AT a meeting of the Vestry of ZION CHURCH, New-York, held on the 13th day of June, 1859, the Rector offered the following as his resignation:
New-York, June 12th, 1859.
TO THE WARDENS AND VESTRYMEN OF ZION CHURCH, NEW-YORK:
Gentlemen,--A tie which has existed thirteen and a half years cannot easily be broken. The causes of my attachment to Zion Church are too many to allow me to separate myself from it without pangs amounting almost to agony. But I am constrained to listen to the voice of duty. I am called to the Rectorship of St. John's Church, Santa Cruz, W. I., a parish comprehending 1,500 communicants and several thousand souls. The opportunities for usefulness it offers must be very great. All who have a right to advise me urge me to accept the invitation, on the ground of my presumed fitness for the field. Thus influenced, I offer you my resignation.
To yourselves personally, gentlemen, I acknowledge myself indebted for many acts of kindness, not the least of which have been a cordial and harmonious co-operation in all I have attempted to do for our parish, and a liberal estimate of my efforts to make full proof of my ministry.
Praying for your individual temporal and spiritual prosperity, and for the best and holiest success of Zion Church and its people, I am
In Christian bonds,
Whereupon the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted:
Whereas, The Rev. RICHARD COX, Rector of this Church, has informed this Vestry that, having been called to the Rectorship of St. John's Church, Santa Cruz, W. I., he has been influenced by the great opportunity for usefulness thus offered, to accept the same, and consequently tenders the Vestry his resignation:
Resolved, That, though the separation is painful, it does not become us to interpose an obstacle to his assuming the charge of a parish comprehending fifteen hundred communicants and several thousand souls, and that therefore his resignation be accepted.
Resolved, That we entertain a deep conviction of the talents and attainments of the Rev. Mr. Cox, fitting him, as they eminently do, for usefulness and success in the pulpit, and the other ministrations of a parish, and of his very high order of executive ability, directed by an earnest and discriminating zeal.
 Resolved, That it is to his laborious and self-denying services we are mainly indebted, under God, for the temporal and spiritual success with which our parish has been favored.
Resolved, That we take pleasure in testifying, that as, during his Rectorship of more than thirteen years, his labors have been abundant, so has his life uniformly been above reproach, and consistent with his sacred calling.
Resolved, That we hereby appropriate to the Rev. Mr. Cox the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars, in token of the affection and gratitude we owe him; and that we assure him, notwithstanding his removal to a distant Church, we shall continue to hold ourselves united to him in the bonds of Christian fellowship and affection.
Resolved, That the Rev. Mr. Cox be requested to occupy the pulpit of Zion Church during the residue of the time he shall remain in this city, before leaving for his new parish.
Resolved, That the Rev. Mr. Cox be requested to furnish this Vestry a copy of his farewell sermon, delivered on the morning of the 12th inst.
Resolved, That the above preamble and resolutions be entered on the minutes, and that the Clerk of this Vestry furnish the Rev. Mr. Cox with a duly attested copy thereof, and that the same be published in the Church papers.
1 THESS. v. 23.--And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
WHAT better wish than this could any mortal utter? What language could better express the deep interest felt by him who uses it in the welfare of those to whom it is applied? It accords so much with my own emotions, and harmonizes so completely with the considerations which are governing me now, dear brethren, that it seems almost as if St. Paul had penned it for the present occasion. With a full, a sorrowful, and yet a grateful heart, I announce it as the concentration of what I desire for a people for whom I long have labored, whom I love with more than the ordinary affection of a pastor, and whose welfare, when I am far away, cannot be less dear to me than it is now, surrounded as I am with demonstrations of attachment, and listening, as I am constrained to do, to continual iterations of regret that I am dissolving my connection with this cherished cure.
