Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

there may be no division among us-no opposition of in

-po terests--no clashing of opinions. And permit me to hope that you will, at your approaching convention, so far recede in the points I have mentioned, as to make this practicable. Your convention will be large and very much to be respected. Its determinations will influence many of the American states, and posterity will be materially affected by them.

These considerations are so many arguments for calm 1 and cool deliberation. Human passions and prejudices,

and, if possible, infirmities, should be laid aside. A wrong step will be attended with dreadful consequences. Patience and prudence must be exercised. And should there be some circumstances that press hard for a remedy, hasty decisions will not mend them. In doubtful cases they will probably have a bad effect.

May the spirit of God be with you at Philadelphia, and as I persuade myself the sole good of his Church is the sole aim of you all, I hope for the best effects from your meeting.

I send you the alterations which it has been here thought proper to make in the liturgy, to accommodate it to the civil constitution of this state. You will observe, that there is no collect for the Congress. We have no backwardness in that respect, but thought it our duty to know whether the civil authority in this state has any directions to give in that matter; and that cannot be known till their next meeting in October.

Some other alterations were proposed, of which Mr. Ferguson took a copy; and I would send you a copy had I time to transcribe it.

The matter will be resumed at New-Haven the 11th of September. Should we come to any determination, the brethren to the southward shall be informed of it.

With my best regards to the convention and to you, I remain your affectionate humble servant, (Signed,)

SAMUEL, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

I have taken the liberty to enclose a copy of my letters of consecration, which you will please to communicate to the convention; you will also perceive it to be my wish that this letter should be communicated to them; to which, I presume, there can be no objection.

No. 5. Page 102.

Address of the Convention of 1785, to the English Prelates. To the Most Reverend and Right Reverend the Archbishops

of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of the Church of England.

We, the clerical and lay deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church in sundry of the United States of America, think it our duty to address your lordships on a subject deeply interesting, not only to ourselves and those whom we represent, but, as we conceive, to the common cause of Christianity.

Our forefathers, when they left the land of their nativity, did not leave the bosom of that Church, over which your Jordships now preside; but, as well from a veneration for Episcopal government, as from an attachment to the admirable services of our liturgy, continued in willing connection with their ecclesiastical superiors in England, and were subjected to many local inconveniencies, rather than break the inity of the Church to which they belonged.

When it pleased the Supreme Ruler of the universe, that this part of the British empire should be free, sovereign, and independent, it became the most important concern of the members of our communion to provide for its continuance. And while, in accomplishing this, they kept in view that wise and liberal part of the system of the Church of England, which excludes as well the claiming as the acknowledging of such spiritual subjection as may be inconsistent with the civil duties of her children; it was nevertheless their earnest desire and resolution to retain the venerable form of Episcopal government, handed down to them, as they conceived, from the time of the apostles ; and endeared to them, by the remembrance of the holy bishops of the primitive Church, of the blessed martyrs who reformed the doctrine and worship of the Church of England, and of the many great and pious 'prelates who have adorned that Church in every succeeding age. But however general the desire of completing the orders of our ministry, so diffused and unconnected were the members of our communion over this extensive country, that much time and negotiation were necessary for the forming of a representative body of the greater number of the Episcopalians in these states; and owing to the same causes, it was not until this convention, that sufficient powers could be procured for the addressing of your lordships on this subject.

The petition which we offer to your venerable body isthat from a tender regard to the religious interests of thousands in this rising empire, professing the same religious principles with the Church of England, you will be pleased to confer the Episcopal character on such persons as shall be recommended by this Church in the several states here represented; full satisfaction being given of the sufficiency of the persons recommended, and of its being the intention of the general body of the Episcopalians in the said states respectively, to receive them in the quality of bishops.

Whether this, our request, will meet with insurmountable impediments, from the political regulations of the kingdom in which your lordships fill such distinguished stations, it is not for us to foresee. We have not ascertained, that any such will exist; and are humbly of opinion, that as citizens of these states, interested in their prosperity, and religiously regarding the allegiance which we owe them, it is to an ecclesiastical source only we can apply in the present exigency.

