Alterations in the Proposed Book agreed on by the
Maryland Convention, Annapolis, April 4th, 1786.
Convention then took into serious consideration the Book of Common Prayer
and administration of the Sacraments, &c., as recommended by the General
Convention at Philadelphia, for the future
use of the Protestant
Episcopal Church in these United States; and although they could have
wished that the book had been published time enough for every member to
have had a deliberate consideration and perusal of it, before the meeting
of this Convention, yet nevertheless, having examined and considered it,
with all the attention and care that the time of their sitting would admit,
they do approve and ratify the same, as far as their powers extend, and
recommend it to the use of the several churches in this State as soon
as the congregations can be supplied with a sufficient number of books
—— proposing to the General Convention that shall meet in
Philadelphia in June next, that in the future editions of the Common Prayer
Book, the following' additions, alterations or amendments be ordered,
viz: that after the Apostles' Creed be added— 'OR
THIS,' inserting the Nicene Creed; so that both be not read on
the same day. That in the first article of religion, the words, 'true
God' as applied to the Son, be changed into the words 'Eternal God'. That
at the end of the first article, to the words 'Father and Son' be added
the words 'very and eternal God " as applied to the Holy Spirit,
the same being in the original article. That in the Consecration Prayer,
in the Holy Sacrament, after the words 'until his coming again', and before
the words 'our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution,' be inserted the
following paragraph instead of that which now stands, viz:, 'Hear us O
merciful Father, we must humbly beseech thee, and of thy Almighty goodness
vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify these thy creatures of bread and wine,
that we receiving them according to thy Son.' And that in the baptismal
office, a rubric be inserted, allowing the Minister, when many children
are to be baptized at the same time, after dipping or sprinkling each
child, pronouncing the words 'I baptize thee,' &c., and making the
sign of the cross on the forehead, to return the child to the sponsors
and say what follows for the whole number of children thus baptized, viz:
'We receive these children into the congregation of Christ's flock, and
have signed them with the sign of the cross, in token,' &c.
Illustrative of the History of the American Prayer Book
<- Previous Section
We happen to know the exact date of this Convention from a letter of Dr.
Smith, (Feb. 25th, 1786) in which he says, "Our Convention meets
the 4th of April" (Perry's Hist. Notes and Doc., p. 171).
In a later letter written a few days after he observed "We had a
considerable majority of all our clergy (not many of the laity) at our
Convention." (Ibid., p. 190)
and Journals and remains of Journals, etc., of the Diocese of Maryland.
App. Journal of 1855.
of the New Jersey Convention with regard to the Proposed Book, May 19th.
General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States
of America, to be held in the city of Philadelphia in June next.
Memorial of the Convention of the Said Church in New Jersey, now held
in the city of Perth Amboy,
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 the
said church, held at Philadelphia, in September and October last, they
being satisfactory and agreeable to their wish.
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.
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.
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 prolong, if not entirely prevent, the obtaining of 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 favored during their sitting at this place; for which reason,
among others, they did not ratify, but disapproved of the other parts
of the proceedings of the said General Convention.
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
publick 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 unreasonable
and impolitic, and will prove highly detrimental to the Church in General.
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 kalender 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 predjudices and prepossessions of mankind in favor
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.
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 and 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 constitutions 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 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.
