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General Convention of 1786.

The Second General Convention assembled in Philadelphia, the 20th of June, 1786, and continued in session until the 26th of the same month. There were in attendance fourteen clerical and twelve lay delegates. The first business was to draft a reply to the letter of the English Bishops. In this answer it was declared that, "We are unanimous and explicit in assuring your Lordships, that we neither have departed, nor propose to depart from the doctrine of your Church. We have retained the same discipline and forms of worship, as far as has been 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."1 No action was attempted at this time with regard to the alterations which had been passed with such apparent unanimity the previous October, and the various memorials from the State Conventions on the subject were "referred to the first General Convention which shall assemble with sufficient powers to determine the same." Before adjourning, the Committee of Correspondence with the English prelates was "empowered to call a General Convention whenever a majority of the said Committee shall think necessary."2


An Historical Account of the American Book of Common Prayer, by William McGarvey
(part 2)

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1 Journal.

2 Ibid.

Adjourned Meeting of a Convention at Boston, 1786.

The Convention of the Church in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire which met at Boston, September, 1785, was kept under adjournment until the following July waiting to see what action would be taken by the Church in Connecticut and in the Southern States with regard to the alterations prepared at Middletown and proposed in Boston. As has been already noted these alterations were not generally acceptable to the Churchmen of Connecticut, and no action was there taken with regard to them. "When our Convention met in July by adjournment," writes the Rev. Mr. Parker of Boston, "we found that we were left by our brethren in Connecticut—that they thought it not advisable to make any alterations. The Convention at the southward, though they acceded to some of our alterations had gone much further,1 and did not adopt the substitutes for the State prayers."2 So far, however, was the Proposed Book from being distasteful to the New England Churchmen outside of Connecticut, that it would probably have been adopted by this Convention, had there been any likelihood of its general acceptance in the Southern States. This we learn from a letter of Mr. Parker to Dr. White, September 15th, 1786: "Our Convention met here on the 20th of July and seemed disposed to adopt your Alterations in the Book of Common Prayer, but were discouraged from the circumstance of your not being agreed to the use of it in those States which were represented in the Convention by which those alterations were proposed. Indeed the Alterations proposed in our own Convention in September last had been sent to the several Churches in these States and returns received from them purporting their approbation of them and readiness to adopt them. And though yours are in a great measure similar, yet as there are some things in which we disagree, it was thought best, all things considered, to leave it optional with the several Churches to adopt which they like best, or even to continue the use of the old liturgy (the State prayers excepted) until we become complete in our officers and one common liturgy is established by the first Order of the Clergy to whom alone, we are of opinion, this matter appertains." Availing himself of the permission given by this Convention, Mr. Parker introduced into the services of Trinity Church, Boston, on the first Sunday in August the alterations proposed the September before, together with the use of the Psalms of the Proposed Book which he had "reprinted by themselves," and which he thought were "much more suitable for public worship than the collective body of David's Psalms."3

1 Chiefly in omitting the Nicene Creed, but Mr. Parker's only objection to this was on the score of its inopportuneness:— "No objection, I think, can be made to the omission of the Nicene Creed but the time. Some passages in it are. as obscure and unintelligible as many in the Creed of Saint Athanasius, which I am very glad we are rid of." (Hist. Notes and Doc., p. 295.)

2 Church Documents of Connecticut, Vol. II, p. 319, and Hist. Notes and Doc., p. 365.

3 Hist. Notes and Doc., pp. 365, 324.


Convocation at Derby, Connecticut, 1786.

