William White.

Memoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; containing, I. A narrative of the organization and of the early measures of the church. II. Additional statements and remarks. III. An appendix of original papers online

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Online LibraryWilliam WhiteMemoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; containing, I. A narrative of the organization and of the early measures of the church. II. Additional statements and remarks. III. An appendix of original papers → online text (page 31 of 44)
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HH. Page 57 .

Had there been an accomplishment of the wish of the
bishops, the services of the morning would have been ab-
breviated, it is thought, to desirable limits. This would
have been conformable to the purpose, for which litanies
were originally framed. In the English Church, the Litany
stood in the first book of Edward, after the Communion
Service, with a rubric agreeable to the sentiments here en-
tertained; and it was placed between that service and the
office for Baptism. In the second book of Edward, it took
its present station, with a rubric extending the use of it to
Sundays. For these facts, see Wheatley.

Further; the writer of this ought not to be backward to
confess that, however convinced of the propriety of the
worship of the adorable Redeemer, as sanctioned by the
Word of God, he considers it as consentaneous with
the same high authority that worship should be princi-
pally addressed to the Father, through the merits of the
Son. All of the Litany, between the first four petitions
and the Lord's Prayer are to the Son exclusively. At least,
this is here conceived to be the correct opinion, and it is
sanctioned by the sense of the commentators on the Lit-
urgy; although there are some, who think that the Father
is addressed through the greater part of it, beginning at
"We sinners do beseech thee," etc. To show the want of
consent in this matter, it may be proper to notice that
when it was discoursed of among the bishops there ap-
peared an opposition of interpretation on the point.


II. Page 57.

It must be acknowledged, that after the withdrawing of
what the bishops had contemplated in regard to the Litany,
the abbreviations are very inconsiderable. Yet it is diffi-
cult to perceive, with what consistency the mere permis-
sion of them was argued against, by speakers who advo-
cated indulgence to the much larger extent of the omission S
of the ante-communion service; not because they considered '
it to be a true interpretation of the rubric for this they une-
quivocally denied; but on a principle warranting any other*}
omissions, which the agents are ready to declare to be rec-(
oncilable to their consciences.

In fact, in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, the
debate took such a turn, as threatens to give unbounded
license to such easy consciences; and to be operative on
those only who hold themselves to be bound by rubrics:
for this was a construction fairly put on the reasonings of
those who were in the highest grade of adherence to the
integrity of the service.

KK. Page 58.

To the insertion of this prayer, there have been made
two objections: not on the floor of the house, but in con-
versation. The first is, that it would add to the sanction
given to the doctrine of baptismal regeneration, confess-
edly contained in the original prayer. But O ! what a pur-
gation must there be of our Articles, of our services, and
of our homilies, if this prejudice is to be complied with !
The other objection, is its not being expressed, that the
petition is put up through the merits of the Redeemer. But
it is the same in this respect, with the present prayer.
There can not be a more evangelical requisition, than that
our persons and our devotions can claim acceptance on this
ground only. But it may be questioned, whether the rec-
ognition of this truth constitutes a necessary circumstance



of every subdivision of a continued service. In the prayers
before sermons of our brethren of other denominations,
there are divers subjects, and not such a request in regard
to each of them. The great truth is usually recognized in
the conclusion of the prayer: and so it is in the progress
of ours, in various places. The compilers of our Liturgy,
took the prayer in question from a Father of the fourth cen-
tury. If there be weight in the otJjertion, it oughFtoBe
applied to the dispensing with both of the prayers. We put
up the Lord's Prayer without this adjunct; although, doubt-
less, with the implication of it. In Acts iv. 24-31, there is
a prayer, of which the subject matter is not asked through
the merits of the Saviour, although He is recognized as a
worker of miracles. As to that in chapter i. 24, 25, it is
addressed to the Saviour Himself.