"The very God of peace sanctify you wholly." It is to be regretted that so many Christians are satisfied with only partial sanctification. They could live under the constant and controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. Christ has purchased for them an uninterrupted day of peace, Because of the immense price he paid, they could have the Comforter always with them. Their souls have seasons of darkness, when, if they would have it otherwise, there might always be light round about them. They will have only partial sanctification, and they therefore have only partial Christian [5/6] benefits. The imperfection is their own; and, therefore, to themselves do they owe the imperfection in their religious conduct and enjoyments. There were those in Thessalonica who were like them; and St. Paul, in our text, prays, "The God of peace to sanctify them wholly." This prayer, now, beloved, is my own. I have seen the injury you have sutfered and the harm you have endured, because you have not had the Spirit of grace for your constant companion, Watching for your souls as one who must give an account, I have noted inconsistencies, and, at times, have heard from you admissions that would not have occurred had your sanctification been as thorough as it might have been. The influence and advantages of your baptism have not been what they might have been, because the promises made at the font have not been kept; and the Holy Spirit, instead of being invited to remain with you by faith, prayer and good works, has often been kept away by unbelief, transgression and impenitence. It would distress me if I should be constrained to think that, when I am away, the same spiritual condition is to continue-that when I can no more follow you with gentle admonitions, and with a true brother's hand, lead you back to the fountains of grace and the waters of comfort, you may be wandering still further into the regions of spiritual drought and barrenness.
In the land which, as I believe, Divine Providence has assigned me as my future field of labor, there is constant verdure, and flowers and fruits are ever growing. I desire for you a spiritual condition of which that pervading and continued greenness and that perpetual fecundity are types. I desire that you ever bear fruit unto holiness, that in the end you may have everlasting life. I would that your souls should ever be fragrant with the blossoms of piety, and enriched with the constantly ripening productions of which "the seed is the word." In short, as far as is consistent with human probation, I would that you have a heaven on earth.
But, with only partial sanctification, this can never be. I therefore pray "The very God of peace to sanctify you wholly." May your souls be thoroughly cleansed by the blood of Christ, and may you be washed in a perpetual [6/7] reapplication, by the Spirit, of the waters of the one regeneration, until there be in you neither spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing.
O that I could hope that this prayer will be answered; and that, as the result, every one of you will be wholly sanctified. How much, then, would the pain of this separation be diminished! How sensibly and how greatly should I be consoled if, when in discharging the arduous duties of my immense cure in the tropics, I survey the green fields) and luxuriant trees, and luscious fruits, and beauteous flowers, or look out upon the ocean when it is quiet and reflects the splendor of the sun, I could think all these are the emblems of the spiritual state of my people in dear old Zion!
Beloved brethren help me to some realization of this. Join your prayers to mine. Try to become what the petition implies you wish to be. Strive ever for more and more newness of life; and, by thus co-operating with the Holy Spirit, hasten the time when your sanctification shall be complete and entire. Then, accounts of your progress being transmitted to me, shall the green which will be about me have deeper greenness, the sun that will shine upon me bear added cheerfulness in his rays, and the waves that will roll towards my island shore have a more silvery aspect; Yea, then, shall even my hardships, privations and cares have a changed and a genial character. For I shall be happy as the laborer in some mine is happy when, as he toils hundreds of feet below the surface of the earth, he is told of the beauty and joy of a festive occasion, in which those who are especially dear to him took a conspicuous and an honorable part. I shall be happy, as one who is a stranger and a pilgrim in a distant part of the world is happy, when he reads of the distinction obtained by his relatives at home, through their virtue, their talents and their benevolent deeds.
"I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ."
You must have noticed how completely this part of the Apostle's language is in unison with my customary teaching. The recent series of discourses suggested by our Easter season, comprehended, among other and correlative discussions, [7/8] a statement of the ultimate resurrection of our bodies as a consequence of the resurrection of our Lord, and a deduction as a corrolary from this, of the certainty of our recognising each other in heaven. The importance of the body, as an essential part of the individual, was insisted on, and it was shown that, as after the general resurrection it is to be spiritualized and live forever, so is it wrong to assert, as many Christian teachers do, that it is only the soul of which we should specially be careful. I inculcated the truth, that attention and care should be bestowed upon both body and soul; that both of them are to be educated and prepared for heaven; and that, for this end, both are to be kept under the very best training and influence. In all that nave said to this effect, I am clearly sustained by St. Paul in the words before us. For when he says, "I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," he plainly teaches the importance of protecting the body as well as the soul from contamination. And looking to its continued existence, in some sense even after dissolution, he desires it to be "blameless" until the day of judgment.
