Bishop of the said Church.
No. 160 Pearl-street.
My Brethren of the Clergy and Laity,
THERE are various particulars on the important business of the provision for the theological education of candidates for holy orders with which it is proper you should be fully acquainted I deem it, therefore, my duty to convey the information to you in the form of a Pastoral Letter, which is a mode of communication between a Bishop and his diocess, proper in itself, and recognised by the canons of the Church.
The information on this subject to which I would solicit your attention, may be arranged under the heads—of the progress made in the business of provision for the theological education of candidates for orders previously to the General Convention in May last;—of the measures adopted in that Convention;—and of the course which appears proper to be taken in relation to this subject by the diocess of New-York.
The necessity of providing adequate means for furnishing a learned, as well as pious and faithful ministry, has long occupied the attention of all the friends of the Church. The opinion has been entertained from the earliest period of his ministry by him who addresses you, that, as far as human means are concerned, the respectability and permanency of our Church will never be secured until she possesses not only theological seminaries, but a college, or colleges, exclusively under her control, so eligibly situated as to induce Episcopalians in various parts of the union to send their sons to them for education. But the depressed state of the Episcopal Church in most parts of the United States; the inadequacy of her resources; and the inauspicious state of the times, have operated unfavourably to all plans for promoting the general interests of the Church, for which extensive funds were demanded.
Notwithstanding these disadvantageous circumstances the General Convention of 1817 resolved to establish a general Theological Seminary in the city of New-York; and appointed a committee for the purpose of carrying it into operation. The proceedings of that committee are detailed in the following report, which was submitted to the General Convention in May last:—
"The committee on the subject of the Theological School, appointed by the General Convention in 1817, report to the General Convention now assembled as follows:
"Before the meeting of the committee, their chairman, at the desire of the members individually, addressed a letter, dated July 13, 1817, to the Rev. Dr. Bowen, who had been designated by the House of Bishops to solicit contributions in the states of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. This letter detailed the reasons which were supposed lo have operated in the, founding the school. At the desire of Dr. Bowen, and with the concurrence of a majority of the members of the committee, another letter, dated December 12, 1817, was prepared, with a blank to be filled with the names of any persons whom Dr. Bowen might associate with himself for the accomplishing of the object. These letters, as also an extract from an address of Bishop Hobart to the Convention of the Church in New-York, enforcing the importance and necessity of the institution, were printed, and copies of them are herewith presented.
"On the day on which the first mentioned letter was issued, another in the same words was addressed to the Rev. William H. Wilmer, who had been appointed by the House of Bishops to collect in the states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. It has been understood that some circumstances occurred which prevented Mr. Wilmer's engaging in this work. But the duties assigned to him were in some measure discharged by the Rev. Dr. Brownell, who collected a considerable sum, principally in the state of South-Carolina.
"The Rev. Daniel Burhans had been appointed by the House of Bishops to make collections in New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode-Island, and Connecticut; but was prevented by sickness and death in his family. Subsequently there was an appointment of the Rev. Dr. How, and the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis; and afterwards of the Rev. Jonathan M. Wainwright: but unexpected hindrances have prevented success in that section of the union.
"After these preliminary arrangements, made by the chairman under the authority of the committee individually, a meeting of the committee was, held in the city of Philadelphia, on the 15th and 16th of January, 1818; at which were present Bishop White, Bishop Hobart, Bishop Croes, Dr. Wharton, Dr. How, and W. Meredith, Esq. who acted as secretary of the committee. They issued an address to the members of this Church, a printed copy of which is herewith presented. They also adopted the following resolutions, proposed by Bishop Hobart.
"1. Resolved, That the chairman be requested to address a circular letter to the Bishops and the Standing Committees of the diocesses of New-Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, (measures having been taken for the collection of funds in the state of New-York,) and to the Standing Committees of the diocesses where there are no Bishops, enclosing several copies of the address before mentioned, requesting them to take effectual measures, by the appointment of persons to collect subscriptions and otherwise in their respective diocesses. to provide funds for the institution.
"2. That the chairman, as Bishop of this Church in Pennsylvania, be requested, in conjunction with the Standing Committee, and such other persons as he may think proper, to carry into effect, in his diocess the provisions of the foregoing resolution.
