THE FOUNDING OF THE DIOCESE.
Bishop of Iowa.
GEO. F. CROOK, 7 MUSIC HALL.
January 21, 1885.
DEAR BISHOP,--The Eastern Convocation of the Diocese of Massachusetts have appointed us a Committee to request a copy of the Discourse delivered by you in Christ Church, Cambridge, January 21, 1885.
The information contained in it is so rare, valuable, and encouraging, that the Convocation wish to publish the Discourse and place copies of it in the hands of the church-people of the Diocese, so that seeing how gracious the Lord has been to the Church here in the time past they may have greater faith in Him in the time to come, and labor more earnestly for the extension of His kingdom.
Very truly yours,
D. G. HASKINS,
G. W. SHINN,
H. A. METCALF.
January 22, 1885.
THE REV. DRS. HASKINS AND SHINN AND THE REV. MR. METCALF,
REVEREND AND DEAR BRETHREN,--The Discourse prepared at your request and preached before the body you represent is willingly placed at your disposal, with very pleasant memories of my former connection with' your Convocation, and with earnest prayers for your successful and abundant building on the old foundations in your noble work.
Faithfully and affectionately yours,
WILLIAM STEVENS PERRY.
WE do no violence to the laws of interpretation when we find in the vision of Zechariah, thus inciting the people to the building of the temple, references to the building of the Church of God. Slight and valueless must have seemed the efforts of the dispirited, apathetic Jews to erect on the shattered foundations of their nation's earlier shrine the simple structure which alone their means permitted and their waning zeal inspired. But the prophetic vision taught them that even in their day of small things they were building better than they knew: that they were working out God's plans and God's purposes in preparing for a Temple not made with hands; in setting up a kingdom eternal as the heavens. They were fashioning and perfecting, although they knew it not, a shrine for the incarnate Son of God; they were making ready for the coming of His kingdom Whose dominion was an everlasting dominion and to Whose rule there was to be no end. "Not by might nor by power," but by God's Spirit they were accomplishing the unchanging designs of the Almighty. They were but to do the work committed to them, thinking not,--it might be caring not,--for the result; and yet their day of small things should not be despised. Obstacles would be [5/6] removed; opposition would be overcome. The mountain would become a plain as their faithful, trustful work went on, and the head-stone of the perfected structure would in God's good time be brought forth amidst the shoutings of "Grace, grace unto it."
For the building and perfecting of that portion of this Church of our Lord Jesus Christ to which we belong, and of which our fathers a century since were the builders, is part and parcel of the broad plan of God which antedates the earth's foundation and shall be finished only when time itself shall be no more.
The uttermost parts of the earth have been given to Christ for a possession, and His rule and reign shall know no end. All men shall be drawn to Him--the uplifted One. The fulness of the Gentiles shall swell the number of His subjects, Who is King of kings and Lord of lords. The purpose of God for the establishment of the kingdom of His dear Son, the upholding of the Church for which he died, is graven in ineffaceable lines on the history of the past. We read it in clear and deep-cut letters in the ever-changing present. It is the bright promise of the future. Not by might nor by power the work goes on. The day of small things is followed by the shoutings and felicitations when 'the headstone finds its place, And in the joyous review of what has been effected through `the Spirit of God, the founders and the finishers have each their recognition and reward. Those who bore the burden and heat of the day; those who wrought with pains and amidst perils through the dreary, earlier hours, when hope seemed senseless and faith dared snot lift her head, they shall receives every man his fitting-wage. We who have wrought but one hour,--we whose lines have fallen to us in pleasant places, whose is a goodly heritage, we shall not fail, of the Master's lavish bounty. Shall we not then who are laboring for the same truth, the same Church of God, remember those who in the day of small things laid the foundations and built up the walls of the fair and goodly structure whose 'perfected glory we rejoice in to-day? The day of small things has passed. Our years are crowned with good. To God be the praise, for not by [6/7] might nor by power, but by His Spirit has the work been accomplished. In recognition of the fact that the success is not of man nor by man, but from on high, we would recall the memory of the Men and Measures of the Massachusetts Convention a century ago; we would recite the story of the building of our temple, the framing and fashioning of a Diocese of the Church of God.
