Protestant Episcopal Church

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Protestant Episcopal Church [1]

This is the legal title of one portion of the Church of Christ which has its local habitation in the United States of America. The first part indicates its position relatively to the Roman Catholic Church, as protesting against the errors and repudiating the claims of that Church to supremacy in doctrine, discipline, and worship; the second part of the title expresses its attitude towards other Christian bodies who have rejected episcopacy on the ground that it is not of divine origin, and. therefore, not of universal and permanent obligation. The history of the Protestant Episcopal Church is consequently of more than ordinary interest, since, on the one hand, it has been compelled to resist the Roman Catholics and their progress, and, on the other, has been forced to maintain its position among Protestants, without being able to form any union or engage in any concert of action with them. In the present article it will be the writer's aim to give a tolerably full account of the history and progress of this Church, together with some supplementary statements and remarks in regard to its peculiar claims and adaptedness for the great work of evangelizing our country and helping to make the Gospel known throughout the dark places of the earth where heathenism prevails.

I. History. Here a natural division suggests itself at once, viz.:

(1.) History of the period during colonial times to the close of the Revolutionary war. This period covers rather more than a century and a half, and during it Church people looked directly to the mother country for ministerial supply and religious privileges in general.

(2.) The period after the Revolution, when efforts were successfully made to obtain the episcopal succession from England, the Protestant Episcopal Church was duly organized, its liturgy, articles, constitution, etc., were adopted, and its bishops and clergy in different parts of the country were brought into union as one body, with the General Convention as its central legislative power. This period covers the years 1783 to about 1808.

(3.) The later history of the Church, marking its growth, increase in wealth and numbers, educational efforts, missionary labors, and the like, with as full and accurate statistics as call be obtained of its present position and work.

1. Early And Colonial History. In the latter part of the 16th century, Sir Humphrey Gilbert left England to endeavor to form a settlement in America. Among the motives avowed as influencing him were "the honor of God, compassion of poor infidels captivated by the devil (it seeming probable that God hath reserved these Gentiles to be reduced into Christian civility by the English nation), advancement of his honest and well- disposed countrymen willing to accompany him in such honorable actions, and reliefe of sundry people within this realme distressed." Though Gilbert met with no success and was lost at sea, other efforts were made by his half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1584, in Carolina and Virginia. These too, though in the main unsuccessful, were not wholly without fruit. In 1606 the Virginia Company obtained its charter, and in 1607 the settlement at Jamestown was begun. Among the articles and order of the charter it was expressly required that "the presidents, councils, and ministers should provide that the true word and service of God be preached, planted, and used, according to the rites and doctrine of the Church of England, not only in the said colonies, but also as much as might be among the savages bordering upon them." A clergyman of the English Church, Rev. R. Hunt, accompanied the expedition, and with unwearied zeal, and with piety and devotion worthy the highest praise, labored in his vocation to the end of his life. Other godly men followed, especially Rev. A. Whitaker. who has been honored with the title "Apostle of Virginia."

Through his agency the Indian maiden Pocahontas was converted and baptized. and proved herself of great service to the colony. "As the first colonists of Virginia were exclusively members of the Church of England, the legislature of the colony decreed a provision for the clergy, at the rate of fifteen hundred pounds of tobacco and sixteen barrels of flour annually for each clergyman. As each new borough was formed, it was ordered that a portion of glebe land should be set apart for the use of the incumbent. Tithes were afterwards instituted. Discipline was enforced by laws which. it must be admitted, were unjustifiably severe; and a peremptory enactment was passed that none but ministers episcopally ordained should be allowed to officiate in the colony" (Hawkins). Early efforts were made to provide for the education of English and Indian youth by founding a college, and ten thousand acres of land were set apart, and large sums of money collected. In 1619, when Sir Thomas Yeardley became governor of Virginia, the legislature manifested commendable zeal in the same direction. The officers and agents of the Company were urged to train up the people in true religion and virtue, and also "to employ their utmost care to advance all things appertaining to the order and administration of divine service according to the form and discipline of the Church of England, carefully avoiding all factious and needless novelties, which only tend to the disturbance of peace and unity."

The most earnest desire was shown to convert the Indians to the faith of Christ, and to educate them in accordance with this faith. Mr. G. Thorpe, a man of good parts and breeding, was appointed head of the new institution, and it was confidently hoped and expected that the red men would ere long become Christians and members of a civilized community; but a rude shock was given to this hope by the Indians, who, hating and fearing the intruders, as they considered the whites to be, resorted, in 1622, to a bloody massacre; this, it may be noted, would have been complete extermination, had not a Christian Indian disclosed the plot the night before, and thus prevented its entire fulfilment. The deplorable result was, the embittering the feelings of all towards the Indians and a fierce war of retaliation; so that, for the time, the college, missionary labors, and Christian education were abandoned. In 1625 Virginia became a royal colony, and though its religious concerns were not so zealously looked after as under the charter, yet the people as a whole remained steadfast in their attachment to the Church of England, and their determination to sustain it in every way in their power. Virginia, too, where many cavaliers sought refuge, was loyal to the exiled monarchy when Cromwell came into power, while New England, on the other hand, sympathized heartily with the "lord protector" and his work. After the Restoration, in 1660, the colonial legislature, under Berkeley, the royal governor, gave early attention to the repairs and building of churches, the canonical performance of the liturgy, the ministration of God's word, the baptizing and Christian education of the young, etc. It is, however, sadly true that religion had greatly declined among the people; violent contests occurred between the governors and the assembly of the people; the ruling party was intolerant; popular discontent increased; and rebellion actually broke out. So injurious were these disturbances and the wicked passions to which they gave rise that almost of necessity piety and godly life and conversation declined; and the Church became weakened to such an extent that, it is recorded, out of fifty parishes, nearly all were destitute of glebe, parsonage, church, and minister, and there were not more than ten in holy orders left. In 1685 Rev. James Blair came as missionary to Virginia. Four years later he was appointed commissary of the bishop of London, a position of great responsibility and trust, especially with regard to discipline of both clergy and laity. He also held a seat in the council, and continued at his post as commissary for more than half a century, exercising a most beneficial influence in every way, and particularly in restoring and enlarging the good work of the Church. It was through his energetic efforts and well-directed zeal that the College of William and Mary was chartered in 1692. Its design was "that the Church in Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the Gospel; that the youth may be piously educated in good letters and manners; and that the Christian faith may be propagated among the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God." Blair became president of this the second college founded in America, and lived to a very advanced age.