"3. That a circular letter, with copies of the address first mentioned, be transmitted by the chairman to each clergyman of the church, requesting his co-operation and influence in promoting the object of the address.
"4. That the Rev. Dr. How be appointed, with the Rev. Mr. Jarvis, to collect subscriptions in the eastern diocess, and to receive instructions on this subject from the Right Rev. Bishop Griswold, generally; and in the town of Boston, from the Rev. Dr. Gardiner; to each of whom the chairman will address a letter, requesting his co-operation and influence.
"5. That the Bishops who are of this committee be authorized and requested to make such additional arrangements, relative to the appointment of agents and other measures connected with the collection of monies for the use of the seminary, as they may from time to time think proper.
"It was also resolved, that the monies which may be collected be deposited by the several persons collecting, in some safe bank in the respective states, to be drawn thence in such way as this committee may hereafter direct; the choice of a place of deposit to be determined in each case, by the Bishop and Standing Committee of the diocess, and, where there is no Bishop, by the Standing Committee; and that the several collectors be requested to inform the chairman of this committee, of the amount collected and of the place where it is deposited, and that the Bishops and Standing Committees be requested to report to him the measures which they may have adopted to collect funds for the institution.
"And it was further resolved, That the Rev. Jackson Kemper be appointed secretary to the chairman of this committee, to assist him in that character in the performance of the several duties stated in these resolutions.
"The duties committed to the chairman by these resolves, were performed with the assistance of the Rev. Jackson Kemper, appointed with that view by the committee; who deem it their duty to state, that on all occasions they received the active co-operation and important aid of their chairman.
"Their next meeting was in the city of Philadelphia, on the 7th and 8th of October, 1818; at which were present Bishop White, Bishop Hobart, Bishop Croes, Dr. Wharton, and William Meredith, Esq. At this meeting the following resolutions were adopted; the first resolve being proposed fey Bishop White, and the others by Bishop Hobart.
"1. Resolved, That it is expedient to carry into immediate operation, the Theological School of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America; and that, for this purpose, a professorship of biblical learning, Comprehending the exposition of the holy scriptures, with Whatever relates to the evidences of revealed religion and biblical criticism,—a professorship of systematic theology, giving correct views of the doctrines of scripture and of the authorities sustaining them,—a professorship of historic theology, giving correct information of the state of the Church in all ages, and of the Church of England in particular from the reformation, embracing a view of the constitution of the Christian Church, of the orders of the ministry, and of the nature and duty of Christian unity, a professorship of the ritual of the church and of pulpit eloquence, comprehending all the points relative to the liturgy, to the correct and devotional performance of the service of the church, to the composition and delivery of sermons, and to the duties of the clerical office.
"2. That as soon as the funds of the institution will admit, these professorships be filled, and the professors detached from all parochial charge, and devoted solely to the objects of the institution.
"3. That when the funds of the institution admit, the Rev. Charles Henry Wharton, D.D. be appointed professor of systematic theology, and that the Rev. Samuel F. Jarvis be now appointed professor of biblical learning, and the Rev. Samuel H. Turner professor of historic theology; and that these two last named professors receive for the present, and until they can be detached from parochial cures, and devoted solely to the objects of the institution, a salary each 'of eight hundred dollars per annum.
"4. That until the other professorship be filled, and until the professor of systematic theology enter on the duties of his office, the subject of systematic theology be assigned to the professor of historic theology; and that the professor of biblical learning, and the professor of historic theology, provide, by joint arrangement, for the object assigned to the professor of the ritual of the church and of pulpit eloquence.
"5. That the professors be regulated in their instructions by the provisions of the canons, and the course of study set forth by the House of Bishops; that they conduct the students through all the books prescribed in that course, making them thoroughly acquainted with the subjects of which those books respectively treat, that the present professors provide for the daily instruction of the students; and that when the professors are detached from parochial cures, they shall each be daily engaged in instruction; that the students be frequently exercised in the devotional performance of the service of the church, and in the composition and delivery of sermons; and that particular attention be paid to their progress in the spiritual life, and to their correct views of the nature and responsibility of the duties of the clerical office.
"6. That until the further and complete organization of the institution, the Bishops who are members of the committee be charged with making such temporary arrangements as may be necessary.
