"I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men:
For kings and fur all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty."
1st Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy, 2d chapter, 1st and 2d verses.
In this first charge given by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, the first Bishop of Ephesus, iii regard to the arrangement of the ecclesiastical affairs of his diocese: after the usual Apostolical salutation, and a brief allusion to some points of faith, the Apostle gives direction, as a matter of primary importance, concerning the public worship in their assemblages; and, from the systematic arrangement of the order in which the various parts of the service arc spoken of, so similar in their arrangement to that of the ancient liturgies, we might reasonably infer, even if we had no more conclusive and positive. testimony to the same effect, that a precomposed or liturgical form of worship dates back to the very foundation of, the Christian Church, even as it had prevailed in the Jewish form of public worship. And especially does the Apostle exhort. Timothy that in these services the Chief Magistrates and Rulers of the land be remembered, since in their welfare and prosperity is involved so much of the welfare and prosperity of the people under them. Acting upon this Divinely appointed arrangement, we find in all the liturgies of ancient and modern churches which follow the Apostolic doctrine, discipline and worship, that there is a special recognition of the Rulers of the [3/4] land, as the instruments, inkier Providence, of promoting the true welfare of the people, and as deriving and maintaining their authority from and through him as the High and Mighty Ruler of the Universe. The Church of England, through which our own branch of the Church of Christ derives the succesion of her ministry, makes mention of the Sovereign of the realm by name and title of office, while ours mentions the title only; thereby identifying themselves just so far with their respective governments as the acknowledgment of their authority in all things pertaining to their legitimate spheres; but acknowledging no supremacy or right of interference in matters purely spiritual or doctrinal; and thus, in this respect, rendering "unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's;" while, so long as we continue true to the sacred change committed to us by our Divine Head, we "render unto God the things that are God's." There is, therefore, or should be, no union or intermingling of the secular with the ecclesiastical authority and prerogatives in this acknowledgment of the rulers of the land, and in the invocation, in the services of the church, of spiritual blessings upon our rulers and magistrates; but simply a rendering of that which is their due, and which they have a right to demand of those who profess to be guided by the teachings of the Word of God, as interpreted and practised by the Church in her earliest and purest ages.
But while the Church thus stands aloof from any intermeddling with secular affairs, and also, as a necessary consequence, from the discussion of purely political topics in her teachings, excepting so far as the precepts and doctrines of the Gospel have a bearing upon the conduct of mankind in the discharge of their duties in all the various relations of life; it becomes absolutely necessary, in order to obey the injunctions of the text and other passages of a similar character, that [4/5] we should be able, authoritatively, to declare in whose behalf the "supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks" should be made; and who are in reality the kings and others that are in authority," in whose well-being, under God, the quiet and peace, the "godliness and honesty" of the people are, for the time being, involved.
In ordinary cases, the "Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese," acting under such restrictions and directions as the discipline and order of the Church has imposed, might authoritatively declare this; which official declaration would be considered binding by all who profess an acknowledgment of its jurisdiction and power, unless such decision should be reversed by another tribunal of superior authority, or be rendered inoperative and impossible by circumstances that, n their nature, could not be disregarded. In the absence, however, of what is technically termed the "Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese," whether such absence has been caused by choice or necessity, we might be considered, for the time being, as somewhat in the condition of the Israelitish people, as described by the sacred historian as a sort of apology or explanation of some lawless and irregular proceeding: (Judges xvii,. 6.) "In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." But though there be "no king in Israel" for the time being, every act committed will be brought into judgment when the authority shall have been re-established, or, at least, before the sovereign Judge of all, from whose decision there is no appeal. It becomes, therefore, in such cases, the duty of all who profess a regard for the laws of God and man, to be more than ordinarily careful in these emergencies to adhere strictly to those principles which have been established by Divine Authority, as those who must hereafter give an account of their [5/6] stewardship when the clay of reckoning arrives. The peculiar position of affairs in this Diocese at the present time has forced me, as temporary pastor of this congregation, into a position of responsibility and delicacy from which 1 would gladly escape, if I could do so without proving recreant in the discharge of my duty as a minister of the Gospel and of the Church in which it is my privilege to serve; and I shall therefore, with the assistance of such guides and precedents as may be within my reach, and with a devout supplication for Divine Grace, and a firm reliance upon the Almighty arm, proceed to the discharge of the duty devolving upon me.