The neighboring colony of Maryland, founded in 1633 by lord Baltimore, a Roman Catholic, with some two hundred families and two or more priests of that Church, was noted for freely opening its doors to "every person professing to believe in Jesus Christ." The colonial assembly in 1639 declared, in the words of Magna Charta, that "Holy Church within this province shall have all her rights and privileges." Whether by this term was meant the Church of England or not, it is certain that the influence and membership of that Church were largely extended. The general progress of the colony was so successful that at lord Baltimore's death, in 1676, there were in Maryland ten counties and about sixteen thousand inhabitants, the largest part of whom were Protestants. At this date a letter was addressed to the archbishop of Canterbury by a clergyman named Yeo, complaining of the low state of morals in the colony, and of the fact that the clergy of the Church of England had no settled incomes like their brethren in Virginia, and that consequently their position was neither so respectable nor so well calculated to effect good as it ought to be. Efforts were made to induce the proprietary to provide maintenance for the Church; this, however, he wholly refused. Seditious movements thereupon were set on foot against him as being a "papist," and it was maliciously rumored that the Roman Catholics, in complicity with the Indians, were purposing to massacre the Protestants. On the accession of William of Orange in 1688, a so-called "Protestant revolution" took place, and for three years the government was in the hands of the insurgents. Lord Baltimore having been deprived of his rights as proprietary, a royal governor was sent into Maryland, and in 1692 the Church of England was established by law; the province was divided into thirty parishes, and tithes were imposed for support of the clergy upon every inhabitant, no matter what might be his religious opinions. The Roman Catholics and Quakers opposed this with all their might, and with more or less success. In 1696 new laws were made, which still, however, recognised the Church of England as by law established as entitled to all its rights, privileges. and freedom.

The clergy, feeling the need of aid from home, begged the bishop of London to send them a commissary at least (since they were not allowed to have a bishop), "to redress what was amiss and supply what was wanting in the Church." Dr. Thomas Bray, a very estimable and truly godly man, was the one chosen to fill this important position. At great personal sacrifice he accepted it. He secured as many pious and devoted clergymen as he could to go with him to America, and was soon enabled to increase the number of those laboring in Maryland from three to sixteen. He began the formation of colonial libraries, and as one step led to another, and as he perceived how great was the need and how important was the result of combined action on the part of the members of the Church, he conceived the noble idea of founding the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and that for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The latter was chartered in June, 1701, the former in 1698. Early in March, 1700, Dr. Bray arrived in Maryland, and entered at once with zeal and diligence upon his work. He assembled the clergy, delivered charges, administered discipline, and was active in having a bill passed by the legislature for the settlement and maintenance of the parochial clergy. By this bill it was provided "that the Book of Common Prayer and administration of the sacraments, with the rites and ceremonies of the Church, according to the use of the Church of England, the Psalter and Psalms of David, and morning and evening prayer, therein contained, be solemnly read by all and every minister or reader in every church or other place of public worship within this province." Despite some opposition, the king gave the enactment his consent, and it became law. Although Dr. Bray's stay in Maryland was terminated in 1701, he never ceased his efforts in behalf of the Church there; and it is on record that out of some thirty thousand inhabitants in Maryland at this date, the majority were in communion with the Church of England.

The Carolinas and Georgia were among the later colonies in the southern part of America. Several ineffectual efforts had been made from 1630-60 to found settlements in the region of Albemarle Sound; but it was not till after the restoration of Charles II that a body of noblemen (Clarendon, Albemarle, etc.) undertook the task, and met with success. "Being excited," as they declared, "by a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the Gospel, they begged a certain country in the parts of America not vet cultivated and planted, and only inhabited by some barbarous people who have no knowledge of God." The charter allowed entire freedom of religious opinion, and no one was to be disturbed on these matters by the public authorities. We are sorry to say, however, that, notwithstanding the pious and proper language quoted above, the noble proprietaries made no provision for the spiritual interests of the colonists or for the conversion of the Indians. The famous John Locke's "grand model" of government (1670) turned out to be a grand failure, and was abolished in 1693. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker denomination, visited Carolina and gave quite an impulse to the peculiar notions in religion which he entertained. The religious condition of the colony at the close of the century was on the whole very unsatisfactory, and ungodliness prevailed to a lamentable extent. Early in the 18th century the majority of the colonists were dissenters, yet acts were passed in 1704-6, establishing the Church of England as the religion of the province. This produced trouble and resistance of course, and was of no real advantage to the Church.

The Society for Propagating the Gospel sent missionaries into the Carolinas, and some, though mostly ineffectual, struggles were made to stay the floods of ungodliness, fanaticism, and semi-heathenism; it was a hard and almost hopeless contest during the greater part of the century. Georgia owed its origin to Oglethorpe's benevolent designs and efforts from 1732 onward. Religious privileges were freely accorded. The German Lutherans and Moravians were early in the field. A small company of Jews came also; and a body of Scotch Highlanders founded New Inverness in 1736. At this date, too, John and Charles Wesley were in Georgia. John Wesley was parish minister in Savannah, and for a while matters went on very well and satisfactorily; but ere long the strictness of Wesley in enforcing the rubrics, and the dissatisfaction of the colonists who were very restive under Church discipline, led to dissension and irreconcilable differences; so that Wesley "shook off the dust of his feet," as he phrases it, and left Georgia in disgust. George Whitefield soon after came to Georgia, and though he was continually itinerating to and from England and through the northern colonies, stirring up great excitement by his fiery zeal and energy, yet his labors in Georgia as a clergyman of the Church of England met with fair success. The same statement may here be made as in the case of the Carolinas, that missionaries of the Society for Propagating the Gospel did what they could in behalf of religion and the Church; but they were far too few and ill-supported to accomplish much.