Those who founded and framed the Diocese of Massachusetts were not building on other men's foundations when they, in their day of small things, undertook the work we reverently celebrate to-day. The earliest New England colonization was Churchly, not Puritan nor Separatist. The Church's words of Common Prayer and Common Praise were heard on these New England shores years before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Leyden or the Arbella bore to the Massachusetts Bay the professed children of their "dear Mother, the Church of England," who so soon forgot that Mother and the milk they had drawn from her breasts. Not alone on the coast of Maine, but even at Trimountain, on the very soil of Boston, the Church's services antedate the sombre worship of the Puritan or the Separatist's wrestling with his God in prayer. It was only by proscription, fines, and banishment, that the Church and Churchmen were driven from their vantage ground of first possession. Toleration was no part of the Puritan's programme. The Browns, who set up the Common Prayer at Salem, were summarily sent back to England. The "lords brethren" proved as little considerate as the "Lord Bishops" of Blaxton whose "canonical coat" gave offence to the settlers of Boston while the hospitable and humane Maverick and the sturdy Walford found no favor in Puritan eyes. And when the Church at length was introduced, and the Rose frigate "freighted with woe to the Bostoneers" brought the new charter and the surpliced priest, it was only step by step that the opposition and obloquy of years was rolled back, and Church and Churchmen gained a bare sufferance from the ministers and magistrates who made up the Puritan theocracy. The story of John Checkley, fined and imprisoned for publishing a defence of Episcopacy [7/8] but little more than half a century before the founding of this diocese, reveals the bitterness of the popular prejudice of the day. The clamor raised on all sides against an American Episcopate, which lasted till it became a moving cause of the war of the revolution itself, is a further evidence of this feeling on the part of those opposed to the Church. And yet among our most ardent patriots there were Churchmen. The signal lanterns from the old "North Church" lighted up Churchmen striving to the death for the success of the popular cause as well as those of other faiths. It was a Churchman, a young clergyman, who dared to pray for the cause of the people at Trinity when other and older men quailed at so bold a step; and by this fearless espousal of the side he deemed the right, Samuel Parker won the love and respect of the remnant of the Church that outlived the war. It was by the love and labors of men such as these,--it needed such,--that the Church survived the war, and at the glad welcoming of peace had at least a name to live; though in many a place where she had flourished in the past, and had given promise of an everlasting habitation, she was dead. God be praised that He put it into the hearts of some of His servants, both of the clergy and laity, to espouse the cause of the people, and in their bold advocacy for the rights of the colonies, to redeem the Church of their love and membership from the charge of disloyalty to the infant Republic.
Still the war of the revolution had well nigh proved fatal to the Church of England in America. Its very name was an occasion of reproach. Its formularies, recognizing as they did so fully and so frequently the constituted authorities of Great Britain, were distasteful to the popular ear. Its clergy, often of English birth, always of foreign ordination, and all under solemn oaths of allegiance, were, to a large extent, refugees or silenced. Its churches, dismantled and welt nigh destroyed, were deemed the rallying spots of treason, and the Church of Washington and White found herself at the close of an eight years' war ground to the earth beneath the iron heel of prejudice, passion, and malevolent hate.
 But the work of faith,--dating back through nearly two centuries of efforts for the introduction of England's Church in the English colonies of North America,--could not come to naught. Not by might nor by power, but by God's Spirit was the result to be attained; and the day of small things to be succeeded by the shoutings and felicitations of success.
It was in the year of grace, 1784, that measures for general organization and union were first attempted by the scattered and dispirited churches of our communion. The preceding year had witnessed Seabury's election to the Episcopate of Connecticut, by the "voluntary convention" at Woodbury on Lady-day, and the choice at Annapolis of the celebrated William Smith on the sixteenth of the following August to the Bishopric of Maryland. But both of these elections had been made by the clergy alone, in the one case ten, and the other fourteen, in number; and it was not till the following year that the judicious and far-seeing William White, who had earlier suggested the combination of the lay with the clerical element in the Church's legislative action, gathered at his house in Philadelphia the few remaining clergy of the state, and with them a small but influential body of laymen deputized by the parishes to represent them, and then and there, the last of May, Anno Domini 1784, proceeded to organize the Church in Pennsylvania.
