John Ireland.

A second solemn appeal to the church : containing remarks and strictures on the late violent proceedings of a pretended ecclesiastical court against the author online

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Now who is the bishop of this diocese ? Every thing in the
present case depends on the answer. Far be it from me
to attempt to abridge the powers, or to curtail the privi-
leges of any in authority, but while I am ready to aamit



that Dr. B. Moore may be a bishop in the P. E. Church,
I scruple not to assert that he is not the bishop of this dio-
cese ; that he is not the person designated in the canons ;
and that in the late proceedings against me, he was insti-
gated by certain artful, officious, malicious young men, to
" take too much upon himself."

Nor is this a sentiment \vhich I have recently adopted *
I mentioned it to a few judicious friends before the conse-
cration of Dr. M. took place ; and then expressed my
apprehensions that we had embarked in a plan of innova^
tion, which might eventually bring into disrepute our prfe-
tentions to undeviating regularity and order. Sorry am \
to add, that I suffered myself to be silenced by the plea
(that fruitful source of incalculable mischief?) the plea of
expedience.

If my premises be established, the conclusion follows—
that the sentence of my degradation is null and void, be-
cause it violated alike, the letter and spirit, both of the
gospel and canons ; and because those who recommended
^he sentence, and he who pronounced it, were alike desti-
tute of all authority to act upon the occasion. Let Dr. B.
Moore produce the special licen&e of his diocesan to bring
me to trial, and then will I candidly confess that I have
been fairly driven from untenable ground.* But in order that
Dr. M. for himself, or his friends in his behalf, may be fully
prepared to obviate the foregoing remarks,! beg leave to re-
mind them of the account of his consecration given m the re-
gular journal, and subsequently confirmed in the history of
the P. E. church in these states :"|" — '* The house of bishops,
" being sensible of the exigency existing in the State of
'* N. York, consent to the consecration of an assistant
" bishop. But this house must be understood to be expli-
" cit in their declaration, that they shall consider such a
" person as assistant or coadjutor bishop during Bishop
*' Provoosfs /z/^,although competent in point of character to
*' all the episcopal duties j the extent in \yhich the same

* If Dr. Moore were possessed of such special licence, was it
not incumbent on him at the very threshold of the investigation tq
have exhiliited it as the evidence of iiis delegated authority ?

t Rees's Nrw Cyclopedia, vol. 8, part 3 A.



15

" shall be discharged by him to be dependent on such r^-
•■' gulations as e::(i:pediency may dictate to the church in
*' New- York, grounded on the indisposition of Bishop
*' Provoost, and with his (Dr. P.'s) concurrence. Con-
" formably with the line of conduct thus laid down, Dr.
** B. M. was consecrated." If I understand this account,
the line of the assistant bishop's conduct was Jirst laid
down, and then his consecration took place : and the ex-
tent of his duties is to be regulated by the convention of
this state, provided that such regulations receive the
sanction of the diocesan's approbation. This limitation of
the assistant bishop's power is in exact conformity to the
established usage of the P. E. church, and to Bishop
White's late assertion* — ^that " the very existence of the
*' church in this country depends on an undeviating adhe-
" rence to the principles which she has inherited from the
^' church of England.'*

And after all, even admitting the proceedings against
jne to have been valid, still my claim to the character of
Reverend remains indefeisible. This position is, however,
too unimportant both to myself and my readers, to justify
the discussion of it before the public, did it not serve in
some measure as a reply to an observation respecting me,
in Dr. Hobart's defence. He there asserts, and his obse-
quious echo Mr. How repeats it, that " there is not an in-
^' stance, in the whole history of the christian church, of the
*' restoration of a degraded clergyman.''

Granting for a moment the truth of this assertion, I
would ask— Does the warit of such an instance prove that
a degraded clergyman may not, or can not be restored ?
Was not the power of loosing given to the church, at the
game time and by the same authority, with the power of
binding ? Does not the term loosing imply that the
subject to be loosed was previously bound ? docs it fol=
low, because this power does not appear to have been ex-
ercised hitherto, that such power does not exist ? Is it not
the obvious meaning of our Saviour (Matt. 18th ch. 18th
verse,) that those who are authorized to impose the cen-
sures of the church, are equally empowered to remove

^ Sermon delivered ip New-Haven l>efore \i^ general conven-
tion.