Turning our attention from the southern colonies where, as in Virginia, the Church of England was planted at the date of the earliest settlement in America, and where it flourished despite the fact of being deprived of an essential element in the life and growth of the Church, viz. episcopal presence and supervision, we may next glance at the more northerly portion of the continent. New York (formerly New Netherland) was first colonized by the Dutch in 1615 onward, and of course was in its religious character presbyterian, like the Hollanders at home. In 1664 it was seized by the English, and became a part of the colonial empire of England. After a time the Church of England obtained precedence, and for a while was supported by public tax. Trinity Church was founded in New York city in 1696; the Rev. W. Vesey was its first rector, and was also for fifty years commissary of the bishop of London; it is probably the wealthiest church corporation in the United States. New Jersey (New Sweden), in like manner, and the banks of the Delaware from the mouth inland, were settled by Swedes in 1638. Later (1676), the Quakers came in as colonists, and though in religious profession the inhabitants were principally Presbyterians and Quakers, yet there was open toleration to all other Christian believers. Missionaries of the Society for Propagating the Gospel were at an early day earnestly and zealously at work, at several points in New Jersey, and besides the names of Talbot, Beach, and others, that of Dr. T . B. Chandler, of Elizabethtown, must ever be held in grateful memory by churchmen. The Protestant Episcopal Church has always been comparatively strong in New Jersey Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn in 168182, and, so far as religion was concerned, was tolerant to all of every name. It deserves to be mentioned, too, that, as in the early history of Virginia, kindness and gentleness were displayed towards the native tribes, and no Quaker blood was ever shed by the Indians. The first Episcopal Church founded in Pennsylvania was Christ's Church, Philadelphia, in 1695; and at various points the missionaries of the Society for Propagating the Gospel were, during the early part of the 18th century, actively engaged in preaching the Gospel. Great ungodliness prevailed in all directions. and fanaticism, in its most offensive, hurtful form, displayed itself; but the clergy labored on, amid every discouragement, and their labors were blessed to a large extent.

In all the colonial enterprises thus far, as we have seen, the Church of England was allowed a reasonably fair and just privilege of ministering to the wants of its own people, and extending its boundaries and influence, as best it could in accordance with the rights of others. But when we look at New England, and see what treatment the Church met with there, the contrast is striking indeed. Here, as is well known, the first settlers were those called in the ecclesiastical history of the time Puritans. They were men who had been engaged in long and fierce contentions with the established Church in England. They were men also of stern and unyielding natures, and among them, the leading ones at least, for good reasons, as they held, hated the Church with as nearly a perfect hatred as is possible for man to attain. There was no term in the vocabulary of reproach which they did not heap upon the Church and its clergy and members, as well as its liturgy and services. They refused to allow two clergymen of the Church, who were in New England in 1623-24, to preach and labor in any way in their vocation; and the brothers Browne, two of the original patentees of the Massachusetts Bay Company, who desired to enjoy the services of the Church of England, and that too only in a private dwelling, were shipped off in 1629, without ceremony, by Endicott, the governor, on the ground that they were "factious and evil- conditioned."

Thus was begun that series of oppressive actions and intolerant disregard of the rights of others which resulted later in the judicial murder of the Quakers. In a letter, dated April 7, 1630, when a large body of Puritans were embarking from England under Winthrop and Saltonstall, they spoke of themselves as men "who esteem it an honor to call the Church of England, whence we rise, our dear mother; and we cannot part from our native country, where she specially resideth, without much sadness of heart, and many tears in our eyes; ever acknowledging that such hope and part as we have obtained in the common salvation we have received in her bosom, and sucked it from her breasts." Yet these same men and their successors, with strange and painful disregard of the plain meaning of their words, resolved upon and put in practice intolerance in its most vengeful form. They had suffered, as they averred, bitter persecution and grievous wrong in England from the "lord bishops" in authority there, who gave no heed to their conscientious scruples in Church matters; but, so far from showing forth love and gentleness and kindness and liberality as regards other people's consciences, they seem, when the power fell into their hands, to have become, in all matters relating to religion, harder than the granite rock; and, with a spirit as unpitying and hateful as that of the Inquisition itself, they determined that no man, woman, or child, where they had strength to stop it, should ever hold any opinion or have any religious faith which they, the "lord brethren" of New England, did not approve. They fined, imprisoned, or banished recusants of all sorts. "God forbid," said they, through Endicott, an impersonation of bigotry, "that our love of truth should be so cold that we should tolerate errors!" They allowed no one who differed from them to live among them. Convicted Anabaptists were "whipped unmercifully." Quakers, who with fanatical violence defied the magistrates and ministers, were sentenced, after the first conviction, to lose one ear; after the second, another; after the third, to have the tongue bored through with a red-hot iron; and several of them were put to death; but in 1661 Charles II, by a peremptory order, forbade further outrage of this kind. As to the Indians, though the colonists were under chartered obligation to treat them well and endeavor to convert them to Christianity these were looked upon as having no rights to be respected, as wolves, savages, heathen. and doomed, like the Canaanites of old, to utter excision as speedily as possible. It was only such men as Roger Williams in Rhode Island, and the estimable John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians, and the comparatively few who sympathized with them, that helped to relieve New England bigotry and intolerance from being denounced as utterly detestable.

The Puritans, in carrying out their principles, organized what they called churches on the same plan of independency as that employed in civil matters. They looked upon themselves as under no restraint. and as owing no obligation or courtesy to their "dear mother, the Church of England," and they thought and acted as if they could just as readily have to use a pet phrase of later days a church without a bishop as a state without a king. Of course, under such a condition of affairs, and with such antagonism and prejudice against the Church and all appertaining to it. it could make little or no progress in New England; and it is a fact to be noted that for some sixty years after the landing on Plymouth rock there was not a single Episcopal church in all that part of the country. It was not till the year 1679 that Charles II, on the earnest representation of some of the inhabitants through the bishop of London, caused a church to be built in Boston. William of Orange subsequently settled an annual bounty of £ 100 for endowment.