The minutes of this "primary convention,"--as we should call it now-a-days,--in the fair, clerkly handwriting of the chairman, Dr. White, were sent all over the land. Early in June they reached Boston enclosed in a letter to the rector of Trinity, the Rev. Samuel Parker, then, as for all his days, the foremost man of the Massachusetts Church. From his letter of acknowledgment we learn the state of the Church in New England when the communication of Dr. White, urging an effort for organization, was received:--
"We are indeed but five in number, for when the British Troops evacuated this Town in March, 1776, all the Episcopal clergy in the Town, myself excepted, and many from the other Towns, accompanied them and [9/10] have never since returned. Indeed, but two others remained in the whole Government; these were the Revd Mr Bass, of Newburyport who was a Missionary from the Society, but now for reasons unknown dismissed their service, and Revd Mr. Wheeler, who was an Assistant to the Rector of Trinity Church in Newport, Rhode Island; the latter being a native of this Province, upon the breaking out of the War retired to a small patrimony in the Vicinity of this Town and did not officiate at all till within a Twelvemonth past he was invited to the churches in Scituate and Marshfield in the County of Plymouth. Since the War, two Clergymen have settled in this State: Revd Mr Lewis, who was Chaplain in Burgoyne's Regiment of light Dragoons, left that service and came to the Town in 1778, and settled at Christ's Church; the other, the Revd Mr Fisher, who came from Annapolis in Nova Scotia in I 78o and settled in Salem. The oldest Church in this Town, formerly known by the Name of King's Chapel is now supplied by a Lay Reader who is a Candidate for holy Orders. There are five or six other Churches, in some of which lay readers now officiate. In the State of New Hampshire, there are but two Episcopal Churches, one at Portsmouth the metropolis of the Government, where there has been no clergyman since the War, the other in a new Settlement in the western part of the State where a Missionary from the Society in England is now resident. In the State of Rhode Island are three Churches only, exclusive of one at Bristol which was burnt by the British. In neither of these is there a Clergyman in holy Orders, but in two of them there are Lay Readers who are candidates. Mr. Graves, Missionary from the Society still resides at Providence but has not officiated since the commencement of the War. The State of Connecticut contains the greatest Number of Episcopal Churches of any of the New England States. There are now fourteen Missionaries from the Society besides seven other clergymen not in their service. This, sir; is a brief state of the Episcopal Church in the four Northern Governments which are contained in what is called New England."
This interesting letter from Parker proceeds to inquire into the details of the Philadelphia scheme. The question is asked if the "Fundamental principle" asserting the independence of the American Church "of all foreign Ecclesiastical authority" is designed "to exclude the obtaining a Bishop from England;" showing that he had still in mind the memory of White's proposal, in his pamphlet, "The Case of the Episcopal Churches [10/11] Considered," of a scheme of organization which, while expressing "a general approbation of Episcopacy and a declaration of an intention to procure the succession as soon as conveniently might be," should at once provide for the choice by the clergy and laity of a "permanent president," who should have the general oversight of the Church and the power of ordination. The question was further asked, "What plan is proposed for the procuring an Episcopate?" Mr. Parker added to a request for "an account of the alterations in, and additions to, the Liturgy already in use" in Pennsylvania, the statement that "no alteration except that of omitting the prayers for the King and Royal Family" has taken place in the churches in general in these States; and urges a "uniformity of Government and Worship."
Parker in entering upon his correspondence with White was by no means unacquainted with the measures which had been taken in Connecticut for securing the consecration of Seabury. Through the kindness of the Rev. Daniel Fogg, of Pomfret, Connecticut, he had received under dates of July second and fourteenth, and August first, the preceding year, full information of the proceedings and plans of the Connecticut clergy in their efforts for securing the Episcopate,--efforts at that time nearing a happy accomplishment. In a second communication from Dr. White, addressed to Mr. Parker, the writer does not hesitate to assert "that if any private measures said to have been undertaken for this End shd prove successful, I think ye whole Church shd gladly avail itself of ye Acquisition." "If not," proceeds Dr. White, an Application to our Mother Church from Representatives of ye Epl. Church generally will be surely too respectable to be slighted & such an Application might be easily framed among ourselves." The same letter. in which appears this broad and fair-minded [11/12] recognition of the Connecticut clergy's efforts for securing Seabury's consecration, proceeds to detail the scheme of Church organization as it had taken shape in the mind of the young ecclesiastical statesman of Philadelphia, to whom, under God, was to be given a half century of moulding, guiding, and blessing the American Church. The formation of diocesan and general conventions, the former with graduated representation according to their "respective numbers;" the division of dioceses; their federate union; the provincial system, the matter of Episcopal support, provision for a vacancy in the Episcopate,--all these measures are indicated in a hurried letter written when the Church in America was in a chaotic state and no one save this far-seeing young man knew aught as to the future, whether it should bring to the Church weal or woe. [These important letters, which afford the only contemporaneous account of the meeting at Woodbury on the Feast of the Annunciation, 1783, and give us the details of the election of Seabury and the wise provision of the clergy that their Bishop-elect should seek the Episcopate in Scotland if refused the boon in England, were, with other correspondence of the time, preserved for upwards of half a century by the daughter of Bishop Parker, Mrs. Theodore Edson, of Lowell, Mass., and by her given to the writer, who first published these interesting particulars of the choice of our first American Bishop to the world.]
