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at this Convocation' that Bishop Seabury set forth a Communion Office, which was taken, with some alterations, from that which was then used in Scotland. He did not formally impose it, but "recommended " it to the congregations in his diocese. It " seems to have been almost, if not quite, universally adopted by the clergy of Connecticut." At the same time, a new State Prayer, and a suffrage in the Litany were provided.3

General Convention at Wilmington, 1786.

Upon the receipt of an answer from the English Bishops to the letter sent by the General Convention of 1786, an adjourned Convention was called, and met at Wilmington, October 10th, 1786. In this second communication, their Lordships expressed their willingness to confer the Episcopate upon such properly accredited persons as should be sent to them, but at the same time exhorted the Convention to "restore to its integrity the Apostles' Creed, in which you have omitted an article, merely as it seems, from misapprehension of the sense in which it is understood by our Church; nor can we help adding, that we hope you will think it but a decent proof of the attachment you profess to the services of our liturgy to give the other two Creeds a place in your Book of Common Prayer, even though the use of them should be left discretional." It is noteworthy that no particular reference was made to the other peculiarities of the Proposed Book, except the very general remark that, "it was impossible not to observe with concern that if the essential doctrines of our common faith were retained, less respect, however, was paid to our liturgy than its own excellence, and your declared attachment to it, had led us to expect.' As a matter of fact the Proposed Book but reflected the ideas of liturgical revision prevalent at the time, and there is little doubt that the majority of the Georgian prelates would gladly have revised the Prayer Book after much the same fashion had they been free to do so. "The feeble recommendation," as Bishop White styles it, that the Athanasian Creed should be restored was understood to have been made more for form's sake and to preclude the cavils of the Non-Jurors, than for any other reason. "The inclination


of the Archbishop on that head was, not to give any trouble, but only to avoid any act or omission, which might have been an implicating of them and their Church."5 Too much, also, must not be attributed to

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


2 The Rev. Dr. Hart's Notes to Bp. Seabury's Communion Office, p. 40. Appendix II, 13. Mention may here be made of two other liturgical productions of Bishop Seabury, viz., A Burial Office for Infants who depart this life before they have polluted their Baptism by actual sin," reprinted in Beardsley's Life and Correspondence of Bp. Seabury, p. 488; also "The Psalter or Psalms of David pointed as they are to be said or sung in churches, with the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer Daily throughout the year." This latter work printed in 1795 is noteworthy in having the Athanasian Creed, in omitting the Latin titles of the Psalms, and in 'substituting the future tense for the imperative mood in passages which might be called damnatory.' Vide App. to Dr. Hart's Reprint of Bp. Seabury's Com. Office.

Appendix II. 12.

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the influence, in the Wilmington Convention, of the letter of the English Bishops. Maryland and Pennsylvania had both voted that the Nicene Creed should be restored long before the second letter of the Bishops' had been received; and in those days, before the unification of the Church, the wishes of State Conventions were of paramount importance in General Convention. When the letter of their Lordships was first received, it was "a matter of surprise that the only thing which looked like a condition made on the subject of the Common Prayer Book, was the restoring of the clause concerning the Descent into Hell, in the Apostles' Creed." And it was principally owing to the objections of one Bishop, the then Bishop of Bath and Wells, that any point was made even of this. All the other peculiarities of the Proposed Book, were not considered of such a character as to prevent their conferring the Episcopate.

A Committee was appointed to take the communication of the English Bishops into consideration, and to report thereon. "We sat up the whole of the succeeding night," says Bishop White, "digesting the determinations in the form in which they appear in the Journal. When they were brought into the Convention little difficulty occurred in regard to what was proposed concerning the retaining of the Nicene and the rejecting of the Athanasian Creed. But a warm debate arose on the subject of the Descent into Hell in the Apostles' Creed. Although this was at last carried, agreeably to the proposal of the Committee; yet whoever looks into the Journal will see, that the result was not owing to the having of a majority of votes, but to the nullity of the votes of those churches in which the clergy and laity were divided."3 The action of the Convention was set forth in a document, entitled “ An Act of the General Convention of Clerical and Lay Deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church," etc.* "As the matter now stood, there was evidently no ground on which the English Bishops could have rejected the persons sent, unless they had made the Athanasian Creed an essential; which would not have been warranted by the feeble recommendation of their letter."5

Affair of King's Chapel, Boston.