From this time onward, however, owing to the unwearied and judicious efforts of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, something began to be accomplished, in despite of penal enactments and bitter, uncompromising hatred. Missionaries were sent out to various points in New England, as well as the other colonies (except Virginia and Maryland)); and as they were honest, faithful men, abounding in labors, travelling over large districts, and ministering the Gospel to all whom they met with, they deserve all honor, and their labors were not without fruit. Had the Church of England listened to that supplication for bishops which went up continually and earnestly, and had she been permitted to send out worthy men for the episcopal office, the growth and prosperity of the Church in America would have been vastly greater and more secure; but the ungodliness of men in power, the hampered condition of the Established Church, and the active opposition of the Puritans in New England and of the dissenters in England as well as their special friends in America, always succeeded in overpowering the cry of the destitute and the numerous and powerful remonstrances of the Society for Propagating the Gospel. At one time there were two nonjurihig bishops in America, viz. Dr. R. Welton and Dr. J. Talbot (1722), the former in Philadelphia. the latter in Burlington, N. J.; but they were not allowed to exercise episcopal functions except by stealth, and the government soon after interfered and put an entire stop to all action on their part. As early as 1704, a missionary of the society took up his residence in Newport, R. I., and continued there nearly half a century. During his ministry, and that of several helpers in the work, he could not but note the depressing effects of schism and heresy, there being then quite as many denominations in Rhode Island as there have been in subsequent days. Bishop Berkeley deserves to be named in this connection for his noble disinterestedness and zeal.

In 1725 he entered upon his great philanthropic and Christian enterprise of' erecting a college at Bermuda. to serve as an institution for educating the children of the planters, and suitable ones from among the natives as missionaries in order to convert the savages to Christianity. In 1728 Berkeley was in Rhode Island, and had not the government of Walpole kept him out of the £ 20,000 voted, he would probably have accomplished his benevolent design. The next year he returned to England, and reluctantly gave up his cherished plan. Some eighteen years later lie caused to be sent as a gift to the library of Harvard College a very valuable collection of books, containing such authors as Hooker, Pearson, Barrow, Hammond, Clarendon, etc., and these no doubt helped to leaven the minds of some in New England, who, weary of the despotism of independency, and grieved and distressed at there being multitudinous sects of all kinds and characters, were disposed to seek, and did seek, refuge in the sober, staid, and godly ways of the Church of England. It is also worthy of note here that early in the 18th century, about thirty-five years before Berkeley's donation to Harvard College, a library of books. similar in character and value to those just named, had been sent to Yale College, which was now established in New Haven. At this date there was not a single Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and very few families of Church people.

There were, however, in this region, several earnest seekers after truth, dissatisfied and cheerless in their then position, among whom may be named especially Timothy Cutler, an accomplished scholar, and president of Yale College; Daniel Brown, one of the tutors; and Samuel Johnson, a Congregational preacher at West Haven. These, in company with others in like condition of mind, set to work to examine into the important subject of the ministry and doctrines of the apostolic and early Church. The result was, rather to the astonishment and alarm of most of their associates, a thorough conviction on their part that there was no valid ministry except through the laying-on of the hands of a bishop, and that the doctrines set forth in the Prayer-book are the true and full expression of the truth of the Gospel. Of course, Messrs. Cutler and Brown could not stay any longer in Yale College, which neither recognised nor tolerated the Church of England in any shape, but, in common with Congregationalists generally, as we are gravely told, "entertained fears lest the introduction of Episcopal worship into the colony should have a tendency gradually to undermine the foundations of civil and religious liberty." Accordingly these gentlemen resigned their positions, and, accompanied by Mr. Johnson, they sailed for England in November. 1722, were ordained to the ministry, and (except Mr. Brown, who died of smallpox) returned to America as missionaries of the society the following year. Dr. Cutler became rector of Christ's Church, Boston, and Dr. Johnson was settled at Stratford, Conn. Both of them were among the foremost men in the colonial Church, and were of especial service in defending its claims, warding off attacks, and promoting its growth and welfare. Both, too, lived till nearly the close of the colonial period, Dr. Cutler dying in 1765, Dr. Johnson in 1772. In fact, the Church in Connecticut was more than ordinarily blessed, and we find that, prior to the Revolution, it was comparatively vigorous and zealous in good works. The names of Beach, Seabury, Jarvis, Hubbard, and others abundantly evince this. Without attempting to go into details, it may here be stated that down to the outbreak of the Revolution, the Society for Propagating the Gospel maintained, on an average, thirty clergymen in the New England states, and about fifty in the other colonies. One list of churches which was sent home by a missionary in 1748 makes the number in New Hampshire two, in Rhode Island five, in Massachusetts twelve, in Connecticut seventeen-total, thirty-six. It must be borne in mind, too, that each missionary was placed in the centre of an extensive district, and supplied as far as possible the spiritual wants of the people, whom ofttimes he could reach only by long and even dangerous journeys to and from distant settlements. The Society did all that its means allowed in sending missionaries in all practicable directions, and it may justly and properly be noted of its work that when it began its operations in the colonies, it found but five churches; and when compelled by the revolt of the colonies to close its labors, it left the country with some two hundred and fifty churches.

The Church of England in America was peculiarly unhappy in its position just before anti at the period of the revolution. It had no popular favor to fall back upon in those days of trial. It was small in proportion to other Christian bodies, especially in the north, and it was hated and despised by the ill-informed multitude, who regarded it as virtually identical with priestcraft and tyranny. A considerable number of its clergy, particularly those who were English-born, felt compelled by their ordination vows to adhere to the cause of the king. This was sure to bring distress and trouble upon them and the Church likewise; for when the disputes with the mother country reached that crisis which culminated in the war of the revolution, there could be no longer any hesitation as to the side which every man must take. Then it became a necessity for a man to side with his country or with the king's party; he must be a patriot, heart and soul, or he must he ranked with and suffer with the odious Tories. The result was the abandonment of their fields of labor by most of the clergy in the employ of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, who found their only safety in flight to England or the British provinces; the closing of nearly all the churches; and, worse than all, the disgraceful ruin and defilement heaped upon many church edifices. It was none the less hard and unjust to American churchmen to be forced to bear all this in addition to the trials of war, inasmuch as it is only simple justice to put it on record, to the perpetual honor of the Church and the vindication of its members against the freely circulated charge of lack of patriotism in the great struggle against the tyranny of the English government, that the commander-in-chief of our army was a churchman, and the first chaplain of Congress was William White, a clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church.

