BEFORE Dr. Seabury could have received Dr. Chandler's last letter--within ten days, in fact, of its date--an event occurred which was of momentous influence both upon his own life, and upon the future history of the Church to which he was devoted: that is to say, his election to the Episcopate of the Church in Connecticut, which took place at Woodbury in that State, on March 25th, being the Feast of the Annunciation, in the year 1783.
The articles of November 30, 1782, above mentioned, were provisional, and were to constitute the treaty of peace between Great Britain and the Colonies recognized as independent States, when peace should have been settled between Great Britain and France. On the 20th of January 1783, articles were agreed upon between Great Britain and France; whereby the provisional articles of November 1782 came into full force as the treaty of peace. [History of New York during the Revolutionary War, by Thomas Jones, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province, vol. II, p. 238.] These articles arrived at New York in March 1783. [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 78.] The Connecticut election took place March 25, 1783.3 The articles were ratified by Congress in May 1783. [Jones' History of New York, II, p. 259-60.] The Presbyter elected to the Episcopate sailed June 7, 1783. [Memorial to Commissioners, ante chapter X; cf. Hawks and Perry, Connecticut Church Documents, II, 212.] And the British forces, under Sir Guy Carleton, evacuated New York, November 25, 1783.
This comparison of dates is suggestive, not only of prompt action on the part of the Electors and the Elect, but also of the settled judgment and matured purpose which made them ready to proceed to action so soon as opportunity should be offered for it by the severance of the tie that bound the Colonists to the Mother Country. The election precedes by a month or two the Congressional ratification of the peace; and the Bishop elect is on the water seven months in advance of the retirement of the British troops consequent upon the peace.
This readiness to act upon the first appearance of a possible favourable opportunity is the more remarkable because of the number of doubtful questions which, in view of the history of the struggle for the Episcopate, and the continued existence of many of the hindrances which had hitherto prevented the obtaining of it, would be apt to present themselves to all thoughtful men.
The one want which, as we have seen, was felt by earnest Churchmen in the Colonies to be more imperative than any other was the want of a resident Bishop. By every available means this want was for many years vainly made known to those who were in possession of the Official Episcopal authority by which it could be supplied. Some of the English Bishops had advocated the sending over of a Bishop for the Colonies, and probably all desired it: but the act of consecration under their circumstances was one of which they could not conceive the possibility. They realized, no doubt, the abstract possibility of the existence of the Church independently of connection with the legal system of Great Britain; but they could not realize the possibility of the action of British Bishops apart from the restraints imposed upon them by the British system.
As the law was commonly understood they were not at liberty to act without the permission of the Government; and that permission the Government, for its own reasons, was sure not to grant. The loyalty of Churchmen in the Colonies the Government was in the main safe in counting upon: the loyalty of the Puritan interest in the Colonies was never to be counted upon; and it was not safe to put it to the too severe test of the sight of an American Bishop. Still less was it safe to incur the opposition of the dissenting interest at home, which would have been aroused against any ministry which should have consented to the consecration of such a Bishop.
And when the Revolution was accomplished, and the independence of the States acknowledged, it may be imagined that the Churches in those States would seem to many to be none the nearer to the fulfilment of their desire: in fact, perhaps, their condition was worse than before. For before, they had access, even though at great trouble and expense, to the Bishop of London, whose jurisdiction had hitherto been recognized as the common bond of union between the Churches in the several colonies. But now they had no Bishop. That jurisdiction, in abeyance during the War, was practically abandoned at its conclusion. The laws of England remaining as they had been, the oath of allegiance to the King was connected with ordination; and this, hereafter, could not be taken by those who should go from the States to England for Orders. So that, always important and desirable, it had now become actually necessary that Bishops should be had. Otherwise, the Church as a distinct body must come to an end for want of power to perpetuate itself by its own laws; and its members must lapse into infidelity, or be absorbed into other bodies.
Yet what was the prospect now, of the success of an application already many times made and rejected? Would the English Bishops be more disposed to act in behalf of men who had become citizens of another country, than they had been for those whom they acknowledged as fellow subjects of a common government? And, if they were, would they be more able than they had been? For the change in the law depended upon the civil, and not upon the ecclesiastical authority; and it was unlikely that the civil authority would care to sanction an act, the apprehension of which had been one of the causes of the disaffection which had led to the war; since such sanction might be interpreted as an insult to the newly made States. And supposing the application to be successful, what were the prospects before one who might return to this country as a Bishop? The hatred of Prelacy among the Puritan bodies could hardly be thought to have become entirely extinct; even though it might by success have been somewhat modified. And the loyalty which had largely prevailed among the clergy had made them obnoxious, as a class, to a great part of the American people; whose aversion to the preservation of a body which was looked upon as more English than American, might fairly be presupposed.