Through the exertions of Mr. Parker, inspired by this able and suggestive letter from Dr. White,--a letter indicating in advance the Church's policy for more than a century,--the few clergy of Massachusetts and Rhode Island gathered together in Boston on the eighth of September, A. D., 1784. The following clergymen were present: the Rev. John Graves, of St. John's Church, Providence, R. I.; the Rev. Edward Bass, of St. Paul's, Newburyport, Mass.; the Rev. Moses Badger, of Trinity, Newport, R. I.; the Rev. William Willard Wheeler, of the united Churches of Scituate, Marshfield, Braintree, Bridgewater, and Taunton; the Rev. Stephen C. Lewis, of Christ Church, Boston; the Rev. Nathaniel Fisher, of St. Peter's Salem; and the Rev. Samuel Parker, of Trinity, Boston.
The venerable John Graves of Providence was chosen Moderator of the Convention, and the Rev. Nathaniel Fisher, of Salem, Secretary. The printed minutes of this meeting give no particulars of interest, but from the correspondence of Bishops Parker and White in the hands of the speaker, we are able to supply not only the resolutions adopted by this important gathering, but also the remarks thereon of Parker, the leading spirit of them all. The resolutions, as signed by Graves in a bold, striking hand, and copied in the elegant chirography of Parker and transmitted to White and others through him, are as follows:--
 Voted, That the Episcopal Church in the United States of America is and ought to be independent of all foreign authority ecclesiastical and civil. But it is the opinion of the Convention that this Independence be not construed or taken in so rigorous a sense as to exclude the churches of America separately or collectively from applying for and obtaining from some regular Episcopal foreign power an American Episcopate.
Secondly. That the Episcopal Church in these States hath and ought to have in common with all other religious societies full and exclusive powers to regulate the concerns of its own Communion.
Thirdly. That the Doctrines of the Gospel be maintained as now professed by the Church of England and uniformity of worship be continued as near as may be to the Liturgy of said Church.
Fourthly. That the Succession of the Ministry be agreeable to the Usage which requireth the three orders of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, that the rights and powers of the same be respectively ascertained and that they be exercised according to reasonable Laws to be duly made.
Fifthly. That the power of making Canons and Laws be vested solely in a Representative Body of the Clergy and Laity conjointly; in which body the Laity ought not to exceed or their Votes to be more in number than those of the Clergy.
Sixthly. That no powers be delegated to a general ecclesiastical Government except such as cannot conveniently be exercised by the Clergy and Vestries in their respective congregations.
Such were the resolutions formulating the action of this Primary Meeting of the Clergy of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Further than this the Rev. Messrs. Parker, Bass, and Fisher were appointed a Committee of Correspondence "with the clergy of the other Episcopal churches in America, in Convention, Committees, or other ways." It was also
Voted, That a circular letter be written in the name of this Convention to the Episcopal Clergy in the States of Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, urging the necessity of their uniting with us in adopting some speedy measures to procure an American Episcopate. As it is the unanimous opinion of this Convention that this is the primary object they ought to have in view, because the very existence of the Church requires some speedy mode of obtaining regular Ordination.
