I HAVE already mentioned, that it was at dawn on Sunday that we entered the harbor of San Francisco and saw before us the city scattered widely over a series of hills, which seemed like "the seven hills" of Rome. What a contrast to the scene which was presented but a few years before, when there was scarcely a hut on the borders of this quiet bay! The harbor, and afterwards the city took the name of the old Mission of St. Francis, the buildings of which still remain nestling under the hills, about three miles from the city.
The member of the committee who came on board to receive us proved to be Mr. Augustine Hale, whose letters to his sister in Albany had first awakened my interest in behalf of California. A carriage was waiting, and in a short time we found ourselves at the house of William Neely Thompson, Esq., another member of the committee. This, for the next fortnight was our home, where everything was done which kindness and hospitality could suggest.
The Rev. Mr. Wyatt at once called on me and insisted on my immediately commencing duty. I confess, I felt but little like engaging in a service, for I had not recovered from all we had passed through during the previous ten days. But everything in California is onward; life does not pause for the accommodation of the tired and the weary, and therefore, I yielded to the request of the Rector, and, three hours after my arrival, found myself standing in the chancel of Trinity Church.
The church was founded by the Rev. Flavel S. Mines. After laboring awhile and having this edifice erected, his health failed and he died of consumption. The church is his fitting monument, and he now sleeps beneath its chancel in the hope of a glorious resurrection. The building was curiously constructed of sheet iron, plastered inside. On the arrival of Mr. Wyatt and his entrance on the Rectorship, about eight months before my own coming, the church was enlarged by widening it some twenty feet. At this time the parish was in the very height of prosperity, with a noble, energetic congregation, comprising as much intellect and cultivation as I ever saw gathered in a similar assemblage. The proportion of gentlemen, (as of course is usual in this city,) was much greater than one is accustomed to see at the East, and before I knew them personally, I was struck with the mere outward appearance they presented. Everything betokened activity and energy of mind. There was nothing among the non-Episcopal congregations which could at all compete with the Church, and as the only other Episcopal congregation in the city, Grace Church, was merely in existence, almost all there was of the Church on the Pacific coast was gathered into Trinity.
In the morning I read the Ante-Communion Service and preached, and in the evening I preached again. My text in the morning was I Corinthians x. 4, and I here quote the conclusion of my sermon, to show the feelings with which I entered on my ministry in this distant land:
"And that Rock was Christ." It is a text which seems to embrace within itself the very substance and fulness of the Gospel. And I cannot but rejoice, brethren, that the first message I am permitted to deliver in this place is from words condensing within themselves the whole system of which our Lord was Himself the earliest herald, and which He bequeathed to His ministers to publish to the ends of the world. Commencing now a new era in my public ministry, and with a great gulf separating the past, with its thronging memories, from the shadowy future, it is fitting that these words should be at once my present theme and the type of what should be my message in days that are to come. I would have them go on with me, spreading their influence over all that I may say when ministering in holy things, till to me, as to all others, that solemn hour comes when Christ the Rock shall be the dying mortal's only refuge.
"In obedience, brethren, to that voice of the Church to which we can only bow in reverence, I come to you, to labor with you in her cause,--in the words of the Apostle,--'your servant for Jesus' sake.' I have left the associations of a life-time, to spend the remaining years which God may grant me, where the length and breadth of a continent separate me from scenes which the past has hallowed. I have left the graves of those most dear to me, to find my own where to me the soil has been consecrated by no kindred dust. Yet I feel that everywhere, over the wide earth, the Church is one,--the same in her spirit and her holy ordinances,--and wherever, therefore, I can stand, as to-day, by the side of her altar, and surrounded by her members, there will be home. And I know too well the generous and earnest spirit of the Churchmen of this land, not to rejoice that, in the Providence of God, such are to be my fellow laborers. I know that in the mighty contest which together we are to wage, you will not be wanting.
"There is indeed, my brethren, a spirit abroad in this land which cannot but rebuke the faint hearted and the idler, and awaken him to zeal and energy. Where worldliness is earnest, and every faculty is braced to the utmost in the strife for the prizes of this perishing life, shall the follower of the Lord be slothful, when he is struggling for the souls of 'a multitude which no man can number,'--when the reward of his labor is to be a crown which fadeth not away? Everything indeed around you, brethren, summons you to aid those whose cry amid the strife is--'Come up to the help of the Lord!' Your land, overleaping the natural stages of growth, is springing up at once to a giant manhood with a rapidity never before witnessed, and while this generation is yet on the stage, its spiritual destinies may be determined for all coming time. You are settling this question, therefore, not for yourselves alone, but for your children and your children's children.
"How noble the cause, therefore, in which we are to labor! Who could be recreant in such a contest? Who can even predict the future which opens before us if we are faithful to these mighty interests which are thus entrusted to our hands? Oh! brethren, let it be so; and then, when time with you is fading into eternity, the Church of God will rejoice that you have lived: and it will be found written of you in the Cook of God's remembrance, that you have done something worth recording."