2 . History Subsequent To The Revolution, including the full organization and entrance on its work of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. When, at last, the war was over, and the independence of the United States was acknowledged (1783), it became a matter of immediate concern to those who had heretofore been dependent on England for ordination of clergy, and for efficient and steady help from the Society for Propagating the Gospel, to ascertain what was now to be done. Here they were, few in numbers comparatively; cut off from all direct connection with the English Church; having not even the small comfort of being considered as any longer in the diocese of London; with no means of helping themselves; no bishops, few clergy, and these scattered over a large surface of country; in great perplexity as to the proper course to be pursued; and reduced pretty nearly to the condition of hopeless uncertainty.; In Virginia, for instance, at the beginning of the Revolution, there were 164 churches and chapels and 91 clergymen; at the close of the great struggle a large number of these churches had been destroyed; 95 parishes were extinct or forsaken; of the remaining 72, there were 34 without ministerial services; while of the 91 clergy only 28 remained. But, bad and distressing as was the state of affairs, it was not altogether desperate. The great Head of the Church did not abandon his people in their trouble.

Those brave and honest men who had tried for years and years to induce the government and Church of England to allow them to have a bishop were thoroughly conscious that they must not now give up in despair. The mean and paltry reasons of state, and the venomous prejudice that had been stirred up from this side of the water against the continuous supplication for a bishop during nearly a century just past these could certainly no longer have any force; for now there was a new nation in the world, in no wise hampered by any union of Church and State; now it could not be pretended that there was any danger to public liberty from the Episcopal Church having and enjoying what it regards as essential to its very life and growth. To us, at this day, when a century of existence has been granted to the United States, and the Protestant Episcopal Church has proved its right to be what it has now become, it seems almost incredible that it could ever have been seriously urged against that Church that its having bishops of its own was (in some strange, unaccountable way) hurtful and dangerous to liberty and true patriotism. However singular it may appear that such an opinion should prevail among fair-minded, intelligent persons, the fact is indisputable; this opinion did prevail, and did cause great trial and suffering to the Church in America. All that can be said is, that as prejudice is usually utterly unreasoning, and will listen to nothing which militates against its preconceived conclusions, so we have no alternative but to attribute some, at least, of the opposition to the Episcopal Church to this hard, stony prejudice; while it is almost certain that a large part of the opposition arose from settled hatred towards the Church and a determination to prevent its growth and influence. Bishop White's testimony is instructive in this connection. Writing in 1836, he says, "What a wonderful change has the author lived to witness in reference to American episcopacy! He remembers the ante-revolutionary times, when the presses profusely emitted pamphlets and newspaper disquisitions on the question whether an American bishop were to be endured; and when threats were thrown out of throwing such a person, if sent among us, into the river, although his agency was advocated for the sole purpose of a communion submitting itself to his spiritual jurisdiction.... The order has existed among us for nearly the half of a century, and not a single complaint has been heard, either of usurpation to the injury of any other denomination, or of arbitrary government within our own."

Organization and union, as far as practicable, were now of first importance. It was no new thing for the clergy to meet in their several districts from year to year. This had been done at intervals all through the 18th century, up to the end of the colonial period. In Virginia and Maryland, where the Church of England was established by law, meetings, consisting of a large number of the clergy and laity, were held in the spring of 1784-85. In Virginia, the chief effort was to rid the Church of State control, to obtain liberty to act freely in ecclesiastical matters, and to have the Episcopal Church incorporated in accordance with the laws of the state, so as to hold and retain its rights of property in churches, glebe lands, etc. A general willingness was expressed of uniting with Episcopal churches in other states; but ground was taken in regard to bishops and their office and position which alarmed the Northern churches. The Virginia notion was to reduce a bishop to the lowest possible point, to use him simply for ordaining and confirming, to make him serve as a parish minister, and be amenable to the convention, etc. In Maryland, a special effort was made to secure a bill of rights for the Episcopal Church, for objects similar to those just named in the case of Virginia; "a declaration of certain fundamental rights and liberties of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Maryland" was set forth; and Dr. William Smith was chosen to go to England for the purpose of obtaining episcopal orders. It may be mentioned here that, for various and sufficient reasons, Dr. Smith did not obtain the proper papers, and was never consecrated. Farther south, a convention, consisting of a small number of clergy and laity, was held in Charleston, S. C., in 178586. The feeling against the Church of England was very bitter in that part of the country, which had suffered greatly from the ravages of the British armies. This convention, acknowledging the need of the three orders in the ministry, was willing to go so far as a general approval of union, but stipulated that there was to be no bishop settled in that state without the consent of the Church there.

In January, 1784, Dr. Beach, of New Brunswick, N. J., made a suggestion to Dr. White, of Philadelphia, and Dr. Provoost, of New York, that a conference of as many of the clergy as could be conveniently got together be held, to take into consideration the condition of Church affairs. Previously to this, in August, 1782, before the recognition of American independence, and when it seemed as if the ministry of the Church were almost annihilated, Dr. White had issued a pamphlet, entitled "The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered." In this pamphlet, which excited considerable attention, the writer, apprehending the possibility of the Church being compelled to go forward without obtaining the succession from England, advocated the formation of a new body, without bishops in the regular line in fact, a new presbyterian denomination. This, however, was only in case absolute necessity required such a course, and, as bishop White himself subsequently stated, it was suggested only for such a possible state of affairs. The writer was, in reality, too good a churchman not to embrace joyfully the opportunity which was offered three years later of obtaining the succession in the English line. A meeting of several clergymen from New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, members of the Corporation for the Relief of Widows and Children of Clergymen, was held in New Brunswick, May 11, 1784.