 Accompanying the certified copy of these resolutions, which added materially to the "fundamental principles" adopted in the Pennsylvania and Maryland Conventions in the direction of correcting their tendencies to radical innovations and an apparent disregard of the importance and of the inherent rights of the Episcopate, was a letter from the Convention, and signed in its behalf by the Moderator. This letter was in the handwriting and was evidently the composition of Parker; and in this communication in which the longing for the Episcopate on the part of the Massachusetts Churchmen is brought prominently into view, the more pronounced Churchmanship of the founders of the Diocese of Massachusetts is evident. We quote from this valuable paper as follows:--
"But it is our unanimous Opinion that it is beginning at the wrong end to attempt to organize our Church before we have obtained a head. Our Churches at present resemble the scattered Limbs of the body without any common Centre of Union, or Principle to animate the whole. We cannot conceive it probable or even possible to carry the Plan you have pointed out into execution before an Episcopate is obtained to direct our Motions, & by a delegated Authority to claim our Assent. It is needless to represent to you the absolute Necessity of adopting & uniting in some speedy measures to procure some reputable Person who is regularly invested with the powers of Ordination, &c., to reside among us, without which scarce the shadow of an Episcopal Church will soon remain in these States. Many are the Congregations here destitute of a Clergyman, & we must be left to the disagreeable Alternative of having no Church in many of our Settlements where there would probably be a respectable one, or of having clerical Powers conveyed in an irregular manner. We are extremely anxious for the preservation of our Communion & the Continuance of an Uniformity of Doctrine and Worship, but we see not how this can be maintained without a common head."
It was with these views and intrusted these letters that Parker attended the meeting held in New York on the sixth and seventh of October, 1784, at which gathered deputies from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, together with an unaccredited clergyman from Virginia.--all assembled [14/15] with a view of organizing and perpetuating the Church in the United States.
At this Convention Mr. Parker, as representing the Church in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, was made a member of the Committee of which Drs. Smith and White, the Rev. Mr. Provoost, and Messrs. Clarkson, De Hart, Clay, and Duane, of the laity, were also members. This committee was: appointed to essay the fundamental principles of a General Constitution "and a proper substitute for the State Prayers in the Liturgy." With the results of this important meeting as they were formulated in the "fundamental principles" under which the Church in the Middle and Southern States proceeded to organize, revise the Liturgy, and obtain the Episcopate, Parker, together with such men as Benjamin Moore of the New York deputation, and Marshall who represented the Connecticut clergy, was dissatisfied. In common with these gentlemen, Parker considered these fundamental principles as degrading the Episcopate, by making the Bishop simply a member, and not necessarily the President, of the General or even the State Conventions, and placing it in the power of the laity to offset by their negative the action of both Bishop and clergy on any matter. Though the letter from the Massachusetts Convention and one from the Connecticut Convocation were read, the request of the former for immediate action to secure a Bishop and the announcement of the latter that they thought that "it would be time enough to revise the Liturgy" on the return of Dr. Seabury as their Bishop, availed nothing in inducing the choice of a Bishop or in deferring plans of liturgical revision. It was not the purpose of the Churchmen of the Middle and Southern States to delay their plans for organization and liturgical revision. In their view they were fully competent to the work they had in hand; and in their persistent efforts to secure the coveted Episcopate in the English line, and in their development of the principles underlying our general ecclesiastical constitution, they deserve our highest praise. That their essay at liturgical revision proved a failure need occasion no surprise. Its confessed defects rendered the return at a later date to a conservative [15/16] treatment of the Prayer Book the more easy. Meanwhile, the boldness of their proceedings occasioned no little alarm both at the North and in the Mother Church as well.
As a result of these radical measures and tendencies, Parker and the Churchmen of Massachusetts and Rhode Island turned their attention towards Connecticut, and impatiently awaited the return of Seabury, who a few weeks later received in the "upper room" of Bishop Skinner's house,--used as a Chapel by the Churchmen of Aberdeen,--in Long Acre, the laying on of hands, setting him apart as a Bishop in the Church of God. It was not long before intelligence of this event was received on this side of the water, and on the fourteenth of February, 1785, the amiable Benjamin Moore,--afterwards Bishop of New York, and a lifelong friend of Seabury,--wrote to Parker communicating the. contents of a letter from Dr. Ingles to the effect that Dr. Seabury had received consecration at the hands of "the non-juring Bishops"; that "there can be no doubt of the validity of this ordination;" and calling on the rector of Trinity "to rejoice at it" and "to join heart and hand" with his "staunch orthodox Brethren in supporting our venerable Church upon true Episcopate principles." By "the latter end of June" Bishop Seabury was in Connecticut.
