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No. 6. Page 111.
Letter of the English Prelates.
Lonilon, February 24, 1786. To the Clerical and Lay Deputies of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in sundry of the United States of America, The archbishop of Canterbury hath received an address, dated in convention, Christ Church, Philadelphia, October 5, 1785, from the clerical and lay deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church in sundry of the United States of America, directed to the archbishops and bishops of England, and requesting them to confer the Episcopal character on such persons as shall be recommended by the Episcopal Church in the several states by them represented.
This brotherly and Christian address was communicated to the archbishop of York, and to the bishops, with as much despatch as their separate and distant situations would permit, and hath been received and considered by them with that true and affectionate regard which they have always shown towards their Episcopal brethren in America.
We are now enabled to assure you, that nothing is nearer to our hearts than the wish to promote your spiritual welfare, to be instrumental in procuring for you the complete exercise of our holy religion, and the enjoyment of that ecclesiastical constitution, which we believe to be truly aposiolical, and for which you express so unreserved a veneration.
We are therefore happy to be informed, that this pious design is not likely to receive any discountenance from the civil powers under which you live; and we desire you to be persuaded, that we, on our parts, will use our best endeavours, which we have good reason to bope, will be successful, to acquire a legal capacity of complying with the prayer of your address.
With these sentiments we are disposed to make every allowance which candour can suggest for the difficulties of your situation; but, at the same time, we cannot help being afraid, that, in the proceedings of your convention, some alterations may have been adopted or intended, which those difficulties do not seem to justify.
Those alterations are not mentioned in your address, and, as our knowledge of them is no more than what has reached us through private and less certain channels, we
hope you will think it just, both to you and to ourselves, if we wait for an explanation.
For while we are anxious to give every proof, not only of our brotherly affection, but of our facility in forwarding your wishes, we cannot but be extremely cautious, lest we should be the instruments of establishing an ecclesiastical system which will be called a branch of the Church of England, but afterwards may possibly appear to have departed from it essentially, either in doctrine or in discipline.
In the mean time, we heartily commend you to God's holy protection, and are, your affectionate brethren, J. ROCHESTER,
C. BATH & WELLS,
S. ST. ASAPH,
JAMES ELY. To the Reverend and Honourable the Clerical and Lay De
puties of the Protestant Episcopal Church in sundry of the United States of America, Philadelphia.
No. 7. Page 120.
A Memorial from the Convention in New-Jersey, to the Ge
neral Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America, to be held in the City of Philadelphia in June next.
The Memorial of the Convention of the said Church in
New Jersey, now held in the City of Perth-Amboy, RESPECTFULLY SHOWETH,
That your memorialists have unanimously approved of the alterations in the liturgy as they appear in the new Prayer Book, to render it consistent with the American revolution and the constitutions of the respective states, as made and concluded on by the late General Convention of said Church, held at Philadelphia in September and Oeto
ber last; they being satisfactory and agreeable to their wish.
They have also approved of their plan for obtaining consecration of bishops; and pursuant to their recommendation, have appointed a committee to correspond with the English bishops for that purpose.
They have also, with great pleasure, considered their address to the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England; which your memorialists are of opinion, was properly calculated to obtain the end proposed.
But it is with the greatest concern they are constrained to remark, that the other proceedings of the said convention, in their opinion, have an undoubted tendency to prolung, if not entirely prevent, the obtaining the prayer thereof. In this opinion your memorialists conceive they are supported by the answer of the said venerable bishops, with a copy of which they have been favoured during their šitting at this place; for which reason, among others, they did not ratify, but disapproved of the other parts of the proceedings of the said late General Convention.
Your memorialists do not question the right of every national or independent Church, to make such alterations, from time to time, in the mode of its public worship, as upon mature consideration may be found expedient; but they doubt the right of any order or orders of men in an Episcopal Church, without a bishop, to make any alterations not warranted by immediate necessity; especially such as not only go to the mode of its worship, but also to its doctrines. Wherefore your memorialists cannot forbear remarking, that in their opinion, all unnecessary alterations must be unseasonable and impolitic, and will prove highly detrimental to the Church in general.
Your memorialists cannot approve of the said late General Convention having published, in the manner they have, the new Book of Common Prayer as altered, with the psalms and calendar transposed and changed by their committee, without their revision and express approbation; but since they have done so, and if it was proper to have been considered, your memorialists have to regret, that the same was not sooner published, that they might have been enabled to have declared the sentiments of their constituents as well as their own. The prejudices and prepossessions of mankind in favour of old customs, especially in religious matters, are generally so strong as to require great delicacy and caution in the introduction of any alterations or innovations, although manifestly for the better; which was also one reason why they could not at this time ratify the alterations so unnecessarily made; and they are very apprehensive, that until alterations can be made consistent with the customs of the primitive Church, and with the rules of the Church of England, from which it is our boast to have descended, a ratification of them would create great uneasiness in the minds of many members of the Church, and in great probability cause dissensions and schisms. Although they may not disapprove of all the alterations made in the said new book, yet they have to regret the unseasonableness and irregularity of them.
Your memorialists, having an'anxious desire of cementing, perpetuating, and extending the union so happily begun in the Church, with all deference and submission, humbly request and entreat the said General Convention, now soon to meet, that they will revise the proceedings of the said late convention and their aforesaid committee, and remove every cause that may have excited any jealousy or fear, that the Episcopal Church in the United States of America have any intention or desire essentially to depart, either in doctrine or discipline, from the Church of England; but, on the contrary, to convince the world that it is their wish and intention, to maintain the doctrines of the Gospel as now held by the Church of England, and to adhere to the liturgy of the said Church as far as shall be consistent with the American revolution, and the constitution of the respective states; thereby removing every obstacle in the way of obtaining the consecration of such and so many persons to the Episcopal character as shall render our ecclesiastical government complete, and secure to the Episcopalians in America, and to their descendants, a succession of that necessary order: And that they will use all means in their power to promote and perpetuate harmony and unanimity among ourselves, and with the said Church of England as a mother or sister Church, and with every Protestant Church in the universe.
By order of the convention,
ABRAHAM BEACH, President, Perth-Amboy, May 19, 1786.
No. 8. Page 120.
To the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Fathers in God,
the Archbishops and Bishops of ike Church of England. Most WORTHY AND VENERABLE PRELATES,
We, the clerical and lay deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and SouthCarolina, have received the friendly and affectionate letter which your lordships did us the honour to write on the 24th day of February, and for which we request you to accept our sincere and grateful acknowledgments.
It gives us pleasure to be assured, that the success of our application will probably meet with no greater obstacles than what have arisen from doubts respecting the extent of the alterations we have made and proposed; and we are happy to learn, that as no political impediments oppose us here, those which at present exist in England may be removed.
While doubts remain of our continuing to hold the same essential articles of faith and discipline with the Church of England, we acknowledge the propriety of suspending a compliance with our request.
We are unanimous and explicit in assuring your lordships, that we neither have departed nor propose to depart from the doctrines of your Church. We have retained the same discipline and forms of worship, as far as was consistent with our civil constitutions; and we have made no alterations or omissions in the Book of Common Prayer, but such as that consideration prescribed, and such as were calculated to remove objections, which it appeared to us more conducive to union and general content to obviate, than to dispute. It is well known, that many great and pious men of the Church of England have long wished for a revision of the liturgy, which it was deemed imprudent to hazard, lest it might become a precedent for repeated and improper alterations. This is with us the proper season for such a revision. We are now settling and ordering the affairs of our Church, and if wisely done, we shall have reason to promise ourselves all the advantages that can result from stability and union.