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MAY 17th, 1814


Rector of St. Michael's, Bloomingdale, and St. James's, Hamilton-Square,






Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2012


[4] THE Reverend HENRY WHITLOCK, Rector of Trinity Church, being on a journey for the recovery of his health, the Author of the Address contained in the following pages, as he was passing through New-Haven, was requested by the Wardens and Vestrymen to lay the Corner-Stone of their new Church; and as there was no form for that purpose provided by the proper authority, they added the further request that he would compose one for the occasion. Had the Bishop of the Diocese been living, application would doubtless have been made to him; as it was, there seemed to be no alternative. The words spoken at the laying of the Stone, were taken, with some slight alterations, from a form composed on a similar occasion, by the Rev. Mr. CHASE, of Hartford; and it was by his suggestion, that the Congregation united in the 118th Psalm. For the rest of the service, the Author is alone responsible.

[5] THE Congregation having assembled in the old Church, morning prayers were read.

Psalms: the ninth selection.

First Lesson. I Chron. chap. xvii. to v. 16.

Second Lesson. Ephes. chap. ii. from v. 13 to the end.

Service being ended, the Congregation proceeded in the following order to the foundations of the new Church.

The Parishioners.
The building Committee.
The Vestry.
The Clergy.
The officiating Minister,
with the Junior Warden on his left hand,
and the Senior on his right, bearing the Plate.

When the procession had arrived, the officiating minister began the service by saying,

"Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but vain that build it.". Psalm cxxvii. v. 1.
Minister. Our help is in the name of the Lord,
People. Who hath made heaven and earth.
Minister. Blessed be the name of the Lord,
People. Henceforth, world without end.
Minister. Lord, hear our prayer;
People. And let our cry come unto thee.

Minister. LET US PRAY.

[6] ALMIGHTY GOD, who at the beginning didst lay the foundations of the earth, and without whose strengthening and protecting care, the labour of the builder is but vain; regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy servants who are now assembled to lay the cornerstone of this edifice; that, as thou hast put it into the hearts of thy congregation, with one accord, to begin the erection of a building to be devoted to thy worship and the promotion of thy glory, so, by thy continual help, they may be enabled to bring the same to a prosperous and happy completion. Endue thy servant, to whom the oversight of this great work is committed, with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that he may execute properly whatever is needful for the service of the sanctuary. Protect the workmen from every evil accident. Guard the building from fire, from the convulsions of nature, from the violence of enemies, and from every danger to which it may be exposed.

We beseech thee also to bless with thy Holy Spirit, the congregation who shall, at any time hereafter, assemble in this place, that they may ever offer unto thee a pure and holy worship. Bless all those thy servants whom thou mayest appoint to minister here at thy altar; and especially bless him who hath at present the charge of this portion of thy flock; that, if it shall seem good in thy sight, he may be restored to health, and enabled so to perform the duties of his office, as may best promote thy honour, and the salvation of sinful men.

[7] Finally, we beseech thee to endue thy whole Church with thy heavenly grace, that they may avoid whatever is contrary to their profession, and in all things may obey thy blessed will, through Jesus Christ our Lord; with whose perfect form of words, we complete our imperfect petitions, praying as he hath taught us:

Our Father, &c.

The inscription on the Plate to be deposited under the corner-stone, was then read by the Senior Warden.


[* The weather being unfavourable on the 16th, the Stone was not laid till the 17th.]

Then the officiating minister, receiving the Plate at the hands of the Senior Warden, and standing near the Corner-Stone, said as follows:

Forasmuch as Almighty God once accepted the purpose of Solomon to build a house unto the name of the Lord his God, and as we doubt not that he [7/8] favourably alloweth this work of ours in founding a Church for his praise and worship; I therefore lay the Corner-Stone of the House of God, which is to be erected on this foundation, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

When the Stone had been duly placed, the officiating minister, standing on the same, delivered the following address.




[9] IT has fallen to my lot, in the absence of your worthy rector, to lay the corner-stone of a building, in which you and your children will hereafter worship the God of your fathers; and it is with no ordinary degree of pleasure that I offer you my congratulations on an event so peculiarly interesting. Were this building to be devoted to common uses, or were the period of its duration to be short, I should not feel as I now do. But the laying of this corner-stone is an event ennobled by its relation to the highest and dearest objects of human affection. It is an act of homage to God. It confers a lasting benefit upon yourselves. It bequeaths a blessing to your posterity.

To fit men for heaven—to transform them into children of light, is the great object of all religion; and whatever tends to produce this effect, is to be classed among the means of Religions. Every act, therefore, by which we contribute to the promotion of this object, is truly and properly an act of homage to our Maker.

The erection of a building for publick worship is of this nature. Man is powerfully swayed by his senses. Of a worship altogether mental he knows [9/10] nothing. A spirit, totally disconnected with this earthly tenement, is too ethereal a substance to come within the grasp of his comprehension. His Religion must be embodied—must have "a local habitation and a name;" and though God dwelleth not in temples made with hands, yet the very constitution of our nature makes it requisite, that there should be some particular spot appropriated to divine worship!

