Extracts from the Minutes of the Vestry of St. Clement’s Church, in the City of Philadelphia.
Made in accordance with a resolution passed February 23, 1871.
Philadelphia: King and Baird, Printers, 1871.
It is doubtless known to the Congregation of St. Clement’s Church, that differences have for some time existed between the Rector (Rev. H. G. Batterson, D. D.) and the Vestry.
Many rumours are current, and erroneous impressions exist as to the nature of these differences. They are confined to matters of Ritual and Doctrine, and in no way affect the Choral Service which the Vestry voted for, approve of, and unanimously desire to retain.
In order that the facts of the case and the points at issue may be clearly and distinctly understood by the members of the Congregation, whom they represent, and to whom they are responsible, the Vestry have instructed their Secretary to prepare and print for the information of the Congregation, an accurate statement from the Minutes, of all the proceedings in the matter.
An apprehension that the old landmarks, both as to doctrine and, ritual of our Church, would in St. Clement’s [3/4] soon be obliterated, induced and determined the action of the Vestry.
Governed by this principle, the Resolutions of Messrs. Morris and Thompson (page 6) were adopted, and the questions put by Mr. Morris propounded.
The questions of Mr. Morris (page 10) and the Rector’s answers thereto (page 10) were referred to a committee.
By these answers of the Rector, it appeared, that not only was Auricular Confession practised and encouraged by the Rector and assistant minister of St. Clement’s Church, but heard there with the Rector’s consent, by a Clergyman not belonging to the Parish or to this Diocese.
Subsequently, with a view of restoring harmony, a motion was offered by Mr. Lambert (page 13) to the effect that the differences be referred to a committee consisting of the Rector and the Rector’s Warden (Mr. Morris).
The members of this committee separately put on paper their individual views, and as neither was satisfied with the propositions of the other, the papers “B,” (page 17) and “M,” (page 20) prepared severally by the Rector and Mr. Morris, were by the latter in a letter, supervised and authorized by the Rector, submitted to the Bishop, the proper ecclesiastical authority.
Of this action of Mr. Morris, the Vestry subsequently approved.
The Bishop’s reply was communicated in writing to Mr. Morris, was by him handed to the Rector, and afterwards laid before the Vestry.
(NOTE.—Mr. Allen desires to state in explanation of his [4/5] resolution, (page 7,) that it was intended and offered solely for the purpose of pointing out the changes which had been introduced into the services.)
HENRY S. LOWBER,
P. P. MORRIS,
GEORGE N. ALLEN,
H. C. THOMPSON,
FRANCIS R. ABBOTT.
I, although not present at the meetings of the Vestry, have read the proceedings, and concur in this action of my colleagues. JAS. DOUGHERTY.
I sign the above simply to express my disapproval of the doctrine and practice of auricular confession. CHAS. S. PANCOAST.
(The signatures above, are those of members of the vestry of St. Clement’s Church.)
EXTRACTS FROM THE MINUTES
Of the Vestry of St. Clement’s Church, in the City of Philadelphia.
Made in accordance with a Resolution, passed February 23, 1871.
November 9th, 1870.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Allen, Thompson, Stewart, and Lowber.
Mr. MORRIS offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That in the opinion of the Vestry, the Ritual of this Church should conform to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
While we agree, “That particular forms of Divine worship, and the rites and ceremonies appointed to be used therein, are things in their own nature indifferent and alterable,” we think, at the same time, that there are some rites and ceremonies which have become so peculiarly the property of what we consider an erroneous church, that their use, however innocent in itself, is a source of scandal, occasions uneasiness, and is accompanied by discordant and irreverent feelings in many beholders. We think all such should be avoided.
The resolution was adopted.
Mr. THOMPSON offered the following resolution:
Resolved, That no alterations or additions shall be made in the furniture or fixtures of the chancel or auditorium of St. Clement’s Church or, of the Parish Building, without the consent of the Vestry being first had.
This resolution was adopted.
 Mr. ALLEN offered the following preamble and resolution:
Whereas, As great and radical changes have been made in the manner of conducting the services in the Church during the past year, and which changes are not in accordance with the usages of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and in the judgment of this Vestry, do no good to the Church either spiritually or materially, and should be at once abandoned; therefore,
Resolved, That the Rector be requested to dispense with the Processional and Recessional Hymns; Changing the Stoles; the use of Lighted Candles in the chancel; the Invocation before the Sermon; the standing of the choir and congregation on the Presentation of the Offertory; Changing the Furniture of the Church, or doing anything which may come in conflict with the spirit of the foregoing preamble.
Which preamble and resolution being seconded,
Mr. ALLEN thereupon moved that the preamble and resolution lie on the table.
Which motion was carried.
November 23d, 1870.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Thompson, Allen, Tilden, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
The reading of the three resolutions offered at the last meeting by Messrs. MORRIS, THOMPSON, and ALLEN respectively, was called for, and the resolutions were read.
The Rector read a Protest against the said resolutions.