More important, perhaps, than all the questions thus suggested, was the question, upon whom it devolved to move in the matter if it were to be moved. Were the members of the Church here to wait for Bishops to be sent out to them. That course had been pursued long enough in vain. Were they to consider themselves as constituting in the different States, one body, in such sense as that no movement could be made without the consent of all? But this would have been to assume the existence of an union which did not come fully into being for more than six years afterward, and the first step toward which had not yet been taken. And, moreover, it would have been to take for granted the existence of a political union among the States themselves, which was yet a project to be painfully wrought out in years to come, rather than an accomplished fact.
Or was some individual to start off, of his own motion, and bring back the coveted treasure? This was an experiment that had been tried in the case of Talbot; who had on his own responsibility secured an irregular consecration in England, and found himself on his return to this country so entirely without recognition that he never presumed to claim Episcopal jurisdiction, nor, so far as known, even to exercise a single function of the Episcopal Office. It is hardly probable that this precedent was known by the Connecticut clergy, but had they known it, the course which they chose indicates that they would hardly have been likely to follow it. [The Rev. John Talbot, of Burlington, New Jersey, was consecrated in 1723-1724 by Robert Welton and Ralph Taylor; Welton having been before consecrated by Taylor alone. Welton and Talbot both came to this country. Welton is said by Percival to have "exercised Episcopal functions," though upon what evidence does not appear. The English Government, however, interfering at the request of the then Bishop of London, Welton retired to Portugal, where he died in 1726. Talbot took the oaths and submitted. See Percival's Apology for the Apostolic Succession, pp. 222-226.]
Such questions as these which have been suggested were present to the minds of all reflecting Churchmen; and met, of course, with differing answers. But in one State only were they met by the concerted action of men who had some claims to be regarded as the representatives of the Church in that State.
The Clergy of Connecticut had been long familiar with these questions, and their training in Church principles had been such as to enable them to know what was due, at their hands, to the members of the family of Christ of whom they had been put in charge. They understood that their duty required them not only to minister the Word and Sacraments to their people, but also to seek to provide for them that oversight which was above their own office to give, and to take measures to secure the continued supply of the ministrations of the Gospel after they themselves should have been called to their rest. Whatever the Churchmen in other States might do, they determined to be satisfied with nothing less than a Bishop for the Church in Connecticut. They recognized in the State of Connecticut the civil limits by which they were distinguished, as to this matter, from their brethren in other States, as they were from their brethren in England; and although there was a common cause between them and their brethren in other States, yet they saw no obligation cither to await their convenience, or to submit to a policy of their imposition. And so, although they were willing to advise with them, as they showed by consultation with the Clergy of New York, they did not hesitate to enter upon an independent course of action.
The whole number of the Connecticut Clergy at that time was fourteen. Of this number ten were present at the meeting in Woodbury at which the election took place. The Revd. Abraham Jarvis, Missionary at Middletown, was the Secretary of this convention, but no minutes of that meeting appear to have survived. The evidence of the action taken is contained in the various letters which were written to give effect to it; and in the testimonials which were prepared for the recommendation of the Bishop Elect to the Archbishops, both of Canterbury and of York, and the Bishop of London. These papers seem to have been drafted by the Secretary, and they are careful and dignified documents, setting forth the present situation of the Church in the Colonies, the desire of the Connecticut Clergy to be instrumental in procuring the needed Episcopate, and their selection of Dr. Seabury to be their Bishop if consecration might be conferred upon him, for which they earnestly ask the action of the English Bishops. The papers are printed in full in Dr. Beardsley's Life, (pp. 80-95) and it seems unnecessary to reproduce them here. They comprise a letter to the Archbishop of York, dated April 21, 1783, signed by the Secretary; a Testimonial of the same date signed (according to Dr. Beardsley) by the Rev. Dr. Leaming, the Rev. Dr. Inglis, Rector of Trinity Church, New York, the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Moore, assistant minister of Trinity Church, and others--the others appearing, from the copy before me in Dr. Seabury's handwriting, to have been the Rev'd. Isaac Browne, Revd. Abraham Jarvis, Rev. Jonathan Odell, Rev. John Beardsley; and (in "London July 10") the Rev. Samuel Cooke; a letter to the Archbishop of York, May 24, 1783, signed by Drs. Leaming, Inglis and Moore; and a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, signed by Mr. Jarvis as Secretary, which is printed by Beardsley without date. There is also printed by him a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, dated May 24, 1783, which he quotes from "The Churchman's Magazine" for February 1807, as having been there given without signature. From a copy of part of a letter in Dr. Seabury's handwriting, it would appear that a letter which was a counterpart of that above noted as addressed to the Archbishop of York, was under the same date, May 24, 1783, addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury. This copy, with a few unimportant verbal differences, is the same as the first part of the letter to the Archbishop of York, to the end of the last paragraph on p. 84 of Beardsley's Life, and there concludes with a memorandum that the remainder is omitted as relating to another matter, noting the signatures as those of Inglis, Moore, Browne, Learning, Odell and Beardsley.