His "reception from the inhabitants," as he himself wrote to one of his consecrators, was "friendly," and he "met with no disrespect." On the third of August the Bishop asssembled his clergy in Convocation at Middleton: Congratulations and felicitations abounded on every side. Among the visiting clergy at this glad welcoming of the first American Bishop were Samuel Parker of Boston and Benjamin Moore of New York. The Bishop of Connecticut with these two gentlemen were appointed a committee to recommend such alterations in the Liturgy as were necessary to render it consistent with the civil constitution; and then, their labor done, conscious of their success in securing the Episcopate and rejoicing that the Church in America was at last complete in its Orders and equipped for its high and holy work, the Convocation adjourned; Bishop Seabury [16/17] being "willing," as he writes a few days after the adjournment to Mr. Parker, "that the Convention at Philadelphia should be over before we proceeded further, as I have been informed they have some jealousy to the southward of the New England States, in Church as well as in civil affairs." The General Convocation of 1785 met shortly afterwards in Philadelphia. Before it convened Mr. Parker had written to Dr. White that "the fifth of the fundamental principles in the paper printed at New York,"--the broadside proceedings of 1784,--"has operated much to the disadvantage of that convention. Had it stood as I proposed, that a Bishop (if one in any State) should be President of the Convention, I make no doubt there would have been one present. You will be at no loss to conclude that I mean Doctr. Seabury, who you must ere this have heard is arrived and entered upon his offices in Connecticut. Being present in Convocation in Middletown the fourth of August last, I much urged his attending the Convention at Philadelphia this month, but that very article discouraged him so much that no arguments I could use were sufficient to prevail with him. Had that article stood as proposed, the Gentleman" (Dr. William Smith) "who moved the Amendment would not have suffered by it nor would the Convention have been stigmatized as anti-Episcopalian."
We have thus a glimpse not alone of the influence and standing of the Massachusetts deputy but also of his thorough churchmanship and respect for the Episcopal office. Consistent in his efforts to withstand the tendencies to radicalism displayed at New York in 1784 and in his denunciation of the action of that meeting in its practical ignoring of the Episcopate, he reflected the sentiment of the New England Churchmen whom he represented; and by his manly defence of the office and inherent rights of the highest order of the ministry, prepared the way for a wider recognition of the same both at the North and South.
The Convention which met in Boston, September 7 and 8, 1785, had representatives in attendance from New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Besides the clergy, prominent laymen were [17/18] present; Newburyport sending the Hon. Tristram Dalton, and Trinity, Boston, Stephen Greenleaf and Benjamin Greene; Christ Church, Boston, Thomas Ivers and James Sherman, while among the deputies from other Massachusetts churches we find the names of Stockbridge, Kingsbury, and Aspinwall. Outside of Massachusetts, Mr. John Bours represented Trinity, Newport, R. I.; Mr. John Usher,--shortly afterwards ordained at an advanced age by Bishop Seabury,--Bristol, R. I.; and Dr. Francis Borland, Portsmouth, N. H. The "Alterations proposed at Middletown (excepting two)" which had been officially injoined upon the clergy and others over the signature and by the authority of "Samuel by Divine permission Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut," were agreed to, comprising the changes and omissions rendered necessary by the new condition of affairs in the State; and a "few others" were adopted including a change in the Te Deum, "Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a pure virgin;" the omission from the Apostles' Creed of "the Descent into hell," and of the Athanasian Creed; the discretionary use of the Nicene Creed: a change of the suffrage "give peace in our time;" the omission of the Lord's Prayer after the Apostles' Creed, the shorter Litany, the Lord's Prayer at the beginning of the Communion Service, and the Gloria Patri between the Psalms, together with a number of verbal changes in prayers and offices which were subsequently adopted both in the " Proposed Book " and in the revision of 1789. Among the alterations recommended, parents were permitted to be sponsors; the use of the sign of the Cross in Baptism was made discretionary; the Office of Churching of Women, the Absolution in the Visitation Office, and portions of the Commination, Baptismal, Burial, and Marriage Offices were omitted. The use of the Collect more than once in the Morning Service was made discretionary, as also the requirement whether the Communion Service "be read in the Reading Desk or in the Altar." It should be remembered that action with reference to these alterations other than those made necessary by the changed condition of civil affairs was postponed for further consideration, and that they were never formally adopted by the [18/19] Convention. The radical changes incorporated by the Committee of the General Convention which met at Philadelphia in 1785, in the "Proposed Book," made the New England Churchmen unwilling to adopt any alterations in the Prayer Book not required by the new relations of civil affairs.