 Mr. LAMBERT moved that the consideration of Mr. ALLEN’S resolution be postponed, and that the Protest be entered at large on the Minutes.
Mr. THOMPSON moved that Mr. Lambert’s motion be divided into two parts.
Which was carried.
Mr. ALLEN asked to be allowed to withdraw his resolution.
On motion of Mr. LOWBER, leave was granted to him to do so.
Mr. ALLEN withdrew his resolution.
The Rector stated that he wished to revise his Protest; and, at his request, the consideration of the second part of Mr. LAMBERT’S motion, viz., that the Protest of the Rector be entered on the minutes, was postponed until the next meeting.
January 3, 1871.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Henderson, Allen, Thompson, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
The Rector presented his Protest revised.
On motion of Mr. THOMPSON, the Protest was ordered to be entered on the minutes.
The protest was in the words following, to wit:
Whereas, At a meeting of the Rector, Wardens and Vestry of St. Clement’s Church, held on the 9th of [8/9] November, 1870, two resolutions were ordered to be placed upon the minutes, the Rector enters his Protest, as follows:
To the matter of the first resolution, the Rector makes no objection. He is ready to enforce it in every particular, But as no such “practices” or “customs” are used in the services at St. Clement’s Church, he can but feel that the record of such a resolution upon the minutes of the Vestry, will place him in the mind of the future reader of the history of the Parish, in a false position.
For this reason alone, he protests against the record of the first resolution.
The second resolution is equally objectionable; for it intimates that the Rector has assumed, or may assume, in opposition to the wishes of the Vestry the right (which undoubtedly belongs to him under the law of the Church,) of making a change in the arrangement or furniture of the chancel.
As the Rector has made no such change; and as the Vestry have no reason to suppose that he intends to make such a change, without free and friendly consultation; this resolution, also, places him in a false position, and he therefore protests against its record upon the minutes of the Vestry.
(Signed.) H. G. BATTERSON,
Rector of St. Clement’s Church.
PHILADELPHIA, November 23d, 1870.
Mr. ALLEN, moved that the protest be referred to a committee consisting of the two Wardens and Mr. Thompson to report what action shall be taken on it.
The motion was seconded, but afterwards withdrawn.
The Rector’s Warden, Mr. MORRIS, asked leave to put the following questions to the Rector, viz.:
 1st. Whether auricular confession is encouraged by the Rector or assistant Minister of St. Clement’s Church?
And, whether the same is, or has been practised in the Parish building or elsewhere by the Rector, or assistant Minister, with the knowledge of the Rector?
And, whether it is true that the Rev. Mr. Prescott has heard confessions at St: Clement’s Church, with the consent of the Rector?
2d. Whether the Rector approves and gives his assent to the doctrine as to prayers for the dead, advanced by the Rev. H. Goodwin, in his sermon delivered at St. Clement’s Church, on the evening of the last Wednesday in Advent?
And whether the propriety of prayers for the dead is taught to the Sunday School teachers, or to the children?
3d. Whether in the celebration of the Holy Communion at St. Clement’s Church, water, or any other thing is permitted to be mingled with the wine during the service, by the celebrant or his assistants?
The questions having been read, the Rector replied as follows, viz.:
To each clause of the 1st question, the Rector replied in the affirmative.
To the 2d question, the Rector replied:
To the 1st clause.—That he is not responsible for Mr. Goodwin’s teaching.
To the 2d clause.—That he has no personal knowledge as to that clause.
To the 3d question, the Rector replied:
That water is mixed with the wine in the chalice, before the oblations are placed on the altar.
 Whereupon Mr. LAMBERT offered the following resolution, viz.:
Resolved, That the questions put by Mr. Morris, and the Rector’s answers thereto, be referred to a committee of three, selected by the Vestry, to take the whole matter into consideration and report at the next meeting of the Vestry.
The Rector declined to put the question on this resolution to the Vestry, inasmuch as it referred to matters concerning the Rector alone, and with which the Vestry, as a Vestry, had nothing to do.
At the Rector’s request, the Rector’s Warden took the chair.
The Chair then put the question on Mr. Lambert’s resolution, and it was adopted.
The Chair appointed Mr. THOMPSON as teller, in the matter of the election of the committee. A ballot was taken; and Mr. Thompson reported that Messrs. Lambert, Morris, and Tilden had received the highest number of votes polled.
The Chair announced Messrs. LAMBERT, MORRIS, and TILDEN as the committee.
January 12, 1871.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Allen, Thompson, Tilden, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
Mr. LAMBERT read the report of the majority of the Committee, appointed at the last meeting, to take the whole matter of the questions put by Mr. Morris, and the [11/12] answers of the Rector thereto, in the words following, to wit
Resolved, That the Rector be requested to inform himself as to the teachings of the Sunday School, either to teachers or scholars, on the subject of Prayer for the dead, and to report to the Vestry at an adjourned meeting.