There appears also to have been an additional testimonial given from New York June 3, 1783, which is, somewhat abridged, to the same effect as that of April 21, 1783, printed by Beardsley; which, as not hitherto printed, it may be well to place here.
"New York, June 3, 1783
Whereas our well-beloved in Christ Samuel Seabury Doctor of Divinity, at the earnest request of the Episcopal Clergy of Connecticut, hath resolved to embark speedily for England, that he may be admitted to the sacred office of a Bishop; and afterwards to return to Connecticut, and there exercise the spiritual powers peculiar to the Episcopal office, by superintending the Clergy, Ordaining candidates for Holy Orders, and confirming such of the Laity as choose to be confirmed; and having applied to us for Letters Testimonial on the occasion -----
We therefore, whose names are underwritten, in justice to Dr. Seabury's abilities, learning, and moral charcter, of which we deservedly entertain the highest opinion, do certify, that we have, for many years past, been intimately acquainted with the said Dr. Seabury, and that we believe him to be every way qualified for the sacred office of a Bishop. And we cannot but express our earnest wish that he may succeed in his application, as many inconveniences may be thereby prevented, which no after care can remove, when they have once taken place.
Charles Inglis, D. D.,
Rector of Trinity Church in the City of New York
Jon. Odell, A. M.,
Missionary, Burlington, New Jersey
Benj. Moore, A. M.,
Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New York
The general plan of those who sought thus to obtain the Episcopate appears from these papers to have been that if Dr. Seabury should be consecrated, he should "with the approbation of the Society" return to Connecticut in the character of a Missionary of the Society at New London; with the hope of being permitted by the Governor to exercise the spiritual powers of the Episcopal office there; a permission which, from representations of persons of character not members of the Episcopal Church, it was anticipated might be cheerfully granted, since the acknowledgment of Independence had removed apprehensions of temporal power attaching to the Episcopal office. It seems to have been imagined too, that the King would readily dispense with any impediments to the proposed consecration; and that thus action might be taken for the consecration not only of Dr. Seabury for Connecticut, but also of Dr. Chandler for Nova Scotia; which would provide in America for the continuance of the succession there in conformity to the Apostolic Canon requiring that a consecration to the Episcopate should be by at least two Bishops. There is a plea also made for the application to the benefit of the Bishop of Connecticut of certain legacies which at different times had been bequeathed for the support of Bishops in America; and, in addition to the usual arguments for the necessity of Episcopal oversight, there is urged the danger to be apprehended from the otherwise possible success of "a plan of a very extraordinary nature, lately formed and published in Philadelphia, the plan being "to constitute a nominal Episcopate by the united suffrages of Presbyters and laymen." This proposed plan, published by the Rev. William White, then Rector of Christ Church Philadelphia, and afterwards Bishop of Pennsylvania, was obviously one of the "inconveniences" sought to be prevented by the actual consecration of a Bishop, which it was conceived that "no after care can remove, when they have once taken place." A full account of this anticipated inconvenience is given in a letter of the Connecticut Clergy convened at Woodbury to the Rev. Mr. White, printed by Dr. Beardsley (pp. 98-102); and an account of the same matter is given by Bishop White himself in his Memoirs of the Protestant Episcopal Church, (pp. 89-92)
One of the very many important services rendered by the late Bishop Perry to the cause of the history of the Church in this country, was the discovery and preservation of another paper, which though not an official document, bears the most complete and interesting testimony to this election. The Bishop told me that having been on a visit to a member of the family of the Revd. Samuel Parker, sometime Bishop of Massachusetts, he was told of a parcel of old papers which had been consigned to the cellar for burning, as they were supposed to be of no particular value. But anything of that kind was treasure inestimable to Bishop Perry; and having obtained leave to ransack the parcel he made some most valuable discoveries. Among other things he found an autograph letter of the Rev. D. Fogg to Mr. Parker, giving an account of the action of the Woodbury Convention of which he had been a member. This letter has, of course, been printed before, but I reproduce it from the copy in Bishop Perry's writing which he sent to my father in 1862. It is as follows:
"Pomfret 14th July '83