I ask the indulgence of this congregation for a greater length of time than usual, in order that I may discuss this subject at large, and once for all. I also plead for a greater latitude in the phraseology employed, in discussing the political bearings of the question, than might be deemed allowable under ordinary circumstances, but which I trust will not be thought inadmissable upon the present occasion.
"And chiefly Thou, O Spirit, that lost prefer,
Before all temples, the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou knowest.
"What in me is dark,
Illumine. What is low, raise and support;
That to the height of this great argument
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men."
When the Apostle wrote his Epistles to Timothy, the Emperor Nero was the head of the Roman Empire, which then extended its sway over the greater part of the civilized world, the distant provinces being governed by Kings or Governors, who received their appointments and held their authority from the Emperor. The character of Nero is too well known to require much comment, as he is proverbial for his cruelty, lack of principle in the administration of affairs, and [6/7] bitter persecution of the Christians. He obtained his authority by usurpation, having first murdered his brother by adoption, the lawful inheritor of the imperial authority; and scrupled not to put to death every one who stood in the way of his authority or the carrying out of his iniquitous purposes: sacrificing, in turn, his mother, who had plotted to elevate him to office, his wife, and his former tutor, the renowned Seneca. Many of the governors or kings who held their authority under him were, as is reasonable to expect, men of like character and disposition with himself; and yet the Apostle Paul exhorts that "supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks" be made for these even: "for kings, and for all that are in authority;" thereby declaring, from such an extreme case, that the wickedness of the rulers does not justify the withholding from "Caesar the things which are Caesar's," even in the matter of prayers for their welfare and prosperity. Nor does he deny the authority of those who may have acquired it by. unjust or unlawful means; since, whatever be the form, or whatever the manner of obtaining it, or whatever be the means employed to secure its continuance, as the Apostle further declares in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 13:."There is no power but of God: the powers that be, are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." Now if there was ever a people or nation who might feel themselves justified in resisting or setting at naught a usurped authority, and of denying the right to exact tribute of them, that people and nation was the Jewish, who received their laws and rulers by direct commandment and appointment from God himself, with the assurance that, under certain conditions and in a special manner, their government should be perpetual. Hence, when they were brought into [7/8] subjection to the Romans, it became, in their view, a religious duty to refuse tribute and an acknowledgment of the authority of those who ruled them as the subjects of Rome. But our Lord in his teaching and example sets forth the same doctrine as was afterwards declared by the Apostles, and which we perceive is contained in the text and parallel passages. Submission, then, to a de facto government, becomes a religious duty; and this principle has ever been admitted by the Church in the regulation of her services and the prayers for "kings, and for all that are in authority." For whatever may be the inherent right or duty of the people of a nation to rise up and overthrow a government or the rulers who tyrannize over and oppress them; the Church, as such, has nothing further to do in the matter than to say who are the rulers for the time being, that the just tribute of prayers in their behalf be, offered, and their authority acknowledged, in all things of right belonging to them. Acting, as we believe, strictly in accordance with this principle, the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Louisiana, when the State Convention declared itself separated from the Union, and a free and independent State, pleading the necessity of the case for its justification in disregarding the canonical obligations by which it was bound, directed such a change in the prayers for those in authority as seemed requisite; and when, a short time after, other changes were declared in our civil government, corresponding changes were again made in our Liturgy by the Ecclesiastical Authority. Some, indeed, and I may say not a few, both of the clergy and the laity, considered these changes as ill-advised and premature on the part of the Ecclesiastical Authority; but whatever may have been the private opinions of such, or their desires, they were overruled by the law of necessity, both physical and moral, or they be compelled to [8/9] withdraw from their positions and render themselves liable to ecclesiastical censure. The Church Convention of the Diocese, when it assembled, shortly after the changes were made in the services, virtually endorsed the action of the Ecclesiastical Authority, pleading again the "law of necessity" in justification, though it in effect neither did, nor could it, make any change in the services. It simply defined the status of the Church in the Diocese, resulting from the action of the State Convention; and, in view of the supposed permanency of the change, and the desirable nature of a union with other Dioceses, similarly situated, into a Southern Church, appointed delegates to assemble at a proposed General Convention to organize such Church.. But before any organization was agreed upon, the position of affairs, with regard to this Diocese, was changed by military occupation of this city and some other parts of the State, so that the delegates to the Convention from Louisiana did not attend. Neither, had they attended, would the action of the Convention have had any binding effect upon the Church of Louisiana, since, by a resolution offered by the Rector of this church, (now in exile,) it was declared as follows (Journal of Convention of 1861, page 48):
"Resolved, as the sense of this Convention, that the action of the proposed Convention to meet in Montgomery, Alabama, with respect to any constitution or canons, be returned to the Convention of this Diocese for ratification or rejection."