LL. Page 58.

Concerning the subject in the Narrative, it has appeared
to the writer of these remarks, in regard to those who have
pleaded for laxity, that they have uniformly avoided notice
of the hinge on which the question of permitted deviation
principally turns. It is not merely that the same is un-
rubrical, and a violation of the promises made at ordina-
tion; but, that the interpretation, if acted on consistently,
would abrogate the use of all those selections of collects,
epistles, and gospels, any of which may apply to days when
the minister delivers a sermon. This may happen on any
week day, noted by the calendar as a festival or a fast; and
actually happens in every church, opened on. Christmas
Day or on Good Friday. The writer will put a strong
case, existing in his own person. For many years he has
been in the habit, besides a sermon on Good Friday, to de-
liver what he has called a lecture, on every one of the rest
of the days in Passion Week, as also on Easter Monday and
Tuesday. The rubric uses the word " sermon," and not
the word "lecture." What is a sermon? "It is a dis-


course," say the dictionaries (see Johnson or Walker),
" delivered by a divine, for the edification of the people."
It would be a subterfuge, in any clergyman, were he, in
order to avoid what the canons require on the subject of
sermons, to call his discourses lectures, for no other reason
than the not taking of a text, and perhaps the speaking
from the reading desk, instead of from the pulpit. Here-
after, some clergyman may deliver, on every day in Passion
Week, what is more customarily called a sermon, as is done
in many churches in England. Such a clergyman would
more conspicuously commit a palpable violation of the ru-
bric. Of those who are in the disuse of the ante-commun-
ion service, it is not probable, that there are many who
hold worship on the days which have been referred to, ex-
cept, perhaps, on Good Friday. But why not be tolerant
towards those of their brethren, who, if they should adopt
the interpretation contended for, must abandon what they
deem an edifying improvement of those days of humiliation?

MM. Page 58.

It will be pertinent, in this place, to relate an incident,
relative to a matter which was passed unanimously by the
bishops, and sent to the other house, where the turn taken
by it dispensed with the inserting of the document on the
journal. It consisted of various reasons in favor of the
construction given by the bishops to what some were
pleased to call the dubious rubric, in addition to the rea-
sons given in the convention of 1823, and entered on their
journal. The additional reasons were handed in with the
proposal concerning the Liturgy, as in its first form. Of
course, when this was withdrawn, as related above, the
other came back with it.

When the proposal concerning the Liturgy was sent
again to the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, it was
accompanied, not as before, by the two sets of reasons, but
by a canon, explanatory of what the bishops conceived to


be the true sense of the rubric. In the mean time, the rea-
sons having been printed by the order of the House of
Clerical and Lay Deputies, they were in the hands of the
members; and the acceptance of the canon, together with
the proposal concerning the Liturgy, accomplished the ob-
ject for which the reasons had been drawn up. But, as
they are important towards an understanding of the trans-
action, they are committed to the Appendix, No. 34.

NN. Page 58.

Within the memory of the author of this work there has
taken place a most remarkable change, in reference to the
subject now noticed. When he was a young man, and in
England, and even when he was there fifteen years after,
he never, in any church, heard other metrical singing than
what was either from the version of Sternhold and Hop-
kins, or from that of Tate and Brady. In this country it
was the same; except on Christmas Day and on Easter
Sunday, when there were the two hymns now appropriate
to those days: which was strictly rubrical; they being no
more than passages of Scripture, put into the trammels of
metre and rhyme. Of late years, in England, an un-
bounded license has taken place in this respect: and even
. an Archbishop of York has given his sanction to a collec-
' tion of hymns made by one of his clergy. The like liberty
has crossed the ocean to this country, in a degree.

Let not the remark be misconstrued. The present writer
has no leaning to the theory of those who consider all sing-
ing, except of David's Psalms, as irreverent and irreligious.
On the contrary, he is in favor of the opinion, for the in-
troducing of some hymns, expressly recognizing events
and truths peculiar to the New Testament. Still, whether
it be the effect of mature judgment or that of feelings ex-
cited during the earliest of his years within his recollection,
he declares, that in respect to the ordinary topics of prayer,
of praise, and of precept, he finds no compositions so much


tending to the excitement of devotion, as what we have in
the Book of Psalms: and, as they are the effusions of in-
spiration, he ought to be excused for his reluctance to
doubt the correctness of his theory.