Mr. TILDEN read the report of the minority of the Committee in the same words, with the following words added, viz.: “And that the committee be discharged from further consideration of the subject.”
On motion, the report of the minority of the committee was accepted, and the committee was discharged.
Mr. THOMPSON moved, that the questions put by Mr. Morris, and the Rector’s answers thereto, be referred to a committee to be elected by the Vestry to be presented by them to the Bishop and standing Committee of the Diocese.
Mr. LAMBERT seconded the motion, and moved that it be postponed—which motion to postpone was carried.
Mr. LAMBERT moved the following resolution, viz.:
Resolved, That in view of the differences and want of confidence existing between the Clerical and Lay authorities of St. Clement’s Church, a dissolution of the present pastoral connections would be acceptable to the Vestry.
Mr. ALLEN seconded the resolution.
Mr. MORRIS moved to postpone the consideration of Mr. Lambert’s resolution until the next meeting of the Vestry.
Mr. TILDEN moved to lay the resolution on the table, which was lost.
Mr. MORRIS’S motion to postpone was carried.
January 18, 1871.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Allen, Tilden, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
Mr. LAMBERT asked leave to withdraw the resolution, [moved by him on January 12, 1871,] that he might offer other resolutions, which he read.
Leave was given to Mr. Lambert to withdraw the resolution he had offered at the last meeting.
Mr. LAMBERT then offered the other resolutions, which he had read as follows, viz.:
Whereas, At the last meeting of the Vestry a disposition to harmonize the present differences between the Rector and Vestry was manifested; the Rector having expressed a willingness to meet the wishes of the Vestry in the manner of conducting the services and in the teachings where the same did not conflict with his sense of duty, which should be met in like spirit by the Vestry; and whereas, hopes are entertained that some arrangement, mutually satisfactory and not liable to be misunderstood, may be reached by further conference; therefore,
Resolved, That with that end in view a committee consisting of the Rector and Rector’s Warden be appointed to confer on this subject and jointly suggest, at an adjourned meeting of the Vestry, a basis for the mutual and satisfactory adjustment of the differences.
Resolved, That when this Vestry adjourn, it adjourn to meet on Thursday, January 26th, 1871, at 7 3/4 o’clock P. M., in the Vestry room.
The resolutions were adopted.
February 9, 1871.
Present. Rector’s Warden, Morris, in the Chair” (the Rector being absent on account of sickness,) and Messrs. Lambert, Norris, Allen, Thompson, Tilden, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
Rector’s Warden, MORRIS, (who, with the Rector, was at the meeting of the Vestry held on January 18th, 1871, appointed a committee to confer on the subject of the differences between the Rector and the Vestry, and jointly suggest at an adjourned meeting of the Vestry a basis for the adjustment of those differences,) stated that the Rector and he having failed to agree, had each put in writing his plan of a report to the Vestry, and agreed that the two should be presented to the Bishop of the Diocese—that this had been done, and that he, Mr. Morris, had written a letter to the Bishop, enclosing the two papers—that this letter had been submitted to the Rector and approved by him.
Mr. MORRIS read his letter and the two papers, and stated that he had received an answer from the Bishop, but that he had not been able to confer since with the Rector; that he thought the Rector should see the answer before it was presented to the Vestry, and therefore he did not think it proper to read it at that time.
Mr. TILDEN moved that the Vestry agree to settle the question on the basis of the Rector’s paper.
This motion was afterwards withdrawn.
February 16, 1871.
Present. Rector in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Morris, Norris, Allen, Tilden, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
The Rector’s Warden read a letter he had received from the Bishop of the Diocese, dated February 6th, 1871.
On motion of Mr. LAMBERT, it was ordered that the letter with the documents relating thereto be entered on the minutes.
The letter and documents were as follows, viz.:
Letter from MR. MORRIS to the Bishop.
404 Locust Street.
PHILADA., February 2, 1871.
To the Right Rev.
WM. BACON STEVENS, D. D.,
Bishop of Pennsylvania.
RIGHT REVEREND AND DEAR SIR:—Differences of opinion touching certain points of doctrine and practice having arisen between the Rector and Vestry of St. Clement’s Church in this city, the subjects in question were finally referred to a committee consisting of the Rector and the writer to report a plan for harmonizing the differences. The subjects which principally embarrassed us were those of Confession and Prayers for the Dead. As to the first, the Rector thought his Priestly Office gave him the right, not only to hear the confessions of penitent sinners seeking relief in that way, but to follow the confession when satisfied of the reality of the penitence, by absolution administered in private, and he declared that he could not conscientiously undertake to say that the same should not [15/16] be practised in St. Clement’s Parish; neither could he undertake to say, that the practice of confession, to be followed by private absolution, should not be taught or encouraged in the Parish as a proper Christian duty. [After the word “duty” add—when the penitent cannot otherwise quiet his conscience. H. G. B. In the letter sent, this note is in the handwriting of Dr. Batterson.]
He maintained his right, and declared his intention to grant absolution privately when he considered it proper to do so.