"7. That as soon as the funds will admit, theological scholarships be established for the education of young men of piety and talents, who may be destitute of pecuniary means.
"8. That David J. Greene, Esq. of the city of New-York, be appointed the treasurer of this institution, with power to collect and receive the monies which may be subscribed or granted for the benefit thereof, and to place them at interest, on good security, in trust, for the use of the institution.
"9. That the Bishops composing this committee be authorized and requested to make arrangements for providing funds for the institution, and for this purpose to publish an. earnest appeal to the members and friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church, slating the wants of the Church with respect to Clergymen, the number of young men of piety and talents desirous of an education for the ministry, but, who are destitute of adequate pecuniary resources, and the indispensible necessity of a liberal endowment of the Theological Seminary, to the honour, prosperity, and vital interests of the Church.
"The plan contemplated in the above resolutions not succeeding, another meeting of the committee was held in the city of Philadelphia, the 7th of February, 1819; the same members present as at the previous meeting. A letter was laid before the committee, by Bishop Hobart, from C. C. Moore, Esq. of the city of New-York, addressed to him, containing an offer of the grant, of sixty city lots, provided the buildings of the Theological School should be erected thereon. And the following resolves, proposed by Bishop Hobart, were adopted.
"1. Resolved, that the offer of Mr. Moore be accepted, and that the buildings for the use of the Theological Seminary be erected on or near the lots of ground granted by Mr. Moore for the use of the institution.
"2. That as the funds of the institution do not admit of the adequate support of all the contemplated professors, the subjects assigned to the professors of systematic divinity, and of the ritual of the church and of pulpit eloquence, be at present assigned to the professor of biblical learning.
"3. That in consideration of the more extensive sphere of duty assigned to the professor of biblical learning, and of his situation as having a family, his salary be fixed at two thousand live hundred dollars per annum, with a house, as soon as one can be erected; and, in the mean time, with an allowance of five hundred dollars per annum in lieu of a house, in the expectation of his applying himself solely to the discharge of the duties of his station—and that the same consideration not applying to the professor of historic theology, his salary be fixed at one thousand dollars per annum, in the hope that the funds of the institution will speedily admit of a more adequate remuneration of his services, and also of securing to the institution the learning and talents of the Rev. Dr. Wharton, the professor of systematic theology, agreeably to the resolution of the 9th of October last.
"4. That the Bishops, members of this committee, who, agreeably to a resolution of the 9th of October last, were charged with making temporary arrangements for the management of the seminary, be further directed to frame and report to this committee, a plan for the complete organization thereof.
"The committee were induced to make the arrangements contained in the above resolutions, in the expectation that the prospect of the permanent establishment of the institution under the professors appointed, if a sufficient support could be provided for them, would operate strongly in aid of the collection of funds for that object. No subsequent arrangements have been made; the committee being persuaded that some new excitement is necessary in favour of the contemplated institution; and looking forward to the approaching meeting of the General Convention, as affording the only effectual means of awakening the attention of the members and friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church to an object so essentially connected with its honour and prosperity.
"For the state of the funds, the collections made, and the sums subscribed and not paid, we refer to the account of the treasurer and the exhibit annexed. In the state of New-York, the sums subscribed, which are considerable, being made payable on the condition of the whole sum subscribed amounting to one hundred thousand dollars, only a small proportion of them have been collected. A bequest of one thousand dollars, of James M'Evers, of the city of New-York, to Bishop Hobart, in trust for a theological school, has been paid by him to the treasurer of this institution. The lots granted by Mr. Moore are at present valuable, and as the city increases, might be made a source of large revenue.
"The professors have conducted the instructions of the institution, according to the canons and the course of study prescribed by the House of Bishops.
"Signed by order of the committee.
"WILLIAM WHITE, Chairman.
"May 20, 1820."
A further report was made to the Convention as follows:
"The committee appointed at the last General Convention on the subject of a theological school beg leave to make a further report.
