Commendatory Letters from the Bishops of Winchester and Oxford, and Correspondence with the Bishop of Massachusetts in Relation to an Invitation Extended by the Parish of the Advent to the Rev. R. M. Benson, of Christ Church, Oxford, England.
Boston: Privately printed, 1871.
Digitized by Richard Mammana from a copy supplied by Meg Smith, Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, 2011
INVITATORY LETTER TO THE REV. RICHARD MEUX BENSON,
BOSTON, OCT. 7, 1870.
Rev. and Dear Sir:
We are authorized and requested by an unanimous vote of the Parish of the Advent, to invite you to assist the Rector ad interim in the discharge of his duties from Advent Sunday to Trinity Sunday.
Very truly yours,
GEO. C. SHATTUCK, EDWARD N. PERKINS, ISAAC F. REDFIELD, R. H. DANA, Jr., J. P. TARBELL.
The Rev. R. M. BENSON.
N. B.—A telegram was despatched to Mr. Benson, bearing the same date, to invite him to come immediately.
FROM THE BISHOP OF WINCHESTER.
To the Right Reverend Fathers, the Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, Grace, Mercy and Peace from GOD our FATHER and the LORD JESUS CHRIST.
Whereas RICHARD MEUX BENSON, a Priest of good standing and well known personally to me in my late Diocese of Oxford, is about to journey to your land, seeking to advance the Kingdom of our Dear Lord, and has sought of me letters commendatory to you, I hereby commend him to you in the Name of the Lord and pray you to allow and aid, according to your office, his Godly Ministrations within your Dioceses, and to receive him into them as a brother beloved. And so I heartily bid you Farewell, beseeching the Good Lord to have you in His Holy keeping.
Given at Winchester,
October 18, 1870.
FROM THE BISHOP OF OXFORD.
To the Right Reverend, the Bishops of the Church of CHRIST in the United States of America, to whom these Presents shall come.
Whereas the Reverend RICHARD MEUX BENSON, Master of Arts, Student of Christ Church in the University of Oxford, and Pastor of the Church of Cowley Saint John in Our Diocese of Oxford, has sought from Us Letters Commendatory to you in whose Dioceses he desires to discharge such duties as it may seem good to you to sanction; now we being well assured of his Godly Conversation, sound Learning, and diligence in works of piety and charity, Do hereby commend him to your Fatherly care, praying you to receive these Our Letters-Commendatory as the assurance of Our good-will to the said RICHARD MEDX BENSON, and our desire to forward his Godly endeavours to serve Christ in His Church.
In token whereof We have to these Letters set Our hand and Seal, at Cuddesdon Palace, this Twenty-fifth day of October, One thousand eight hundred and seventy.
J. F. OXON.
FROM THE BISHOP OF LONDON.
OCT. 28, 1870.
The Rev. F. W. PULLER, Curate of St. Paul, Walworth, is a Clergyman of unblemished character and sound in the faith.
(SEAL.) JOHN LONDON.
The Rev. Mr. BENSON and the Rev. Mr. O'NEILL, accompanied by the Rev. Mr. PULLER of the diocese of London, arrived in Boston, Saturday evening, Nov. 12. The Bishop of Massachusetts was out of town. On Monday, Nov. 14, Mr. Benson, Judge Redfield and Dr. Shattuck called on the Bishop and left the commendatory letters, the Bishop not being at home. On Tuesday they called again, and stated verbally the reasons of the invitation to Mr. Benson from the Parish of the Advent. The Bishop was not ready to give the certificate provided for by the canon, but appointed the following Saturday for another interview. This was again postponed. Each member of the Committee called on the Bishop at different times, and set forth, with some detail, the motives and objects of the Parish.
[Canon 10, Title I, §1. "A clergyman coming from a foreign country, and professing to have been ordained out of the United States by a foreign bishop in communion with this church * * * * * shall before he be permitted to officiate in any parish or congregation, exhibit to the minister, or, if there be no minister, to the vestry thereof, a certificate signed by the bishop of the diocese * * * that his letters of Holy Orders are authentic and given by some bishop in communion with this church and whose authority is acknowledged by this church, and also that he has exhibited to the bishop * * * * satisfactory evidence of his pious and moral character, and of his theological acquirements.”]
Finally, a letter, signed by members of the Parish, was sent to the Bishop, which, with the answer, is subjoined.
REV. R. M. BENSON TO BISHOP EASTBURN.
18 STANIFORD STREET,
Nov. 18, 1870.
Rt. Rev. and Dear Sir:—
I have to preach for Dr. Waterman at Providence next Sunday, so that I cannot accompany the gentlemen who are to wait upon you on my behalf. I write therefore to apologize for not appearing, although I do not conceive that there is any question which you have personally to ask of myself. If there is, I shall be most happy to answer it. I am sorry that anything has subjected me to suspicion on your part. I should have set the greatest possible store upon your hearty sanction of my endeavours to carry out the work of Christ to which I have been invited in this Diocese, and I was quite willing, as Judge Redfield said, to forego any matters of merely personal taste, if you would have given such coöperation. As to the fact of my ministrations being permitted here, I never contemplated any doubt when I crossed the ocean at the call of such influential laymen, after they had taken pains by personal inquiry in England to assure themselves of my position there. I need scarcely say that it is at no small inconvenience that I have undertaken a journey involving so long an absence from home. I understand that, by the canon, the Church of the United States, being in full communion with the mother Church of England, does not require a Bishop to undertake any further responsibility respecting me as a minister of that Church than to certify as to my ecclesiastical position and unblemished character; and, as I have preached the Gospel of Christ without let or hindrance in almost every diocese of England, often at the request of the Bishops themselves, and God has been pleased to grant many seals to my ministry there, I hope you will not refuse me the like freedom in this great Continent.