As I could not agree to this view, I suggested consultation with you, when the Rev. Dr. Batterson proposed that the papers prepared by us respectively should be submitted to you, in your official capacity, for your opinion in the premises. Dr. Batterson at the same time authorizing me to state his views to you as I have given them above. To which I assented.
The paper marked “B” is Dr. Batterson’s proposition for allaying the difficulties. The paper marked “M” contains what I thought was essential, and is in the form of a Report to the Vestry from the committee already mentioned.
We submit these papers in the hope that you will be able to give such counsel as will secure harmony and prosperity to St. Clement’s Church.
Very respectfully your obedient servant,
P. P. MORRIS.
PAPER PREPARED BY DR. BATTERSON, AND MARKED “B.”
In order to effect a hearty concurrence of the Vestry; and to quiet all differences of opinion in matters of Ritual, the Rector re-affirms his entire willingness to consult with the Wardens on all points relating to any future changes in the service, which may by him be proposed or desired.
And furthermore; in all matters of interest to the Parish, which do not conflict with the duties of his office, and for which he alone is responsible, he declares his willingness to consult or be consulted by any Warden or Vestryman of the Parish, in the free, frank, open-hearted manliness which belongs to Christian gentlemen.
Accepting this statement of the Rector in good faith, the Vestry declare themselves committed to a defence of the service as it now stands, and to give it their hearty support, both by word and deed, according to their several ability.
That is to say; Processional and Recessional Hymns, the Invocation, the standing of the people during the presentation of the Alms, to be continued. The Banner to be used only at Christmas and Easter, the Feast of All Saints, and the Children’s Festivals.
The Coloured Stoles to continue in use until the next General Convention, (October, 1871,) at which time the decision of the Convention upon the subject (if any be made) shall be obeyed.
As to Teaching.
First. Private or Auricular Confession.
This matter to be left, as heretofore, entirely voluntary, compulsory confession, having never been taught in the Anglican Communion, will never be taught in St. Clement’s Parish; but in all cases the penitent will be left to make it or not, as his own conscience may decide.
 The teaching of the American Church upon this subject is contained in Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity. This book is one of the list prescribed by the House of Bishops, and by the General Convention, for the study of every man previous to his ordination to the priesthood.
In Book VI., chap. VI., 3, are these words: “Our Saviour Christ, by those words, ‘whose sins ye remit, they are remitted,’ did ordain judges over sinful souls; give them authority to absolve from sin, and promise to ratify in Heaven whatsoever they should do on earth in execution of this their office—to the end that hereby, as well His ministers might take encouragement to do their duty with all faithfulness; as also His people admonition gladly with all reverence to be ordered by them.”
Again, Book VI., chap. IV., 7: “Furthermore, because the knowledge how to handle our own sores is no vulgar and common art; but we either carry towards ourselves for the most part an over soft and gentle hand, fearful of touching too near the quick, or else endeavoring not to be partial we fall into timorous scrupulosities, and sometimes into those extreme discomforts of mind from which we hardly do ever lift up our heads again. Men thought it the safest way [speaking of the early church] to disclose their secret faults, and to crave imposition of penance from them whom our Lord Jesus Christ hath left in His Church to be Spiritual and Ghostly Physicians, the guides and pastors of redeemed souls, whose office doth not only consist in general persuasions to amendment of life, but also on the private particular cure of diseased minds.”
Again, Book VI., Chap. IV., 15: “For private confession and absolution, it standeth thus with us:
“The minister’s power to absolve is publicly taught and professed. The Church not denied to have authority either of abridging or enlarging the use and exercise of that power; upon the people no such necessity imposed of [18/19] opening their transgressions unto men, as if remission of sins otherwise were impossible—neither any such opinion had of the thing itself as though it were either unlawful or unprofitable.” * * *
In a foot note added to this clause, Hooker quotes from Bishop Jewell: “As for private confession, abuses and errors removed, we condemn it not, but leave it at liberty.”
Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity having received the sanction and authority of the House of Bishops and General Convention, without any proviso or qualification, may be said fairly to speak the mind of the American Church.
Prayers for the Dead.
The Rector would like to investigate the subject more thoroughly, and asks for time to do so. So far, in his investigation, he finds that for the first fifteen hundred years of the Church’s history, no Liturgy is extant which does not contain a petition to the effect that the souls of the faithful departed may enjoy perpetual rest and felicity in the realms of Paradise. Beyond this it is his opinion the church has not gone in any of her Liturgies, The whole subject shall receive his careful attention. As he has never taught a word on the subject, the Vestry need have no fear of his doing so, until be has satisfied himself entirely as to the teaching of the Church.
PAPER MARKED “M.”