But, besides this, the "Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Louisiana," as published with the Journal of the last Convention, in May, 1861, no Convention having assembled since that time, declares, in its first article: "The Church in Louisiana hereby accedes to the Constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, [9/10] and acknowledges its authority." And as that Constitution declares, in its ninth article: "This Constitution shall not be subject to alteration, except at the annual meeting of the Convention, by a vote of two-thirds of the members present, nor unless such alteration shall have been proposed and accepted at a previous annual meeting," it is evident that even if such alteration had been proposed at that Convention, it would have been necessary for another Convention to meet and to ratify the change proposed, which has not yet been done. The Constitution of the Church in Louisiana, therefore, remains intact, and is binding upon the ministers and members of the Church, and pledges them to a conformity to the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Now, whatever necessity existed in the year 1861, to justify the disregard of a canon or rubric, does not exist at the present time; on the. contrary, the necessity, if any, is on the other side, and requires the strict observance of the Canons and Rubrics, and the consequent restoration of the liturgy to its original form; and when I use the word necessity, I refer not to any physical or military necessity, for that, happily, does not enter directly into the consideration, though it may have been instrumental in producing, the state of things which exists in our political and ecclesiastical status at the present time. Intimations were given, a short time since, that there would be a further interference on the part of the authorities, as there had been before, in regard to our Church service; but against any such interference, either by order or by request, I conceived it to be my duty to remonstrate; and, as I am rejoiced to believe, through the Providence of God, with such effect as to leave the question open for a legitimate settlement of the matter, and one more in accordance with the spirit of the gospel. And it may be proper for me here to state the reasons given by me, at that [10/11] time, for requesting that no action be taken in the matter by the authorities, and which are as follows:
1st. Because it would be a direct interference with the rights of conscience and religious liberty, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and so dearly cherished by the people of our land.
2d. Because there are doubts in the minds of many whether, according to our present ecclesiastical position, these prayers can be used in the Diocese of Louisiana, without a violation of canonical obligation.
3d, Because the use of these prayers, at this time, would be distasteful to a large portion of the congregation.
4th. Because their use would not conduce to the attainment of the desired cud, but, on the contrary, be highly detrimental to it.
5th. Because the omission of them is in strict conformity with General Banks's Order No. 118, of December 24, 1862.
6th. Because these difficulties and objections will, it is presumed, be so obviated by the action of the State Convention contemplated under General Banks's Order of January 11, 1864, as to render it obligatory, on the party of the clergy, to use the aforesaid prayers.
Now I am well aware that it may be objected to the legitimacy of the State Convention and the effect of its action, that the election was not held in accordance with the Constitution of the State, or of the general Government; that the voters were subjected to a test oath, unknown to, and discountenanced by the Constitution; and that but a portion of the State is represented, or is under the sway of the authorities by whom the election was called. These are questions which I leave for politicians and statesmen to settle when the time shall have arrived when they can be discussed freely, and in [11/12] accordance with former usage. And I am free to say, that, according to my views of political right and privilege under the Constitution and laws of the land, the action of that Convention is entitled to no more regard than a mere military order emanating from those in authority, but is, therefore, not to be resisted by those subject to their sway. And, when matters have returned to their normal condition-as I trust in God they may before long-the form and character of our Government must either have been essentially and radically changed by the commotions and upheavings which now convulse the land; or the doctrine of State right sovereignty must be restored and acknowledged as the basis of our political and constitutional rights.