order of the Convention,
Perth Amboy, May
Reprint of the Journals of New Jersey, New York, 1890. See some
letters bearing upon the Memorial printed in the Appendix of the Said
in the Proposed Boole agreed on by the Pennsylvania Convention, May 27th,
The Convention having examined the Book of Common Prayer, as revised and
proposed by the General Convention of September and October last, instruct
their deputies to the ensuing General Convention to propose the following
amendments:— First, That in the Morning Prayer, the Nicene
Creed be inserted after the Apostles' Creed, with the words, 'Or this,'
between them, with a rubric, requiring that the Nicene be used on the
following festivals, viz: on Christmas-day, the Epiphany, Easter-day,
Ascension-day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday. Second, That,
in the Consecration Prayer, in the office of the Holy Sacrament, after
the words, 'until his coming again,' and before the words, 'according
to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution,' be inserted the
following paragraph, instead of that now used: 'Hear us, O merciful Father,
we most humbly beseech thee; and of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe so
to bless and sanctify these thy creatures of bread and wine, that we receiving
them.' Third, That, in the communion service, where the Nicene
Creed stood, there be a rubric, requiring the use of one of the Creeds,
as in the Morning Prayer, when the two services shall not have been used
at the same time, or in connection. Fourth, That, in all the
offices of Baptism, the articles of the Apostles' Creed be distinctly
repeated, and this question and answer inserted in the baptism of infants:
Q. Wilt thou endeavor, that the child now presented to be baptized,
may be instructed in this faith? A. I will. Fifth, That,
in the burial service, the beginning of the omitted prayer be retained
to these words, 'Joy and felicity' with the addition of a thanksgiving
to Almighty God for the good examples of all righteous persons departed,
like that in the conclusion of the prayer for Christ's Church militant.
That the first, fifth, and eleventh of the new articles be omitted, and
the first, second, fourth, fifth, fourteenth, twenty-second, twenty-sixth,
and thirtieth of the old Articles be retained. Seventh, That,
the fourth article of the new be entitled 'Of the Creeds'; and the Nicene
be recognized therein with the Apostles'. Eighth, That, the ninth
of the old articles be retained as far as the word 'damnation'; and the
said word to be changed to 'condemnation'. Ninth, That, the seventeenth
of the old articles be retained, with the following alteration: omit the
words, 'to life,' and these, 'secret to us' with what follows to the words,
'in due season', —inclusively; inserting instead thereof 'to admit
to the inestimable privileges of the Gospel dispensation all those Gentiles,
as well as Jews, who should believe in his Son Jesus Christ'. After the
word 'calling' insert 'of God'. End at these words 'everlasting felicity'.
Tenth, That, the thirty-fifth article of the old book be retained,
so far as it refers to the homilies, as containing godly and wholesome
doctrine. Eleventh, That, instead of the old thirty-seventh article,
there be a new one, declaratory of our allegiance to the civil authority
in these states, and the obedience due to the magistrates thereof.
in the Proposed Book agreed on by the Virginia Convention, Richmond, 1786.
The Convention having met according to adjournment,
Mr. Page, from the Committee appointed to consider the
report of the Select Committee, so far as relates to the Articles of Religion,
reported, That they had gone through the business to them referred, and
come to several resolutions thereon, which were read, and ordered to be
referred to a Committee of the Whole Convention.
The Convention having, according to order, resolved itself
into a Committee of the Whole Convention on the report above referred—after
some time spent therein, Mr. President resumed the Chair, and the Hon. Mr.
Blair reported, That the said Committee had, according to order, gone through
the business to them referred, and made some amendments therein, which were
read, and, when farther amended, agreed to, as followeth:—
Resolved, That the first article of Religion be agreed to.
In the second article, lines 13th and 14th, strike
out the words was never any, and insert, there is no.
Resolved, That such part of the second article as relates
to the books commonly called Apocrypal, ought to be expunged.
Resolved, That the third article be agreed to.
In the fourth article after the word creed
insert, as contained in the Book of Common Prayer recommended by the
late General Convention.
Resolved, That the fifth and sixth Articles be
In the 7th article strike out the words justified
by faith only, in the seventh line, and insert thus justified
Resolved, That the 8th, 9th, and 10th articles
be agreed to.
Resolved, That the eleventh article on predestination
Resolved, That the 12th, 13th and 14th articles be
In the 15th article strike out the words, as by
an instrument, in the seventh line.
That the 18th, 19th and 20th articles be agreed to.
a motion Resolved, That the Convention will to-morrow proceed by ballot
to the appointment of deputies to the next General Convention.
a motion Resolved, That the Committee appointed to draw up instructions
for the deputies to the General Convention be directed, among other things,
to instruct them to move for such alterations in the Book of Common Prayer
and Articles of Religion as shall be agreed to by this Convention, as
fit to be proposed to the General Convention.