The committee appointed at the meeting of the Vestry, held on the 18th January, 1871, to suggest at an adjourned meeting” a basis for the mutual and satisfactory adjustment of the differences between the Rector and Vestry,” report:
That they have agreed upon the following as to doctrine or practice involving doctrine:
1. Auricular Confession, by which we mean private confession, to be followed by Priestly Absolution, either with or without penance enjoined, shall not be practised in this Parish, or taught or encouraged as a proper Christian duty, either as preparatory to the Communion, or without reference to that sacrament. There being no intention to exclude the services for the visitation of the sick, or prisoners, or the godly counsel to troubled mind contemplated by the exhortation to the Communion—or to interfere with the duty to hear the confession of an oppressed conscience bona fide seeking relief in that way; but in no case shall private absolution be given, unless where specially authorized by the rubric.
2. The opinion that prayers for the dead are efficacious, and that they are countenanced or warranted by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, to form no part of the teachings of this Parish.
3. Bowings to the Altar, and prostrations before it, not to be practised by the Clergy, and to be forbidden to the Choristers.
As to Ceremonies.
The Banner to be carried only on Christmas, Easter, and All Saints, and on the children’s services when desired.
Water not to be mingled with the wine in the chancel.
The question of Coloured Stoles to be left to await the action of the next General Convention.
Nothing new to be introduced into the services, and no changes made therein, without consultation with the Vestry, and acquiescence by them.
LETTER FROM THE BISHOP.
PHILADELPHIA, February 6, 1871.
P. PEMBERTON MORRIS, ESQ.,
DEAR SIR:—Your note of the 2d inst., with accompanying papers marked severally “B” and “M,” was received on Saturday afternoon the 4th inst.
These papers refer to “differences of opinion touching certain points of doctrine and practice” which have arisen “between the Rector and Vestry of St. Clement’s Church,” and in the conclusion of your note you say: “We (i. e., Dr. Batterson and yourself) submit these papers in the hope that you will be able to give such counsel as will secure harmony and prosperity to St. Clement’s Church.”
The subjects thus laid before me are grave and momentous, and feeling the need of Divine aid, I have earnestly sought wisdom and truth from God, who has promised to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.
Taking up the several points as presented in the paper marked “M” I come first to the subject of auricular confession. The paper reads thus: “The committee appointed at the meeting of the Vestry, held on the 18th January, 1871, to suggest, at an adjourned meeting, ‘a basis for the mutual and satisfactory adjustment of the differences between the Rector and Vestry,’ report that they have agreed upon the following. As to doctrine or practice involving doctrine: 1st. Auricular confession, by which we mean private confession, to be followed by priestly absolution, either with or without penance enjoined, shall not be practised in this parish or taught or encouraged as a proper Christian duty, either as preparatory to the communion or without reference to that sacrament. There being no intention to exclude the services for the visitation of the sick, or prisoners, or the godly counsel to troubled minds contemplated by the exhortation to the Communion, or to interfere with the duty to hear confession of an [21/22] oppressed conscience, bona fide, seeking relid’ in that way. But in no case shall private absolution be given unless where specially authorized by the Rubric.”
Upon this point Dr. Batterson, in the paper marked “B,” writes as follows: “1st. Private or auricular confession. This matter to be left as heretofore, entirely voluntary. Compulsory confession having never been taught in the Anglican communion, will never be taught in St. Clement’s parish; but in all cases the penitent will be left to make it or not, as his own conscience may decide. The teaching of the American Church upon this subject is contained in Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity. This book is one of the list prescribed by the House of Bishops, and by the General Convention, for the study of every man previous to his ordination to the priesthood.” He then quotes from Book VI., chap. VI., 3, from Book VI., chap. IV., 7, and again from Book VI., chap. IV., 15, and then adds “Hooker’s Ecclesiastical Polity, having received the sanction and authority of the House of Bishops and General Convention, without any proviso or qualification, may be said fairly to speak the mind of the’ American Church.”
It will be seen by this answer that the decision of the report is evaded. That whatever the teaching or practice was before the 18th of January, 1871, Dr. Batterson wished it “to be left as heretofore.” That he made no offer to discontinue the practice, and attempted to vindicate his course by an appeal to certain passages found in the Ecclesiastical Polity of Richard Hooker. Not a point was conceded.
As the request of the Vestry was based on a state of things existing before the 18th of January, and as, but for that state of things, the request to discontinue the practice and teaching alluded to would not have been made, it follows that the plan submitted by Dr. Batterson “in order,” as he says, “to effect a hearty concurrence of the [22/23] Vestry, and to quiet all differences of opinion on matters of ritual,” &c., does not yield one thing to the Vestry, but virtually reaffirms his previous teaching, and asks “to be left as heretofore” to his practice.
This view of Dr. Batterson’s plan is confirmed by the following extract from your note dated February 2d, and which you say Dr. Batterson authorized you to state as his views, and which, also, Dr. Batterson saw, and added an interlineation in his own hand writing:
“As to the first (Confession), the Rector thought his Priestly Office gave him the right not only to hear the confession of penitent sinners, seeking relief in that way, but to follow the confession, when satisfied of the reality of the penitence, by absolution administered in private, and he declared that he could not conscientiously undertake to say that the same should not be practised in St. Clement’s Parish; neither could he undertake to say that the practice of confession, to be followed by private absolution, should not be taught or encouraged in the parish as a proper Christian duty, when the penitent cannot otherwise quiet his conscience. He maintained his right and declared his intention to grant absolution privately, when he considered it proper to do so.” This, then, is the response of the Rector to the request of the Vestry.