But even to this political doctrine there must, of necessity, be some restriction and limitation; or our country and Government will be continually subject to the whim and caprice of a few disappointed and ambitious demagogues. For in political, as well as in religious or philosophical matters, a doctrine, or theory, or principle, may be correct and incontrovertible, which, if carried out to extremes, would prove destructive to itself and to its adherents, and lead to an utter absurdity. Thus, for example, the "Divine right of Kings" was strenuously maintained in England up to the period of the Revolution of 1688, under James the Second; to maintain which, many who although utterly opposed to his proceedings, went into exile or obscurity, and sacrificed their positions and property rather than yield to the supremacy of the new monarch William; but with whom the doctrine necessarily died out. The doctrine of the "Infallibility of the Church," founded on the promise of Christ to be always with it, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, if so interpreted as to insist upon the infallibility of every decree issued, and every canon enacted; [12/13] and all the official declarations of its earthly head, would lead to a subversion and destruction of the authority itself, unless limited and interpreted by other passages from the same inspired word, and by the doctrine or canon of common sense. It was this stubborn adherence of the Jewish people to what seemed to them the divine right of their rulers-while they, at the same time, overlooked the claim of Him who came to be their Savior and Deliverer from the degrading thraldom of sin into which their folly and blindness had plunged them, and to furnish them with that truth which would have made them free indeed-which led to their ultimate ruin, overthrow and dispersion.
Philosophers have argued on the subject of idealism and materialism to such an extent-starting, indeed, from allowed premises and facts-that they have arrived at the most absurd results, subversive of the doctrines of Scripture and common sense; from which they might have been saved by a plain matter-of-fact, admission, to correct their unwarranted conclusions. And, in regard to all theories and speculations in politics, religion or philosophy, it may be safely said, that it can never be right to do wrong, however plausible and sound the premises which seem to lead to an opposite conclusion. The doctrine, enunciated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, that "all men are created equal," is true in a certain sense, and as understood by those who made it; but to carry out this principle literally to all cases and without limit, it becomes a dangerous fallacy and a palpable falsehood. So the doctrine of "State right sovereignty" may be good and true to a certain extent, and when under proper restrictions and safeguards; but, when an attempt is made to carry it out to extremes, it becomes a dangerous theory, and subversive of all law, order and good government.
 But the Scriptures make no discrimination in favor of this or that form of government, or of the manner in which it has been established or is maintained; though we might treasonably expect it to favor the Jewish Theocracy, or that which approaches nearest to it, in form and principle. It however regards all alike, and represents the sword as the emblem of earthly power and sovereignty. We are, therefore, as good Christians, compelled to acquiesce in this view; and to accept and acknowledge that which, in the Providence of God, is thrust upon us, whether we wish it or not. And, with all due deference to the opinions of those who think, and have expressed themselves, otherwise, I maintain, that, allowing that the State Convention had a political right to act as she did in 1861, and to enforce the right upon all who were citizens of the State; we are equally bound to acknowledge the authority of those by whom that government was, for the time being at least, overthrown iii this part of the land, and to submit to the powers that now be. And this virtually and really dates from the time that the city was at the mercy of the navy and armies of the United States government. And it would have been wiser and better for those who were here and have still continued here, to have acknowledged that right, and quietly submitted to that condition of things which the Providence of God had overruled and directed.
But in regard to our Ecclesiastical position and our duties as Christians and Churchmen, inasmuch as the action of the State Convention was the declared necessity for a change in the form of the prayers in her liturgy, it seemed proper that what had been dropped or changed from necessity; should also be restored by a like necessity, which has, in fact, now been brought about by the Convention of the State of Louisiana, representing at least that portion of it in which our lot [14/15] has been cast. For, in regard to the objection that the election has been partial, and extending over a small portion of the State, and embracing but a tithe of the voters; it must be admitted that a similar course has been pursued in the portion of it now under a rival authority, even by electing two members of Congress from districts entirely beyond their present jurisdiction, and within which not a single vote could be polled. I state these facts simply for the purpose of showing the necessity of the case; and by way of justification for not adhering to, the strictness of the letter, which is now an impossibility. Now, to show the bearing of the action of the State Convention upon the Ecclesiastical position of the clergy and laity of the Church, and the necessity for a change in the liturgy consequent upon such action, it will be only necessary for me to cite a few passages from the several Pastoral letters of the Bishop of the Diocese and his Address to the Diocesan Convention of 1861. Under date of January 30, 1861, he says: "The state of Louisiana having, by a formal ordinance through her Delegates in Convention assembled, withdrawn herself from all further connection with the United States of America, and constituted herself a separate Sovereignty, has by that act removed our Diocese from within the pale of the P. E. Church in the United States. We have therefore an Independent Diocesan existence." Now if this argument be sound and good, and if the State Convention, now in session, should pass a resolution reversing the action of the Convention of 1861, as it unquestionably will; and which, we may say, has, in effect, been clone by the election held for members and their present assembling; would not this argument be reversed, and the Diocese be forced into its former position? Further on, he says: "Our separation from our brethren of the P. E. Church in the United States has been effected, because we must follow [15/16] our nationality." If this be so, we are again united with them. Still further on, he alludes to the necessity which the separation "creates for certain alterations in the service of our Book of Common Prayer," appoints certain changes, and requests the Clergy to observe them on all occasions of public worship." The action of the Convention, now in session, necessitates a restoration of the services to their original condition.