I cannot do better than reiterate that desire. As applied to you it is thoroughly my own. I wish not only your souls but your bodies also to be kept pure and without offence. And I wish this, partly because I know that the soul cannot be pure if the body has its corrupt indulgences, and that the body cannot be pure if the soul has rampant passions and vile cravings. The two act mutually and constantly on each other. Not only must they be lost or saved together, but also, for the sake of each other, must each always be kept in the best possible condition. For this the Apostle prayed in behalf of the inhabitants of Thessalonica. And for this, most earnestly now, in these moments of solemn severance of our ecclesiastical relation, dear brethren, do I pray for you. I want you to be altogether saved. I want you to be so saved that you will in the future life be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." I want to know, if it be possible, that as you are growing in grace, and the flesh is subdued to the spirit, the body is weaned from the entanglement of [8/9] the world and has risen superior to its lusts. I want to think of your outward frames, your external selves, as ever approximating the spiritual condition into which they finally will be introduced. They were made holy in the sacred waters of baptism. I want to know that they are retaining that holiness, and increasing in a fitness to retain it forever. I want to think of you as marching steadily towards heaven, dropping by the way, as you go, all encumbrances, and, "laying aside every weight, and the sins which do so easily beset you," absolutely and faultlessly running the race set before you.
I am not without an almost selfish motive for this deep concern for your welfare; for my happiness must be involved in your spiritual well-doing and success. The work which God, by my instrumentality, has commenced in you, I wish to be made perfect unto the end. Can the farmer escape pain when he perceives the field he had taken care to cultivate is unproductive? Can the father avoid sorrow and anguish when the children he has nurtured and taught and directed cease to develope the principles he has inculcated, and become recreant to their duty and true interest? And should the pastor be so unlike the agriculturist and the parent as to be undisturbed when his spiritual field is unfruitful, and his spiritual children do not expand his teaching and incorporate his injunctions in their practice?
I am selfish to a degree, in what I am urging; for if I am not to behold you more in this world I covet the compensation of knowing you in the better existence. I want to know you in the flesh in its spiritualized condition. I want, with these eyes, to look forever on your very forms-the present outlines of your persons. I want, in your lineaments, to have suggestions of the scenes in which we have been associated, and of the hours we have spent together. I want, in the perfect worship above, to be reminded of the way in which we celebrated our worship below-the parts we severally took in "the great congregation" when our lips moved in unison and we made melody in our hearts unto the Lord. But this cannot be, even if I succeed in making my own "calling and election sure," unless "your whole spirit and soul [9/10] and body be preserved blameless unto the coining of our Lord Jesus Christ:" Let me, therefore, press, as a motive other than those by which heretofore you may have been actuated, that of meeting above your spiritual guide, and, contributing to his felicity by being there again known to him. To this end, and to secure all the elements of eternal happiness and promote the glory of our Lord, "preserve your whole spirit and soul and body blameless through our Lord Jesus Christ."
I can easily perceive, dear brethren, how these expressions of more than ordinary good Will and attachment provoke the inquiry, Why, where there is so much love, sever the tie that binds you to your people? You have a right to propound the inquiry i and I owe it alike to you and to myself to answer it. I am not moved to take this painful step by interest or preference. Inclination so interfered with my judgment that twice since I received the call that I am now obeying, I had determined to decline it. I saw interest, pleasure and prosperity here. I saw here an edifice which, though smaller than the one pertaining to my new charge, can hardly, at least according to my taste; be surpassed. I saw a people bound to me by ties which have been strengthening every day throughout thirteen and a half years. I saw here a location in the most commanding spot in the commercial metropolis of the continent. And I foresaw a future for our church that must outshine the brightness of not only any period in its history, but, probably, also the brightness in the history of any other congregation in the land. Why, then, should I not stay here and be a participant? Why go to a distant people, and devote to strangers the remnant of my days? My decision, I thought, was finally made. Here I had lived and labored ...it does not become me to say how-and here I would remain and die.