I need not stop to point out the fallacy of the argument of Dr. Batterson, that because an author is mentioned in the list of books prescribed by the House of Bishops to be read and studied by candidates for Holy Orders, that therefore such author or work has the sanction and authority of the House of Bishops, and may be said fairly to represent the mind of the American Church; for it is too evident to escape notice, but will proceed at once to ascertain whether Hooker, whose words he quotes, does endorse the views and practices of Dr. Batterson.
The defence which Hooker makes in his Sixth Book of [23/24] “Confession” and “Absolution,” is of the three restricted and modified forms then in use in the Church of England. These three forms are—
1st. The Confession and Absolution in the daily Morning and Evening Prayer, which are both public and general.
2d. The Confession and Absolution made in the order for the administration of the Holy Communion, which is also both public and general.
3d. The Confession which the sick man is moved to make, and the Absolution following in the English Office for the Visitation of the Sick.
But neither of these forms corresponds to the Auricular Confession and absolution which Dr. Batterson teaches and defends. For what he contends for is a Private Confession of well persons, in the vestry-room, or some other part of the church building, and the giving to penitents thus confessing a private priestly Absolution. So far from Hooker’s Book approving this, the whole drift of his teaching is against it, as is also the whole teaching of Bishop Jewell, whom Dr. Batterson also quotes; for this able defender of the Church of England distinctly says, “That the Priests should hear the private confessions of the people and listen to their whisperings; that every man should be bound to their auricular confession, it is no commandment or ordinance of God. It is devised and established by men, and was lately confirmed by Innocentius the Third” (in the Council of Lateran, 1215). “A Treatise of the Sacrament.” Again he says, in his “Apology of the Church of England,” Part II., Chap. VII., Div. 2, “That Christ’s disciples did receive this authority (touching the keys), not that they should hoar private confessions of the people, and listen to their whisperings, as the common massing priests do everywhere now-a-days, and do it, so as though in that one point lay all the virtue [24/25] and use of the keys; but to the end that they should go, they should teach, they should publish abroad the Gospel, and be unto the believing a sweet savor of life unto life, and unto the unbelieving and unfaithful a savor of death unto death.”
As, therefore, the only two eases wherein private confession and absolution is allowed in the English Church, and which are countenanced by these great writers, do not exist in the American Church, it is wide of the truth to say that they, in defending these confessions and absolutions which have been ruled out of the American Prayer Book “may be said fairly to speak the mind of the American Church.” “The American Church” has spoken out her own mind on the subject and with no indistinct or faltering voice.
Where the English Prayer Book, in the first of the exhortations to the Holy Communion, has the sentence, “that by the ministry of God’s holy word, he may receive the benefit of Absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice,” in the American Prayer Book the reference to absolution is left out, and the passage reads, “that he may receive such godly counsel and advice.”
Where the English rubric, before the Confession in the Holy Communion reads: “Then shall this general confession be made in the name of all those that are minded to receive;” the American rubric says: “Then shall this general Confession be made by the Priest, and all those who are minded to receive;” i. e., that the Priest is to confess as well as the people.
Where the English rubric directs, after this general confession: “Then shall the Priest (or the Bishop being present,) stand up, and turning himself to the people, pronounce this Absolution;” the American rubric leaves out the words “pronounce this Absolution,” and substitutes the single word “say.”
 Where “The Order for the Visitation of the Sick,” in the English Prayer Book, reads:
“Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which Confession the Priest shall absolve him, (if he humbly and heartily desire it,) after this sort,” and then follows an absolution.—In the American Prayer Book, this rubric, and this absolution are wholly omitted.
The only confession countenanced by the American Prayer Book, other than the two in the Morning and Evening Prayer, and in the Holy Communion, is that in “A form of Prayer for the Visitation of Prisoners.” (This form does not exist in the English Prayer Book, and was taken by the framers of our Liturgy out of the Irish Prayer Book, into which it was introduced in 1714.)
But the language here used is very clear and precise. The rubric says: “Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins, exhorting him to a particular confession of the sin for which he is condemned, and, upon confession, he shall instruct him what satisfaction ought to be made to those whom he has offended thereby,” &c.
“¶ After his confession the Priest shall declare unto him the pardoning mercy of God, in the form used in the Communion Service.”
Observe here, that the only confession which the Minister is to exhort the Prisoner to make is “a particular confession of the sin for which he is condemned”—that the absolution consists in the Minister declaring unto him the pardoning mercy of God, in the precatory form used in the Communion Service; and, further, that this visitation of Prisoners is to be used “when it prisoner is confined for some great or capital crime.” So that Dr. Batterson  cannot plead this Office as sustaining his views of private confession and absolution.
I repeat, therefore, that the American Church has spoken for herself. She recognizes no inherent right in the Minister to hear confession and grant absolution, outside of the forms and ways specially provided; and by her legislation, direct and indirect, has protested against private confessionals and private absolution.
In the language of Bishop Hobart: “The Churchman justly deems auricular confession and private absolution an encroachment on the rights of conscience; an invasion of the prerogative of the Searcher of hearts, and with some exceptions, hostile to domestic and social happiness, and licentious and corrupting in its tendency.”
These words though strong, are not too strong; for the history of the Confessional is one of the foulest pages in the annals of the Church of Rome.
God forbid that there should be any revival of such a system in our Church. There is nothing that will more invade the sanctity of domestic life, and destroy the purity of woman’s heart; nothing that will breed more loathsome ideas in the minds of the so-called Penitents, and foster lust and crime in the so-called Father-Confessors, than the teaching and practice of private auricular confession, and private priestly absolution.
Our American Church, by excluding everything from her Liturgy that savors of such a doctrine, has wisely guarded against this evil. For, however mild and pure this may now appear in its first beginnings, it will not long remain so, for the system advocated only needs a vantage ground and a little headway, to become as debauching in its results, to the mind, and soul, and body, as the system which it imitates has already proved itself to be, all over the world:
As Dr. Batterson “maintains his right and declares his [27/28] intention to grant absolution privately when he considered it proper to do so,” and as this whole subject is now submitted to me for my decision and judgment, I therefore declare, that all private confession and absolution, save only in the way, and under the special circumstances, provided for in the Form for the Visitation of Prisoners, is, in my opinion, contrary to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church; and that it is an erroneous and strange doctrine, which I am bound, as far as in me lies, to banish and drive away, from that portion of the Church over the which the Holy Ghost hath made me Overseer. Hence, I require the Officiating Ministers in St. Clement’s Parish, to discontinue all teaching and practices which lead to, or countenance such private confession or private absolution.
The 2d point noted in the paper marked “M,” is concerning Prayers for the Dead, and is in the following words: “The opinion that Prayers for the Dead are efficacious, and that they are countenanced or warranted by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, to form no part of the teachings of this Parish.”
Dr. Batterson, in his paper marked “B,” says: “The Rector would like to investigate the subject more thoroughly, and asks for time to do so. So far in his investigation he finds that for the first 1,500 years of the Church’s history, no Liturgy is extant which does not contain a petition to the effect that the souls of the faithful departed may enjoy perpetual rest and felicity in the realms of Paradise. The whole subject shall receive his careful attention. As he has never taught a word on the subject, the Vestry need have no fear of his doing so, until he has satisfied himself entirely as to the teaching of the Church.”
Though Dr. Batterson has not, as he says, “taught a word on the subject,” yet he has allowed others to teach [28/29] and preach it from his Pulpit, and as privy to, and cognizant of, such teaching, without rebuking or controverting it, he is and must be held responsible for such erroneous doctrine.
The Vestry would never, as in the paper before me, request the discontinuance of teaching an opinion, if the opinion had not been taught. The fact that “the opinion that prayers for the dead are efficacious,” has been broached and urged on several occasions, is the ground of the desire herein expressed, that it “should form no part of the teaching of this parish.”
Upon the subject in general I beg leave to say that there is not a single passage of Canonical Scripture, nor a sentence in the Book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal Church, that warrants or countenances, by any fair and honest interpretation, Prayers for the Dead.
The two passages in the Prayer-Book that are usually relied on by the advocates of this doctrine, are found in the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church Militant, and in one of the prayers in the Burial Service. The first sentence is: “And we also bless Thy holy name for all Thy servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear, beseeching Thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of Thy heavenly kingdom.”
Here is simply a blessing of God’s name for His servants departed this life in His faith and fear—a beseeching of God for grace to follow their good example, and recognizing the fact that they, in consequence of departing in faith and fear, are partakers of God’s heavenly kingdom. We ask Him to grant that “with them” we may be partakers also.
The passage in the prayer in the Burial Service is this: “And we beseech Thee that we, with all those who are departed in the true faith of Thy holy Name, may have [29/30] our perfect consummation and bliss in Thy eternal and heavenly kingdom,” &c. By no honest interpretation can we from these passages defend or sanction Prayers for the Dead.
When we consider that errors of the gravest sort have clustered around this doctrine of praying for the dead, that out or it grew the fearful errors of Masses for the Dead and the horrors of Purgatory, we cannot but be thankful that the framers of our Prayer Book left out of it everything that could be justly construed as teaching or countenancing such an error. But as Dr. Batterson says “he has never taught a word on the subject,” and “the Vestry need have no fear of his doing so until he has satisfied himself entirely as to the teaching of the Church,” I need say nothing further on this point.