In his "Pastoral Letter of March 28, 1861," the Bishop, in allusion to the "Pastoral Letter of January 30, 1861," says: "The object of that letter was to declare the theoretical status of our Diocese, consequent upon the change of our nationality by the separation of Louisiana from the United States of America, and to submit that status as my authority, in the face of my 'Promise of Conformity' 'to the discipline and worship of the P. E. Church in the United States of America,' for directing such changes in the Book of Common Prayer as a paramount expediency and the law of Christ himself, in such a case, demanded. 'The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free' may allow us, without offence, to accept a status which necessity, not to say the Providence of God, has forced upon us, provided the doctrine of His Church and the order of its administration, in all of those things which are vital, be left unimpaired."
The necessity of the case is here again pleaded for his justification in violating his promise of conformity to the discipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and in directing "changes in the Book of Common Prayer." Now a Bishop has no more right to violate his consecration vows than a Presbyter has to violate his ordination vows, nor than a layman has to violate his baptismal and confirmation vows. And if necessity can be pleaded [16/17] in the case of the one, why not in the other? It therefore seems to me that the necessity pleaded for justification in altering the services in the first instance; justifies, nay, requires, the restoration of them to their original condition in the present state of affairs; and, with still greater force, for the necessity that then existed is now removed, and the affair naturally and necessarily reverts to its former state. But if it be asserted that the Convention of 1861 was the result of the free and unbiased act of the people under the express provision of the State Constitution, legally established; while the present Convention is not in accordance with the Constitution; that the members were elected under a military order; and the qualification of voters was such as to exclude many that were entitled to vote under the existing Constitution; while we may admit the facts, we, nevertheless, are compelled to accept that condition of political affairs which circumstances have brought into operation, and to wait for time and the overruling Providence of God to bring a change more in accordance with our political rights and usages in time past; in other words: "to accept that status which necessity, not to say the Providence of God, has forced upon us."
Now we have at the present time that which, if not a Constitutional form of Government, is at least a de facto government; and such a one, too, as we are bound to submit to, whether we like it or not. For, arguing from the express declaration and. example of our Lord, and of the Scriptures in general; from the Address of the Bishop of the Diocese; and from the doctrine of common sense; we are bound to accept that form of government which can maintain its authority, whether it be established and maintained by fifty thousands voters or fifty thousands bayonets. "For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, [17/18] therefore, resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive, to themselves damnation." And if, in the language of the Bishop of the Diocese, in 1861, the heads of a de facto government "are to be supported, not only with material aid and personal services, but by supplications and prayers;" the withholding of the latter from the Liturgy or the Church, may, with propriety, be regarded as contumacious, if not absolutely seditious. Every member of our Church and congregation has a right to demand of her clergy, that the services shall be conducted according to the Canons and Rubrics of the Church to which we have solemnly promised comformity. And why should not the same right be accorded to our rulers, wind all that are in authority? especially when the Constitution of our Church, which still remains unrepealed, requires it; and there is no necessity to prevent. The law or necessity, which now prevails, has been admitted, to a certain extent, by all the clergy of our communion in this city for the past two years, or nearly, by dropping the prayers that were substituted for those that were before in the service; and we make the same acknowledgment, only, by restoring those that were first omitted to give place to others from the necessity of the case.