As chairman of the committee, he hopes his advice had
some effect, towards checking the multiplicity deprecated
by him, although not to the extent desired. For a more
full manifestation of his sentiments on the subject, he pre-
sents a document, read by him to the committee, and now
to be included in the Appendix, No. 35.

In this concern there was a course taken, which, it is to
be hoped, will be imitated in regard to the Liturgy, in the
future event of a review, if this should happen. It is, that
after a preparation of the work by a committee, consisting
of members from all the orders in the Church, the conven-
tion should have ojnly_to_s_tamp^on it their yea or their nay.
Had they gone into the consideration of the sense of every
hymn, and of the criticisms which would have been made
on the phraseology, the work would have taken some
months at the least. All were sensible, that the time
would be longer than they could sit together; and, there-
fore, the dissatisfied members of the House of Clerical and
Lay Deputies proposed a continuance of the subject to the
next Triennial Convention. It had already been before
three bodies of this description. The same reason would
apply at the meeting of the next: and, unless the principle
should be abandoned, we should have had no addition to
the hymns. Whether this would have been for the better or
for the worse might be uncertain; were it not for the license
now taken in many places, because of the want of more.

OO. Page 59.

The two canons not acted on, were directed against {
very great evils, calling for immediate remedy. What was
proposed, would certainly have been, in substance, accept-
able to the members generally of the House of Clerical and


Lay Deputies. But some of the members having proposed
certain amendments to the first of the two canons, impa-
tience to put an end to the session, caused a reference to
the committee on the canons, previously appointed and to
sit in the recess. The second of the canons would have
had a beneficial effect on the present state of the Church
in this diocese. There would have been no need of the
delay, but because of the time wasted on the business
which is to follow.

PP. Page 59.

There has never been before manifested so much pa-
/ tience under tedious repetition of the same sentiments, in
reference to a point concerning which a considerable ma-
jority were of opinion from the beginning, that it was
foreign to the purposes for which they were assembled. In
three previous conventions, there had come forward appli-
cants, with their respective schemes relative to books; and
they had been rejected, without examination. In the first
instance, the bishops had sent to the other house, and had
received their thanks for it, a resolution interdicting all
conventional deliberations of that description. This trans-
action is recorded on the journal of 1814; and the principle
has been acted on ever since, until the present occasion/
It is to be hoped, that the bad effects produced by a
deviation from the precedent so set, will prevent the like
in future.

Although the scheme was rejected, there were, among
those who were averse to the reception of it, some who
thought it good in itself, and worthy of the endeavors of a
society, to be instituted for the purpose. The writer of
this was of a different opinion, for many reasons. His
principal reason was, that either there would be an addi
tion to the calls, of which there are already too many 01
the clergy, to leave their respective dioceses and parishes
for the management of the general business of the Church.


while, as to the lay gentlemen, we should have no proba-
bility, that they would leave their occupations for the pur-
pose. The business would be at the command of a few
gentlemen, at the central seat of the measures to be taken.
The writer, in consequence of much experience in pecu-
niary institutions, connected with religion and with litera-
ture, has witnessed serious losses incurred; sometimes from
neglect, accompanied by the purest intentions with the
most unsullied integrity; and at other times, by the appli-
cation of public stock to private and unsuccessful specula-
tions. He is therefore reluctant to the encouragement of
a plan, which would commit to such hazards the large
stock contemplated: when the disappointment of expecta-
tion may bring indelible disgrace on the Church.

QQ. Page 61. Of the Convention in 1829.

In the canons of the Church in Tennessee, it was pro- k
vided, that, after a trial by the constituted ecclesiastical au-/H
thority, there should be an appeal to the diocesan conven-
tion. This was judged by the bishops to be inconsistent
with Episcopal government. The opinion was concurred
in by the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, without a
dissentient voice, so far as appears.

RR. Page 61.