That the order of the day for the Convention to resolve itself into a
Committee of the Whole Convention on the report of the Select Committee,
be put off until to-morrow.
Convention adjourned till to-morrow, 10 o'clock.
Tuesday, May 30, 1786.
On a motion, Ordered, That the thanks of this Convention
be given to the late deputies who attended the General Convention held at
Phila for their diligent attention to the interests of the Church, and faithful
discharge of the duties of their appointment.
Mr. Wormeley, from the Committee appointed to draw up
instructions for the deputies to the next General Convention, presented
a draught of such instructions, which were read, and, with some amendments,
agreed to as followeth:—
Gentlemen,— You are instructed to move for such alterations in the
Book of Common Prayer and Articles of Religion as shall be agreed upon
by this Convention as fit to be proposed to the General Convention.
consider the Protestant Episcopal Church in America as an incorporate
Society, and therefore unity in doctrine and worship its characteristic:
Conformably to this, you will not carp at expression, nor carry your objections
to unessential points; guarding against schisms by all possible means,
and giving our Church every benefit and strength it can acquire from union.
is superfluous to observe to you, that the sooner our Church can have
the benefit of Episcopal superintendence, the nearer it will approach
to perfection; and to recommend to your attention the aid of this necessary
the same day the following resolution was also adopted:—
Resolved, That the Book of Common Prayer as recommended
bi the late General Convention be approved, ratified and used, except
the rubric before the Communion Service, and such alterations of the Arts.
as are referred to the consideration of the next General Convention; and
that the Psalms be used as heretofore until a sufficient number of the
new books can be procured.
Contributions, Vol. I, Journals of Virginia, p. 15.
in the Proposed Book agreed on by the South Carolina Convention, May 31st,
The Convention resumed the consideration of the Report of the Committee
for revising the Liturgy of the Church of England; which being read, is
The Committee appointed to examine the alteration of the Liturgy, as set
forth by the General Convention held in Philadelphia; Report,
That the punctuation throughout be critically attended
The first introductory sentence to be adopted, and
expunge the rest. And after reading the first, proceed to the
Apostles' creed, and there leave out the word again, between
the words rose and from. But if the whole of the introductory
sentences as they now stand, should he approved, the words, God is,
instead of He is, to be used in the concluding one. At the conclusion
of the address to the congregation, after the word saying, omit
the words after me. The Declaration to remain as in the original
absolution, only expunging the word power. The Lord's Prayer
to be transposed after the words in the Litany, neither reward us
after our Iniquities. The sentences after the Lord's Prayer to be
expunged, except the two first; and the Venite to conclude
with the Gloria Patri. In the Te Deum, instead of pure
Virgin, read the Blessed, and add the word most,
between thy and precious blood. And instead of as
our Trust, read for our Trust. The Benedictus to
be omitted. After the Jubilate expunge the sentences, O Lord
bless &c. &c. and mercifully hear, &c. Before
the Litany add to the Rubric in Italics, to correspond with our mode of
praying for the sick. When the prayers of the congregation are desired
for a sick person or persons, the Minister shall say, The prayers
of this Congregation are desired for, &c. In the Litany expunge
after others in authority, the words Legislative, Executive
and Judicial. Instead of women in childbirth, read all
women through the Perils of childbirth. Use the words young children,
before all sick persons; with an asterisk * of accommodation,
when any body particularly desires the prayers of the congregation, and
to be printed as in the prayer for all conditions of men. In
the last response immediately before the prayer, We humbly beseech
thee, instead of as we, read, for we do put &c.
The first sentence and Belief as in the Morning Service. The Magnificat
and Nunc Dimittis to be omitted. The Gloria Patri to
be used at the conclusion of Deus misereatur. Then proceed to
the versicles before the Lord's Prayer, The Lord be with you,
and go on with the Lord's Prayer, &c. till you come to bless and
preserve these states, which omit, but use all the rest, and then
begin the prayers with the Collect for the Day, as in the old form, 3d
Collect. The Collect in old Liturgy to be retained. Prayer for Clergy
and People, add after Bishops, the word Priests. The Prayer
for fair weather, to be altered as follows: O Almighty and Merciful
God, although we for our Iniquities have worthily deserved a plague of
min and waters, yet of thy bountiful goodness, send us, we beseech thee,
such favourable weather, &c.
