity with which he undertook his work, was rewarded by a speedy revival of interest in [27/28] that venerable and historical edifice; a fine congregation was soon gathered; and the whole aspect of things changed.

Dr. Vinton remained at St Paul's four years, until my own appointment as Assistant Rector in the autumn of 1859. At that date, he was transferred to Trinity Church, where he continued until the time of his death. I need not speak of his services here, nor of their results; the congregation whom I address are familiar with them. Never at any former time has the church been better attended. Never has its influence been more happily felt in the community: never has it been more popular. Much of this was due to the peculiar abilities of Dr. Vinton, to the powers, acquirements, and accomplishments which he brought to bear on the work in this part of the island; and to the esteem in which he was held by a large circle of admirers and friends. His work here was wholly different from that at Saint Paul's: in its performance, however, he met with similar success.

Among the closing labours of his life, were those which he performed as Professor in the General Theological Seminary. Miss Elizabeth Ludlow, in the year 1868, offered and laid upon the altar of this church the sum of $25,000. to found a Professorship of Canon Law, on condition that it should bear the names of her parents, and that she should nominate its first incumbent. No doubt the Seminary and the Church owe to Dr. Vinton the important service done in suggesting to the benevolent, devout, [28/29] and most estimable woman whom I have named the idea of that foundation, from which such great benefits are to flow for ages to come: it was fitting that he should, when nominated, be the first to fill the chair. He did so, not merely with great ability, but to the entire satisfaction of the Students who came under his charge. From those young men I have been happy to receive, on many occasions, the assurance of the great popularity of Dr. Vinton among them: they have spoken, again and again, of his dignity as a Professor, of his kindness and consideration for those under his charge, of the careful preparation of his lectures, and of the clearness and luminous style of his instructions. No doubt his early training for the Bar had fitted him peculiarly for the position of a doctor in Canon Law. It is pleasant to dwell on these labors, and touching also, when we consider that in them was consumed the last of his strength, ere the great change came and the night set in wherein no man can work. For it was literally so. During the early fall of the year 1871, while that disease was advancing which finally overpowered him, he labored with greater assiduity than ever in preparation for his classes, sitting up till one or two o'clock in the morning engaged in studies and writing, in spite of the remonstrances of his wife, who implored him to spare himself. At length one day, he laid down the pen, set the papers aside complete down to the final page, and said, "it is done at last." The words were strangely accurate. The work was indeed over, not only that, but all work. A [29/30] few days afterwards he sailed for Nassau, as directed by his physicians; there, he grew rapidly worse; and thence he returned, only to languish for a little while longer, and then to depart from us altogether.

The limits of such a discourse as this are nearly reached; yet ere I conclude let a few words be added to complete the imperfect sketch of our friend. Whatever may have been his talents, whatever his achievements in the several fields in which he labored, and whatever his claims to admiration and regard as a public character, conspicuous in the thronged places of the world, it is after all to the family circle and the quiet seclusion of his domestic life that we turn with the most ready inclination, when our thoughts revert to the days that are gone. No one of us who ever saw it, can forget the charm of that Christian home; and we shall agree, probably, in this, that he nowhere appeared to such advantage as in his own house, by the fireside and hearth stone, and surrounded by those whom he loved best on earth. It was indeed a bright and sunny picture; for in Dr. Vinton there were a warmth of manner, a geniality, a kindliness, a tenderness of heart, and, as I often thought, in some things an almost childlike simplicity, which appeared the moment professional restraints were removed, and which affected all about him with a sensible pleasure.

