Project Canterbury


At the laying of the Corner-stone of the Church of the Epiphany.
August 26, 1833





Thursday, Jan. 9, 1834.








Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2008

[11] Since the last annual meeting, that part of the eastern section of the city known as District E has been regularly constituted a missionary station, under the name of "the Mission Church of the Epiphany." For a few weeks, the station was supplied with the services of several of the clergy of the city; when, on the 11th day of February, the Rev. Lot Jones, having been duly appointed the Missionary, took charge of it. Soon so great a blessing attended his labors, that the Managers were encouraged to adopt measures for the erection of a church at this station. A suitable site having been procured in Stanton-street, the cornerstone of the Mission Church of the Epiphany was laid on the 26th of August last, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Moore, of Virginia, then on a visit to this city, our own Bishop being absent on a tour of official duty.


MY BRETHREN,--The events connected with the duties in which we are employed, are of a nature so important, as to entitle them to our most solemn and serious consideration. They involve in them the happiness of those who have engaged in the commencement of the edifice to be erected on the foundation we have laid, and of those who may hereafter convene within its sacred courts for the purposes of divine worship.

It is here that the prayers peculiar to our Communion will be offered at the throne of grace and mercy. It is here that the praises of the living GOD will be sung. It is here that the Gospel of the Lord JESUS CHRIST will be preached. It is here that erring mortals will be apprized of the awful dangers attendant on a life of transgression, invited to flee from the wrath to come, and entreated to lay hold on the mercies of redeeming love. It is here that men will be informed of that Saviour who came to call sinners to repentance; "who is no respecter of persons;" "whose tender mercies are over all his works;" and whose compassionate arms are open to all who look to him for succor. Under the influence of such considerations, what Christian bosom can be insensible to the emotions of happiness? They form the subject of those animating truths which warmed the minds of angels, when in a rapture of joy they proclaimed "Glory to GOD in the highest, and on earth peace and good-will to man." With the patriarch Jacob, my brethren, [22/23] we may justly unite; and in that language of devotion which burst from his lips, we may exclaim, "Surely the LORD is in this place--this is none other than the house of GOD, and this is the gate of heaven."

To an individual as advanced in life as myself, who can look back through years gone by, and trace in recollection the period when we had only two Episcopal churches within this city, and when the number of our clergy, in this extensive Diocese, amounted to no more than six or seven; who can remember the period when the harps of our fathers were hung upon the willows; when the Zion of which we are members was struggling for existence, and when old Trinity Church lay in ruins! the occasion gives rise to an association of reflections peculiarly solemn and impressive, and which language, in all its glowing numbers, is too feeble to express. Yes, my brethren, when I compare the state of things as I now find them, with what they were fifty or sixty years since--when I behold in this my native city twenty Episcopal churches, whose doors are opened every sabbath for the solemn purposes of divine worship, and know that the trumpet of the Gospel is sounded from the heights of Zion by as many watchmen on every Lord's day, my heart vibrates with joy, and I feel constrained to unite with the psalmist, and to call upon you also to unite in his song of "Praise to GOD for his goodness, and for the wonders he has done for the children of men."

Though separated from this, the seat of my nativity, the residence of my fathers, and the place of their sepulture--a city in which I passed the first twenty-five years of my life, and in which I successfully preached the Gospel at a subsequent period--though placed by Providence in another region, and dwelling in the midst of a people from whom I have received many kindnesses, and for whom I entertain the most tender affection, still I have not forgotten my early attachments, and can partake with heartfelt pleasure of your joys; and wish you, in the name of our common FATHER and GOD, the most unbounded success. "May peace be within your walls, and plenteousness in your palaces! for my brethren and companions' sake I will wish you prosperity; yea, because of the house of the LORD our GOD, I will seek to do thee good."

In the midst of that joy we feel at this renewed evidence of divine love, let me entreat you, my beloved brethren, to remember your solemn responsibility to heaven. In proportion to the spiritual blessings conferred upon you, should be your returns of gratitude to the ALMIGHTY--your devotion should keep pace with the blessings with which you are favored; and you should recollect that "to whom much is given, of them will much be required."

When the top-stone of this building shall be laid; when you enter the sacred temple now commenced, to worship and adore the ALMIGHTY, remember that it is the house of GOD, and the gate of heaven, over which threshold you will step. Remember that the eye of JEHOVAH will be upon you, and that it is his revealed word to which you will be called to listen. Remember that your prayers, to be acceptable, must be sincere--that the devoutest attention to the preached word is necessary, provided you expect that word [23/24] to prove beneficial to your eternal interests; that you must "be doers of the word and not hearers only, working out your salvation with fear and trembling," and inquiring in language of earnest entreaty, "LORD, what wilt thou have me to do?"

As you approach the doors of this sanctuary, say to the temporal concerns of life, "Stay ye here, while I go yonder and worship," and let the united powers of your minds be directed heavenward.

When the preacher, who shall be appointed to minister to you in sacred things, shall tell you that "If any man be in CHRIST, he must be a new creature," let your prayer be, "Create in me a clean heart, O GOD, and renew a right spirit within me." When he shall hold up the Saviour to your view, as the only hope and dependence of the believer, "the chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely;"--when he shall direct your attention to the cross, and beseech you to be reconciled to GOD, remember, "That other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST;" and instead of deferring an application for an interest in the merits of the Redeemer, embrace with fervor of heart the offers of divine mercy, "and seek the LORD while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near." Say not that on to-morrow you will think of GOD, eternity, of heaven and of hell; but "to-day, while it is called to-day," embrace the invitation--reflect upon the uncertainty of life, and remember that the apostle has declared, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."

In pursuing such a course--a course in unison with the doctrines and liturgy of the Church, and with the views of those who serve at her sacred altars--the blessing of GOD will descend on you and your children--then will you grow in grace, and become fitted to enter upon the inheritance of the saints in light,-then will your last end be the end of the righteous; and a flood of eternal happiness burst upon your vision, at your entrance into a better world. Accept, brethren, my best wishes for your happiness, both temporal and eternal; and should we never meet again in this world, may GOD in his mercy grant that we may meet in heaven, in that happy region in which no tear but that of gratitude, will ever glisten in our eye, and where sorrow and sighing will be done away for ever. That such may be our happy portion, may GOD of his mercy grant for JESUS CHRIST'S sake.

Project Canterbury