But my mind could not rest. My conscience was not at ease. I suspected myself of having been decided by inclination and preferences. I was constrained to review the matter from the beginning. Then duty loomed up in its proper proportions. The parish that called me has, under the very [10/11] successful rectorship of the brother who is present, grown until it embraces 1,500 communicants and some 5,000 souls. [The Rev. Fletcher J. Hawley, D.D.] If opportunity to be useful is to be measured, in any degree, by numbers, how could my church here, in that respect, compare with the church which was inviting me to supervise, direct and control it? That church comprehends more communicants than are to be found in each of many of our dioceses. It is true the climate is different from this, and that in it I must suffer exhaustion. But even in the climate medical men found reasons for me to trust it. The state of society is essentially unlike that with which I have been familiar. But it is as unfamiliar to almost all other clergymen who have not dwelt in the tropics. The place requires peculiar qualifications. I know not that I have them. That is a matter respecting which I cannot judge. The opinions of others must be my guide. Those opinions and the inferences I could deduce from the largeness of the parish, have brought me to a decision I wished to have escaped. On the one hand was feeling and inclination, with all their seductive blandishments. On the other was stern, cold and marble-like duty. That very sternness and coldness compelled me to the conclusion at which I have arrived. In their presence I feared to select only that which is pleasant.
Duty is cold. It is what a northern atmosphere is among climates, or what logic is in the elements of literature. It is what statuary is among the productions of art. And yet, stern and cold as it is, it is endowed by God with a marvellously warming power. When it is respected, it sends the fervid current of happiness through the soul, and lights up the heart with the lamps of love, cheerfulness and hope. It sustains those who regard it even when it leads them into danger, yea, even when it leads them into death. Faith is its handmaid-the gentle minister of comfort and of strength it sends to those upon whom it imposes burdens. The favor of God, secured through Jesus Christ our Lord, is the recompense it both promises and secures. Regarding it thus, to duty I have yielded. And while, in so doing, I know I have [11/12] sacrificed much, I will not let in an obtrusive doubt, I will not countenance one furtive regret.
The owner of some exquisite work of art, elaborated in marble, may be chilled by it, when, on a wintry day, and in an unwarmed apartment, he looks upon it. It is too like ice not to unite with the temperature in creating discomforting sensations. But let the temperature moderate, or let him become accustomed to endure it, and he can go to the room in which this freezing agent is deposited, and acquire warmth and sunshine from its rigid form and features. The oftener he contemplates it, the more does it teem with beauty. It has expression in its every part; and that expression speaks directly to his mind and soul in the language of enchantment. His visits to his treasure are constantly more frequent; and the pleasure, satisfaction and improvement it imparts, increase in at least a corresponding ratio. And so, I trust, it will be with me in relation to the duty which I recognise as the agent impelling me to leave here many precious and indulgent parishioners, and go to the distant many more, who, except by reputation, and the kind representations of a ministerial brother, know me not. That duty chills me now. But I will trust that, hereafter, when I contemplate it, day by day, I shall discern its fascinating features. I will look for its development of beauty. Its truthfulness shall console and comfort me. Its lineaments shall warm and, perhaps, inspire me. Certain I am, that the more familiar with it I become, the more of delight in it I shall take. And, though in your absence I must be oppressed with a sense of deprivation, I shall, in some measure, be compensated by the silent voice, and the eloquent, but unarticulated, words of the conviction which impels me, and places between you and me some fourteen hundred miles of ocean.