16

them ? Is it then necessary to produce an instance of this
power having been exercised, since it is universally ad-
mitted that the power and the right have been conferred ?
If a person were duly commissioned by the President of
the United States to negotiate with the court of Great
Britain, would he be required to shew an instance where*
in any other person had acted under a similar commission ?
The church in her dispute with the Nuvatians, (who main-
tained that such as had fallen into any great sin after bap-
tism, were to be for ever excluded from her communion)
always insisted on her own just right and power, that
*' by the commission of the keys from Christ, she had
" power to loose as well as to bind ; to receive offenders
*' into the church upon their reformation, as well as to
*• cast out any of her members for notorious transgres-
*' sions.*' 1 nud concluded that the doctrine of the power
of the keys, (.;s it is called,) the power of bmding and
ioosi'ig, had been so long, so amply, so ably discussed,
thai it was now completely understood and set at rest. In-
stead, therefore, of reasoning on a subject over which I
can not hope to throw any additional light, especially as

*• Men convinced against their will,
" Are of the same opinion still,"

I proceed to lay before my readers the sentiments of tw»
authors, whose writings are held by all churchmen in the
highest veneration, and whose judgement on this subject
ought to be decisive. " Since God" (says Dr. Potter ia
his discourse on church-government) ••• has no where sig-
" nified that the character which he confers on persons ad-
'' mitted into holy orders, shall expire before their death,
" we might safely conclude (though we had no further
" reason for it) that it is indelible and perpetual, such as
*' cannot be forfeited by any misbehaviour. This may be
" illustrated by comparing the character of holy orders
" with that of baptism. The person baptised is dedicated
" to God, and admitted, by the ministry of his priest, to
" be a member of his church. This done, the person
*' may forfeit bis title to the privileges of the church by
" breaking his baptismal vow : he may fall iiito schism,
'^ heresy, or even into idolatry, but he still belangs to (h?



17

" church ; he still retains his baptismal character ; and, if
" he repent and return to the church's comnjunion, he must
" be admitted without being rebaptized This is a ruled
" case, and universally confirmed by the practice of the
'* church in all ages and countries. So they who are or-
*' dained receive authority from God, in whose name the
'* bishop puts his ha ds on them : and authority conferred
" by God can be destroyed or resumed by none but God,
** or one commissioned by him for that purpose. We
** do not find in the scripture one example of any priest,
** whose character did not last as long as his life. Mel-
*' chisedek was a priest for ever : all the Jewish priests
" and Levites, though the exercise of their functions was
" limited to a certain age, were accounted sacred persons,
" and distinguished from common Israelites, from their
** birth to their death : and the apostles and all the minis-
*' ters under them maintained their respective characters
*' from the time of their consecration to their death, witQ-
*' out any exception. If we descend to the churches of
" the next ages after the apostles, we shall find no exam-
" pies of ot darned ministers who outlived their orders :
" there is not the least footstep of any such practice in the
" church : these orders were fixed and perpetual. It was,
*' in that age, thought to be as impossible for one to lose
" the character of his order, as that of his baptism. De-
" posed clergymen, though they were forbidden to exer-
" cise their office, still retained their character. Suck
*' men were sometimes admitted to exercise their office
" again, and this was done without their being reordain-
" ed ; which could not have 4)een^ if deposition had de-
" prived them of the character of their order. The cha^
" racier of any order is a quite different thing from the
" exercise of the power belonging to that order, and the
" former may remain when the latter is taken away. I'hus
" in the case of deposed clergymen, the acts which they
" performed during the time of their suspension from the
" exercise of tht-ir office, were allowed to be valid, though
'' irregular. So that the same thing seems to be done to
" clergymen with regard to their order by deposition,
" which is done to laymen with regard to the effects of
" their baptism by excommunication: the deposed clergy-
'^ man is forbidden to exercise his function, and loses his



18

" share of the maiatenance which was allotted for th*
" clergy ; and the excommunicated person is rejected
" from thr Lord's supper and all other acts of Christian com-
" munidn to which he was entitled by his baptism: and yet
'^ neither of them are divested of their characters ; and
" therefore when the sentence of excommunication is
" taken off, the layman returns to the church without be*
" ing lebaptised ; and the sentence of deposition being
*' taken off, the clergyman resumes his office without re-
" peating his ordination. The rebaptization and reordi-
" nation eten of schismatics^ was universally condemned
" by the church, as appears from the works of the fathers
" still extant.'*