I wrote you a few lines 2d inst. by an uncertain conveyance in which I attempted to excuse myself by throwing the blame upon you for not waiting for you till the time you mentioned. I now plead guilty and beg your forgiveness. I likewise mentioned that the Connecticut Clergy had done all in their power respecting the matter you were anxious about but they keep it a profound secret even from their most intimate friends of the Laity. The matter is this: After consulting the Clergy in New York how to keep up the succession they unanimously agreed to send a person to England to be consecrated Bishop for America and pitched upon Dr. Seabury as the most proper person for this purpose, who sailed for England the beginning of last month, highly recommended by all the Clergy in New York, Connecticut, &c. And if he succeeds he is to come out as missionary for New London or some other vacant mission. And if they will not receive him in Connecticut, or any other of the States of America, he is to go to Nova Scotia. Sir Guy [Carleton] highly approves of the plan and has used all his influence in favour of it.
The Clergy have even gone so far as to instruct Dr. Seabury, if none of the regular Bishops of the Church of England will ordain him, to go down to Scotland and receive ordination from a nonjuring Bishop.
Please let us know by Mr. Grosvenor how you approve of the plan and whether you have received any late accounts from England. From your affct. brother,
Dr. Beardsley prints with this letter (p. 105) another from the same writer to Mr. Parker; which gives an additional insight into the feelings and motives of the electors:
"Dear Sir: I am very glad that the conduct of the Connecticut Clergy meets with your approbation in the main. Dr. Seabury 's being a refugee was an objection which I made, but was answered, they could not fix upon any other person who they thought was so likely to succeed as he was, and should he succeed and not be permitted to reside in any of the United States, it would be an easy matter for any other gentleman who was not obnoxious to the pozvers that be, to be consecrated by him at Halifax. And as to the objection of not consulting the Clergy of the other States, the time would not allow of it, and there was nobody to consult in the State of New York, for there is not one Clergyman there except refugees, and they were consulted. And in the State of Connecticut there are fourteen Clergymen. And in your State and New Hampshire, you know how many there are, and you know there is no compulsion in the matter, and you will be left to act as you please, cither to be subject to him or not. As to the matter of his support, that must be an after consideration.
Your affectionate friend and brother,
Pomfret, August 1, 1783."
It is stated by Dr. Beardsley (p. 78) that the Clergy who met at Woodbury "selected two persons, the Rev. Jeremiah Learning and the Rev. Samuel Seabury, as suitable, either of them, to go to England and obtain, if possible, Episcopal consecration." No evidence is offered in support of this statement; but it is, I presume, substantially correct, being in accordance with the general tradition. The papers, in regard to the application make no mention of any name but that of Dr. Seabury, nor do the letters of Mr. Fogg. But it is quite natural that the Convention should have determined upon the designation of whichever one of two mentioned should accept the trust: and the ascertainment of this point appears to have been left to the Secretary who was commissioned to go to New York, where both of these Clergymen then were, and to put the papers necessary for use into their final form, inserting the name of the one who accepted the election. [See Bishop Seabury's letter to the Secretary of the Society, February 27, 1785; Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 172.] Which of these two was really the first choice of the Connecticut clergy, in the sense of being, so far as their feelings were concerned, the person preferred, matters very little, except in so far as the real truth of history is always interesting. Bishop Perry has expressed his conviction that this honour belongs to Dr. Seabury. Dr. Beardsley stoutly holds for Dr. Leaming. ["The Living Church," August 27, 1881.] If I might venture to have an opinion in such presence, it would be that the Connecticut clergy regarded Seabury as the man for the place, but had so much respect for Leaming, and held such relations to him as their fellow Presbyter in Connecticut, that they were unwilling to seem to overlook him; and that accordingly they elected Seabury with the understanding that the position should be first offered to Leaming before that election should take effect: there being good grounds to anticipate that Learning would decline to serve: although of course the offer would be made in good faith, and the Secretary would be empowered to give effect to it if necessary. I doubt whether the true spirit and intent of the action in relation to Dr. Learning can be better indicated than in the words which Dr. Beardsley used before his discussion with Bishop Perry arose, the italics being mine: "There was good reason for giving him the opportunity to decline." [Beardsley's life of Bp. Seabury, p. 79.]