Some of the happiest hours I ever spent were under his roof, in the quiet days of long ago, when our relations were entirely different; when I was the junior and he the [30/31] senior, when he was to me the kind adviser, confidant, and friend. And although in after years, much against my own will, our official relations changed, yet did it never affect those sentiments which may abide, though the fashion of the world alter, the brotherly love, the confidence and trust, the warmth of feeling which really make up life in Christ. I never missed the cordial manner, the warm expressions, the look and tone of old times. I never had cause to think that he was less my friend; no painful word was ever exchanged between us, not even when we differed greatly, as sometimes we did, and knew that it was so; nor is there now one recollection, so far as our personal intercourse under trying circumstances is concerned, not one trace of a recollection that casts, this hour, a shade over the friendship and brotherly love of the years which we spent together. But this is straying into personalities, for which, I must apologize. We were thinking of him in his home and in his own house. There, after all, was the real man best seen; with the wife and the children, the friends and guests; a picture of all that is pleasant to contemplate; making up the calm and satisfying completeness of the Christian home; not one of the children a sorrow or an anxiety to the parents; all full of love, affection, and tenderness one for another; a bright, happy, mirthful, cheerful household, whereof the centre was always the man who has gone, and towards whom, when one so beheld him, the heart went out in sympathy and kindly "frater-feeling," as if it were good to be there.

[32] Of Dr. Vinton's standing in the Church as a preacher and a theologian, it is not necessary for me to speak; no man was better known in both those relations than he, who had, through a long life, the reputation of a popular and acceptable speaker, and whose sentiments and opinions he was always open and fearless in expressing. I referred some time ago to the change which he underwent in his theological views, and on this point a few more words may be added. It is interesting and instructive to observe how many of those who set out with low conceptions of the Church and the sacramental system, ascend to higher ideas on those subjects; while on the other hand, instances of a contrary movement are very rare of occurrence. Dr. Seabury and Dr. Vinton, both professors in the Seminary, made the great change; each was, at first, at or near the bottom of the scale, and each rose to a point near its summit. As for our friend and brother, of whom I am now speaking, he certainly made remarkable advances towards the position of those great scholars and saintly men who have so powerfully influenced, within the last thirty years, the Anglican Communion: he did not, indeed, accept their views and conclusions, theoretically; nay, in terms he dissented from them, and often with warmth; but, practically, we claim that he was at one with them. It may be said of the sacramental system of the Church, that it has, at once, a theoretic or dogmatic side, and a practical and applied side; dogmatically, it rests on an [32/33] intellectual and rational basis; practically, it appeals to the heart. In the writings of such great divines as John Keble, of blessed memory, and the devout and saintly scholar of Oxford, whose old age is even now glorious in our eyes, the system is presented as a dogma. In the multiplication of communions, in the solemnity of celebration of the divine mysteries, and even in the vestments and position of the priest, that same system is shown to us in practical application. Now it was memorable in Dr. Vinton, that he carried out the sacramental ideas, in fullness; for it was at his request that I appointed that the Holy Communion should be duly celebrated and administered in this Church, not only every Lord's Day, but also on every Saint's Day and Holy Day, and on all those days connected with the greater feasts, for which a collect, epistle, and gospel, and a proper preface have been provided. All these services he diligently attended, unless prevented; while, in his mode of celebration, he adopted the position and wore the garb whose meaning and significance are well understood. Thus, practically, he held the great system of all the ages of Catholic Christianity, that to which expression was first given in the ancient liturgies of old time, and which is still offered to sight in those of the modern Church; and if, in the dogmatic side, he appeared to some of us to come short, it was, as we supposed, the result of early training in a different school, and seemed to be due to a misunderstanding, and not to any want of [33/34] love of that which has been most surely believed among us from the beginning. And it is a circumstance worthy of note, that, in accordance with his own request, he was dressed for the grave, not in a plain shroud, like a laic; not in a cassock, as any student of theology might be; not in a black gown, like a preacher; not in a surplice and stole, as a deacon or any mere reader of services and prayers on week-days; but in alb, crossed stole, and chasuble, the ancient garb of those who stand at the altar of the Lord and there offer the mystic and spiritual sacrifice as a memorial before GOD. Nothing could more clearly show a man's mind than this request; nothing could more simply or more solemnly identify a man with other men, or declare to others his own conception of his real position, and of the nature and character of his calling.

The time would fail, were I to speak of him in other relations in which he was conspicuous, as, for example, in the Councils of the Church, general and diocesan; in public meetings, which he often had occasion to address, and where he was heard with great attention and pleasure; at the anniversaries of our charitable institutions, and in the social meetings and merry-makings of schools and similar organizations, where his manner and words always gave zest to the general mirthfulness; and at many other times and places, as you yourselves also could testify. But I must hasten to terminate this hurried, inadequate and unfinished sketch of that active, [34/35] busy, energetic, and every way remarkable life, by a few observations respecting the manner and time of its earthly termination.

