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R E M A R K S.


A. Page 19. Of the Question of American Episcopacy, as

agitated in the Colonies.

There were two periods which were especially productive of pamphlets and newspaper essays on this subject. The first of these periods was about the time of the civil controversy, which arose on the occasion of the stamp act. The question of Ameriean Episcopacy was brought forward in a pamphlet by the Rev. East Apthorp, missionary at Cambridge, Massachusetts, a native of that province, but afterward possessed of several considerable preferments in England. His production was answered by Dr. Mayhew, a congregational minister of Boston. Several others engaged in the dispute; among whom was Archbishop Secker, although his name was not prefixed to his pamphlet, which has been since printed in his works.

The other period was a few years before the revolutionary war, when the Rev. Dr. Chandler, of Elizabeth-Town, NewJersey, made an appeal to the publie, in favour of the object of obtaining an American Episcopate. There were various answers to the pamphlet and defences of it, in other pamphlets published by the Doctor and others. In addition to these, the newspapers abounded with periodical and other productions. The author of the present performance was at that time a youth, but from what he then heard and observed, he believes it was impossible to have obtained the concurrence of a respectable number of laymen in any measure for the obtaining of an American bishop. What could have been the reason of this, when there was scarcely a member of the Episcopal Church who would not have been ready to avow his preference of Episcopacy to Presbytcry; and of a form of prayer, to that which is extem


porary? It is believed to have been owing to an existing jealousy, that American Episcopacy would have been made an instrument of enforcing the new plan of civil government, which had been adopted in Great-Britain; in contrariety to original compact and future security for freedom: a regard to which was as prevalent among Episcopalians, as among any description of their fellow-citizens.

Perhaps these sentiments may be supposed to be contradicted by the circumstance, that during the revolutionary war, a considerable number of the American people became inclined to the British cause; and, that of them, a great proportion were Episcopalians. But this is not inconsistent with the sentiments expressed. On the subject of parliamentary taxation, it would probably have been impossible to have found in any city, town, or vicinity of the colonies, such a number of persons not vehemently opposed to it, as would have been sufficient to form a congregation. Out of the sphere of governmental influence, there was scarcely a man of that description. When the controversy became ripened into war, some fell off from the cause, from danger to their persons and their properties; others, from the sentiment that the public evil hazarded might prove worse than that intended to be avoided; and others perhaps, although very few, from scruples of conscience. They who were influenced by these, had stopped short at the taking of arms; for which, the passion was general. To find freedom in this step, and yet to withdraw while the cause of so important a measure existed, may have been the dictate of prudence, but could not have been that of conscience. All the aforesaid circumstances operated with increased vigour, when the question of independence was forced on the reluctant public. Ilad the British arms succecded, and thus the right of parliamentary taxation bcen established--for there was no ofler of relinquishment of it, until after the alliance with France--a membership of the Episcopal Church would have been little more than a political mark, to distinguish those who should advocate claims hostile to American interests.

To persons who may give their attention to the colonial history, the question may occur--Why did not the British government so far consult its own interests, as to authorize the consecrating of bishops for America ? This question shall be considered, on the ground of views taken of past incidents. Any ministry, who should have ventured en the measurc, would have raised up against themselves the whole of the dissenting interest in England, and the weight of that interest was more important to them in their estimation than the making of a party for the mother country in the colonies The matter is resolvable into the ignorance of government of the real state of the people, whom they expected to govern so easily, at so great a distance. Again, this ignorance is resolvable into their depending on information received from persons whose judg. ments, or whose honesty, they ought, the most of all, to have distrusted: 'an error, which hung heavily on all their proceedings, until the period when it ceased to be of consequence.

Lest it should be thought, that the dissenting interest in England has been magnified, it ought to be known, that the forces of the different denominations of dissenters--with the exception of the people called Quakers-was concentrated in a committee in London. The author was acquainted with a member of that committee in England, in 1771 and 1772, and knew that he had free access to the ministry. The impression then received, was its being an object of government to avoid any thing of a religious nature, which might set the dissenters in a political opposition. They had great influence in elections to parliament.

As to the laity's uniting in an application for the Episcopacy, it is natural to suppose that this, if to be found any where, would have been found in Virginia, a province settled by members of the Church of England, who were still the great mass of its inhabitants. How far they were froma favouring the endeavour, may be learned from the following statement.

In the year 1771, a convention of twelve clergymen, there being about a hundred in the province, and, after a larger convention had rejected the measure now adopted, drew up a petition to the crown for the appointment of an American bishop. Four of the clergy protested, and, because of their protest, received the thanks of the House of Burgesses. When it is considered, that a great majority of that house must have been of the establishment; that there never had been any attempt among them to throw off any property of its distinctive character; that thcy must have felt the want of ecclesiastical discipline over immoral clergymen, and the burden of sending to England for ordination; there seems no way of accounting for their conduct, but the danger resulting from the newly introduced system of colonial government. This is warranted by thic absurdity of the reasons

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