Before proceeding further, mention must be made of the trouble at King's Chapel, Boston. The causes which led to the withdrawal of this building from the control of the Church, throw an interesting light upon the history of the Prayer Book during this period. The Chapel was the oldest and most imposing edifice the Church had in Boston. During the progress of the war of the revolution, "Many of the members of the congregation, had gone to Nova Scotia and elsewhere, from disaffection to the American cause. Their pews were let to persons, sundry

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

+ Appendix II, 14.

5 Memoirs of the Church, p. 139.


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


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But the action of the first General Convention afforded but little satisfaction to these expectations. In the Proposed Book Christ was as distinctly the object of worship with the Father and the Holy Ghost as in the English Book. Still the people of King's Chapel were loath to suffer the loss of prestige that separation from the Episcopal Church would

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

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


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

4 Ibid.

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


These suggestions for increasing the Church's membership, failed to enlist the sympathies of Dr. White. In his letter of reply, he observed, as "it would be a very singular Church, indeed, which should hold up a certain matter of order as the only part of its foundation essential to be retained, so I hope you will, on further consideration, think it quite unnecessary on my part to prove, that the same cannot be said of the Church to which we have belonged. I shall lay the less stress on this subject, as it is a singular opinion, and what I do not think you will long maintain, that persons differing in regard to the object of prayer, may be of the same Church or Communion."'3 Whatever hopes the congregation of King's Chapel might still have had were given up after the action of the General Convention at Wilmington, and soon afterward they ceased to have any relation with the Episcopal Church.

1 Cor. of Dr. White and Mr. Miller.

2 Ibid., p. 335.

3 Ibid., p. 337.

The Episcopate obtained from England.


On the 2d of November, 1786, the Rev. Dr. White, and the Rev. Dr. Provoost sailed for England, and on Septuagesima Sunday, the 4th day of February, 1787, were consecrated to the Episcopate in the chapel of Lambeth palace. Shortly after their return, Bishop Seabury addressed a letter of congratulation to each of them in which he took occasion to express his hearty desire for the union of the Church in the various States, and suggested in order to accomplish the end "the most likely method will be to retain the present Book of Common Prayer, accommodating it to the civil Constitution of the United States.' In reply Bishop White expressed his willingness to accede to this proposal should it be found practicable: "As to the liturgy, if it should be thought advisable by the general body of our Church to adhere to the English Book of Common Prayer (the political parts excepted) I shall be one of the first, after the appearance of such a disposition to comply with it most punctually. Further than this, if it should seem the most probable way of maintaining an agreement among ourselves, I shall use my best endeavours to effect it. At the same time I must candidly express my opinion, that the review of the liturgy would tend very much to the

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

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

STRATFORD, May 2d, 1787. Allow me, my very dear sir, to congratulate you upon your happy success in your Undertaking for the Service of the Church, and your Safe Return to your Native Land.

I am far advanced in Life, and nothing can give me more pleasure, than to see the Church of England (for by that title I wish she may be called) fixed upon a firm Basis, in Unity thro' all the States.

May it not be worth consideration to enquire, what method is most likely to produce this effect? Perhaps, there is no Scheme that promises so fair to accomplish the End desired, as keeping, as near as we can to the old Forms. We know these have been tried for Ages, and have always answered the purpose. Why should we make a new experiment, upon a subject which has had sufficient Trial already?

It seems that Dr. S[mith]-the last man in the world for such Businesshas been the Director, in forming the constitution and service of the Chh. for these States, as he intended. He was one of the Comtee, and you know, they must do what he directed, or do nothing.

It appears to me, that it is unhappy for the Church, That, that man ever came into this land: he has done more harm to it, than any other person. However, let us lay aside all worldly schemes, and take a View of what will be agreeable to our great Master's design, in building up his Kingdom which is not of this world. Provided we do this, we shall see the Chh. in its native purity.

There is no need to enlarge upon this point, as I have sent you with this Letter, my sentiments, in what Method the Chh. of England is to be perpetuated in this land. If I have made any mistake, I shall stand corrected by you.

If your affairs will permit, it would give me unspeakable pleasure to see you at our Convocation, which will be held at Stamford in Whitsunday week.

Remember me kindly to all your Clergy, and to your good Lady, and believe me to be,

Bp. White.

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

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