Dr. Vinton's health had been, no doubt, for some time failing before any symptoms calculated to cause anxiety appeared. It was during the month of October 1871, that threatening signs of coming trouble made themselves apparent. He preached for the last time in Trinity Church, on the 12th of November, 1871: a week after, November 19th, he attempted to read the Pastoral letter of the House of Bishops, but suffered extremely, and with difficulty completed the task. On the 3d of December very alarming indications appeared, and it became evident that nothing could save him but release from all duty and an immediate change of climate. Accordingly, on the 11th day of January last, he sailed for Nassau; where, however, it was found that the disease, so far from being arrested, made rapid progress. He was hopeful, however; and, during the winter, made an effort to preach again; that last sermon was delivered in February, 1872, in the Cathedral at Nassau, from the text, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" The answer came very soon: his work was over, he had but to go home and set his house in order and bid all about him farewell. Returning home, April. 7th, he arrived, after a very stormy voyage, so much exhausted that he was carried on shore, and again carried up-stairs to his room on reaching the quiet home. It was, substantially, at an [35/36] end. Through the summer he lingered, slowly declining. The place was Williamstown, in Massachusetts, where, on the 25th of August, he attended divine service for the last time. He came back to Brooklyn early in September, nigh unto death. I saw him again on the 13th of that month; he was sitting at the window, looking forth on the trees and sky and over the East River, towards the blue and distant hills beyond the bay; he spoke with animation and interest of public affairs and of the parish; and then with great earnestness and affection of my father, of his services and his position before the country; then of himself, with mistrust and concern; it was a solemn thing to look on and listen, at such an hour, when the man was going to his long home, and when all things were passing away, and the world and all its concerns "fading like a shadow on the great still mirror sea." On Sunday, September 29th, the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels, at half-past two in the afternoon, the end came. On the morning of that day, at six o'clock, he spoke his last audible words--"I have been with Jesus." After that, no sound was heard; a feeble pressure of the hand alone gave evidence to the members of the family that he still knew them. His old friend, the Rev. Dr. Schenck, called at nine o'clock, read the commendatory prayer and gave him the benediction: five hours and a half afterwards, his spirit returned to GOD, without sign of pain, and, as appeared, in peace.

Dr. Vinton was twice married. His first wife was [36/37] Maria Bowen Whipple, daughter of John Whipple, Esq., of Providence, R. I. She was married to him, A. D. 1838, and died in 1840, leaving no children. On the 3d of November, 1841, his second marriage took place, the bride being Elizabeth Mason Perry, only daughter of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. She survives, a widow indeed. Of the virtues and Christian graces of this admirable woman, it would be out of place to speak, on such an occasion as this. Her record is in her own well-ordered household, and in the hearts and affectionate sympathies of her friends: we tenderly draw the veil over her sorrows, thanking GOD meanwhile for the grace which he has given her to accept her cross in patience and to feel that "He doeth all things well." The heartbreak of these earthly partings is mended by the sweet lessons of the cross of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, that Great High Priest, who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities; "surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows," and on His human heart, how calmly do the aching heads of His children rest themselves when elsewhere in this world there is no rest! The households and families of His people may, without fear, behold their own temporary dissolution, knowing that all are to be gathered together again at the last, and that there is in heaven a house not made with hands, eternal, unshaken, where those who loved each other in CHRIST while here, shall live and love forever in Him.