I have thus endeavored to justify myself in the eyes of this congregation and of the Church at large, for the change I contemplate making, henceforth, in our Liturgy; or rather, restoring the prayers which were changed under the law of necessity. My view of duty, however unpleasant it may be in one aspect of the case, is plain and clear, and therefore relieves me of any fear of Ecclesiastical censure or rebuke in the course pursued. In regard to your course in the matter, my beloved friends, I claim not to exercise any: right, or to interfere with your conscientious views of duty, excepting so [18/19] far as you may be willing to acquiesce in the justness of the views I have now submitted, and the obligations they impose upon you as faithful and consistent members of the flock of Christ. Some of you, indeed, may argue that, by complying with the requirements made of you, you would be casting censure and rebuke upon those who have been exiled for maintaining a different view of the matter; and that it is presumptuous in me, an humble and uninfluential Presbyter, and now standing in the place of the rightful pastor of this congregation, to take ground against the unanimously expressed opinion of so many of my Superiors in talent, wisdom and influence. But let it be borne in mind that the position of affairs has been materially altered since their declaration was made; and especially by the assembling of the State Convention and their declaration of the status of the State; so that, if the argument of the Bishop of the Diocese was good reason for justifying the change first made it is equally good for restoring the prayers as they stood before 1861. For the Word of God is a two-edged sword, and cuts in both directions; and what was good and sound doctrine in one case, must be admitted in the other. And many of the strongest arguments of those who declaimed eloquently and forcibly two or three years since, if worth anything then, are now turned in the opposite direction, and must be allowed to prevail in this part of our land by the restoration of the condition of things which was then changed thereby. And the sword of Goliath, in the hands of the stripling shepherd boy, may be used to decapitate its owner who trusted in it. And it is reasonable to suppose, that the same argument of necessity, which was pleaded in behalf of the first change, and which was virtually admitted and acquiesced in by all, in omitting the prayers which had been substituted by the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese, would also be [19/20] admitted by them, if now here, as a reason for the restoration. of the original prayers. And I may also add, that the course I now advocate and recommend to your observance, is the most effectual mode of leading to the speedy return of those who have been forcibly exiled from their congregations and positions here.
But there may be some of our congregation who think that the restoration and use of these prayers in our services is a formal declaration against principles to which they have committed themselves, and which they are willing to maintain at the hazard of "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors;" and that it would be praying against those who, through their instrumentality and persuasions, have gone forth, and are now risking their lives in defence of these principles. And is it so, that we are invited to offer up prayers for the overthrow of principles which we have been accustomed, from infancy, to hold dearer than life; and for the subjugation of those who are now battling, as we think, for their maintenance? Are we expected to take part against those who, by their self-devotion and sacrifices, have challenged the admiration of the civilized world; and who number among their slain and living, some of the noblest specimens of humanity? Forbid it, heaven. May my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if ever I rejoice at, or pray for, the downfall of these principles or their noble champions or defenders. For them, my tears shall fall; for them, my prayers ascend, that God may be pleased to shield their heads in the hour of peril, and bring the cause of righteousness to a successful and peaceful issue.
It is, however, one of the features of this contest, in which the people of the land are engaged in fratricidal strife, that both parties profess to be striving for the same principles of [20/21] Civil, and religious liberty for which our forefathers bled and died; and that both, starting from the same point, and professing the same object, pursue their attainment in opposite directions; and are thus brought into hostile array and deadly strife, from which neither are willing to desist but with the sacrifice of their lives; and it is this circumstance which seems to render the contest interminable, and not to be decided by the mere force of arms; thereby giving another illustration of the principle already alluded to: that a theory, professedly sound and incontrovertible, may be carried out to the destruction of its supporters and the overthrow of the principles advocated. We should, therefore, before embarking in a righteous cause even, have regard to the means of carrying it out, and the difficulties and dangers involved in the contest; lest, haply, we may be found striving against the truth itself.