On the 22d of September, 1786, Bishop Seabury with his clergy assembled in Convocation at Derby. In his charge, the Bishop animadverted to the Proposed Book. Some of the alterations he thought were "far the worse, most of them not for the better." His chief abjection, however, rested upon the fact that it had been set forth without Episcopal authority: "Liturgies are left more to the prudence and judgment of the governors of the Church; and the primitive practice seems to have been that the Bishop did, with the advice no doubt of his Presbyters, provide a Liturgy far the use of his diocese. This aught to have been the case here. Bishops should first have been obtained to preside aver those Churches. And to those Bishops, with the Proctors of the Clergy, should have been committed the business of compiling a liturgy far the use of the Church throughout the States."1 The Bishop of Connecticut's estimate of the doctrinal character of the Proposed Book may perhaps be gathered from a letter written to the Rev. Mr. Parker sometime afterward: "I never thought there was any heterodoxy in the Southern Prayer Book, but I do think the true doctrine is left too unguarded, and that the offices are, same of them, lowered to such a degree, that they will, in a great measure lose their influence."2 It was at this Convocation3 that Bishop Seabury set forth a Communion Office, which was taken, with some alterations, from that which was then used in Scotland. He did not formally impose it, but "recommended " it to the congregations in his diocese. It "seems to have been almost, if noat quite, universally adopted by the clergy of Connecticut."4 At the same time, a new State Prayer, and a suffrage in the Litany were provided.5

Mention may here be made of two other liturgical productions of Bishop Seabury, viz., "A Burial Office for Infants who depart this life before they have polluted their Baptism by actual sin," reprinted in Beardsley's Life and Correspondence of Bp. Seabury, p. 488; also "The Psalter or Psalms of David pointed as they are to be said or sung in churches, with the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer Daily throughout the year." This latter work printed in 1795 is noteworthy in having the Athanasian Creed, in omitting the Latin titles of the Psalms, and in 'substituting the future tense far the imperative mood in passages which might be called damnatory.' Vide App. to Dr. Hart's Reprint of Bp. Seabury's Com. Office.

1 Cited by the Rev. Dr. Saml. Hart in his Historical Sketch and Notes to Bp. Seabury's Communion Office, 2d. Ed. p. 33.

2 Hist. Notes and Doc., p. 367.

3 Vide Dr. Jarvis' Voice from Connecticut. Before this time Bishop Seabury in his own ministrations may have made same departures from the English Prayer Book for Dr. Smith tells us that rumors were afloat that the Bishop of Connecticut was "making very great alterations from the English Liturgy, especially in the administration of the blessed Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, striving as Archbishop Land did, to introduce again same of those superstitions of which it had been cleared at the Reformation." (Church, Documents of Conn., Vol. II, p. 302.)

4 The Rev. Dr. Hart's Notes to Bp. Seabury's Communion Office, p. 40.

5 Appendix II, 13.


General Convention at Wilmington, 1786.

Upon the receipt of an answer from the English Bishops to the letter sent by the General Convention of 1786, an adjourned Convention was called, and met at Wilmington, October 10th, 1786. In this second communication, their Lordships expressed their willingness to confer the Episcopate upon such properly accredited persons as should be sent to them, but at the same time exhorted the Convention to "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 understand by our Church; nor can we help adding, that we hope you will think it but a decent proof of the attachment you profess to the services of our liturgy to give the other two Creeds a place in your Book of Common Prayer, even though the use of them should be left discretional." It is noteworthy that no particular reference was made to the other peculiarities of the Proposed Book, except the very general remark that," 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."1 As a matter of fact the Proposed Book but reflected the ideas of liturgical revision prevalent at the time, and there is little doubt that the majority of the Georgian prelates would gladly have revised the Prayer Book after much the same fashion had they been free to do so. "The feeble recommendation," as Bishop White styles it, that the Athanasian Creed should be restored was understand to have been made more for form's sake and to preclude the cavils of the Non-Jurors, than for any other reason. "The inclination of the Archbishop on that head was, not to give any trouble, but only to avoid any act or omission, which might have been an implicating of them and their Church."2 Too much, also, must not be attributed to the influence in the Wilmington Convention, of the letter of the English Bishops. Maryland and Pennsylvania had both voted that the Nicene Creed should be restored long before the second letter of the Bishops' had been received; and in those days, before the unification of the Church the wishes of State Conventions were of paramount importance in General Convention. When the letter of their Lordships was first received, it was "a matter of surprise that the only thing which looked like a condition made on the subject of the Common Prayer Book, was the restoring of the clause concerning the Descent into Hell, in the Apostles' Creed."3 And it was principally owing to the objections of one Bishop, the then Bishop of Bath and Wells, that any point was made even of this.4 All the other peculiarities of the Proposed Book, were not considered of such a character as to prevent their conferring the Episcopate.