The proceeding which has been now described has at times been referred to in language which apparently honours it not cheerfully but grudgingly and of necessity; language which not so much raises the question whether it were an election, as assumes that question to have been decided in the negative.
Mr. Fogg's letters state that the clergy had "pitched upon Dr. Seabury as the most proper person for this purpose," and that it was said among them that "they could not fix upon any person so likely to succeed as he was." The letter of the Secretary to the Archbishop of York, speaks of Dr. Seabury as the person whom the Connecticut clergy "have prevailed upon to offer himself for consecration" The testimonial signed by Leaming and others speak of him as embarking "at the earnest request of the Episcopal clergy of Connecticut" to present himself for consecration.
These phrases indicate the determination between different persons, the selecting from a number for any use or office, which constitutes choice or election; and it is not easy to see the point which, in some minds, discriminates this election from any other election to the Episcopate, so far as the nature of the act is concerned--or, for that matter, so far as its authority is concerned, although these are separate questions. Judging the transaction by the evidence, the necessity for speaking of it, as not exactly an election, but rather a designation; as, perhaps not in entire conformity with Catholic usage; as, the action of individuals rather than a regular ecclesiastical proceeding--is not apparent. Of course it was not an election by Dean and Chapter in pursuance of conge d'elire and letter missive, and under penalty of praemunire; nor by a body of delegates appointed for the purpose by incorporated parishes; but it was an election nevertheless. And, as the word election is the technical word to express the selecting of a person to be presented for consecration as Bishop, the word election is as properly to be used with reference to the first Bishop of Connecticut as to any other Bishop.
Nor does the fact that the election was of one of two persons named change its character. The election of two to be, one or the other, Bishop of Connecticut, as might be determined by a designated contingency, is as much an election (supposing it to be proved that such was the manner of it) as the election of either alone could have been. The devise of an estate to one of two persons who should first signify his acceptance of it on certain conditions, would be as much a devise as if to one alone. An alternate delegate to General Convention is as much elected as the principal whose vacant place he is called to fill. In short, the will of those who acted concurred in the choice of whichever of these two men should be found to have been prepared and disposed by Providence to accept the trust, and on that one the election took effect.
If, however, disparagement of this election regarded only the question of its harmony with mere formalities, it would hardly be worth noticing. But it acquires some show of importance from the bearing which the election of a Bishop has upon the settlement of his jurisdiction over the particular district or field for which he is consecrated: and thus it is necessary that this election should have justice done to it.
The distinction, inherent in the Church system, between Order and jurisdiction; the former being the power to execute the functions of the ministry, and the latter the lawful right to exercise that power, makes it obvious that something beside Consecration to the Episcopate is necessary to constitute the person consecrated the lawful Bishop of the Church in a certain field or district. And the inquiry as to what that thing is, does not in every case admit of the same answer.
In the settled state of affairs in which we now live, the inquiry is of course easy to answer; for our common Constitution provides that in every Diocese the Bishop shall be chosen agreeably to rules prescribed by the Convention of the Diocese; and therefore a Bishop, however valid might be his consecration, would not have the lawful right to exercise his office as the Bishop of a Diocese which had not so chosen him. But in revolutionary or transitional periods, when there is no such settled rule in any particular district and when, as in the case before us, the rule, which had hitherto been acted on, had been withdrawn--and practically repealed--it would only be necessary to conform as far as possible to the principles of the Church Catholic--such principles, that is, as were recognized in the Church prior to the adoption of special rules.
This was what the Connecticut men did. In the absence of any local regulation binding upon them, they fell back upon the general principle that the Clergy were bound to provide for the needs of the people committed to them; and as they had done, and were doing for them, everything except that which a Bishop alone could do, they proceeded to provide for this need also, by choosing a man to receive consecration for the Episcopate. This, certainly--there being no law to the contrary--was all that was necessary to give the Bishop, who should be lawfully consecrated for them, a lawful jurisdiction over them; and, as they had jurisdiction over the members of the Church in which they had been lawfully settled, jurisdiction over them involved also jurisdiction over their people.
In fact the jurisdiction as well as the Orders of the first Bishop of Connecticut will stand the test of every recognized general principle of the law of the Church pertaining to them. The question of Orders belongs to a later period: the question of jurisdiction arises here by reason of its connection with the matter of election.