An examination and analysis of these prayers will show that no such interpretation can, with propriety, be placed upon them. Apart from the political admission, which necessity compels us to make for the time being, not in this matter merely, but as residents in the community; it will be perceived, that e are required to pray for nothing more than we pray for, in effect, in other parts of the Liturgy; and to use such prayers as the Word of God requires us to make in behalf of all that are in authority, even though the Chief Magistrate be a Nero, and may have obtained, and now retains his position by usurpation and bloodshed. We pray that they may be, endued "plenteously with heavenly gifts." Is it not desirable that all Magistrates and all men should be so endued? We pray that God would "grant them, in health and prosperity; long to live." If their lives and course of conduct be iniquitous, we certainly do not pray that God would prosper them in their iniquity; but that he would so [20/21] over-rule, and direct, and change their hearts, that their spiritual health and real prosperity may be promoted; for only so can the people under them "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." We further ask, in their behalf: "and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity." This is what should gladden the heart of every patriot as well as every Christian; since the only mode of attaining "everlasting joy and felicity" is true repentance and reformation, and the acceptance and maintenance of that Gospel, without which, none can be saved. And that the offering of such supplications and prayers is the duty of all Christians, and is enjoined upon us by the Apostle in this connection, We plainly perceive in the verses following our text: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." The greater the sin of the "Kings and all that are in authority," the more fervent and earnest should be "the supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks" in their behalf. And in regard to the "Prayer for Congress," the language is, that God would "be pleased to direct and prosper all their consultations to the advancement of His glory, the good of His Church, the safety, honor and welfare of His people, that all things may be so ordered and settled by their endeavors, upon the best and surest foundations; that peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established among us for all generations." Is not this what we all desire and are longing for as Christians, as patriots, as those who are or should be laboring, and praying, and. yearning for the coming of the glorious time when men "shall beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning-hooks;" when "nation shall not lift up the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." But [22/23] if any should be deterred by conscientious, or even by mere political motives, from saying Amen to these prayers, they are not forced to do so by having them read in the Liturgy; but can exhibit their loyalty to the Church of Christ, as well as exercise their political liberty, by imitating the example of the pious and consistent mother of john Wesley; who was both an ardent Churchwoman, and a steadfast adherent to the doctrine of the Divine right of Kings; and therefore refused to say Amen to the prayer for King William, because she did not recognize his authority, even after James II had abdicated the throne and gone into voluntary exile. She, however, did not think it necessary to turn her back upon the sanctuary where the prayer was offered, nor to make any open demonstration of her principle; but for years submitted in silence, and unknown to her husband, who did not agree with her in her political opinions; and who took her severely to task, when he accidently discovered the omission, and learned from her the cause of it.
And it has been argued against the restoration of the Prayer for the President and Congress of the United States in our Liturgy, and the use of them in our Morning and Evening Prayer, that many of those who now worship with us will leave us, and attach themselves to other congregations; perhaps wander off unto strange pastures, or forsake the House of God altogether. And can it be that our attachment to the Church, and our love for Christ, our religious principle, in fact, is of such a character as to be cast off for a political motive; and because we may be forced to hear a prayer which does not accord with our ideas of political propriety, even though a necessity, over which we have no control, may have forced us into the position? And is the apparent devotion of this large and respected congregation, among [23/24] which it has been my privilege to minister for more than a year past, been the result of a political feeling chiefly? I can not, I will not, believe it, unless the conviction be forced upon me in a form which leaves no room for doubt. Rather let me hope and believe, that the deep-seated principle of religion can so operate upon us at this crisis, as to make us willing to submit to that which we may not politically approve, but which we can tolerate for the sake of Christ, and our love for his body, the Church the pillar and ground of the truth.
When our blessed Saviour had discoursed at some length respecting a doctrine which slid not prove acceptable to his hearers, it is related: (John vi, 60-62.) "Many, therefore, of his disciples when they had heard this, said: This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them: Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of Man ascend up where he was before?" And what, my brethren, if these church doors should again be closed against us? What if the church of our affections and preferences should be rooted from among us as the result of our caprice, or our unwillingness to submit to a necessity which is forced upon us? What, if her holy worship, her soul-inspiring psalms and hymns of devotion, her Scriptural doctrines-opposed to and by the unauthorized and unscriptural assumptions of Romanism on the one side, against which she constantly protests; and those innumerable forms of error which prevail among the various sects and denominations on the other side, against which she has ever been a bulwark and defence-should be heard no more among us; where shall we look for the ark of safety from the desolating storm which threatens to engulf us, and to obliterate the land marks which she keeps prominently in view? We cannot believe that God will thus leave us to our [24/25] destruction, but will say with the Psalmist: "The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge." "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved. God shall help her, and that right early." And, although of you it may be said, as it is written respecting the followers of our Lord: (John vi, 66.) "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him," and we ask, as did Jesus of the twelve: "Will ye also go away?" We trust that there are not a few who will reply, in the language and spirit of Simon Peter, in reference to this branch of Christ's mystical body: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life. And we believe, and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God."
In accordance with the principles which I have now set forth, and in the discharge of what I conceive to be an imperative duty, I expect, hereafter, to use the "Prayer for the President of the United States," and the "Prayer for Congress when in session," in the Morning and Evening Service; commencing with the Evening Service, this day, at 5 P. M.; and may the great Head of the Church lead you, my beloved brethren, to a correct conclusion of your duty in the matter.
And, now unto the King, Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory, for ever and ever, Amen."