It may be of consequence to observe, that in these states there is a separation between the concerns of policy, and those of religion; that accordingly, our civil rulers cannot officially join in the present application; that, however, we are far from apprehending the opposition or even displeasure of any of those honourable personages; and, finally, that in this business we are justified by the constitutions of the states, which are the foundations and control of all our laws. On this point we beg leave to refer to the enclosed extracts from the constitutions of the respective states of which we are citizens, and we flatter ourselves that they must be satisfactory.

Thus, we have stated to your lordships the nature and the grounds of our application; which we have thought it most respectful and most suitable to the magnitude of the object, to address to your lordships for your deliberation, before any person is sent over to carry them into effect. Whatever may be the event, no time will efface the remembrance of the past services of your lordships and your predecessors. The archbishops of Canterbury were not prevented, even by the weighty concerns of their bigh stations, from attending to the interests of this distant branch of the Church under their care. The bishops of London were our diocesans; and the uninterrupted, although voluntary submission of our congregations, will remain a perpetual proof of their mild and paternal government. All the bishops of England, with other distinguished characters, as well ecclesiastical as civil, have concurred in forming and carrying on the benevolent views of the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts; a society to whom, under God, the prosperity of our Church is in an eminent degree to be ascribed. It is our earnest wish to be permitted to make, through your lordships, this just acknowledgment to that venerable society; a tribute of gratitude which we the rather take this opportunity of paying, as while they thought it necessary to withdraw their pecuniary assistance from our ministers, they have endeared their past favours by a benevolent declaration, that it is far from their thoughts to alienate their affection from their brethren now under another government; with the pious wish, that their former exertions may still continue to bring forth the fruits they aimed at, of pure religion and virtue. Our hearts are penetrated with the most lively gratitude by these generous sentiments; the long succession of former benefits passes in review before us; we pray that our Church may be a lasting monument of the usefulness of so worthy a body; and that her sons may never cease to be kindly affectioned to the members of that Church, the fathers of which have so tenderly watched over her infancy.

For your lordships in particular, we most sincerely wish and pray,

that you may long continue the ornaments of the Church of England, and at last receive the reward of the righteous, from the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls.

We are, with all the respect which is due to your exalted and venerable characters and stations,

Your lordships

Most obedient, and

Most humble servants.* In Convention, Christ Church, Philadelphia, October 5th, 1785.

The preceding address and consequent measures for obtaining the Episcopacy, were contemplated by the following plan of the convention, recorded on their journal. Ordered:

First, That this convention address the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England, requesting them to confer the Episcopal character on such persons as shall be

* Signed by all the members.

chosen and recommended to them for that purpose, from the conventions of this Church in the respective states.

Secondly, That it be recommended to the said conventions, that they elect persons for this purpose.

Thirdly, That it be further recommended to the different conventions, at their next respective sessions, to appoint committees, with powers, to correspond with the English bishops for the carrying of these resolutions into effect; and that, until such committees shall be appointed, they be requested to direct any communications which they may be pleased to make on this subject to the committee, consisting of the Rev. Dr. White, president, the Rev. Dr. Smith, the Rev. Mr. Provoost, the honourable James Duane, Esq. and Samuel Powell and Richard Peters, Esqs.

Fourthly, That it be further recommended to the different conventions, that they pay especial attention to the making it appear to their lordships, that the persons who shall be sent to them for consecration, are desired in the character of bishops, as well by the laity as by the clergy of this Church, in the said states respectively; and that they will be received by them in that character on their return.

Fifthly, And in order to assure their lordships of the legality of the present proposed application, that the deputies now assembled be desired to make a respectful address to the civil rulers of the states in which they respectively reside, to certify that the said application is not contrary to the constitutions and laws of the same.

Sixthly, And, whereas, the bishops of this Church will not be entitled to any of such temporal honours as are due to the archbishops and bishops of the parent Church, in quality of lords of parliament; and whereas the reputation and usefulness of our bishops will considerably depend on their taking no higher titles or style than will be due to their spiritual employments; that it be recommended to this Church in the states here represented, to provide, that their respective bishops may be called, “ The Right Rev. A. B. bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in C. D.and, as bishop, may have no other title; and may not use any such style as is usually descriptive of temporal power and precedency.

« AnteriorContinuar »