But man is also the creature of arbitrary associations, and great care is therefore to be taken, that no debasing idea be permitted to infuse its leaven into his worship. Hence it is essential to the homage of God, that such structures should be erected for his service, as will command the respect and veneration of those for whose use they are designed. A savage might look with veneration on a church built of logs and covered with thatch; for the comprehension of his untutored mind might not extend beyond it; but, were we to behold such a building in this community, we should feel that the honour of God was violated; for we should inseparably connect with it, those ideas of poverty and meanness, which are utterly inconsistent with our veneration for the Supreme Being. The structure of our churches must, therefore, keep pace with the extension of our wealth and the progress of our refinement. And though He who accepted the widow's mite, would, doubtless, accept the humblest and the rudest offering of the poor and ignorant; yet an offering from our hands, equally rude and equally humble, would not meet with so favourable a reception. And the reason is obvious. It is because we live in a refined and civilized society. It is because we live at a period, when all the arts and sciences [10/11] seem to vie with each other in rapidity of improvement.

The elegances of life and the refinements of taste, are as much the gifts of God as any other blessings that we enjoy; and we are as much bound to devote them to his service, as we are to devote the rest of our bodily and mental faculties. In this view, it is a source of great pleasure, that you, my brethren will set a laudable example to your fellow Christians, by erecting your church according to a mode of architecture, of which, as yet, there is not a perfect and pure specimen through the whole of the American republick. That style of building which is commonly termed Gothick, and which is distinguished by its pointed arches and its slender clustering columns, is peculiarly adapted to sacred uses. The experience of ages has proved, that it tends, wore than any other, to fill men with awe and reverence, to repress the tumult of unreflecting gaiety, and to render the mind sedate and solemn. Whatever tends in any degree to make men serious and devout when they approach the Divine Majesty, is an auxiliary to his service; and the providing that which products this effect in the greatest degree, is an act by which we doubtless honour and glorify our Maker.

But, Brethren, what is of still greater consequence in the sight of God than the structure of this building, is the great degree of harmony which has hitherto marked your proceedings. You have exhibited the interesting spectacle of a numerous congregation uniting, with one heart and one soul, in presenting to your Creator a free will offering. No dissensions, as to the [11/12] place, time, or mode of building, have occurred among you; but every man hath been eager to aid to the utmost of his ability, and hath cheerfully executed whatever he was required to perform for the general good. Continue to act thus, and He who delights to be called the God of peace, of unity and concord, will be with you and bless you. Your oblation will be acceptable in his sight, and your prayers and praises will ascend as sweet incense to the throne of his majesty.

I need not dwell upon the interest which you yourselves must take in this building. It has already been remarked, that local associations have a most powerful influence. The spot which hath witnessed the sports of childhood, is for ever dear to our remembrance. Every place, in which any interesting scene of life hath passed, is an object of strong attachment. But to a Christian, what is so dear, what so interesting, what so important, as his religion? And with your religion, Brethren, this spot will hereafter be inseparably associated. Here you will offer up your prayers and praises; here you will listen to the word of life; here you will receive the sacramental bread and wine; here you will dedicate your children in baptism; here you will present them to receive religious instruction; here you will fit your own souls for heaven.

Nor, when your heads are laid low in the dust, and your voices will have ceased to be re-echoed along these walls, will the tongue of praise be mute; for your children will catch the strain as it dies on your lips, and will continue it from age to age. It is one of the distinguishing excellencies of our worship, that most of the prayers which it contains have been in use [12/13] from the earliest and purest ages of the church. For fifteen hundred years at least, have many of them served to express the humble adoration of those saints, who are now uniting in the worship of the Church triumphant. The prayers of Basil and Chrysostom, of Cyprian and Augustine, of Cranmer, Latimer and Ridley, are those which we and our fathers have offered. It is a delightful thought, my Brethren, that our children will be able to say of us, as we now say of the blessed men who have gone before us, "These prayers our fathers have uttered; and this sanctuary, erected by their zeal, and their exertions, is the patrimony which they have bequeathed to us!"

I cannot conclude, without giving utterance to a reflection, which comes across my mind with so much force, that I am unable to restrain it. If blessed spirits, after they have left this busy stage of being, take any interest in its affairs, (and I know not that either reason or religion will forbid the thought,) with what delight must your late venerable Rector, and the friend of his early years, his companion in life, and his speedy follower in death, behold this present scene! [The Rev. Bela Hubbard, D.D. died Dec. 6, 1812, and the Rt. Rev. Abraham Jarvis D.D., the 3d of May 1813; the one in the 74th, the other just at the completion of the 73d year of his age.] You well remember, with what interest they thought and spoke of this event. For more than five years did they cherish the hope of seeing this church erected; nor was it, till after repeated disappointments, that at length they discarded with reluctance, what seemed at that time to be a fruitless expectation.—The feelings of our nature compel us to regret that their [13/14] evening hours were not gilded by the same prospect which now cheers our view. But it would not become us to repine at the dispensations of Heaven. All events are in the hands of an omniscient God, and it was his pleasure to remove them, we trust to a happier state of being,  without having the warm wishes of their hearts gratified. Instead of lamenting their absence, let us rather be thankful that we are permitted to be present on this joyful occasion; and let us learn, from this signal instance, not to despond, if engaged in a laudable cause, even when our exertions seem to be most ineffectual. The providence of God often brings about events when they are least expected.—Eighteen months have scarcely elapsed, since all hope and all expectation that this stone would be laid, seemed as unsubstantial as a morning dream.

Minister. O Lord, open thou our lips,
People. And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Then followed the 118th Psalm, with the "Gloria Patri," repeated by the minister and people; after which, the service was concluded with the following Collect and Blessing,

"Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name; and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

2 Cor. xiii. 14.
[15] "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen."


The morning, which at first was cloudy, became unusually serene, so that the congregation were enabled very generally to attend, and to bear a part in the service


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