« As to reordination," (says Bingham in his elaborate
*' treatise on the antiquities of the Christian church,) we must
** distinguish between the orders that were given regularly
*' and canonically by persons rightly qualified in the
'* church, and such as were given irregularly by persons
'* disqualified, or by heretics and schismatics out of the
** church. As to such orders as were given regularly in
" the church}' they were supposed) like baptism, to im-
t^ press a sort of indelible character^ so as that there was
" no necessity, upon any occasion, to repeat them ; but on
" the contrary, it was deemed a criminal act so to do.
" The third council of Carthage, following the steps of the
" plenary council of Capsa, decreed — that it was equally
'' unlawful to rebaptise and reordain. And those called the
" apostolical canons made it deposition, both for the or-
** dainer and the ordained, to give or receive a second or-
** dination. St. Austin says, it was not the custom of the
*' catholic church to repieat either orders or baptism :
" for mert did not lose their orders, as to the internal cha-
" racter and virtue, though they were suspended from the
" execution of their office for some misdemeanour. Op-
•' tatus testifies the same, telling us that Donatus was con-
** demned in the council of Rome under Melchiades, for
" reordaining certain bishops, because it was contrary to
** the custom of the catholic church. So that we have no
" instances of reordaining such as had been regularly or-
*' darned in the christian church, it being esteemed un-
" lawful (a!i Theodoret words it) to give any man the
"« same ordination twice. St. Austin says, that when the



19

'f church judged it expedient not to suffer the Donatist
'^ bishops to officiate upon their return to the church, she

* did not thereby intend to denj' the reality or validity of
' their ordination, but supposed that to remain still perfect
" and entire in them. And this is what the same father
' meant by the sacrament of ordination, (as he words it,)

* or the indelible character which is thereby imprinted;
^ that though a man turned apostate, or was suspended, or
' deprived for any crime, yet if upon his repentance and

* satisfaction, the church thought fit to admit him to offi-
' date again, there was no necessity of giving him a new

* ordination, no more than a new baptism; for the character

* of both remained entire ; though he should be wholly di-

* vested of his q^ce and power, yet so much of the marks

* and footsteps of his former office would remain upon

* him> as that if he should bt recalled again to his office, he

* would not need the outward character or ceremony of a

* new ordination. An apostate clergyman, though he was
' reduced to lay-communion, or even fallen below it, could
•^ not need a new ordination, but only the church's com-
« mission and authority to release him of his bonds, which
' she did by absolution, and not a new ordination : thus far
' St. Austin and all the ancients allow.'

I shall close the remarks on this subject by a short ex-
tract fi-om the learned Dr. Forbes : — ' There remains some
' distinguishing character in a man that is deposed, by
' which he is distinguished from laymen. The character

* that remains in a deposed person is not the character of
^ any present office or power, but only some mark of an

* honour that is past, and of a power that he once had;

* by which mark he is distinguished from others who
« never were ordained, and may, if he be found fit, and the

* benefit of the church require it, be restored without a

* new ordination— restitui poterit absque nova ordina-

* tione.'

It is presumed that some of my readers will here pause
and ask- — how can these things be ? Can men, eminent for
the depth of their researches into ecclesiastical history ;
men who have read, collated, digested all that has been
written on this subject ; men whose authority is not to be
questioned ; can such men assert — ' th^t deposed clergy-
*" men were sometimes admitted to exercise their office

C



\ • ■ "

■ \

\

20\

'- agair.' — that the sentence being taken off, the dergymaS'
' resumes his office — that upon their repentance and sa-
' tisfaciion the church thought fit to admit them to offi-

• ciate agam — that they may, if the good of the church
' require it, be restored without a new ordination — that
' the church did, by absolution, release fronif their bonds
' clergymen who had been r*iduced to tha lowest state of
'degradation:' atid can Messrs. Hobart and How as*
sert, in the very face of such authority, that no instance
exists of the restoration of a deposed * clergyman ?

