Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

By the

1 Y the Bishops, the CLERGY, and the Laity of the

Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of Anterica, in CONVENTION, this Sixteenth Day of Oftober, , in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and

- 4 niti bli's, Eighty-nine :


This. Conzentiọn, having in their present Session, set forth A Book or COMMON PRAYER, AND ADMINISTRATION


MONIES OF THE CHURCH, do hereby establish the said Book : And they declare it to be the Liturgy of this Church; and require, ibat it be received as such by all the Members of the same : And this Book shall be in Use from and after the First day of October, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety.




Tisamostinvaluable partofthat blessed libertywherewith

Christ hath made us free, that in his worship, different forms and usages may without offence be allowed, provided the fubitance of the faith be kept entire: and that, in every Church, what cannot be clearly determined to belong to Doctrine must be referred to Discipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise disposed of, as may seem most conyenient for the edification of the people, “ according to the various exigencies of times and occasions."

The Church of ENGLAND, to which the Protestant Episcopal Church in these States is indebted, under GOD, for her first foundation and a long continuance of nursing care and protection, hath, in the Preface of her Book of Common Prayer, laid it downasa Rule, that “The particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be used therein, being things in their own nature indifferent and alterable, and fo acknowledged, it is but reasonable that, upon weighty and important considerations, according to the various exigencies of times and occasions, such changes and alterations should be made therein, as to those who are in places of authority, Mould, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient.”

The same Church hath not only in her Preface, but likewise in her Articles and Homilies, declared the necessity and expediency of occasional alterations and amendments in her Forms of Public Worship, and we find accordingly that, seeking to “keep the happy mean between too much ftiffness in refusing and too much easiness in admitting variations in things once advisedly established, she hath, in the reign of several Princes, since the first compiling of her Liturgy in the time of Edward the Sixth, upon just and weighty considerations her thereunto moving, yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their res


pective times were thought convenient; yet 10 as that the main body and essential parts of the fame (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still been continued firin and unshaken."

Her general aim in ihefe different Reviews and Alterations hath been, as she farther declares in her faid Preface, " to do that which, according to her best understanding, might most tend to the preservation of peace and unity in the Church the procuring of reverence, and the exciting of piety and devotion in the worship of God; and, finally, the cutting off occahon, from them that seek occafon, of cavil or quarrel against her Liturgy.” And although, according to her judgment, there be not “ any thing in it contrary to the Word of God, or to found doctrine, or which a godly man may not with a good conscience use and fubmit unto, or which is not fairly defenable if allowed such just and favourable construction, as, in common equity, ought to be allowed to all human writings;" yet upon the principles already laid down, it cannot but be supposed that further alteration would in time be found expedient. Accordingly, a Commission for a review was issued in the year 1689: But this great and good work miscarried at that times and the Civil Authority has not since thought proper to revive it by any new Commission. ;)

But when, in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent withrespect to Civil Government, their Ecclefiaftical Independence was necessarily included; and the different religious denominations of Christians in these States were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective Churches, and forms of worship, and discipline, in such manner as they might judge most convenient for their future profperity; confiftently with the Constitution and Laws of their Country

The attention of this Church was, in the first place, drawn to those alterations in the Liturgy which became neceffary in the Prayers for 'our Civil Rulers, in confequence of the Revolution. And the principal care herein was to make them conformable to what ought to be the


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

proper end of all such prayers, namely, that, “Rulers may have grace, wisdom, and understanding to execute justice, and to maintain truth ;" and that the People “ may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty."

But while these alterations were în review before the Convention, they could not but, with gratitude to God, embrace the happy occasion which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unrestrained by any worldly au

thority whatsoever) to take a further review of the Public · Service, and to establish such other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedient.

- It seems unnecessary to enumerate all the different alterations and amendments. They will appear, and it is to be hoped, the reasons of them also, upon a comparison of this with the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. In which it will also appear, that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England, in any effential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or farther than local circumstances require.

And now, this important work being brought to a conclusion, it is hoped the whole will be received and examined by every true Member of our Church, and every fincere Christian, with a meek, candid, and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or prepossessions; seriously considering what Christianity is, and what the truths of the Gospel are; and earnestly beseeching Almighty God, to accompany with his blessing every endeavour for promulgating them to mankind in the clearest, plainest, most affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Chrift, our bleffed Lord and Saviour.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »