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the body to which the two names have been applied, the house think it expedient to make the declaration, and to request the concurrence of the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies therein—That “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America" is the same body heretofore known in these states by the name of " the Church of England ;" the change of name, although not of religious principle, in doctrine, or in worship, or in discipline, being induced by a characteristic of the Church of England, supposing the independence of Christian Churches, under the different sovereignties, to which, respectively, their allegiance in civil concerns belongs. But that when the severance alluded to took place, and ever since, this Church conceives of herself, as professing and acting on the principles of the Church of England, is evident from the organization of our conventions, and from their subsequent proceedings, as recorded on the journals; to which, accordingly, this convention refers for satisfaction in the premises. But it would be contrary to fact, were any one to infer, that the discipline exercised in this Church, or that any proceedings therein, are at all dependent on the will of the civil or of the ecclesiastical authority of any foreign country.
The above declaration baving been communicated to the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, they returned for answer, that they concurred therein.
No. 31. Page 229.
From the Journal.
The House of Bishops, solicitous for the preservation of the purity of the Church, and the piety of its members, are induced to impress upon the clergy the important duty, with a discreet but earnest zeal, of warning the people of their respective cures, of the danger of an indulgence in those worldly pleasures which may tend to withdraw the affections from spiritual things. And especially on the subject of gaming, of amusements involving cruelty to the brute creation, and of theatrical representations, to which some peculiar circumstances have called their attention, they do not hesitate to express their unanimous opinion, that these amusements, as well from their licentious tendency, as from the strong temptations to vice which they afford, ought not to be frequented. And the bishops cannot refrain from expressing their deep regret at the information, that in some of our large cities, so little respect is paid to the feelings of the members of the Church, that theatrical representations are fixed for the evenings of her most solemn festivals.
From the Pastoral Letter.
Both to the clergy and to the laity we desire to say, but most pointedly to the former, that the Christian profession exacts a greater abstraction from the world than that which consists in the abstaining from acknowledged sin. There are practices so nearly allied, and so easily abused to it, that we conceive of a professor of religion in duty bound either not to countenance them in the least degree; or, ag is allowable in regard to some of the matters contemplated, to avoid the so employing of time, and the so lavishing of affection, as puts into a state of sin, although not necessarily belonging to the subject. We would be far from an endeavour after an abridgment of Christian liberty. But we cannot forget, that in a list of the classes of evil livers, there is introduced the description of persons who are “ lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;" nor, in respect to the female professors of religion in particular, the admonition, that she who liveth in pleas ire is dead while she liveth.” We are aware of the difficulty of drawing the line between the use of the world and the abuse of it: that being conceived of by different persons equally pious and virtuous, according to the diversity of natural temperament, and of the states of society in which they have been placed by education or by habit: but we know, that where the conscience can reconcile itself to the drawing as near to the territory of sin, as it can persuade itself to be consistent with the still standing on secure ground, deadness to spiritual good at the best, but more commonly subjection to its opposite is the result.
In speaking of subjects of the above description, we would not be understood to class among them any practice which is either immoral in itself, or so customarily accompanied by immorality, that the one is necessarily countenanced with the other. Of the former description, is gaming in all the variety of its exercise: and the like may be said of whatever involves cruelty to the lower animals of the creation. If the same cannot be affirmed of works of fiction, and of putting speeches into the mouths of feigned characters, for ihe purpose of instruction or of entertainment; yet, as the question is applicable to the exhibitions of the theatre, such as they have been in every age, and are at present; we do not hesitate to declare, unanimously, our opinion, that it is a foul source of very extensive corruption. We lay little stress on the plea, that it is a matter practicable in social institutions, to purge the subject from the abuses which have been attached to it. When this shall have been accomplished, it will be time to take another ground. But, in truth, we are not persuaded of the possibility of the thing, when we consider that the prominent and most numerous patrons of the stage are always likely to be the least disposed to the seriousness which should enter into whatever is designed to discriminate between innocence and guilt. While the opinions and the passions of such persons shall continue to serve the purpose of a looking-glass, by which the exhibited characters are to be adjusted to the taste of so great a proportion of the public, we despair of seeing the stage rescued from the disgusting effusions of profaneness and obscenity; and much less of that mean of corruption, more insinuating than any other—the exhibiting of what is radically base, in alliance with properties captivating to the imagination.