A Committee was appointed to take the communication of the English Bishops into consideration, and to report thereon. "We sat up the whole of the succeeding night," says Bishop White, "digesting the determinations in the form in which they appear in the Journal. When they were brought into the Convention little difficulty occurred in regard to what was proposed concerning the retaining of the Nicene and the rejecting of the Athanasian Creed. But a warm debate arose on the subject of the Descent into Hell in the Apostles' Creed. Although this was at last carried, agreeably to the proposal of the Committee; yet whoever looks into the Journal will see, that the result was not owing to the having of a majority of votes, but to the nullity of the votes of those churches in which the clergy and laity were divided."5 The action of the Convention was set forth in a document, entitled "An Act of the General Convention of Clerical and Lay Deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church," etc. "As the matter now stood, there was evidently no ground on which the English Bishops could have rejected the persons sent, unless they had made the Athanasian Creed an essential; which would not have been warranted by the feeble recommendation of their letter."6

1 Appendix II. 12.

2 Memoirs of the Church, p 134.

3 Memoirs of the Church, p. 133.

4 Ibid., p. 157.

5 The action of the Wilmington Convention seems to have given satisfaction everywhere except in Virginia. In a Convention held at Richmond, May 16-20, 1787, it was resolved "that the deputies to be appointed to attend the next General Convention be instructed to move the General Convention to expunge the words, 'He descended into hell,' inserted in the Apostles' Creed by the General Convention held at Wilmington, and also whatever relates to the restoration of the Nicene Creed." (Hawk's Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States of America.)

6Memoirs of the Church, p. 139.


Affair of King's Chapel, Boston.

Before proceeding further, mention must be made of the trouble at King's Chapel, Boston. The causes which led to the withdrawal of this building from the control of the Church, throw an interesting light upon the history of the Prayer Book during this period. The Chapel was the oldest and most imposing edifice the Church had in Boston. During the progress of the war of the revolution, "Many of the members of the congregation, had gone to Nova Scotia and elsewhere, from disaffection to the American cause. Their pews were let to persons, sundry of whom had never professed themselves of the Church, to the members of which they had no other affinity in principle than what consisted in dissatisfaction with the system then generally preached in Boston. Thus a majority was produced, to whom were sacrificed the rights of the real members of the Episcopal Church. The remembrance of the maneuver should be perpetuated," continues Bishop White, "for the guarding against the like in the future."1 Unitarianism was at the time beginning to make rapid strides through New England. Its spirit was already present in many of the Congregational churches, and soon took firm hold of the congregation of King's Chapel. 'It was because here that spirit met the clear terms of a stated and required liturgy,' observes the late Bishop Brooks, 'that that Church was the first to set itself avowedly upon the basis of the new belief.'2 "The liturgy of the Church of England was believed by that Society" one of the Unitarian members of the Chapel tells us, "to be essentially erroneous with regard to the object of prayer," in that they held that Christ ought not to be addressed with prayers of divine worship.3 "They waited with patience till the result of the Convention which was held at New York, October, 1784, was known. When, however, they found it was established as a fundamental principle by that Convention, that the Episcopal Church in America 'shall maintain the doctrines of the Gospel as now held by the Church of England, and shall adhere to the liturgy of the said Church as far as shall be consistent with the American revolution,' etc. — they concluded that no more time was to be lost, and that as there was no expectation that a great and liberal reformation would be made, they had an undoubted right to deliver themselves from what seemed to them unscriptural impositions."4 Accordingly on June 19th, 1785, the congregation set forth a revised Prayer Book, based upon that of Dr. Samuel Clarke. The object "in the new liturgy was to leave out all such expressions as wound the conscience of a Unitarian, without introducing any which should displease a Trinitarian."5 And the book was intended to be of so comprehensive a nature "that every sect may conscientiously adopt it. It is general and indefinite like the sacred Scriptures, and every sec;t may reason from it, as from the sacred Scriptures in defence of their peculiar tenets."6 "Some reasonable expectations were entertained that the Convention which was to be held in Philadelphia (1785) would expunge all disputable doctrines (and the doctrine of the Trinity is certainly disputable, to say nothing more of it), and whilst they inserted no expression in the liturgy which could wound an Athanasian, that they would leave out all which would hurt the conscience of a Unitarian."7