The author of the present work, would have been grati-
fied by the alterations in the Liturgy proposed by the last
convention, being convinced of the expediency of shorten-
ing the Sunday service for the morning, consisting, as it
does, of services originally intended to be distinct, and of
unintended repetitions. He was not, however, so much
dissatisfied by the rejection of the proposals, as by the
causes which, as he conceives, conducted to the issue:
causes, operating as well with those who objected on the
general ground of dislike to innovation, as with others, who


were dissatisfied with the several proposed alterations. The
former were reluctant to the decisive measure of an author-
itative suppression of the licentiousness of generally omit-
ting the ante-communion service, where the omission of it
was owing to what they confessed to be a misconstruction
of a rubric. The latter, it is here believed, were averse to <
the shortening of the service in such a way, as not to leave (
any excuse for omissions as individual discretion may sug- (
gest. These opposite opinions may be considered as com- )
bining in the point, of there being at last no established .
uniformity in the use of the services of the Church. It is
to be hoped, that the providence of God will interpose, for
the prevention of such a result. To the author of these re-'"
marks, the only expedient seems to be, as was suggested
in a former part of this work, the appointment of a joint
committee of bishops, and other divines, jbr^ a deliberate
review of the Book of Common Prayer; their work, when 1
finished, to be laid before the two houses of convention,
and to be by them adopted or rejected without debate.]
This is a course, the nearest that circumstances admit,
to the compilation of the Book of Common Prayer by
the reformers of the Church of England, in the reign of
Edward VI.

Perhaps it will be thought by some, that, on supposition
of the correctness of the apprehensions which have been
expressed, the present book, if continued in what will be
called its integrity, will be adhered to by a proportion of
the clergy. It is not probable. There occur to many of
the body, the most correcFln adherence to order, many
circumstances inducing to abbreviations, countenanced by
departure from original design. Such clergymen will rec-
oncile deviations to their consciences, by the consideration,
that it is unnoticed by the constituted authorities of the
Church; and thus they will become accessory to the result
of there being no form in practice. This inconsistency is
known to have happened with some clergymen, who have
declared their hostility to any alterations of the rubrics.


SS. Page 63.

The objections to the non-succession of an assistant
bishop, maybe comprehended under the following heads:

1st. It was the general course relative to a coadjutor or
assistant Episcopacy, although there have been some devia-
tions from the general practice, and although, even in very
early times, some departures from the practice have taken
place, of which there was an instance in the person of Greg-
ory Nazianzen.

2d. In the circumstances of this Church, it would be pe-
culiarly unfortunate, if the precedent should lead to her
being encumbered with bishops not possessed of dioceses.

3d. It would give an opening to factious presbyters,
whose ambition may prompt them to raise parties, with
views to the diocesan Episcopacy; and,

4th. That influential laymen may patronize this restric-
tion, with the view of keeping the temporary bishop in sub-
jection to their control.

There may be proposed the question why did not these
considerations weigh with the bishops, so as to induce their
refusal to consecrate ?

The answer is,

1st. The convention of Virginia, although deviating
from the original and reasonable practice, had to plead
the countenance of some precedents.

2d. From the assurances which were given by the depu-
ties of the diocese interested, it was confidently believed,
that there would be a correction of the error at the next

3d. That the canon passed against the practice by this
convention, was counted on as a barrier against any further
recurrence of the evil; and,

4th. That the convention of Virginia could, with the
less reason, resist the canon, as they had instructed their
deputies to move in the General Convention, for a regula-
tion to govern on the subject in future.


It was known at the time, that Bishop Brownell had
determined on a visit to the western states, and to those
south of Georgia, under a mission from the Domestic and
Foreign Missionary Society. It is probable, that this
prompted the proposal contained in the Narrative. There
can be no doubt, that the contemplated visit will contrib-
ute materially to the object proposed by the General Con-
vention. The hope of this result is considerably strength-
ened by what Bishop Ravenscroft has accomplished, in
his way from his diocese to the General Convention. He
made a circuit through the States of Tennessee and Ken-
tucky, which not only excited the zeal of the scattered
Episcopalians in those states, but contributed to the or-
ganizing of the Church in each of them.

