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Lay Deputies, to be there read: which was accordingly done.
“ The Ilouse 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 spiritualthings. 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."
On the question referred by the last convention, to be reported on in this, relatively to the copy-right of the Book of Common Prayer, the measure was considered as disapproved of, so far as opinion could be ascertained.
A proposed change in the ecclesiastical constitution was referred to the several state conventions. It was to change the time of the triennial meeting to the first Tuesday in October
The House of Clerical and Lay Deputies proposed to the House of Bishops, the designating of a standard copy of the Old and New Testaments. It was too late to enter on the business, and “ the House of Bishops deeming the fulfilment of the request of the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, on the subject of an authentic edition of the Holy Bible, a matter requiring very serious attention and deliberation, resolve, that its members will give such attention and deliberation to the subject, previously to the next meeting of the General Convention, and report at the said meeting.
The table of degrees of consanguinity and affinity, prohibitory of marriage, was again referred, and a committee was appointed on the subject, consisting of Bishops White, Kemp, and Croes.
There passed three canons. The first was the limiting of the operation of the second and thirty-seventh canons, so far as regarded the states westward of the mountains. The professed reason was, the providing of that country with a bishop, if a suitable person should be presented, whatever might be the number of resident presbyters, and even if there be none. There was the further reason, that if ic should be thought convenient to unite with a western diocese the western counties of Pennsylvania and Virginia; and if there should be the consent of the Church in each of the said states, there might be a temporary provision for the purpose, consistent with the integrity of the Church in each state.
The second canon makes a clergyman's renunciation of the ministry a cause of admonition, or of suspension, or of degradation.
The third canon provided, that in the case of expulsion from the communion, and information given to the bishop as required by the second rubric before the communion service; if the expelled party make no complaint, there shall be no inquiry instituted. The bishop, on receiving complaint, is to institute an inquiry, and the notice given by the minister is a sufficient presentation.
A pastoral letter was again drawn up by the House of Bishops, and read in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies.
When the convention adjourned, Philadelphia was appointed to be the place of the next meeting. S.
[The narrative of the first edition here concluded.)
Agreeably to appointment, the General Convention asscmbled in St. James's Church, in the city of Philadelphia, on Tuesday, the 16th of May, 1820, and continued in session until Wednesday, the 24th of the same month. The bishops present, were Bishops White, Hobart, Griswold, Moore, Kemp, Croes, Bowen, and Brownell; being the whole of the Episcopal body, with the exception of Bishop Chase. Bishop White presided in the House of Bishops, and Dr. William Wilmer in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies. The Rev. William Augustus Muhlenburg was secretary of the former house, and the Rev. Ashbel Baldwin, with the Rev. John C. Rudd, were secretary and assistant secretary of the latter. On Wednesday, the 25th, the houses having been organized on the preceding day, the convention was opened with a sermon from Bishop Moore.
The territory formerly known by the name of the District of Maine, having been received by Congress as an independent state, and the Church therein having become organized, it was admitted as a member of the ecclesiastical union.
That part of the forty-fifth canon which requires the reading of episcopal addresses from the journal of the state conventions, being thought to occasion an unnecessary spending of time, was repealed by the first canon of this convention.
The first canon of 1816 having heen accommodated to the existing circumstances of the Church in the state of Ohio, and the object of it having been accomplished, it was repealed by the second canon of those now passed.
By the third, the pastoral letters, to be issued hereafter at the times of the Triennial Conventions, are required to be read by the clergy in their respective congregations.
By the fourth, an improvement was made in the seventeenth canon of 1808, in reference to testimonials to be accommodated to the respective cases.
By the fifth, the same canon of 1808 was so far altered, as to require from a candidate for the ministry, not a citizen of the United States, and having officiated as a minister of another denomination, that he produce evidence of his residence for one year.
The sixth concerned the consecration of bishops. The testimonials of the bishop elect, instead of being presented to any three bishops, are to be presented to the presiding bishop, who is to communicate them to the other bishops. In the event of the consent of the major number of them, the presiding bishop, or any three to whom he may communicate the testimonials and the consent of the major number, may proceed to the consecration. But if a bishop have been elected within one year of a General Convention, his consecration is to be deferred to the time of their assembling.