The "wish and hope" of the Connecticut clergy "that no alterations may at present take place with you" was communicated by Bishop Seabury to Mr. Parker. What Bass of Newburyport styled the very unepiscopal conduct of the Philadelphia Convention gave no little offence throughout New England; and in their satisfaction at arid confidence in the conservatism and churchmanship of Bishop Seabury, one and all were disposed 'to agree with Parker in his words written to White at this very time:
"In these Northern States I much doubt whether a Bishop from England would be received, so great is the jealousy still remaining of the British nation. Of a Scotch Bishop 'there, cart be, no suspicions, because wholly unconnected with the civil power themselves, they could introduce none into these States. Were it not for these reasons, I frankly, confess I should rather have the succession from the English Church, to which we have always been accustomed to look as children to a parent."
It was not till 1789 that the New England churches sought any formal connection with the Church in the Middle and Southern churches. Seabury was received, as the Bishop, not alone of Connecticut and Rhode Island, but also of Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He visited the churches; confirmed the catechumens; ordained the clergy; preached, and administered the sacraments throughout the New England States saving Vermont, for which he, indeed, ordained clergy, but never made visitations within its borders.
Happy in their relations with this truly apostolic man; possessing every needed privilege of the Church of their love and devotion; confident that the unepiscopal measures proposed and adopted at the southward would at length work out a better state of things, the Massachusetts clergy and churchmen gave themselves to the work of the upbuilding of the Church [19/20] within their own borders. Feeling little need of canons, satisfied with such modified changes in the Prayer Book as made the services of the Church acceptable to the worshippers, and looking for counsel and direction to Seabury as their de facto head, the years succeeding the first and second Conventions yield but little of moment to recount. The churches grew and were edified.
It was at length the high privilege of these New England churches,--notably of the clergy of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, who, at Salem, on the fourth of June, 1789, under the guidance of the excellent Parker of Boston, elected Edward Bass to the Episcopate of the Church in Massachusetts and New Hampshire;--to be the means of bringing about, under God, the reunion of the Church in the United States. In view of the application made by these few clergymen for the Consecration of their Bishop-elect by the Bishops of Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania, the issue was brought before the General Convention of July, 1789, whether the differences in their respective schemes of organization and the personal dislike on the part of the Bishop of New York of his episcopal brother of Connecticut were to be sufficient grounds for the longer separation of two branches of the one Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church. The issue, once presented, was fairly met. Difficulties seemingly insurmountable melted away, and the longings of the church-people North and South for unity were gratified; the obstacles hindering the acceptance of the General Ecclesiastical Constitution, as adopted by the Church in the Middle and Southern States, by the Bishop of Connecticut and the New England clergy were removed; and the Church of our land was at length One, no less than Catholic and Apostolic.
Standing as we do midway between the centenaries of the first and second Conventions of this Diocese,--the one the meeting for consultation and organization, the other the council for framing an Ecclesiastical Constitution and providing for the revision of the Liturgy,--we may not fail to note the fact that in this their day of small things our fathers builded wisely and well. In their legislation they proceeded on the principle that [20/21] the acquisition of civil independence brought with it ecclesiastical independence. Few as were their numbers, scattered and despoiled as were their congregations, dark as must have been the prospect for the future of their beloved Church, even in their day of small things the Churchmen of Massachusetts recognized in the sundering of the bond of union they in common with the whole Colonial Church had in their dependence on the See of London, the establishment of their independence as an autonymous Church, sufficient to take measures for the perfection of its ecclesiastical system by the choice of a Bishop, and competent to legislate on matters of discipline, doctrine, and worship. Conscious of their duty and their power, it was in no spirit of license that they set about the work of founding a Diocese of the Church of God. Avoiding all tendencies to radicalism, displaying at every step a wise and churchly conservatism, they laid foundations so broad and deep and strong that for a century they have sufficed, and we find the work they did,--these few, wise Churchmen of 1784 and 1785,--in their day of small things needing no strengthening, no broadening, no deepening, no change to-day.