I have brought you the Apostolical Benediction of two of our Bishops, commending me to your sympathy, and if you think me unfit to be the bearer of such a message, I am ready to meet any public charges whether before a tribunal of this country or in my own, but I would respectfully suggest that a silent refusal to recognize my position under such circumstances is indeed refusing to recognize communion with the Church which I represent. I pray you therefore to grant me that liberty which the letters of my own Bishops contemplate and expect.
Assured in my own mind that I intend all respect to your sacred office and functions, and that it will be my endeavour as well as that of those who are come out from England along with me to act heartily in the cause of Christ under your guidance if you will allow us, I am,
Rt. Rev. and Dear Sir,
Your obed't servant,
R. M. BENSON.
To this letter no answer was received.
The following letter had been sent by the Bishop, but was not received until after the delivery of Mr. Benson's letter.
BISHOP EASTBURN TO DR. SHATTUCK.
My dear Dr. Shattuck:—
In order to save the Rev. Mr. Benson, yourself, and Judge Redfield, the trouble of calling upon me again, I write this to say that I do not see my way clear at present to the granting to Mr. Benson of the license which he desires.
Faithfully and truly yours,
180 Tremont Street,
Friday, Nov. 18, 1870.
PARISH OF THE ADVENT TO BISHOP EASTBURN.
BOSTON, Dec. 21, 1870.
Rt. Rev. and Dear Sir:—
The Parish of the Advent, respectfully requests that the certificate required by the canon of validity of orders and blamelessness of life may be issued to the Rev. Mr. Benson and his associates.
Our Committee has already applied to you personally and by, letter, but without obtaining the desired paper.
We, as Trustees, charged with providing the religious ministrations of the Church in a portion of the City otherwise destitute of her sacred services, have invited Clergymen well known in England by their earnest and self-denying lives, and abundant labors crowned with success in almost every Diocese of our mother country, and especially in the great city of London, to aid our Rector ad interim and us in carrying on the work of our parish, during a season of spiritual destitution, after the resignation of our late Rector. They bring commendatory letters of the strongest character (which you have pronounced satisfactory), from the Bishops of Oxford and Winchester, to whom the Rev. Mr. Benson has been well known for many years. The disappointment caused by their non-reception is very keen, and the more so, as it was unexpected. Considering the essential oneness of the Churches of England and the United States of America, we supposed that such recommendation could not fail to secure them a cordial reception. We feel also concerned for the effect which must be produced in England (as well as at home), if such letters of her Bishops are ignored. The responsibility of providing that the Blessed Gospel of our Lord and Master may be preached to high and low, rich and poor, in a large section of this city, where ours is the only Episcopal Parish, presses upon us.
In view of this solemn duty, and of the account which we must each give of our duties and privileges, we would thus earnestly entreat you, not to obstruct and hinder, but on the contrary to facilitate efforts honestly and carefully made, and at great expense, in the holy cause of spreading abroad the knowledge of Him who died that all might come to repentance, and that we "should live a Godly life in all quietness and honesty." Knowing these clergymen before their arrival, not only by good report, but, by personal acquaintance of two of our number who visited them at Oxford, we were persuaded that their labors would be as productive of spiritual advancement here, as in England. Taking all these points into due consideration, we trust that you will grant our reasonable and rightful request by issuing the Certificate; and, with assurances of respect, and of our desire to cultivate only relations of harmony and good will, we remain very faithfully and respectfully,
Yours, in the Church,
GEO. C. SHATTUCK, FITCH EDWARD OLIVER, RICHARD H. DANA, JR., ISAAC F. REDFIELD, C. H. JOY, R.M. COPELAND, WM. H. C. COPELAND, THERON J. DALE, S. BENTON THOMPSON, JOSEPH BURNETT, EDWARD N. PERKINS, FRED. H. STIMPSON, JOHN P. TARBELL, HORATIO BIGELOW, CHARLES F. SHIMMIN, CHARLES P. GARDINER, GEORGE FISHER, PETER WAINWRIGHT, WM. S. EATON, F. S. AINSWORTH.
BISHOP EASTBURN TO THE PARISH OF THE ADVENT.
BOSTON, DEC. 22, 1870.
To Dr. G. C., SHATTUCK and others, constituting the Parish of the Advent.
In reply to your communication of the 21st inst., I have to say that I feel it my duty to adhere to the decision intimated to you, a short time ago, through a note to Dr. Shattuck, to decline granting the certificate you request.
Very respectfully and truly yours,