But the action of the first General Convention afforded but little satisfaction to these expectations. In the Proposed Book Christ was as distinctly the object of worship with the Father and the Holy Ghost as in the English Book. Still the people of King's Chapel were loath to suffer the loss of prestige that separation from the Episcopal Church would entail. They hoped that a modus vivendi might be found within the Church for the Unitarians as well as for those who worshipped the Triune God. The Proposed Book was evidently not going to be the established liturgy, and in the Convention which was to meet in June, 1786, more liberal counsels might prevail. Accordingly, Mr. Miller appealed to Dr. White in order to enlist his influence in behalf of the congregation of King's Chapel. In the first place he regretted that the 34th of the Articles of the Church of England reads "'That it is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one or utterly alike.' Had a more general and enlarged idea been expressed in the Article; it would, in my opinion, have contributed more to the peace and harmony of the Church. For it appears to me that it is not necessary that traditions, ceremonies, doctrines and public prayers be one or utterly alike even in different congregations of the same Church. For were the several congregations which compose a Church permitted to make such alterations and omissions in the liturgy as might appear to them necessary, they might forever continue united as one body, under their Episcopal heads, however various their sentiments might be. The Athanasian, whilst his conscience would not allow him to leave out the petitions to the Son and Holy Ghost, might rest satisfied with having these addresses printed in the liturgy, and might cheerfully and candidly permit the Unitarian to suppress them."8 He further urged the consideration that the enlarged membership gained to the Episcopal Church by the adoption of this principle would be a powerful offset to the influence of the Roman Church: "The ambitious schemes of that Church or of any other enterprising zealots will most effectually be crushed by the Episcopal Church accomplishing a plan which will be truly great and liberal. For whilst she tenaciously adheres to disputable doctrines many conscientious persons will be prevented from joining her Communion, though they might otherwise be engaged by the general propriety and beauty of her worship. There is also reason to apprehend that other congregations, beside that of which I am a member, will, should they become Unitarians, separate themselves from the Episcopal Church, and form themselves into independent societies. Should Unitarian sentiments spread as rapidly in America as they have the last century in England, revolts from the Episcopal Church may become very frequent, as no causes of an interested nature exist here to prevent a separation."9

These suggestions for increasing the Church's membership, failed to enlist the sympathies of Dr. White. In his letter of reply, he observed, as "it would be a very singular Church, indeed, which should hold up a certain matter of order as the only part of its foundation essential to be retained, so I hope you will, on further consideration, think it quite unnecessary on my part to prove, that the same cannot be said of the Church to which we have belonged. I shall lay the less stress on this subject, as it is a singular opinion, and what I do not think you will long maintain, that persons differing in regard to the object of prayer, may be of the same Church or Communion."10 Whatever hopes the congregation of King's Chapel might still have had were given up after the action of the General Convention at Wilmington, and soon afterward they ceased to have any relation with the Episcopal Church.

1 Memoir of the Life of the Rt. Rev. Wm. White, D. D., by Bird Wilson, D.D., p.323.

2 A Century of Church Growth in Boston, Monograph VI in Vol. II of the History of the American Episcopal Church, p. 491.

3 Correspondence of the Rev. Dr. White with Mr. Charles Miller, in Dr. Wilson's Memoir, p. 329 .

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., p. 334.

6 Ibid., p. 330.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid.

9 Ibid., p. 335.

10 Ibid., p. 337.


The Episcopate obtained from England.