"In the caption to the subscription book drawn up by Dr. Bowen. it is stated that 'persons will pay their subscriptions as they shall choose agreeably to the one or other of the following conditions.' And one of these conditions is, that 'any individual may subscribe on the condition of not being required to pay until one hundred thousand dollars in all shall have been subscribed. This caption, it was thought, gave all the subscribers the option, when called on to pay. of declining unless one hundred thousand dollars had been subscribed. But Dr. Bowen authorizes the committee to state that he considers that no sums of those subscribed at his solicitation are liable to the above condition, except those which are stated to be so by a memorandum which the subscribers have annexed to their names on the pages of the book of subscriptions. The sums of this description amount to five thousand five hundred dollars, subscribed by eight persons.
"It may be proper further to notice, that the Rev. professors of the seminary not wishing that the studies of each year, the recitations of each week, and the proportion of the recitations to be assigned to each of the professors should be surrendered to their direction, applied to the committee for instructions to those purposes. The committee confiding in the sufficiency of the professors, were content to leave the arrangements in question to their determination; especially as they were matters in which experience might dictate alterations from time to time. There was. however, an endeavour to obtain a meeting of the committee in October last; which failed on account of the indisposition of some of the members, and the necessary engagements of others. A meeting was held in December, but there being a mere quorum, the time being so near this triennial meeting, and the institution not having suffered, nor being likely to suffer in the business, no order was taken thereon.
"WILLIAM WHITE, Chairman.
"May 22, 1820."
The House of Bishops in the Convention of 1817 had apportioned the several states of the union among four Clergymen, for the purpose of soliciting contributions therein for the Seminary. This plan appeared to me at the time objectionable, as assigning to individuals too large an extent of country in which to solicit contributions, and as, therefore, precluding the possibility of that minute, and general, and vigorous application for funds on which their collection depended. The plan, however, was adopted on the principle that the multiplication of agents would diminish responsibility, and of course lessen the probability of so faithful a discharge of their duties.
The first business of the committee was to furnish the agents with the necessary documents for entering on their duties, which was accordingly done; and the result is stated in the foregoing report.
The committee entertained the opinion that efforts should be made to obtain subscriptions previously to the organization of the institution; as this was a subject of considerable delicacy and difficulty, and likely to present points on which there might be differences of opinion unpropitious to the collection of funds. The experiment having been fully made, however, in various ways without success, the committee at their meeting in October, 1818, and in February, 1819, adopted resolutions for organizing the institution as detailed in their report. To carry these resolutions into effect the committee were induced to pledge nearly the whole amount of the funds collected for salaries to the professors, "in the expectation that the prospect of the permanent establishment of the institution under the professors appointed (if a sufficient support could be provided for them) would operate strongly in aid of the collection of funds for that object." The principal sums subscribed in New-York had been made payable on the condition that $100,000 should be subscribed. It was intended to make an effort to induce the subscribers to dispense with that condition, and to procure increased and extended contributions; as soon as the entrance of the professors on the duties of their office, and the organization of the institution should be announced by the delivery of inaugural addresses by the professors who were appointed—a measure which, it was thought, would more than any other excite the attention and the zeal of Episcopalians in favour of the institution. Before, however, this plan was carried into effect, the Rev. Dr. Jarvis, to whom the duties of three professorships had been assigned, deemed it his duty to accept a call to a church at Boston. Other arrangements became therefore necessary on the part of the committee, but they were induced to postpone them, "being persuaded" (as stated in their report) "that some new excitement was necessary in favour of the contemplated institution; and looking forward to the approaching meeting of the General Convention, as affording the only effectual means of awakening the attention of the members and friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church to an object so essentially connected with its honour and prosperity." It is proper that I should slate most explicitly, that, as a member of the committee, I interested myself sincerely, and to the (test of my judgment, in the establishment of the general seminary.
At the last General Convention the measure was adopted of removing the institution to New-Haven. This measure could not have been carried without the co-operation of the Bishop and deputation from New-York; for it was distinctly understood that a majority would have been in favour of continuing it in that city, if pledges would be given of a renewed and vigorous effort for the collection of funds in that quarter. There was every reason to believe, however, that diocesan institutions would ultimately be established— that a general institution would rather be acquiesced in by many than cordially supported—and thus, while the principal part of the funds of the general institution would be raised in New-York, she might ultimately be one of the few diocesses who had not a theological seminary subject to her own control. The removal to New-Haven too, was earnestly desired by the Bishop and deputies from the Church in Connecticut. Under these views of the subject, the Bishop and deputation from New-York consented to the removal as a measure of conciliation; it being previously understood, as was supposed, in consequence of private conferences between the Bishop of the Church in that state and myself, and of public declarations on the subject, that a theological institution would be organized in New-York, for which the resources and contributions of the Episcopalians in that state were to be reserved, and with which the seminary at New-Haven was riot in any way to interfere. But for these impressions the measure of removal would have been opposed, and there can be no doubt successfully.