While we address this alike to the clergy and to the laity, we consider it as especially hostile to the usefulness of the former. And even in regard to some matters confessed to be innocent in themselves, their innocency may depend much on many circumstances, and of professional character among others. The ear of a clergyman should always be open to a call to the most serious duties of his station. Whatever may render it difficult to his own mind to recur to those duties with the solemnity which they require, or may induce an opinion in others, that such a recurrence must be unwelcome to him from some enjoyment not congenial with holy exercise, ought to be declined by him. If it be a sacrifice, the making of it is exacted by what ought to be his ruling wish, the serving of God, and the being useful to his fellow-men, in the discharge of the duties of the ministry.
No. 32. Page 230.
Acts of the Convention of 1785.
A General Ecclesiastical Constitution of the Protestant Epis
copal Church in the United States of America.
Whereas, in the course of Divine Providence, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America is become independent of all foreign authority, civil and ecclesiastical:
And whereas, at a meeting of clerical and lay deputies of the said Church, in sundry of the said states, viz. in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, NewYork, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, held in the city of New-York, on the oth and 7th days of October, in the year of our Lord 1784, it was recommended to this Church in the said states represented as aforesaid, and proposed to this Church in the states not represented, that they should send deputies to a convention to be held in the city of Philadelphia, on the Tuesday before the feast of St. Michael in this present year, in order to unite in a constitution of ecclesiastical government, agreeably to certain fundamental principles, expressed in the said recommendation and proposal :
And whereas, in consequence of the said recommendation and proposal, clerical and lay deputies have been duly appointed from the said Church, in the states of NewYork, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South-Carolina :
The said deputies being now assembled, and taking into consideration the importance of maintaining uniformity in doctrine, discipline, and worship in the said Church, do hereby determine and declare,
1. That there shall be a General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, which shall be held in the city of Philadelphia, on the third Tuesday in June, in the year of our Lord 1786, and for ever after, once in three years, on the third Tuesday of June, in such place as shall be determined by the convention; and special meetings may be held at such other times, and in such place, as shall be hereafter provided for; and this Church, in a majority of the states aforesaid, shall be represented before they shall proceed to business; except that the representation of this Church from two states, shall be sutticient to adjourn; and in all business of the convention, freedom of debate shall be allowed.
2. There shall be a representation of both clergy and laity of the Church in each state, which shall consist of one or more deputies, not exceeding four of each order; and in all questions, the said Church in each state shall have one vote; and a majority of suffrages shall be conclusive.
; 3. In the said Church, in every state represented in this convention, there shall be a convention consisting of the clergy and lay deputies of the congregations.
4. “ The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Church of England,” shall be continued to be used by this Church, as the same is altered by this convention, in a certain instrument of writing, passed by their authority, entitled, “ Alterations of the Liturgy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in order to render the same conformable to the American Revolution and the Constitutions of the respective States."
5. In every state where there shall be a bishop duly consecrated and settled, and who shall have acceded to the articles of this general ecclesiastical constitution, he shall be considered as a member of the convention, ex officio.
6. The bishop, or bishops, in every state shall be chosen agreeably to such rules as shall be fixed by the respective conventions, and every bishop of this Church shall confine the exercise of his Episcopal office to bis proper jurisdiction, unless requested to ordain or confirm by any Church destitute of a bishop.
7. A Protestant Episcopal Church in any of the United States, not now represented, may, at any time hereafter, be admitted, on acceding to the articles of this union.
8. Every clergyman, whether bishop, presbyter, or deacon, shall be amenable to the authority of the convention in the state to which he belongs, so far as relates to suspensión or removal from office; and the convention in each state shall institute rules for their conduct, and an equitable mode of trial.
9. And whereas, it is represented to this convention, to be the desire of the Protestant Episcopal Church in these states, that there may be further alterations of the Liturgy, than such as are made necessary by the American revolution; therefore, the “ Book of Common Prayer, and Adminis