On the 2d of November, 1786, the Rev. Dr. White, and the Rev. Dr. Provoost sailed for England, and on Septuagesima Sunday, the 4th day of February, 1787, were consecrated to the Episcopate in the chapel of Lambeth palace. Shortly after their return, Bishop Seabury addressed a letter of congratulation1 to each of them in which he took occasion to express his hearty desire for the union of the Church in the various States, and suggested in order to accomplish the end "the most likely method will be to retain the present Book of Common Prayer, accommodating it to the civil Constitution of the United States." In reply Bishop White expressed his willingness to accede to this proposal should it be found practicable: "As to the liturgy, if it should be thought advisable by the general body of our Church to adhere to the English Book of Common Prayer (the political parts excepted) I shall be one of the first, after the appearance of such a disposition to comply with it most punctually. Further than this, if it should seem the most probable way of maintaining an agreement among ourselves, I shall use my best endeavours to effect it. At the same time I must candidly express my opinion, that the review of the liturgy would tend very much to the satisfaction of most of the members of our Communion, and to its future success and prosperity. The worst evil which I apprehend from a refusal to review is this, that it will give a great advantage to those who wish to carry the alterations into essential points of doctrine. Reviewed it will unquestionably be in some places, and the only way to prevent its being done by men of the above description is the taking it up as a general business."2 In another letter written to Dr. West, February 24th, 1789, Bishop White touched upon the same subject: "It is my most earnest wish that the ensuing Convention may be so wise and moderate as to establish a book which shall be sure of a general reception. I see little prospect of this, without a considerable deviation from the Proposed Book towards the old. Much will depend on what is now to be done. And I pray God, that we may be enabled to take such measures as shall have a tendency to build up and not to pull down, to unite and not to divide."3

The Reverend Mr. Leaming, of Connecticut, also addressed a letter of similar purport to Bishop White, which, as it has not before appeared in print, we here give from among the MSS. left by Bishop Kemper:

STRATFORD, May 2d, 1787.

    Allow me, my very dear sir. to congratulate you upon your happy success in your Undertaking for the Service of the Church, and your Safe Return to your Native Land.
    I am far advanced in Life, and nothing can give me more pleasure, than to see the Church of England (for by that title I wish she may be called) fixed upon a firm Basis, in Unity thro' all the States.
    May it not be worth consideration to enquire, what method is most likely to produce this effect? Perhaps, there is no Scheme that promises so fair to accomplish the End desired, as keeping, as near as we can to the old Forms. We know these have been tried for Ages, and have always answered the purpose. Why should we make a new experiment, upon a subject which has had sufficient Trial already ?
    It seems that Dr. S[mith]—the last man in the world for such Business—has been the Director, in forming the constitution and service of the Chh. for these States, as he intended. He was one of the Com'ee, and you know, they must do what he directed, or do nothing.
    It appears to me, that it is unhappy for the Church, That, that man ever came unto this land: he has done more harm to it than any other person.
    However, let us lay aside all worldly schemes, and take a View of what will be agreeable to our great Master's design, in building up his Kingdom which is not of this world. Provided we do this, we shall see the Chh. in its native purity.
    There is no need to enlarge upon this point, as I have sent you with this letter, my sentiments, in what Method the Chh. of England is to be perpetuated in this land. If I have made any mistake, I shall stand corrected by you.
    If your affairs will permit, it would give me unspeakable pleasure to see you at our Convocation, which will be held at Stamford in Whitsunday week.
    Remember me kindly to all your Clergy, and to your good Lady, and believe me to be,

Right Reverend Sir.
Your most obedient & hum. Ser.,
Bp. White.

1 Hist. Notes and Doc., p. 344.

2 Ibid., p. 346.

3 Archives of Maryland.



General Convention of 1789.

The first Convention after the obtaining of the Episcopate from England gathered in Philadelphia, July 30th, 1789. An adjourned meeting was held from September 29th to October 3d in the same city, at which the Constitution was so modified as to give the Bishops the right, sitting as a separate House, to originate measures and also to negative acts of the other House not adhered to by four-fifths of the delegates. Thereupon it was assented to by the deputies from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and they took their seats in the General Convention, thus completing the unification of the Church, a consummation, which had been long and anxiously desired. On Saturday, the 3d of October, the Bishops withdrew from the House of Deputies, and on the following Monday sat for the first time as a distinct House.