On the subject of the course that should be pursued under existing circumstances, by the diocess of New-York, it may be proper to consider the right of every diocess to make provision for the theological education of candidates for the ministry; the expediency of this provision being made by the diocese of New-York; and the mode in which it should be effected.
The right of every diocess to provide for the theological education of candidates for orders, subject only to the provisions of the general canons of the Church, cannot be questioned. The ecclesiastical authority of every diocess is responsible for the admission of persons as candidates for holy orders; who in their state of preparation are under the charge of that, authority, and amenable to it. It is impossible for a moment to doubt the right of any diocess to make any arrangements which they may deem proper, in consistency with the general canons of the Church, for the instruction and aid of candidates for orders who are under its charge. No act of the General Convention has ever contravened this right. To prevent, however, all misapprehension on this subject, both the right, and the probability of its exercise, were explicitly stated by the New-York deputation in the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies: and in the House of Bishops, still more explicitly, the following declaration was adopted, as the condition on the part of that house, of concurrence in the resolutions relative to the seminary at New-Haven. The declaration is recorded on their journals.
"The House of Bishops inform the House of Clerical and Lay Deputies, that in concurring in the resolutions relative to the Theological Seminary, and in its removal from the city of New-York, they deem it proper to declare that they do not mean by this concurrence to interfere with any plan now contemplated, or that may hereafter be contemplated, in any diocess or diocesses for the establishment of theological institutions or professorships; and further they deem it their duty to express the opinion, that the various sums subscribed having been thus subscribed under an act of the Convention establishing the seminary in New-York, the subscribers who have not paid, are not now bound, except they think proper, to pay their subscriptions, the institution being removed to a different city."
The following extracts from letters of Bishop White, the venerable presiding Bishop, will show unequivocally the view entertained in that house on the subject generally, and particularly with regard to an institution in New-York.
"That full provision was made for the allowance of diocesan schools I well remember; and that the provision was before the passing of what came from the other house must be evident from this, that otherwise it would not have been passed by us without, debate, and unanimously, if at all."
"As to New-York, I know not how the design of a diocesan school could have been more explicitly declared and acquiesced in, than was done in the House of Bishops."
The right indeed had been already exercised in the diocess of Virginia. And on this point, the following information appears in the report of the state of the Church in that diocess, inserted on the journals of the General Convention:
"The college of William and Mary has made an offer, which promises important benefits to students of theology, and has elected a clergyman of our Church a professor therein, who will take charge of such students. A society has been organized to assist indigent young men who are candidates for the ministry, and from which the most beneficial results may be expected."
An Episcopal clergyman is also professor of theology in the university of Maryland.
The expediency, then, of making provision in the diocess of New-York, for the education of candidates for orders, may be placed on the fact, that other diocesses have made, or will make such provision.
It can hardly be supposed that the various diocesses that are or may be established throughout this immense continent, will unite in the support of one theological institution; or, that it will be practicable for candidates for orders to come to one place for instruction from all parts of the union. The experience of a very respectable religious communion confirms this reasoning from the general principles of human nature. The Presbyterian church has a theological seminary at Princeton; but a synod of that church in the western part of this state have established one, and another is contemplated by the synod of Tennessee.
Shall, then, New-York relinquish the resources which she pre-eminently possesses for making ample provision for the theological instruction of candidates for orders, when other diocesses are, or will be, turning their attention to this subject? This is more than can be expected, or than should be required. What would be the consequence? Other diocesses would have their establishments for theological education? and New-York, who has every claim to one, having bestowed her resources elsewhere, would be destitute.
