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In May following, the Convention of Virginia, untrammelled by the ‘fundamental principles' of this preliminary gathering, in which it was not officially represented, gave but a limited sanction to a review of the Prayer-Book in its instructions to its delegates to the General Convention of 1785;" and accompanied this resolution with a requirement of the use, until further order, of the Liturgy of the Church of England, ‘with such alterations as the American Revolution has rendered necessary.’”
Bishop White assures us, with reference to the Convention of 1785, that “when the members first came together, very few—or rather, it is believed, none of them—entertained thoughts of altering the Liturgy any further than to accommodate it to the Revolution.’” It would appear, however, from an examination of the manuscript authorities of this period,” that as the time for the assembling of this Convention drew near, the minds of prominent clergymen and laymen of the Church in the
* The language of this ‘instruction’ is as follows:
expressed itself ‘not anxious to retain any other than that
“Should a change in the Liturgy be proposed, let it be made with caution. And in that case let the alterations be few, and the style of prayer continue as agreeable as may be to the essential characteristics of our persuasion.” In common with the Churches of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, the Convention
which is commonly called the
middle and southern States turned gradually in favour of a thorough revision of the Prayer-Book; and thus occasioned that unanimity of sentiment and rapidity of action so noticeable in the preparation and acceptance of the alterations proposed at this session. Measures had transpired since the informal meeting in New York that, doubtless, had an influence in bringing about this change of views; Connecticut had succeeded in her effort for the episcopate, and Samuel Seabury, D.D., the first American bishop, had been joyfully welcomed by the clergy of that State, and was already received in his episcopal character throughout New England. At the first Convocation of his clergy, held at Middletown, August 3d and 4th, 1785, the Bishop, together with the Rev. Samuel Parker, afterwards second Bishop of Massachusetts, the Rev. Benjamin Moore, afterwards second Bishop of New York, and the Rev. Abraham Jarvis, second bishop of Connecticut, gave their careful attention to this subject of alterations," but their action was confined to the changes necessary to accommodate the Liturgy to the civil constitution of the State. “Should more be done,’ writes Bishop Seabury to Dr. White, in reviewing the action of the Convocation, “it must be a work of time and great deliberation.” At a Convention of the churches of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode
* Documentary History, Con- * Documentary History, Connecticut, II. 263. Notes to necticut, II. 282. Early Journals, I. 618.
Island, held the following month, the omissions and alterations agreed upon at Middletown were recommended to the churches in these States, and further changes were proposed, the use of which was postponed till there should be definite action on the subject at the Connecticut Convocation, appointed to meet at New Haven, and the General Convention in Philadelphia.’ These proposed changes,” many of which were finally incorporated into the American Book of Common Prayer, were received with disfavour by Bishop Seabury and his clergy,” and were never formally adopted by the churches to which they were recommended. In Connecticut it was found that the laity were averse to any alterations, and though in accordance with the terms of the ‘Concordate” entered into with the Bishops of the Scottish Church at the time of his consecration, Bishop Seabury published an edition of the Scottish Communion Office, and recommended it to the churches
* Journals of the Conventions of the Prot. Ep. Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts, 17841828, pp. 8-15.
* These changes, in most respects identical with those subsequently contained in the ‘Proposed Book,' comprised an alteration of the Te Deum; the omission of the descent into hell in the Apostles' Creed ; the disuse of the Athanasian Creed, and the discretionary use of the Nicene; the omission
of the “Shorter Litany,’ and the
of Connecticut, it was not deemed wise to enforce its
use," and by general consent the whole subject was
suffered to wait a more fitting time.
In the midst of these discussions, the first American Liturgy appeared, the production of no convention, clerical or lay, but issued ‘for the use of the first
episcopal church in Boston.’”
1 The title of this rare tract is as follows: “The Communion Office, or Order for the Administration of the Holy Eucharist or Supper of the Lord. With Private Devotions. Recommended to the Episcopal Congregations in Connecticut, by the Right Reverend Bishop Seabury. New London; Printed by T. Green, M DCc Lxxxvi. 12mo. 23 pp.
* Procter's History of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 164. The heretical nature of this Liturgy may be inferred from the following extracts from the Preface : “The Liturgy, contained in this volume, is such, that no Christian, it is supposed, can take offence at, or find his conscience wounded in repeating. The Trinitarian, the Unitarian, the Calvinist, the Arminian will read nothing in it which can give him any reasonable umbrage. GoD is the sole object of worship in these prayers; and as no man can
This book, publicly
come to God but by the one Mediator, JESUS CHRIST, every petition is here offered in His name, in obedience to His positive command. The Gloria Patri, made and introduced into the Liturgy of the Church of Rome by the decree of Pope Damasus, towards the latter part of the fourth century, and adopted into the Book of Common Prayer, is not in this Liturgy. Instead of that doxology, doxologies from the pure Word of GoD are introduced. It is not our wish to make proselytes to any particular system or opinions of any particular sect of Christians. Our earnest desire is to live in brotherly love and peace with all men, and especially with those who call themselves the disciples of JESUS CHRIST. “In compiling this Liturgy great assistance hath been derived from the judicious corrections of the Reverend Mr. Lindsey; who hath reformed the Book of Common Prayer
denounced by Parker, and the other Massachusetts clergy, as heretical," was the result of the loss of the churchly element from the parish by the withdrawal of the loyalist proprietors from Boston, and the substitution in their place, during the war, and while the chapel was in other hands, of men of unsound views and unepiscopal training. The defection of this parish, if such it can be considered, had no imitators. The Prayer-Book, thus ‘Socinianized, only served to strengthen the prejudice at the north against hasty alterations and innovations. The Convention of 1785, at the very outset, assigned to the Committee appointed to report the alterations contemplated by the fourth “fundamental principle,’ the consideration of ‘such further alterations in the Liturgy as it may be advisable for this Convention to recommend to the consideration of the Church here represented.’” This Committee consisted of the Rev. Samuel Provoost. subsequently bishop, and the Hon. James Duane of New York; the Rev. Abraham Beach, and Patrick Dennis, Esq., of New Jersey; the Rev. William White, D.D., afterwards bishop, and Richard Peters, Esq.; the Rev. Charles Henry Wharton, D.D., and James Sykes,
according to the plan of the truly pious and justly celebrated Doctor Samuel Clarke. Several of Mr. Lindsey's amendments are adopted entire. The alterations which are taken from him, and the others which are made, excepting the prayers for Congress and the General Court,
are none of them novelties; for they have been proposed and justified by some of the first
divines of the Church of
King's Chapel, pp. 197, 198.