The latttT of these two personages is faiily entitled to
the plea of ignorance. 'A man who has nevev been able
to reach the standard of >v ediocrity, in any one of the
various professions which he has followed, may well claim
indulgence for want of proficiency in a new calling ; nor
would it be reasonable to expect from one who has so
lately become a convert to the church, that progress in eccle-
siastical, which he had previously failed to make in com-
mercial, legal, and tactical knowledge: besides, weave to te-
coUect that — ' non ex quovis ligno fit Mercurius.'f But
Dr. Hobart can lay no claim to such indulgence : the mank
who, for several years, has had his eyes immoveably"^
fixed on a mitre, cannot plead ignorance of books in
which every candidate for orders is to be examined : he
cannot but have read the celebrated case of Maximus,
who had been formally cut o^ from the church, and who
was afterwards ' received to his place in the presbytery
' again — Maximum presbyterumlocum suum agnosnoscere
'jussimus :' he cannot, indeed, but have read of Hundreds,

* Aware of the tvilstlcal disposition of those who ha\^ advanced
this assertion, I must, if possible, bar every avenue against their
escape from detection. Will they say that tticy employed the word
degraded, and not deposed ; and that all, my authorities refer to the
latter term only ? The reply is — they are convertible terms : they
mean the sane thing'. ' Deposition o;- degradation' (says Bingham)

• is a suspension of the power and authority committed to a clergy.
' m-m in his ordination : wlien he is divested of the power and au.

• thority formerly belonging to him, by some canons he is said to

• be deprived; by others, to be degraded; by others, to be deposed r
' these expressions arc so understood by modern writers.'

f 1 remember, when I was at school, to have heard an arch boy
translate this Roman adage thus :-~" You must not expect to make
a silk purse out of a sow's ear."



21

who after haviag been deposed, degraded, excommum-
C-.it*, d, anathematized by bell, book and candle, have
beca restored to their respective offices in the church. To
Viiiit then is to be attributed the rashness of this assertion ?
Did Dr. Hobart expect it would operate as an extinguish-
er, and put out all light on the subject ? Or is this ano-
ther instance of the leakiness of his memory ? There is a
faculty, which a facetious modern writer denominates — ,
*■ rernembering to forget, and forgetting to remember.'
This singular quality Dr. Hobart seems to possess in an
eminent degree ; and it will hereafter be made to appear
that he occasionally exercises it with no little success : is
it not possible that he may have seized this opportunity^
a .long others, of exhibiting his skill ' at remembering to
forget V

W'lat effect the foregoing statement will have produced
on the minds of my readers, I presume npt to judge.
The incredulous will probably be incredulous still ; some
may begin to dou! t ; others, perhaps> may be convinced :
but I am constrained to confess, that if the number of the
last mentioned should be comparatively small, t^ie defi-
ciency is ascribable, not to any want of satisfactory testi-.
mony, but to my manner of presenting it. I can safely
aver, that as far as my own knowledge, and the informa-
tion which I have gleaned from others, can be depended
upon, there is but one sentiment prevailing on the subject
of the proceedings against me. I have neithei heard, nor
heard of, a man or woman, a clergyman or layman,
churchman or dissenter of any denomination, native or
foreigner, m the diocese or out of it, (excepting some of
those men of violence who were actively concerned
against me, and whose thirst for blood can never be allay-
ed) who has not reprobated, in terms more or less severe,
the treatment which I have experienced : rash, hasty, un-
advised, ungenerous, illiberal, unfriendly, disproportion-
ed, unparalleled, unchristian, tyrannical, inquisitorial j
these are terms which I have repeatedly heard applied to
it by men of information, judgement, and candour»
Should there, however, be any who differ from my friends
and myself in opinion on this subject, I shall feel neither
surprise nor mortification. As I am not conscious of
tj^ving forfeited the good opinion or good will of a singly.



22

friend or acquaintance, so neither am I anxious to re^
sume my station among the Lyells, the Hobarts, and the
Howes of the present day. For reasons which are noto-
rious, I deem the post of honour, in the existing state of
ecclesiastical affairs in this diocese, to be a private station :
nor could all the overgrown wealth of Trinity church
now bribe me to accept a cure, under the domination of
such men as Dr. B. Moore, or Dr. J. H. Hobart. But be
it remembered that this resolution is not at variance with
my claim to the character and title of Reverend.