The propriety of the General Convention legislating on the establishment and regulation of a general seminary, has been doubted by many of the best friends of the Church, and those long conversant in her concerns. The moment that body governs too much, or extends its enactments to subjects on which there are clashing views and interests, the peace and union of the Church are endangered. That the General Convention should confine its legislation to those matters that are absolutely necessary to preserve the different parts of the Church as one body, is the principle which the venerable presiding Bishop of our Church states as the principle that should be strictly observed. [Memoirs of the Episcopal Church, page 309.] And, doubtless, in conformity with this principle, and from an apprehension of the collisions which might arise from attempts by parties of different views, to obtain the control of the general institution, he has always expressed his opinion in favour of provision being made, by the different diocesses, for the education of candidates for orders. The very attempt to preserve unity of theological opinions by a general institution, under the authority of the Convention, would lead to collisions and to separations. Here, too, the experience of other denominations may guide us. The Presbyterian theological institutions, in the western part of this State, and in Tennessee, I am credibly informed, are established by those who are not favourable, in all respects, to the theological system inculcated by the general institution. The only practicable security for unity of theological opinion among candidates for orders, consists in the course of studies prescribed by the Bishops, and in the general regulations of the Convention.
As the result of a most solicitous and attentive consideration of this subject, under a deep sense of the responsibility of my station, and with an-unfeigned desire to advance, as far as I can ascertain them, the best interests of the Church, I deem it my duty earnestly to urge upon the clergy and laity of this diocess immediate efforts to establish liberal means of theological education, and of providing aid for indigent students in divinity.
With this view, I would propose the formation of a society, to be entitled, "The Protestant Episcopal Theological Education Society of the State of New-York." And for the purpose of constituting this society it is further proposed, that on the Wednesday evening succeeding the Tuesday on which the annual meeting of the Convention of the state is held, a meeting be held of the clergy and laity who are members of the Convention, and of others, who are friendly to this object.
In reference to the constitution of this society, the following are offered as suggestions. Every thing definitive will of course be settled at the proposed meeting.
That this society consist of the Bishop and clergy; of the state, and of lay delegates to be elected by the vestry of every congregation in the same.
That the concerns of this society be managed fey a board of trustees, consisting of the Bishop, and of a certain number of the clergy and laity, to fee chosen by the society.
That the society meet annually at the time of the meeting of the Convention of the diocess, to whom reports of its proceedings shall be made; as also to the several Bishops of the Church in the union, and to the General Convention.
That this society take measures for procuring funds for the aid of young men of piety and talents designed for the ministry, but destitute of pecuniary means—for the establishment of a professor or professors of divinity in the city of New-York—and for the endowment of a theological school in the northern or western part of the state.
This last measure seems suggested by a consideration of the different circumstances of candidates for orders, and of the different spheres in which, as clergymen, they will probably move. There will always be some candidates for orders resident in the city and other places, who will deem it desirable and convenient to pursue their studies under a professor or professors there; while, for others, particularly those who receive pecuniary aid from the society, a situation should be provided where they may receive their theological education at less expense. Among these latter the Church must principally look for that eminently meritorious class of Clergy, who, with primitive zeal, and often with primitive self-denial, carry the doctrines and institutions of the Gospel to the new or retired settlements of our country. And upon this plan also, the benefits will be realized of a more retired and of a more public education for the ministry.
This then is an object, my respected Brethren, that should excite and unite our most zealous exertions. Let them be roused and directed to this object, and it will be attained. For, the Episcopalians in this diocess, and particularly in the city of New-York, are so numerous, and so abundant in pecuniary means, that there is no object demanding pecuniary resources which they cannot accomplish. Already our brethren in a southern diocess have set us the example. Though the Church there is just emerging from a state of depression, which threatened its extinction, yet one of the first efforts of its friends is directed to the provision for the theological education of candidates for orders, and for pecuniary aid to such as are indigent. I repeat it; we in this diocess possess unrivalled resources, and peculiar advantages for the accomplishment of the same object, so vitally connected with the honour and the prosperity of our Church. Let these resources then be liberally called forth, and these advantages faithfully employed, and we shall secure for our Church that, without which no church can be respectable, and with which, under the Divine blessing, every church must and will flourish—a well-educated and able, as well as pious and faithful ministry.
I remain, respected Brethren,
Faithfully and affectionately yours,
JOHN HENRY HOBART.