With this anticipation of the future, come suggestions of reference to the past. I have been long enough with you to have served every family in the parish in nearly all the offices of the ministry. What recollections force themselves upon us on the mere mention of this fact! Prominent in the panorama are the font, the Sunday-school, the Bible-class, the desk, the pulpit, the rite of confirmation, the marriage [12/13] ceremony, the visitation of the sick, charitable contributions from the rich and well-disposed, and the dispensing of them to the poor, the consoling of the afflicted and distressed, and the burial of the dead. What family is here represented, and has long been under my ministry, without having had one funeral to darken its home? How many of our families have been visited again and again by the destroying angel? To be with you in such scenes was necessarily to feel for you; by and to feel for you was to be impelled to do all I could by kind words and gentle deeds, to soothe and allay the turbulence of emotion. You remember such efforts, do you not? Was I successful? Did the Holy Spirit bless my poor endeavors, and, in gracious condescension, become to you indeed a Comforter? If only that much has been done, I have not lived in vain. You cannot forget me if you would, and would not, if I could, forget you, and the occasions that strengthened our mutual tie.
Here is the place for me to ask, Have I done my duty? Have I availed myself faithfully of all the opportunities which have occurred? Have I duly reproved, strengthened exhorted the erring, as well as encouraged and strengthened the weak? Has the love of Christ constrained me, and have I, because I loved him, done what I could to incline others to love him, with all their minds and souls and strength? Have I been recreant-a lover of my ease, a fearer of man, and a caterer for human flattery?
What say the departed? Tell me, ye who have been taken from the world while subject to my ministrations, did I deliver my message aright? Or, did my trumpet give an uncertain sound? Was the word of God a dull instrument in my hand, or was it a "two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart?" What influence on your present condition had my public teaching and our intercourse in private? If you are in perdition-awful thought-did my neglect help to place you there? If you are in Paradise, did I, in any way, contribute to your peace through Christ, and your happiness through the sanctification of the Spirit? Is [13/14] the eternity to be assigned you amidst the verdure of heaven, and is your share of it traceable to any thing I have said or done?
Brethren, they will not answer. The reply to my questions can be had only on the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
I turn, therefore, to the living. I ask you, dear brethren, what is your estimate of my faithfulness? Can you vindicate my honesty, my sincerity, my boldness and my discretion? Has any thing I have done or said prejudiced you against the cross and cause of the Redeemer? Or, have I been so blessed as to have been God's means of awakening you from spiritual slumber, and causing you to press on as successful contenders for the prize, in the sight of angels and of men?
Happy the minister who has such crowns and seals-such achievements and rewards! Happy the people who have so suffered the word of exhortation as thus to be saved! If such is our experience, a bond of union is established between us that will not be broken. We will meet again never to part.
Let the unconverted bear with me, while I make on more effort to reclaim them for Christ and his church.
Beloved, you know how earnestly and how often I have set before you the deceptiveness of the world. I have endeavored to persuade you "to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," not only because in so doing you will secure the ultimate happiness, but also because that is the best way to obtain and enjoy here all things really worth possessing. I have warned you of "the wrath to come," and besought you "to flee from it," while, at the same time, after the manner of our blessed Saviour, I have told you "the kingdom of heaven is like unto a pearl of great price," and have entreated you to "sell all you have and purchase it." As yet you have not done so. These exhortations must now be rushing through your memory. May they have the desired effect on your minds and hearts.