In concluding this brief and most imperfect discourse, [37/38] let a few words be added, for the edification and direct warning of the hearers. It is two months to-day, since our friend entered into rest; and when one day more shall have passed, that great season of the Church will be upon us in which the Four Last Things are specially proposed to the contemplation of men. The dawn of another Advent is at hand: before us rise again the symbols of those most dread and solemn of all realities, Death, the. Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. No time could, have been more suitable than this, to thoughts of the departed. From his long home, he sends us, this hour, messages to which we do well to give heed. They are messages of the shortness of life, of the certainty of Death, and of the overwhelming importance of what is to come after the world and its concerns shall have faded away. Reverend brethren, remember your brother who is one not long before yourselves; and place before you the scene of your own death beds, and ask if ye are ready. Are your loins girded up? Are your lights burning? Are ye like men who wait for their LORD, whose appearing hardly any one can abide, and whose first work shall be to purify the sons of Levi? O! brethren, how fast it is going from us, this day wherein we were, to do our work! how rapidly it is closing around us, that evening in which we are to go back to the LORD and give an account of our stewardship! And who of us is ready? Not one, I fear; not one whose soul is not shaken at the thought. And yet [38/39] it is coming so fast, and we are doing so little to prepare!

And as for you, beloved in CHRIST, who were wont to listen to him who is now far beyond the reach of human hand or voice; and who received the law at his lips, remember what he said to you while he was yet alive with you. He preached to you often of the Blood, and Merits, and Righteousness of JESUS CHRIST, as your only ground of acceptance. He told you of your duty to GOD and to man, as that whereto ye are called, and which ye have grace to fulfil. He spoke to you of the Church into which ye were baptized, as being indeed CHRIST'S Kingdom and demanding your allegiance and love. He bade you, again and again, to the acceptance of her teachings and to the devout reception of her means of grace. Let the dead preacher continue to speak, as you remember what was said, and carry out in your lives the lessons of other days. There are very many to whom he does preach, and will preach to the end of their lives; many who owe it to him, under GOD, that they are now walking with GOD and have a hope of salvation through CHRIST; such can never forget him or the good that he did them. To us all, let the recollection of this hour bring something of that benefit; in moving us to consider how surely the fashion of the world passeth away; how poor is Time, how rich and full is Eternity; how vain are all the voices of that world which strives in its clatter and noisy multitudinous welter of idle words to [39/40] drown the deep and solemn tones of the ALMIGHTY. Here let us take a new resolution, to be more sober, more vigilant, more in earnest, and so to pass what little time now remains to us, that our hope, if we have a good one already, may be yet more reasonable, religious, and holy; that some hope, if now alas! we have none, may yet be made to throw a glimmering ray into our souls before we come to the vast and frowning entrance of that avenue through which men pass away and are seen no more.




The Rector having announced the death of the Rev. Francis Vinton, D. D., which occurred on the twenty-ninth day of September last, the following minute and resolutions were thereupon adopted:

The Vestry of Trinity Church, having received, through the Rector, official information of the decease of the Rev. Francis Vinton, D. D., one of the Assistant Ministers of this Parish, which event occurred since the last meeting of this body, do hereby offer to the family and friends of Dr. Vinton the assurance of their sympathy with them in the sorrow occasioned by his painful illness and untimely departure from this mortal life.

Dr. Vinton was a man or eminent abilities and varied gifts, such as would have made him conspicuous, whatever profession he might have selected; they gave him prominence among his brethren in that sacred calling, which, after trial of the military life and the Bar, he ultimately fixed upon as his final choice. His powers and attainments were given to the highest of all vocations, wherein he rose to the eminence which might have been expected. His labors, in various cities, were rewarded by evidences of success; he drew many friends about him, whose affectionate regard he retained to the last; numbers were attracted by the fame of his preaching, while his influence was felt in those Conventions and other similar bodies of which he was a [43/44] member; in the General Theological Seminary, in which he was substantially the founder, as well as the first incumbent of an important professorship; in our own parish, in connection with which the last seventeen years of his ministry were passed ; and in the community at large, where he enjoyed a remarkable popularity.

During his lifetime, he was a zealous servant of the Church, devotedly attached to her system, principles, and worship, as he understood them, and strenuous in promoting her growth and prosperity. In the communion of that Church which he loved, he at length departed peacefully, submissive to the will of Almighty GOD, and resigned to the decree which cut short his career ere he had attained to the ordinary measure of the years of the life of man.