The 3rd topic in the paper, marked “M,” is thus expressed: “Bowings to the Altar and prostrations before it, not to he practised by the Clergy and to be forbidden to the Choristers.”
Upon this Dr. Batterson says nothing.
These bowings and prostrations and the like, are novelties, only very recently introduced into the American Church, and have no warrant or sanction from any rubric or usage of our Communion. They also symbolize the Romish doctrine of a local and objective presence of the body and blood of Christ on the holy table. This I consider to be one of the most specious and dangerous of all the errors now so subtly inculcated by the pulpit and by the press; for it is the germ out of which naturally grows the whole ritualistic system, and once admitted, and logically followed out, the only sequence is submission to the Church of Rome.
I earnestly request, therefore, that all bowing to the [30/31] Altar, and prostrations and genuflections before it, be henceforth discontinued in St. Clement’s Church.
The 4th point in the paper marked “M,” is concerning the use of the Banner. Both the Rector and Vestry agree as to restricting the carrying of the Banner to Christmas, Easter, the Feast of All Saints, and in the Children’s Services.
This is another innovation which I conscientiously condemn, as being an unnecessary and improper parade and spectacle in the house of God. I grant that there may be special occasions, such as Sunday-school anniversaries or the gathering of Church societies, when, for the sake of interesting children or designating classes or societies, such banners may be allowed as harmless; but to introduce them into the ordinary worship of the great Congregation, is to set up n pomp and display unknown in the earliest ages of the Church and unknown in the Church in these United States until within the last five years. I hope, therefore, that the carrying of the Banner in St. Clement’s Church will be dispensed with, save only in the exceptional cases which I have specified above.
The 5th point mentioned is “Water not to be mingled with the wine in the Chancel.” Dr. Batterson says nothing on this point.
The American Church, neither by rubric, canon or usuage, sanctions this practice, and I request that it be henceforth omitted.
6th. The wearing of Coloured Stoles is by both parties left to the decision of the next General Convention; though Dr. Batterson announces his intention to continue their use. There is no authority for the use of coloured vestments of any kind in our Church; and the uninterrupted [31/32] usage of the first seventy years of our existence as a National Church condemns the practice, which I request may be discontinued.
Several of these points which I have referred to may seem small and harmless. Each in its singleness may be so; but when aggregated they indicate a growth of symbolism and a drifting error-ward that cannot be too speedily checked, if we would defend the faith once delivered to the saints.
I have thus, as you desired, given you my Official Counsel and Opinion upon the points submitted to me.
How far my judgment will secure harmony and prosperity to St. Clement’s Church will depend on the course which the Rector shall pursue, as well as on the moderation and firmness of the Vestry. If, as I trust, Dr. Batterson recognizes himself bound by his ordination vows, and amenable to the rubrics and canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church, he will, I am sure, yield to the decisions here given, at least so far as to cease practices and teachings which are here discountenanced: for it would certainly be a mockery of Episcopal Authority, and bad faith towards the Vestry of St. Clement’s, after mutually agreeing to submit the controversy to the “Ordinary,” and receiving his opinion thereon, to ignore his judgment and counsel in the premises, and to continue to act as if he had pronounced no decision in the case.
Praying that the Great Head of the Church may direct your minds and hearts into the way of truth and peace, I remain your faithful friend,
And servant in Christ,
WM. BACON STEVENS,
Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
 The Rector read to the Vestry a paper he had prepared in answer to the Letter of the Bishop of the Diocese.
On motion of Mr. LAMBERT, the action of Mr. Morris in referring the papers to the Bishop, was approved by the Vestry.
Mr. LAMBERT moved that the Rector be respectfully requested to state to the Vestry what he intended to do in regard to the Bishop’s Letter.
The Rector replied that the Vestry as a Vestry had no more to do with it.
February 23, 1871.
Present. Rector’s Warden, Morris, in the Chair, and Messrs. Lambert, Norris, Allen, Stewart, Abbott, and Lowber.
Mr. MORRIS offered the following resolution, viz.:
Resolved, That the Rector be respectfully requested to conform the teachings, practices and ritual of this Parish to the requirements and requests of the Bishop, as contained in his letter to Mr. Morris: laid before the Vestry at the last meeting, and of which a copy is in the possession of the Rector—and that the Secretary send a copy of this resolution to the Bishop.
Which was passed.
On motion of Mr. ALLEN the Secretary was ordered to send a copy of the foregoing resolution to the Rector.
Mr. ALLEN offered the following resolution, viz.:
 In order that the differences which exist between the Rector and Vestry may be clearly understood by the congregation, it is hereby
Resolved, That the Secretary be requested to make a transcript from the minutes of all resolutions, statements and other matters which have any bearing on the questions at issue, beginning with the resolution offered by Mr. Morris on the 9th day of November, 1870, and that he have them printed, and sent to each member of the Congregation, as far as practicable.
Certified from the Minutes.
HENRY S. LOWBER,
Secretary of the Vestry of St. Clement’s Church.