The chief business of the Convention after its division into two Houses, was the revision of the Book of Common Prayer. The Journal gives us little or no detailed information with regard to the progress of this work, so that we are indebted altogether to Bp. White's Memoirs and to incidental statements in his other works for whatever knowledge we possess. At the very outset there was a grave difference of opinion between the two Houses, which continued throughout the session. The House of Bishops held that the English Book was still the liturgy of the Church, and that it should be taken as the book in which some alterations were contemplated. On the other hand the lower House contended "that there were no forms of prayer, no offices, and no rubrics until they should be formed by the Convention now assembled." "Everyone must perceive," observes Bishop White, "that this abridged the species of negative lodged with the House of Bishops. For if, in any branch of the liturgy, they should be disposed to be tenacious in any point, which should be a deviation from the English Book, the consequence must be, not that the prayer, or whatever else it were, remained as before, but that no such matters were to be inserted. This, in some instances, would have operated to the extent of excluding a whole office of the Church, if the negative of the Bishops had been insisted on."1 Referring, in a letter to Bishop Hobart, to this difference of principle in the work of revision in the Convention of 1789, he says, "In all other respects [i. e., other than the State prayers], I held the former ecclesiastical system to be binding. The Conventions of our Church have always acted in the same principle, except that of October, 1789, whose adopting of a different principle has rendered our liturgy more imperfect (according to my opinion) that it would otherwise have been. On this point I could give you some interesting information."2

The particular reasons, so far as known which induced the Convention to make the verbal departures it did from the English Book have been noted in the body of this work, and need not be enumerated here. The Evangelical Canticles, and the word "again" after "he rose" in the Apostles' Creed, which had been in the Proposed Book as well as the English Book, were omitted, as the Convention of South Carolina had suggested. The House of Bishops proposed in an amendment to retain the Athanasian Creed with a rubric permitting its use. On the part of Bishop White this was assented to "on the principle of accommodation, to the many who were reported to desire it, especially in Connecticut, where, it was said, the omitting of it would hazard the reception of the book." It was his intention, however, "never to read the Creed himself, and he declared his mind to that effect." "The amendment was negatived by the other House, and when the subject afterward came up in conference they would not allow of the Creed in any shape; which was thought intolerant by the gentlemen from New England, who with Bishop Seabury, gave it up with great reluctance."3

In addition to the offices in the English Book the Convention adopted "A Form of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the Fruits of the Earth, and all the other Blessings of his merciful Providence." This office was taken from the Proposed Book, and had in all probability been drawn up by Dr. William Smith. "Forms of Prayer for use in Families" were also added. These are abridgements of those set forth by Bishop Gibson of London. The latter were among the books provided by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for distribution by its Missionaries in the Colonies.4 They were therefore in all probability well known and widely used by Church people of the last century. They may not have been original compositions of this prelate, but perhaps were drawn by him from earlier forms, as they bear considerable likeness to a series of prayers prepared by Archbishop Tillotson for the use of William III.5 Selections of Psalms to be used instead of the Psalms of the day were prepared by the House of Deputies, and reluctantly assented to by the Bishops.6 An office for the Visitation of Prisoners which had been in the Proposed Book, was adopted after some changes in it had been made. Nothing more seems to be known as to the origin of this office, than that it was drawn up by the Synod held at Dublin in 1711, and, was commonly found afterward in Prayer Books printed in Ireland.7 A number of Occasional Prayers8 and Thanksgivings were introduced, and three new prayers added to the office for Visitation of the Sick. Bishop White speaking generally of these prayers says they were taken from Bishop Jeremy Taylor, and this statement has been repeated by subsequent writers. It is clear that we are indebted to Bishop Taylor for A Prayer which may be said by the Minister in behalf of all present at the Visitation, and A Prayer which may be said in case of sudden surprise and immediate danger, both of which are taken from his Holy Dying. The wording of the Thanksgiving for the beginning of a recovery may have been suggested by A Prayer to be said when the Sick Man takes Physic, in the same book. But a careful search through his works has failed to discover any of the others. No one having any acquaintance with the polished English of this great divine will think it likely that the prayer for Malefactors after Condemnation came from his pen. And the others appear to be but compilations of sentences and clauses taken from various parts of the Prayer Book.