It will be observed, that in speaking of the primary
agents in the nefarious plot against me, I have indulged
myself in the utmost freedom of expression. This X
have ever done ; this I will ever do, when conscious of
any « great injury and wrong done unto me.'* I cannot,
(for the soul of me I cannot) play the sycophant: I am,
unhappily) formed of such inflexible materials, as will not
allow me to stoop so low as to kiss the foot which has
spurned me, even though that foot should appertain to a
bishop, a cardinal, or a pope. Were I at liberty to choose
xny motto, it should be — " Manus hsec inimica tyrannis :"
^nd I feel) if possible) more indignation at the usurpations
of an ecclesiastical? than of a political) despot. Are not
the reasons too obvious to require any explanation ? Can
it be necessary to prove, that tyrants in the church have
occasioned more mischief in the world) than tyrants in the
state ? Many an oblique hint has been conveyed to me,
that if I would remain quiet, and submit to my sentence
without complaint, the period might not be very distant
when I should be restored to my former standing in the
church. To every such mtimation, it is well known that
I have invariably replied — No ; ' Timeo Danaos et dona
* ferentes :' no ; never will I accept as a favour what I
demand as a right. — After having breathed) for half a
century, none other tlian the air of freedom and inde-
pendence, a change of atmosphere would prove delete-
rious : nor can I submit) at this period of life, to the im-
position of any trammels, excepting such as the laws of
decency and urbanity have already imposed. Strong lan-
guage is by no means synonymous with improper Ian-
rvuage ; nor is every forceful expression a rude one. Ri-
dicule itself? although not the test of truth, is a weapon



23

which may be honourably employed on particular occa-
sions : ' sometimesj' (says Dr. Witherspoon) it is neces-
* sary, in order to bring down self-sufficient persone, with
f whom there is no dealing till their pride is levelled a
' little.'

I have carefully avoided (I think) the mention of any
other names than such as have already been introduced by
Messrs. Jones, Hobart, and How : because I have no
wish to involve, unnecessarily, any others in the contro-
versy. In referring to persons who had not previously
been named, prudence forbids my express designation of
them, lest they might be exposed to the resentment of
those in authority over them : in other instances, the
names of any to whom allusion is made, shall be made
known, whenever a proper occasion may demand the dis-
closure.

I have presumed that none of my readers can be igno-
rant of the proceedings against mcj which took place
in April, 1809. A record of those proceedings has been
published ; the result was made known in the mode pre-
scribed by the canons ; and as if the canons had not en-
joined a degree of publicity, sufficient to gratify the ma-?
lice of the principal plotter, Dr. Hobart took special care
to mix it up among the contents of his Pandora box — that
vehicle of every heterogeneous matter — that -strange com-
pound of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and false-
hood, flattery and defamation, oil arid vinegar—' The
- Churchman's Magazine :'■ — a publication which? by the
bye, has done more injury to the church, than its present
injudicious compiler will live to see repaired — a perform^
ance which, like a rickety childj has long been indebted
for its support to bandages and rollers j or which, like a
sickly plant, owes its protracted existence to the manage-
ment of the hot-house. What Dr. H.'g motive for this
insertion could have been, unless to make my disgrace co-
extensive with his inveteracy, it will not be easy to deve-
lope. His pretence, of introducing it as an article of
agreeable news, is too ridiculous (to say nothing of the
falsehood) to be combated : and that it was considered by
some of his best friends and warmest advocates as an
indiscreet, wantons and cruel actj can easily be proved if
necessarv.



^4

I now proceed to detail some of the particulars connect"
ed with the above meMioned proceedings, in ordrr that
the reader may be enabled to judge whether Mr. Jones's
charge of tyranny, intolerance, &c. &c. be well founded,
and whether I may not be regarded as a living instance of
its truth.

The first intimation that any steps towards my de-
struction had been taken, was conveyed in a letter from
Dr. B. Moore, informing me that certain charges againaft
me had been exhibited to him, that he had nominated my
judges, appointed the time and place of trial, and rtrquired
my attendance. Soon after the receipt of this letter, fina-
ing that my health was rapidly declining, and fearing th«t



Online LibraryJohn IrelandA second solemn appeal to the church : containing remarks and strictures on the late violent proceedings of a pretended ecclesiastical court against the author → online text (page 2 of 51)