In certain northern portions of our country, at the present time, there are accumulations of waters wielding a power [14/15] which heretofore has been controlled. They now are overleaping all established barriers, ploughing for themselves channels where before they never ran, and sweeping before them every obstacle. They present the aspect of grandeur and of triumph. Their progress is a new instance of the sublime. Let me hope that, like them, the atoms of instruction and entreaty, which for years I have here uttered, being accumulated in your minds, and brought to the highest point of power by the circumstances of this occasion, will sweep away the barriers of your soul's salvation. Let me hope that, now, when you are realizing that you are to be exhorted by me no more, the remembrance of all I have said in past opportunities, is combined in one great effort to overwhelm and dislodge your unwillingness to leave the way of sin and become the practical adherents of our beneficent and loving Lord. Let me hope that my attempt at pastoral faithfulness may be invested at this moment, through the blessing of the Spirit, with a new and combined existence; and that now, like an overturning flood, they may bear away forever all your opposition to the truth, and all your impenitence and procrastination. It may be, that if they do not this now, they will never more have any good effect. What if, by being neglected, they should be revealed at the last day, as, like the present waters of the Upper Mississippi, wielding a power only to destroy! In the mercy of our God, may such a dire result be prevented!
In this earnestness I confess that I am selfish; for I would have you trace through me the happiness you may enjoy in Christ. I would that, throughout eternity, my very humble efforts be recognised by you as God's means of bringing you to the indescribable peace and joy of believing. I am selfish, also, because I would not, if you are lost, have my words and deeds as witnesses against you on the day of judgment.
What presbyter ever had more of kindnesses to acknowledge? What people ever were more indulgent than have been mine? How charitable, in general, has been your estimate of my exertions! How ready have you been to attribute to me all I am and have been permitted to accomplish! [15/16] How warmly have you returned me love for love! How truly can I say, I do not distrust the affection of a single member of our congregation! To the very last, the stream of kindness has kept on flowing. The recent valuable testimonial and large gratuity, unanimously voted by the vestry, is but the mouth of that stream-wider and deeper because it is as the cumulation of much that flowed in narrower channels and in single rills.
May God bless you by answering my constant prayers in your behalf, uttered in language like that incorporated in the text. And, when I am far away, as soon must be the case, may I be sustained and encouraged by the persuasion that a people who have bestowed upon me so many kindnesses, will ever recompense my petitions by themselves praying "the very God of peace to sanctify me wholly," and preserve my "whole spirit and soul and body blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Dear children of the Orphan's Home, it is difficult for me, in language suited to your comprehension, to tell you how deep an interest I have taken in your institution, and in yourselves. You have recollections of some of my acts in your behalf, and your many respectful and cheerful greetings of myself, have assured me that my efforts have been appreciated. You may not know that, to secure you the very best accomodations in our church, I surrendered my own pew, and procured others adjoining and near it, to be assigned you. I wished to have you near me. I have loved to look upon you as together you stood, or were seated in God's house. I have loved to hear your voices in the responses, and in singing our sacred Psalms and Hymns. And because I have loved these, and the privilege of instructing you in holy things, it is painful for me to go where probably not one of you will ever be. I am to leave you, perhaps never to see you again. [The children of the Protestant Episcopal Orphan's Home, now numbering 18, who attend Zion Church because of its nearness to their dwelling. They are striking examples of good order and devout attention, and merit and receive the sympathy and regard of the entire congregation. The children rose and stood while they were addressed by the Rector.] [16/17] Young as you are, you can pray. God delights in such prayers as you can offer. Pray for yourselves; and, when you do so, pray for me. In that way you can pay me a thousand fold for all I have attempted to do for you.
Let me make one parting and, I hope, abiding suggestion. You observe that, because it is Whitsunday, our altar is prepared for the celebration of the supper of our Lord. They who shall there partake of the holy mysteries, enjoy the greatest privilege attainable on earth; for in that feast our Saviour comes nearer to them than he does in any ordinary way. "There," in the language of our communion service, "he dwells in there, and they in him." Regard yourselves as candidates for the same advantages. Look forward to a day in which you may be old enough, and otherwise fit, through the merits of our Lord, to be blessed in that holy sacrament. Live constantly in preparation for enjoying that great means of grace. In all you think, or say, or do, strive to be such as is required by him who said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God." This is the way to be true and benefitted candidates for the holy supper. This is the way for you, with the blessing of the Holy Spirit, in a very few years, to become worthy communicants, and most happy Christians.