Duly impressed by the providential dispensations of Almighty GOD, we desire to lay this and similar admonitions to heart; and again renew, to those who lament our departed friend and brother, the assurance of our sympathizing consideration. Furthermore, be it hereby

Resolved: That the Comptroller be authorized and directed, on behalf of this Corporation, to pay the expenses of the funeral of the late Dr. Vinton:

Resolved: That a copy of this minute, duly certified, be respectfully presented to the family of the deceased.



At a meeting of the Rector and Vestry of Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights, held this day, the Rector having announced the death of the Rev. Dr. Francis Vinton, the following minute was ordered entered on the Record of the Parish.

[45] The Rector and Vestry of Grace Church have heard of the decease of the Rev. Francis Vinton, D. D.; D. C. L. ; L. L. D.; former Rector of the Church, and late Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New York, with feelings of deep sorrow, yet not unmingled with Christian rejoicing. They grieve, in common with a great company of Christian people, over the loss of an able minister of the "New Testament," whose life has been most useful and honorable, whose labors were most abundant, and whose noble qualities were too conspicuous to need enumeration. They mourn the loss of an endeared personal friend: who was to many of the Vestry, and the Congregation which they represent, not only friend, but neighbor of twenty-five years' standing. They respectfully but most deeply sympathize with a stricken household whose sorrows are not the griefs of strangers, but of friends beloved. But they rejoice in the possession of the consolations which such a life leaves after it. They remember with tender and grateful joy the able and beautiful Pastorate of ten years and more: which, beginning among them in an adjoining church, developed into the formation of Grace Church, Brooklyn Heights: culminated in the presentation of the present beautiful church edifice, free from all indebtedness, for consecration to the service of Almighty GOD; and ceased not its prayers, skill and labor, till the Parish had attained an eminent degree of strength, efficiency, and happiness. They bless GOD for His gracious deliverance, in His own good time, of this patient sufferer for so long a period, and for his entrance into the joy of his LORD.

It was also ordered, that, as a token of love and respect for the deceased, the Rector and Vestry attend the funeral of the late Dr. Vinton, in a body. Also, that this minute be communicated to the family of the deceased; to the Rector and Vestry of Trinity Church, New Yolk; and to the "Church Journal," and the "Churchman," for publication.

October 1st, 1872.



Since the last meeting of this Board, the Rev. Dr. Francis Vinton, our first President, has departed this life. This Board will ever cherish in grateful memory, the wise foresight, untiring zeal, and persevering energy, combined with the remarkable executive ability of Dr. Vinton. To him, under GOD, and to the venerated mother in Israel, Mrs. Sarah Richards, who is still with us, are due in large measure, the origin and early nurture of the Church Charity Foundation. We doubt not that our large-hearted brother and beloved friend has attained the rest of Paradise; and we hereby renew the expression of duty incumbent on us as members of this Diocese to live and work for our noble Institution in all its departments of charity, until we also shall depart this life in the true faith of GOD's holy name, and in the hope of eternal blessedness.




The members of the Century have heard, with profound regret, of the death of their distinguished associate the Rev. Francis Vinton, D.D., LL. D., and would take occasion to place upon record, with this [46/47] expression of their sorrow, the high appreciation in which they held his gifts and graces, now, alas! lost to society and the Church.

The Rev. Dr. Vinton had a peculiarly rich endowment by nature. The versatile development he attained, through close and continued study, gave him an acknowledged leadership where ever his great abilities were brought into exercise.

In the Pulpit and Professor's Chair, in the Councils of the Church and in authorship, in administering charities and in the many engagements to which he was committed by his human sympathies and his social sentiment, in all his offices and relations, it may well be said of him

"Nihil tetigit quod non ornavit."

In deploring the loss of this eminent man, and recounting his virtues and achievements, in bowing sorrowfully under this ordering of GOD, while still thanking Him for a human life in which there was so much that was grand and graceful, in resolving to cherish a memory in which the elements of dignity and devotion were so beautifully blended, we would not fail to observe the two salient points which the life and character of Dr. Vinton exhibit as most surely indicating under GOD his paths of success, and as luminous tuitions to those whom he leaves behind, viz: his untiring industry, and his uncompromising manliness.

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