That these few clergymen and laymen of Massachusetts, without experience, with but brief opportunities for consultation, without precedents, and knowing no leadership outside of their own number, should thus wisely and warily lay foundations suited to the wants of the Church for a hundred years may well demand our praise. In the midst of strange complications, with problems to meet and decide which had never been solved, and, in fact, had then been raised for the first time; with difficulties on every side, they were equal to the emergency; they proved themselves to have been fitted by God for the work they had to do. At a time when there was a wide-spread and deep-seated distrust of the Episcopate,--not only among Dissenters but even in the minds of not a few nominal churchmen;--when in the Middle States and at the South there was a disposition to curtail the ancient and inherent rights and powers of this apostolic office; when a bishop was to be only a member of the convention of his diocese, without a claim to preside over its deliberations, and [21/22] liable to censure, trial, deprivation even, at the voice and vote of laymen or clergy; when one diocese was only willing to enter the federation of churches on the condition that no Bishop should be sent to it, and finally received an episcopal head with a view to render secession the more successful in the event of a full negative being granted to the House of Bishops,--and in other dioceses no effort was made for years to secure a Bishop at all,--these Churchmen of Massachusetts sought at the start the introduction of the Episcopal office and welcomed with joy the first American Bishop.
It mattered little to them whence this longed-for boon was obtained. Recognizing their obligations to the Mother Church of the Mother land, they were still disposed,--in the event of a refusal on the part of England to confer the Apostolic succession on her American children,--to welcome a free, valid, and primitive Episcopacy from whatever source it might come. It was the office they desired, and when validly given they suffered no prejudices or prepossessions in favor of some other channel of transmission to prevent their willing reception and hearty welcome of this inestimable gift.
We may not fail to notice the reverent appreciation of the Church's heritage of prayer exhibited by these, our fathers, a century ago, and the conservatism they displayed in an age of change and daring innovations, in abstaining from liturgical revision, which, as exhibited in other sections of the American Church, would have well-nigh destroyed our Catholicity. With that candor and liberality which characterized all that he did, Dr. Parker was at pains to acquaint himself with the changes incorporated in the Proposed Book, and 'the promoters of this crude revision spared no exertion to secure his acceptance of their work. But after a brief trial at Trinity, Boston, it was discarded; and at the Convention of 1789, which witnessed the union of the Churches in New England with those of the Middle and Southern States, it was under the lead of Dr. Parker that the practical return to the English book, as a basis of revision, was brought about.
 It was with singular prudence, and with a noble exhibition of self-forgetfulness, that Dr. Parker labored to effect the union of the Churches North and South in one national federation. Singularly had the great Head of the Church marked him out for this noble work, a work so truly noble in its far-reaching influences for good, that had the Churchmen of Massachusetts effected nothing else in their day of small things they would have been worthy of everlasting remembrance. Possessing the confidence and esteem of both Seabury and White; urged and invited when the consecration of a coadjutor to the overworked Seabury had been determined upon in Connecticut, and the choice had fallen upon the excellent Jarvis, to become the third Bishop of a College of Scotch consecration, having mission and jurisdiction for the New England States; written to by White when obstacles hindered the completion of the College in the English line to make with Provoost and himself the third of English consecration requisite for imparting the Apostolic office and power, this worthy master builder of the Church in Massachusetts remained deaf to such suggestions from the foremost men of the Churches of the North and South in which his own advancement was concerned; and gathering the clergy of Massachusetts and New Hampshire together at Salem, directed the minds and votes of all to the venerable Edward Bass as their choice, and by this "act of the clergy," which the correspondence of the time shows to have been inspired and made possible by himself alone, brought about the union of the rival bodies in one American Church. In our grateful memory of what he did, this godly and apostolic man,--to whom the Episcopate finally came only to precede his death,--we may well rejoice that the federation of the American Church was brought about a century since by the Men and Measures of the Massachusetts Conventions of 1784 to 1789. It was the blessed work of pacification, conciliation, adjustment of conflicting and diverging interests that occupied the minds and inspired the prayers and labors of these our fathers a century ago. It was the work of Him who maketh men to be of one mind in an house.
It is well and wise for us to recall the past. It may properly excite our [23/24] gratitude to God who inspired our fathers in their day of small things to build on sure foundations the Church of God. Mindful of what they did in their fewness in number, their feebleness, their scanty following, there will surely come to us, with our added strength, numbers and opportunities, the incentive to an increased devotion to our work,--a more earnest battling for the Church and cause of Christ. Rejoicing in what our fathers did, we should labor more abundantly that the work we build on their foundations,--Jesus Christ Himself being the chief Corner Stone,--may be such as the great Master Builder shall approve: even the placing of living stones, hewn and shaped as God would have them cut and fashioned, in the Temple of the Most High, to last throughout eternity.