If we lay aside the claims of the Papacy, which have no bearing within the limits of our subject, there are but three ways in which the jurisdiction of a Bishop can be established; viz. either by the assignment of the Bishops by whose consent he is consecrated, or by the choice and acceptance of clergy and people, or by the sanction of the civil authority ruling over the district in which he is to be settled.
In the earliest times those who conferred the Episcopal Office assigned the district in which it was to be exercised, and as this would be necessary in planting the Church among the heathen, so it would always be lawful when such assignment did not interfere with a previous settlement made by competent authority. ["For this cause left I thee in Crete, that them shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain Elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." St. Paul's Epistle to Titus, I, 5.]
In later times elections prevailed, sometimes by clergy or people, sometimes by both. And because this, in the times of the Roman Empire, led to turbulence, and in some sad cases to riot, and even bloodshed, the Emperors seem to have taken to themselves the right to appoint to Sees; and thus the right came to be claimed and exercised generally in Christian countries by the civil authority. [Cf. "A View of the Elections of Bishops in the Primitive Church" by a Presbyter of the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1728--probably the learned Dr. Thomas Rattray, sometime Bishop of Dunkeld.]
Now all these things concurred, either explicitly or implicitly, to establish the jurisdiction of the first Bishop of Connecticut. For he was consecrated for his particular district by Bishops who had the same right that all Bishops have to take care of the good of the Church in those places where no established order of succession exists; he was duly chosen by the clergy before his consecration, and unanimously and heartily received by the whole body of the Church laity of the district after his consecration; and, lastly, his residence as a Bishop in that district was sanctioned by the Civil Authority, not merely by acquiescence and failure to eject him, but beyond this, by fair inclusion within the purview of an Act of the Legislature of the State of Connecticut, understood at the time, and by those whose votes contributed to the passing of it, as implying the full concurrence of the civil authority in the residence of a Bishop within that State, as being essential to the ecclesiastical body to which he belonged. [The committee of the Connecticut Convention appointed to confer with leading members of both Houses of Assembly as to the attitude of the civil government in respect to the question of the settlement of a Bishop in Connecticut, were assured that the Act already passed by the Legislature comprehended all the legal rights and powers intended to be given by their Constitution to any denomination of Christians, and included all that was wanted for the allowance of a Bishop within the State. "We now understand," say the Committee after this conference, "as we suppose, the part which the government established among us means to take in respect of religion in general, and the protection it will afford to the different denominations of Christians under which the subjects of it are classed, and the lowest construction, which is all we expect, must amount to a permission that the Episcopal Church enjoy all the requisites of her polity, and have a Bishop to reside among them." (Letter of Rev. Messrs. Learning, Jarvis and Hubbard to Dr. Seabury. Hawks and Perry, Connecticut Church Documents, II, 224, 226.)] And so every requirement of general application ever recognized in the Church as essential to the establishment of Episcopal jurisdiction, except within the confines of the Papal obedience, was duly complied with in his case.
With regard to the influence of the action which has been now commemorated upon the subsequent history of the Church in this country, it is worth while to observe that it preceded every movement in which members of the Church combined for its general organization; the first of these not being before May, 1784, and this and others being only tentative; and to add, besides, that when the movement for the completion of the Church by the addition of the Episcopate began in other parts of the country--which was not before this venture had been seen to succeed--it took distinctly the form of the pattern set by the Church in Connecticut; the persons chosen for the Episcopate being chosen not by representatives of the Churches in all the States, but by the action of the Church in particular States, each for itself, as in the choice by New York of a Bishop for New York, and in Pennsylvania and Virginia, and afterward in the other States in like manner. [See the Plan for obtaining consecration of Bishops, adopted in General Convention Session of 1785--October 5th. Bioren's Ed. Journals of General Convention, pp. 11, 12.] So that the pattern set in Connecticut of a Church complete in itself, was, in fact, followed by the Church in every State; and the ultimate adoption of the Constitution of 1789 became the action, not of a confused multitude of Churchmen throughout the country, but of Churches duly constituted, and either perfectly organized or in process of becoming so organized: the Churches in the several States, though in some cases still temporarily deprived of their Diocesans, holding practically the position of the co-ordinate Sees of the Primitive Church--no one subordinate to another, but all bound by the unity of the faith and by the duty of subordination on the part of the individual Bishops to the whole body of the Episcopate--and, as such, being free to associate themselves by mutual agreement, as they actually did, into a more formal and specific Union.