It was thought conducive to the exercise of discipline, to moderate the publicity of ecclesiastical censures on any offending minister, in the event of his voluntary renunciation of the ministry: which is the purport of the seventh canon.
The eighth provides, that in the case of a candidate for orders, his sufficiency in the acquirements exacted for the first examination, prescribed by the tenth canon of 1808, shall be ascertained before his admission as a candidate; and further, that the said acquirements shall not be dispensed with, unless there be a testimonial from at least five presbyters, “ stating, that, in their opinion, he possesses extraordinary strength of natural understanding, a peculiar aptitude to teach, and a large share of prudence.
On an application for the sanctioning of a selection of Psalms and Hymns, made from the authorized Book of Psalms and Hymns in metre, there was a refusal, on the ground of the resolution of the two houses in the convention of 1814, against the giving of a conventional sanction to any publication not issued as of authority in this Church.
The convention thought it a matter of sufficient importance, to give instruction concerning the title page of future editions of the Book of Common Prayer, for the securing of accuracy; and further, for the observing of the due distinction between the said book, and other books and documents not the same, although of equal authority in this Church.
The House of Clerical and Lay Deputies requested the House of Bishops, who referred it to the presiding bishop, with such aid as he may think proper to employ, to take measures for making known any errors or omissions in the edition of the Book of Common Prayer, printed in NewYork, by Hugh Gaine, in the year 1793, and established by the forty-third canon of 1808, as the standard book, so that they may be avoided or supplied in future editions.
There was a similar request and a similar reference to the presiding bishop, to correct or supply any errors or omissions in the calendar and tables prefixed to the said book, and to extend the table of the days on which Easter will fall for two cycles of the moon, from the year 1823. [By an evident typographical error, it is 1813 on the Journal.]
The two houses appointed a joint committee, to make a collection of the journals of the General Conventions, and of the several Diocesan Conventions, and of other important documents, connected with the history of the Church in the United States, and to deposit the same, subject to the disposal of the General Convention, in such hands as may be deemed proper for the present, and until a further order of the convention. The difficulty of procuring sets of the journals of the preceding years, was strong proof of there being a use in the present measure.
There was also a committee appointed by the two houses, to take such measures in the recess of the convention, as they might find suitable " for the establishment of a standard, according to which all copies of the scriptures, to be recommended to the use of the members of this Church, shall be printed." This matter, at the rising of the General Convention of 1817, had been submitted by the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, to the consideration of the bishops during the recess. The bishops, in the convention of 1820, noticing the cause of the reference in a corruption of a particular text in a late edition, tending to sustain a species of ordination unknown in scripture, had reported to the following effect. They were of opinion, that in consequence of the exclusive privilege enjoyed in England for the printing of the Bible, and the heavy fines which may
be inflicted on the patentees for a falsifying of the text, the English editions may in general be depended on; there having been noticed but few inaccuracies in any of them, and those being unimportant. An edition by Eyre and Strahan, in 1806, and another by them in 1812, had been spoken of as the most perfect extant, but the bishops had not been able to procure a copy. They gave a caution against certain fraudulent copies of the Bible imported from England, printed by unauthorized individuals, who avoided the law by a few notes in the lower margin, which may be cut from the text, but favours the pretence of the editing of a commentary. Such copies had been found exceedingly corrupt.
In regard to editions issued in the United States, the bishops had found them generally as correct as could have been reasonably expected, considering the difficulty of avoiding typographical errors.
Further, they were aware, that their report did not go to the desirable extent; and it was this consideration which led to the appointment of the joint committee.
There came before the two houses, the proposal of the last General Convention for the changing of the time of the mceting from May to October. The House of Bishops proposed the ratifying of it, but the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies now convened, signified their non-concurrence. Then there came from the latter house such an alteration of the first article of the constitution, as subjects to the discretion of every Triennial Convention, the time as well as the place of the assembling of the next, with authority in the presiding bishop, in the case of the occurrence of epidemical disease, to make a change of place. In this the House of Bishops concurred, and it will rest with the next convention to dccidc.