The most notable addition made in the Prayer Book was to the Prayer of Consecration in the Communion Office. The Conventions of Maryland and Pennsylvania, had both asked, as we have seen, for the insertion of a prayer more explicit than the clause in the English Book, expressly beseeching God for the consecration of the Sacrament. It was a matter which "lay very near to the heart of Bishop Seabury."9 Writing to Bishop White on the eve of the Convention of 1789, he expressed "the earnest hope that the matter might be taken up, and that God will raise up some able and worthy advocate for this primitive practice, and make you and the Convention the instruments of restoring it to his Church in America. It would do you more honour in the world, and contribute more to the union of the Churches than any other alterations you can make." Bishop Seabury did not overrate the influence of the Bishop of Pennsylvania in thus appealing to him, for had the latter thrown his vote against what is now the most striking departure of the American from the English Prayer Book it would never have had a place therein. On the contrary however, the proposition to add the Prayers of Oblation and Invocation with what follows, received his hearty support, so that its adoption in the House of Bishops was unanimous. In the House of Deputies it was also passed without opposition. "It may perhaps be expected that the great change made, in restoring to the consecration prayer the oblatory words and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, left out in King Edward's reign, must at least have produced an opposition. But no such thing happened to any considerable extent, or at least the author did not hear of any in the other House, further than a disposition to the effect in a few gentlemen, which was counteracted by some pertinent remarks of the president."10 One important change was made in the Invocation before being adopted. Instead of the words of the Scotch Offices and of Bishop Seabury's book, which read, "that they may become the Body and Blood of thy most dearly beloved Son," there was substituted, " that we receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood." In all other respects, with the exception of the change of "lively" to "living," the text of the Canon of Bishop Seabury's Office, which he had set forth in 1786 for use in his diocese, was copied. This office was in turn substantially taken from Bishops Forbes and Falconer's edition of the Scotch liturgy, which was published in 1764.11

The work of the revision in the Convention of 1789 occupied thirteen days. On the last day a committee was appointed to edit the book thus revised, and in August, 1790, the first American Prayer Book was set forth, bearing not the Ratification of a Parliament, but the Ratification of the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the Church itself. In the preface, the declaration so often made before, was again repeated, even more explicitly: "This Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England in any essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or farther than local circumstances require." Everywhere the new book was received without opposition, and at once went into use. In Connecticut where some of its omissions were not regarded altogether with favour, it was nevertheless formally approved and received by a resolution of Convocation at Newtown, September 30th, 1790. At the same time it was agreed "that in the use of the New-Prayer-Book, we be as uniform as possible, and for that purpose that we approach as near the Old Liturgy, as a compliance with the Rubrics of the New will allow.12 In a little while however the new Prayer Book had become as dear to the members of the Church everywhere as the old book had ever been.

1 Memoirs of the Church, p. 171.

2 Memoir of the Life of the Rt. Rev. Wm. White, D. D., by Bird Wilson, D. D., p. 348.

3 Memoirs of the Church, p. 174.

4 A Rev. Mr. Murray, Minister at Reading, Pa,., writing in 1769 to the Secretary of the Venerable Society, says: "To forward the education and to instruct several of the older poor people, I have occasion for some small tracts such as Lewis's Catechism. 4 doz. ; Husbandman's Manual, 3 doz.; Bp. Gibson's Family Prayer, 4 doz.; ditto on the Sacraments, 6 doz : or any of the most approved, short, plain Treatise on that subject" (Historical Collections, Ed. By Wm. S. Perry, D. D., Vol. II, Penn., p. 438).

5 Works of Abp. Tillotson, London. 1722, Vol. II, p. 677.

6 Vide Memoirs of the Church, p. 176.

7 The Irish Prayer Book. by W. K. Clay, British Magazine, Dec., 1846. See also Mants' History of the Church of Ireland, Vol. II, p. 233.