There was a singular coincidence of the assistant bishop-
elect of the Church in Virginia, and that of the assistant
bishop who had been consecrated for Pennsylvania. In the
latter case, the consecration had been strenuously objected
to, on the ground, that the convention of Pennsylvania
had no right to elect a successor to their present bishop,
while living. In direct contrariety to this position, a Gen-
eral Convention, assembled soon after, are unanimously of
opinion, that to choose an assistant bishop, without the in-
tention of his succeeding, is an act utterly indefensible.
During the discussions, the matter which had been liti-
gated in Pennsylvania, was kept out of view, and the
name of the assistant bishop was not mentioned. This is
evidence of what little account was the opposition made to
his consecration, in the estimation of the representative
body of the whole Church.

It is the opinion of the author of these remarks, that the
proceedings relative to the metre psalms are unnecessary,
and fruitful of litigation. Such is the diversity, not only of
judgment, but of taste, that be the selection what it may,
there will be complaints of the omission of some passages,
and of what will be thought the injudicious preference of


Still, there will be urged the small proportion of the
psalms in use. This objection is easily met. The metre
psalms make no part of the Book of Common Prayer.
There may be editions of the one, in severance from the
other; or with selections from it, at the discretion of any
parochial minister. Nothing is wanting but a moderate
measure of attention, with or without the aid of consenting
brethren, to a printer and to a binder. Different selec-
tions will be made for different congregations, without just
cause of offense. The selections will be submitted to such
choice as may be prompted by judgment or by caprice,
to be bound in the same covers with the Book of Common
Prayer; and they who do not like any of them, may attach
to the book the whole body of the psalms in metre.

TT. Page 67. Of the Convention in 1832.

On the reading of the journal, without the knowledge of
an exterior cause having a bearing on the deliberations of
the body, it can not but seem, that much time was unneces-
sarily spent in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies;
owing to the blending of two subjects, one of which might
properly have been dispensed with. Whether a bishop
have a right to resign his charge at discretion; and when
the diocese being abandoned, whether it be not a duty to
supply the vacancy; are questions resolvable on different
grounds. It was not from the being insensible of the dif-
ference, that so much zeal and so much argument were
lavished on the affirmative of the first of these questions.
The effect was the result of opposite opinions held rela- /
tively to an event of thirty-three years' standing. There '
has been recorded in the " Memoirs," that in September, ',
1800, the three bishops, then composing a house, denied ^
the right of Bishop Provoost to resign; and consecrated '
Bishop Benjamin Moore, only as his assistant and succes-


son* It has also been noticed, that some years after, on <
the occurrence of an unhappy controversy in the diocese of S
New York, this matter came under the consideration of the 1
diocesan convention; which refused to acknowledge any
other diocesan Episcopacy than that of Bishop Moore. /
Although the question, as regards the circumstances which
originated it, has ceased to be interesting; yet the occur-
rence of another professed resignation, brought again into
view the diversity of sentiment, which had so long ceased
to cause any disturbance to the Church.

Although, in the late convention, much time was lost
in the consequent discussion; yet it will result in benefit to
the Church, if the Thirty-second Canon, which was the fruit
of it, should be efficient in guarding against resignations,
not induced by exterior necessity, or by some other extra-
ordinary consideration; and not resting altogether on the
will of the party, for the consummating of the act. The
threatened danger is not only that of giving occasion to
faction excited and conducted by clerical ambition, and
that of coveting the Episcopal grade, with the design of
being speedily disengaged from its labors; but may have
unforeseen consequences, by the sanction which it extends
to a very pernicious assumption of the Papacy. The ad-
vocates of the right of resignation constantly affirm, that
there is a distinction between office and jurisdiction. The
primitive Church knew nothing of this. It was a notion
started by those called the schoolmen, and seized by the
gopes, to favor the position that all jurisdiction is from

Online LibraryWilliam WhiteMemoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; containing, I. A narrative of the organization and of the early measures of the church. II. Additional statements and remarks. III. An appendix of original papers → online text (page 31 of 44)