Part of the Rubrick at the conclusion of this Service (as now printed)
to be transposed, and make it the first rubric at the beginning of the
Service. Expunge the word and, before if any of the Consecrated.
In the exhortation, Dearly beloved in the Lord, instead of Guilty
of the blood, &c. use a Colon after unworthily, and read thus;
for thereby we profane the Body and Blood, &c.
In the four petitions for the Child's sanctification, read thus: O!
merciful God grant that all carnal affections may die in this child, and
that all things, &c. The third wholly approved of. The fourth,
omit the words by our office and ministry. These alterations
will apply to Baptism of such as are of Riper Years. In the consecration
of the water, instead of therein, read therewith (in
Italics). In Rubrick, expunge, and warily.
CATECHISM. Make this alteration
in explication of Lord's Prayer.
Instead of words Ghostly and Bodily, read
dangers spiritual and temporal; and expunge, from our Ghostly
enemy. To preserve the analogy in the answer, of what is the
outward visible sign or form in Baptism, read, water wherewith,
instead of water wherein.
CONFIRMATION. Omit the
MATRIMONY. After the words,
Dearly beloved in the Exhortation, read as follows, the holy
Estate of Matrimony instituted of God, is not by any to be entered into
unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently and d1discreetly, in the fear of
God. I therefore require and charge, &c. till you come to the
word coupled, which read united otherwise than God's word
doth allow, their marriage is not lawful. Expunge the Rubrick, between
the mutual stipulation of the Man and Woman. For if the man with his right
hand takes the woman by her right hand, they have consequently a mutual
hold on each other. On putting the ring on the woman's finger, say, with
this Ring I thee wed, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of
the Holy Ghost.
BURIAL. That the Lesson
is not printed at large; recommend that it be.
Expunge in the Interment, lying before us.
Quere? Whether the words, as our Hope is this our Brother doth,
is not a typographical omission.
FOURTH OF JULY.
Expunge the words in the Collect, all Churches of the Saints.
SERVICE AT SEA.
Last Collect; instead of, in our lives, read thus, such as
may appear by an humble, holy and obedient life, before thee all our days.
ART. 1. Expunge the word both,
before visible; ditto after man's nature read thus,
by humbling himself to be born of the blessed Virgin, and thereby
became God and man in one Christ.
ART. 2. At the conclusion,
omit the word of, and read was never doubted in the Church.
ART. 3. Add the words though
and, after mankind.
ART. 16. Instead of Christian
men, read Christians.
Rector of St.
EDW ARD ELLINGTON.
Rector of St.
The report being gone through, and the alterations suggested being approved,
the Deputies to the General Convention are desired to use their endeavours
to get them adopted, at the next meeting, on the 3d Thursday in June.
motion, Resolved, that the Liturgy, as altered by the Convention held
at Philadelphia in September last, be used in the Protestant Episcopal
Church in this State, on Sunday next, being Whitsunday.
from the Journal as given in Dalcho's, Historical Account of the Church
in South Carolina, Charlestown, 1820, pp. 469-470.
of the New York Convention with regard to the Proposed Book, June 14th,
Resolved, That (out of respect to the English Bishops and because
the minds of the people are not yet sufficiently informed) the consideration
of the Book of Common Prayer with the proposed alterations be deferred
to a future day.
from the Journals of New York.
in the Proposed Book suggested by the English Bishops, June, 1786.
the Committee of the General Convention at Philadelphia, The Rev. Dr.
White, President, The Rev. Dr. Smith, The Rev. Mr. Provoost, The Hon.