At this meeting a number of laymen were also present, and another meeting was appointed for October in the same year in New York. Accordingly, Oct. 6.1784, some fifteen clergymen from New England, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, and eleven laymen from the same states, assembled in New York. The principal result was the making of several important recommendations, such as, that there be a General Convention of the Episcopal Church; that each state send clerical and lay deputies; that the doctrines held by the Church of England be adhered to; that the Prayer-book be altered only in so far as civil changes demand: that in any state having a bishop, he be, ex officio, a member of the convention; that the clergy and laity deliberate together, but vote separately; that the first meeting of a general convention be held in Philadelphia on Tuesday before the Feast of St. Michael, in 1785, etc. Probably the most important benefit secured by the action of this body was a recognition of the value and need of lay representation as not only right in itself, but also in admirable harmony with the constitution of a republican form of government. The New England feeling was quite strong against the having a lay element in Church councils, and for a few years it appeared as if serious discord might arise, and hinder the union of the churches in the several states; but, happily the point was conceded, though with some reluctance, by the Connecticut bishop and clergy in 1789. One other point of difference existed at the time. The Connecticut sentiment was decidedly in favor of securing a bishop first, and then proceeding to act as a fully organized Church, in passing laws, revising the liturgy, etc., and such was the course adopted in that state. Dr. Samuel Seabury, bishop-elect, meeting with annoying difficulties and delays in England, was consecrated by Scotch bishops, in November, 1784, and, on his return home early in the summer of 1785, entered at once upon his duties as bishop of Connecticut. The churches in the middle and more southerly portions of the country held an opposite opinion to that entertained in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and in accordance therewith went forward, and took various steps antecedent to the obtaining of the succession from England.

The first meeting of clergy and laity which can properly be considered as approaching to a general convention was held in Philadelphia in September and October, 1785. Seven states were represented by 16 clergymen and 26 laymen. It was hoped that bishop Seabury and some of the New England clergy might be present; but, as they were not satisfied as yet on several points, they declined attending. Dr. White was chosen president, and Dr. Griffith, of Virginia, secretary, and the convention proceeded promptly to the work of organization and revision. A plan for obtaining the episcopal succession, and an address to the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England were discussed and agreed upon. These papers were mainly the production of Dr. White, and were manly and dignified in tone and statement. A draft of alterations of the liturgy, in order to adapt it to the existing condition of civil affairs, and to get rid of certain offensive features, was submitted, as was also an "Ecclesiastical Constitution;" and the work went on vigorously till the close of the session, Oct. 7. The committee on altering and improving the Prayer-book were Drs. White, W. Smith, and Wharton. They were authorized to make changes of various kinds, "but in such a manner that nothing in form or substance be altered;" to accompany the volume with "a proper preface or address. setting forth the reason and expediency of the alterations;" and to publish the work for the use of Episcopal churches. The result of their labors was the "Proposed Book," as it is known in Church history. The major part of the alterations were made by Dr. Smith; and these alterations, both as to matter and spirit, deserve the attention of every student of our history. Besides a large number of verbal changes, the article "He descended into hell," in the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, were ejected; the "Articles of Religion" were reduced to twenty; a calendar and table of holydays were set forth; a long preface (the basis of the preface to the Book of Common Prayer as it now is) was added, etc. The volume proved to be quite unsatisfactory. Its changes were looked upon as too radical by many of the clergy and conventions; and hardly had the book been issued before it became evident that the Church was not ready or willing to accept it. From every quarter, when state conventions met, amendments were proposed and urged upon the attention of the Church; and nowhere was the book adopted, except in a few churches for temporary use. Bishop White says it was "a great error" to print the book at all in its then condition, and still more to print a large edition in hope of getting, by its sale, pecuniary returns to be used for charitable purposes. It was a crude and ill-digested affair, and it never received the first sanction of the Church. Subsequent general conventions ignored it altogether, and it will ever remain as the "Proposed Book," not the Book of Common Prayer which was later adopted, and is the Church's permanent heritage.

At the meeting of the next convention in Philadelphia, June 20, 1786, ten clergy and eleven laymen were present. The prospect was by no means encouraging. Indeed, as bishop White states, "the convention assembled under circumstances which bore strong appearances of a dissolution of the union in this early stage of it." The correspondence with the archbishops and bishops in England made it evident that there was an apprehension existing in their minds that the American Episcopal Church was scarcely sound in the faith, and they answered cautiously and with reserve in regard to the application for the episcopate. This was quite natural, and it need occasion no surprise that they objected to many of the alterations in the Prayer-book and to various features in the "Ecclesiastical Constitution," as it was then arranged. Renewed and distinct assurances were expected from the American Church that there was no intention whatever on its part of departing from the Church of England in doctrine or in discipline and worship, except in so far as changed civil relations made it necessary, before the venerable prelates were willing to act as they were asked to do.

There was also considerable unpleasant feeling excited by an expressed determination of several members of the convention (Provoost and R. Smith especially) to throw doubt upon the validity of bishop Seabulry's orders, obtained from the line of the Scotch nonjuring bishops. The convention showed its good sense and discretion by refusing to take any action inimical to the bishop of Connecticut or his position; a resolution simply was passed advising the churches then represented in convention not to receive ministers ordained by any bishop in America, during the application pending to the English bishops for episcopal consecration. "A General Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States," freed from some serious former objections, was agreed upon, as also an answer to the letter from the archbishops and bishops of the Church of England. This latter, with the constitution. it was hoped and expected would give entire satisfaction. At an adjourned meeting held in Wilmington, Del., in October, 1786, the letter just before received from the archbishops and bishops, with forms of testimonials and the act of parliament authorizing the consecration of bishops for foreign countries, were read, and appropriate action was taken. A declaratory "Act of the General Convention of Clerical and Lay Deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina" was passed; and it was determined, in accordance with the earnest recommendation of the archbishops and bishops, to restore the omitted article (descent into hell) in the Apostles' Creed, and to put back in its proper place in the Prayer-book the Nicene Creed. At the same time it was resolved that the Athanasian Creed be omitted altogether, only one clergyman voting in its favor.