8 Vide a letter of Dr. Jarvis, suggesting the addition of such Prayers, in Hoffman's Law of the Church, p. 35.

9 Memoirs of the Church, p. 179.

10 Ibid., p. 178 .

11 Hall's Fragmenta Liturgica, Vol. V, p. 193.

12 A Voice from Connecticut, p. 27.


General Convention of 1792.

In the Convention of 1792 the Forms for conferring Holy Orders were formally set forth. In the ordinations which had been performed by the American Bishops previous to this time, the English Prayer Book had been used, with the omission of the political parts. But few alterations were made by the Convention in these venerable forms, and those which were introduced were prepared by the Bishops. "There was no material difference of opinion, except in regard to the words used by the Bishop at the ordination of Priests, 'Receive ye (sic) the Holy Ghost,' and 'Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven, and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained.' Bishop Seabury, who alone was tenacious of this form, consented at last with great reluctance, to allow the alternative of another as it now stands."1 That no departure from the doctrine of the Church of England was intended, is evident from the fact that the old form was still retained, and also from what Bishop White tells us in his Memoirs where he defends both forms, but thinks the second is of "more obvious signification."

1 Memoirs of the Church, p. 191.


 General Convention of 1799.

A Form for the Consecration of a Church or Chapel was proposed in 1799 by the House of Bishops and adopted. Bishop White tells us that "it is substantially the same with a service composed by Bishop Andrews in the reign of James the First." One however has only to compare our American office with the service drawn up by the great Bishop of Winchester to see that it was not immediately derived from the latter. Bishop Andrews' order was the basis of the many forms for the Consecration of churches set forth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but so widely did most of them depart from their original that their resemblance to it is very faint. Our service is really a revision of one adopted by Convocation in 1712, which was not however finally confirmed, as one of the heads of business given by George I. in 1715 was "the preparing a form for consecrating Churches and Chapels." This form of 1712 must not be confounded with one prepared by the English Bishops in 1714 and submitted to the Convocation of the following year, and which also failed to obtain formal authorization.1 The two offices are alike in general structure, but differ from each other in a number of particulars, in all of which the American service agrees with the earlier order. The form of 1712 was "not printed till 1719, when it appeared in the appendix to John Lewis' Historical Essay upon the Consecration of Churches."2 It was afterwards reprinted by Gibson,3 and also by Burn.4 The latter, writing in the middle of the last century, says of it, that this office "as it did not receive the royal assent,5 & was not injoined, but is now generally used." The General Convention, therefore, in 1799, but adopted a form which was then commonly observed in England for the Consecration of Churches. There was also set forth at this time a Prayer for Convention, probably drawn from the conclusion of the second part of the Homily for Whitsunday.

References to where some of these forms are to be found may here be given:—Bp. Andrewes' Order is in Sparrow's Rationale. The order for The Consecration of Abbey Dore Church, Ed. by Rev. J. Fuller Russell. Pickering, 1870. Bp. Cosin's Form, Surtees Soc. Vol. LV, p. 176. Bp. Wilson's Works, Anglo-Cath. Lib., Vol. VII, p. 143. Bp. Patrick's Works, Oxford, 1858, Vol. IX, p. 349. The form laid before the Convocation of 1715 is reprinted by Cardwell, Synodalia, Vol. II, p. 819. See also Irish Form of Consecration of Churches, with Introduction by Bishop Reeves, S. P. C. K., 1893. Still other forms are given by Oughton in his Ordo Judiciorum, Vol. II. London, 1738. (A copy of this work is in the Astor Library, New York). See also Harrington's The Object, Importance, and Antiquity of the Rite of Consecration of Churches, London, 1844.

1 Reprinted by Cardwell, Synodalia, Vol. II, p. 819.

2 The Rt. Rev. Bishop Reeves in Preface to Irish Forms of Consecration of Churches. S. P. C. K. 1892.

3 Codex Juris Ecclesiastici. last Ed., II, 1459.

4 Ecclesiastical Law, by Richard Burn, LL.D., Chancelor of the Diocese of Carlisle, and Vicar of Orton, in the County of Westmoreland, 2d. Ed. London, 1767, Vol I, p. 298.

5 Cardwell thinks otherwise. See Synodalia, Vol. II, p. 819.


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