James Duane, Samuel Powell, and Richard Peters, Esqrs.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN:
by the same sentiments of fraternal regard, expressed by the Archbishops
and Bishops in their answer to your address, we desire you to be persuaded,
that if we have not yet been able to comply with your request, the delay
has proceeded from no tardiness on our part. The only cause of it has
been the uncertainty in which we were left by receiving your address,
unaccompanied by those communications with regard to your Liturgy, Articles
and Ecclesiastical Constitution, without the knowledge of which we could
not presume to apply to the Legislature for such powers as were necessary
to the completion of your wishes. The Journal of your Convention, and
the first part of your Liturgy, did not reach us till more than two months
after our receipt of your address; and we were not in possession of the
remaining part of it, and of your articles, until the last day of April.
The whole of your communications was then, with as little delay as possible,
taken into consideration at a meeting of the Archbishops and fifteen of
the Bishops, being all who were then in London and able to attend; and
it was impossible not to observe with concern, that if the essential doctrines
of our common faith were retained, less respect, however, was paid to
our Liturgy than its own excellence, and your declared attachment to it,
had led us to expect; not to mention a variety of verbal alterations,
of the necessity or propriety of which we are by no means satisfied, we
saw with grief that two 9f the Confessions of our Christian faith respectable
for their antiquity, have been entirely laid aside; and that even in that
called the Apostles' Creed, an article is omitted which was thought necessary
to be inserted, with a view to a particular heresy, in a very early age
of the Church, and has ever since had the venerable sanction of universal
reception. Nevertheless, as a proof of the sincere desire which we feel
to continue in spiritual communion with the members of your Church in
America, and to complete the Orders of your Ministry, and trusting that
the communications which we shall make to you, on the subject of these
and some other alterations, will have their desired effect, we have, even
under these circumstances prepared a Bill for conveying to us the powers
necessary for this purpose. It will in a few days be presented to Parliament,
and we have the best reasons to hope that it will receive the assent of
the Legislature. This Bill will enable the Archbishops and Bishops to
give Episcopal consecration to the persons who shall be recommended, without
requiring from them any oaths or subscriptions inconsistent with the situation
in which the late Revolution has placed them; upon condition that the
full satisfaction of the sufficiency of the persons recommended, which
you offer to us in your address, be given to the Archbishops and Bishops.
You will doubtless receive it as a mark both of our friendly disposition
toward you, and of our desire to avoid all delay on this occasion, that
we have taken this earliest opportunity of conveying to you this intelligence,
and that we proceed (as supposing ourselves invested with that power which
for your sakes we have requested) to state to you particularly the several
heads upon which that satisfaction which you offer will be accepted, and
the mode in which it may be given. The anxiety which is shown by the Church
of England to prevent the intrusion of unqualified persons into even the
inferior offices of our Ministry, confirms our own sentiments, and points
it out to be our duty, very earnestly to require the most decisive proofs
of the qualifications of those who may be offered for admission to that
Order to which the superintendence of those offices is committed. At our
several Ordinations of a Deacon and a Priest, the candidate submits himself
to the examination of the Bishop as to his proficiency in learning; he
gives the proper security of his soundness in the Faith by the subscriptions
which are· made previously necessary; he is required to bring testimonials
of his virtuous conversation during the three preceding years; and that
no mode of inquiry may be omitted, public notice of his offering himself
to be ordained is given in the Parish church where he resides or ministers,
and the people are solemnly called upon to declare if they know any impediment,
for the which he ought not to be admitted. At the time of Ordination,
too, the same solemn call is made on the congregation then present.
Examination, subscription, and testimonials are not
indeed repeated at the consecration of an English bishop, because the
person to be consecrated has added to the securities given at his former
ordinations, that sanction which arises from his having constantly lived
and exercised his ministry under the eyes and observation of his country.
But the objects of our present consideration are very differently circumstances;
their sufficiency in learning, the soundness of their faith, and the purity
of their manners, are not matters of notoriety here. Means, therefore,
must be found to satisfy the Archbishop who consecrates, and the Bishops
who present them, that, in the words of our Church, "they be apt
and meet for their learning and godly conversation, to exercise their
ministry duly to the honour of God and the edifying of his Church, and
to be wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ."