Testimonials were signed in behalf of Dr. White, Dr. Provoost, and Dr. Griffith, bishops elect respectively of Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia. The convention refused to give a like testimonial in favor of Dr. W. Smith, bishop elect of Maryland. On Nov. 2, 1786, Drs. White and Proroost embarked for England, and arrived on the 20th; Dr. Griffith, for personal reasons, was unable to accompany them. When they reached London, they were introduced to the archbishop by the American minister, John Adams, who, as bishop White says, in his Memoirs, "in this particular, and in every instance in which his personal attentions could be either of use or as an evidence of his respect and kindness, continued to manifest his concern for the interests of a Church of which he was not a member." After some little delay, owing to Parliament not being in session, the consecration took place, Sunday, Feb. 4, 1787, in Lambeth chapel. The two archbishops, and the bishops of Bath and Wells and of Peterborough, united in the solemn act of giving the apostolic succession to the American Church.* The new bishops very soon left England for home, and, after a long voyage of some seven weeks, arrived in New York on the afternoon of Easter-day, April 7. Thus, at last, was secured for the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States the long and earnestly sought-for privilege of having its organization rendered complete; thus, too, from this date it took its place as a distinct national branch of the Church of Christ, with all the privileges and duties and responsibilities thereunto attached.

*This was certainly a connection by ordination with the Established Church of England, but whether it was truly an "Apostolic succession," is a very different question, which we do not think this the proper place to discuss. ED.

The General Convention of 1789 assembled, July 28, in Philadelphia, bishop White presiding; bishop Provoost was absent. There were seventeen clergymen and sixteen laymen present from seven states, including South Carolina; but none came from New England. An application was made by the clergy of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, asking for the consecration of the Rev. Edward Bass as bishop. This application was placed on the ground that there were now three bishops (the proper canonical number) in America, and that consequently they were fully able to act in the premises. A resolution was unanimously passed "that, in the opinion of this convention, the consecration of the Right Rev. Dr. Seabury to the episcopal office is valid," and the general sentiment was strongly in favor of compliance with the request of the Massachusetts clergy. There was, however, an obstacle which hindered this compliance at this time, viz., the obligation which bishops White and Provoost felt themselves to lie under to the English bishops, not to consecrate any to the episcopal office until there were three in the English line in the United States. Dr. Griffith, in May, 1789, relinquished his appointment as bishop elect of Virginia, and died in Philadelphia during the session. Hence, it was thought best not to act at present upon the application from Massachusetts. A body of canons, ten in number, was adopted; a General Constitution of the Church was agreed upon in substance; an appropriate address was prepared, thanking the archbishops of Canterbury and York for their good offices in regard to the episcopate; also, an address was sent to the President of the United States, which was courteously answered by Washington; and the convention adjourned. August 8, to meet again in the same place, Sept. 29. An important part of the object of this adjourned session was to secure the union of the churches in New England with those already joined together.

This was now happily accomplished. Bishop Seabury appeared, and took his place as a member of the convention, as did also deputies from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The third article of the constitution was modified so as to secure to the bishops the right to assemble and act as a separate house, in originating measures, etc.; they also were to have from this time a negative on the action of the lower house, unless adhered to by a four-fifths vote. The bishops then withdrew and organized as a house. Bishop Provoost being absent on account of illness, bishop Seabury took the chair. From this date there have been two houses, whose concurrent action is necessary to the adoption of any legislation, the bishops also (since 1808) having the full negative on the action of the other house. The convention now entered upon its most important work, which was to provide and place on a firm foundation the Book of Common Prayer for the American Church. The English liturgy was made the basis, and though entire independence of action was claimed by the House of Deputies, as if there were no book of any authority or obligation now in existence, yet there was, after all, a sense of the propriety and fitness of varying as little as possible from the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Five committees were appointed, to whom were assigned different portions of the work, and they discharged their duties with as much expedition as was practicable. The result, as soon as agreed upon by the house, was sent to the bishops for their action.

The alterations were principally verbal, and for the purpose of adapting the services to the needs and uses of a Church situate as the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States was and is. An office of Visitation of Prisoners, a service for Thanksgiving Day, and an order of Family Prayer were added, as also Selections of Psalms to be used instead of those for the day, Tate and Brady's version of the Psalms, and some hymns in metre. One noticeable change was made in the Communion Office, i.e. putting in their proper place the oblation and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, as found in the first Prayerbook of Edward VI. and also in the Scotch Communion Service. This was due mainly to bishop Seabury, who was under something of a pledge to the Scottish bishops to secure this change, if possible. The meekness and wisdom of bishop White were clearly evident in this matter, as in everything. He was always ready to yield where principle was not violated, and he puts it on record that his discussions with bishop Seabury were entirely amicable and satisfactory to both parties. "To this day," he says, "there are recollected with satisfaction the hours which were spent with bishop Seabury on the important subjects which came before them, and especially the Christian temper which he manifested all along." The Apostles' and Nicene Creeds were adopted with hearty assent by the convention. A rubric was prefixed to the former, as follows: "And any churches may omit the words he descended into hell,' or may, instead of them, use the words he went into the place of departed spirits,' which are considered as words of the same meaning in the Creed." Bishop Seabury desired much to have the Athanasian Creed inserted not as obligatory on all, as in the Church of England, but as permissory for those wishing to use it; but, as bishop White states, the House of Deputies "would not allow of the creed in any shape." The consideration of the "Articles of Religion" was postponed to a subsequent convention. The Book of Common Prayer was formally ratified by the bishops, clergy, and laity in convention, Oct. 16, 1789: "This Convention having, in their present session, set forth A Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, do hereby establish the said Book; and they declare it to be the Liturgy of this Church, and require that it be received as such by all the members of the same; and this Book shall be in use from and after the first day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety." A number of canons were passed in regard to episcopal visitations, publishing a list of the clergy, observance of the Lord's day, etc. The consecration of Dr. Bass was deferred. Dr. Madison, of Virginia, was consecrated bishop in England, Sept. 19, 1790; and thus the full number of bishops was secured through the English line. Two years later the consecration of Dr. Claggett as bishop of Maryland united both lines in the American episcopate, bishop Seabury being present and joining in the solemn act.