With regard to the first qualification, sufficiency
in good learning, we apprehend that the subjecting a person, who is to
be admitted to the office of a Bishop in the Church, to that examination
which is required previous to the ordination of Priests and Deacons, might
lessen that reverend estimation which ought never to be separated from
the Episcopal character: we therefore do not require any further satisfaction
on this point, than will be given to us by the forms of testimonials in
the annexed paper, fully trusting that those who sign them will be well
aware, how greatly incompetence in this respect must lessen the weight
and authority of the Bishop and affect the credit of the Episcopal Church.
Under the second head, that of subscription, our desire
is to require that subscription only to be repeated, which you have already
been called upon to make by the Tenth Article of your Ecclesiastical Constitution:
but we should forget the duty which we owe to our own Church, and act
inconsistently with that sincere regard which we bear to yours, if we
were not explicit in declaring, that, after the disposition we have shown
to comply with the prayer of your address, we think it now incumbent upon
you to use your utmost exertions also for the removal of any stumbling-block
of offence which may possibly prove an obstacle to the success of it.
We therefore most earnestly exhort you, that previously to the time of
your making such subscription, you restore to its integrity the Apostles'
Creed, in which you have omitted an article, merely, as it seems, from
misapprehension of the sense in which it is understood by our Church;
nor can we help adding, that we hope you will think it but a decent proof
of the attachment which you profess to the services of your Liturgy, to
give to the other two Creeds a place in your Book of Common Prayer, even
though the use of them should be left discretional. We should be inexcusable,
too, if, at the time when you are requesting the establishment of Bishops
in your Church, we did not strongly represent to you that the Eighth Article
of your Ecclesiastical Constitution appears to us to be a degradation
of the Clerical, and still more of the Episcopal character. We persuade
ourselves, that in your ensuing Convention some alteration will be thought
necessary in this article, before this reaches you; or, if not, that due
attention will be given to it in consequence of our representation.
On the third and last head, which respects purity of
manners, the reputation of the Church, both in England and America, and
the interest of our common Christianity is so deeply concerned in it,
that we feel it our indispensable duty to provide, on this subject, the
most effectual securities. It is presumed, that the same previous public
notice of the intention of the person to be consecrated, will be given
in the Church where he resides in America, for the same reasons, and therefore
nearly in the same form with that used in England before our Ordinations.
The call upon the persons present at the time of consecration, must be
deemed of little use before a congregation composed of those to whom the
person to be consecrated is. unknown. The testimonials signed by persons
living in England admit of reference and examination, and the characters
of those who give them are subject to scrutiny, and in cases of criminal
deceit to punishment. In proportion as these circumstances are less applicable
to testimonials from America those testimonials must be more explicit,
and supported by a greater number of signatures. We therefore think it
necessary that the several persons, candidates for Episcopal consecration,
should bring us, both a testimonial from the General Convention of the
Protestant Episcopal Church, with as many signatures as can be obtained,
and a more particular one, from the respective Conventions in those States
which recommend them. It will appear from the tenor of the letters testimonial
used in England, a form of which is annexed, that the ministers who sign
them bear testimony to the qualifications of the candidates on their own
personal knowledge. Such a testimony is not to be expected from the members
of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in America on this occasion.
We think it sufficient, therefore, that they declare they know no impediment,
but believe the person to be consecrated is of a virtuous life and sound
faith. We have sent you such a form as appears to us proper to be used
for that purpose. More specific declarations must be made by the members
of the Convention in each State from which the persons offered for consecration
are respectively recommended; their personal knowledge of them there can
be no doubt of; we trust, therefore, they will have no objection to the
adoption of the form of a testimonial which is annexed, and drawn upon
the same principles, and containing the same attestations of personal
knowledge with that above mentioned, as acquired previously to our Ordinations.
We trust we shall receive these testimonials signed by such a majority
in each Convention that recommend, as to leave no doubt of the fitness
of the candidates upon the minds of those whose consciences are concerned
in the consecration of them.
Thus much we have thought it right to communicate to
you, without reserve, at present, intending to give you farther information
as soon as we are able. In the mean time, we pray God to direct your counsels
in this very weighty matter, and are,
Mr. President and gentlemen,
Your affectionate Brethren,
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