The convention of 1792 met in New York Sept. 11. There were five bishops, nineteen clerical and fourteen lay deputies in attendance, and the session lasted seven days. The Ordinal was revised and set forth, the alterations being few. An alternate form at the ordination of priests was furnished; instead of "Receive the Holy (host for the office and work of a priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands; whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou," etc.; the bishop ordering is allowed to say, "Take thou authority to execute the office of a priest in the Church of God, now committed to thee by the imposition of our hands. And be thou," etc. The consideration of the Articles was further postponed. An act was passed "for supporting missionaries to preach the Gospel on the frontiers of the United States," in which it was recommended that annual sermons be preached in all the churches, that collections be made, and missionaries be sent out as soon as may be, these being under the canonical jurisdiction of the bishop of Pennsylvania. "Agreeably to the requirement of a canon adopted at the last convention, a list of the clergy of the Church is printed in the appendix to the journal. Including the bishops, the number given is one hundred and eighty-four, no lists having been handed in from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and there being no mention of the number of clergymen at that time in North Carolina and on the Western frontiers.

With every allowance there could not have been more than two hundred, the representatives of nearly two thousand who, with English orders, had labored on the American continent since its earliest attempted settlement, two hundred and fifty years before" (Perry). One other matter deserves to be put on record here, not only because of the importance of the object had in view both as regards one of the most influential denominations in the United States and the Protestant Episcopal Church, but also because of the entire failure at that date of so earnest and truly catholic a movement. We give it in the language of bishop White: "Bishop Madison had communicated to the author, on their journey from Philadelphia to New York, a design which he had much at heart-that of effecting a reunion with the Methodists; and he was so sanguine as to believe that by an accommodation to them in a few instances, they would be induced to give up their peculiar discipline, and conform to the leading parts of the doctrine, the worship, and the discipline of the Episcopal Church. It is to be noted that he had no idea of comprehending them, on the condition of their continuing embodied, as at present. On this there was communicated to him an intercourse held with Dr. Coke, one of the superintendents of that society which might have shown to bishop Madison how hopeless all endeavors for such a junction must prove.

Nevertheless, he persisted in his well-meant design. The result of this was his introducing into the House of Bishops a proposition, which his brethren. after some modifications, approving of the motive, but expecting little as the result of it, consented to send to the other house." The proposition (as given by bishop White) was placed on a broad and liberal basis, leaving most of matters to future discussion and settlement at a subsequent convention. "On the reading of this in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, they were astonished, and considered it as altogether preposterous; tending to produce distrust of the stability of the system of the Episcopal Church, without the least prospect of embracing any other religious body. The members generally stated, as a matter of indulgence, that they would permit the withdrawing of the paper, and no notice to be taken of it. A few gentlemen, however, who had got some slight intimations of the correspondence between Dr. Coke and the author, who would have been gratified by an accommodation with the Methodists, and who thought that the paper sent was a step in measures to be taken to that effect, spoke in favor of the proposition. But it was not to be endured; and the bishops silently withdrew it, agreeably to leave given." Bishop White gives, in addition, the letter of Dr. Coke, and an account of several interviews had with him. The letter is an instructive one in many respects, and shows what Dr. Coke thought of his supposed "episcopal" character, derived from John Wesley; bishop White's remarks and statements also are worthy of grave consideration. The subject has been more than once agitated, and sometimes men have become sanguine of being able to effect the end desired; but as the question of ordination still holds the place which it did in Dr. Coke's day, and the Methodist ministers almost certainly cannot be brought to acknowledge the obligation of being ordained by our bishops in order to officiate in our churches, we apprehend that there never has been any real probability of bringing the Methodists to a sense of the duty and propriety of becoming reunited to the Church at whose altars John Wesley always ministered, and which he at least was never willing to abandon.

Owing to the prevalence of epidemic disease in Philadelphia and its vicinity, the convention of 1795 was but thinly attended, and from the same cause no convention was held in 1798. A special convention, however, met in Philadelphia, June 11, 1799. Eight states were represented, nineteen clerical and ten lay deputies being present. Bishop Seabury, who had died in 1796, was succeeded by bishop Jarvis, consecrated Sept. 18, 1797. Dr. R. Smith was made bishop of South Carolina in 1795, and Dr. Bass of Massachusetts in 1797. At this convention an attempt was made to obtain its approval of Dr. U. Ogden, bishop elect of New Jersey; but it failed entirely, and Dr. Ogden a few years later joined the Presbyterians. A proposition was made to hold General Convention every five years; a form of consecration of a church or chapel was set forth; and seventeen articles were reported and read. These were ordered to be laid over, and printed in the journal. The clergy-list gives seven bishops and two hundred and twelve clergymen. At the convention of 1801, held at Trenton, N. J., Sept. 8, it was announced that bishop Provoost had resigned his jurisdiction as bishop of New York. Under the circumstances it was deemed right to consecrate Dr. Benjamin Moore as his assistant, the principle being distinctly stated that bishop Provoost was bishop during his life, and that bishop Moore was simply assistant or coadjutor, competent to all episcopal duty, but still to act in concurrence with bishop Provoost. The principal work of the convention was the final settlement of the question as to articles of religion. The printing of the seventeen articles, in the journal of 1799, produced one good result, viz., showing how difficult it was and would be to agree upon a new set of articles for the Protestant Episcopal Church, and leading the minds of the convention to a ready acceptance of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. It was bishop White's view that these articles were really "the acknowledged faith of the Church" all along, and that the safest and most satisfactory course was to make certain necessary changes, ar