Page images
PDF
EPUB

person in that character would be tolerated in the community; I now contemplate nine of our number, conducting the duties of their office without interruption ; and in regard not to them only, but to ten of us who have gone to their rest, I trust the appeal may be made to the world, for their not being chargeable with causes of offence to our fellow Christians and our fellow citizens generally, or with the assuming of any powers within our communion, not confessedly recognised by our ecclesiastical institutions.

Being your senior by many years, I enjoy satisfaction in the expectation of the good which you may be expected to be achieving, in what is now our common sphere of action, when I shall be removed from it: and, with my prayers for the success of your endeavours to this effect,

I subscribe myself,
Your affectionate brother,

THE AUTHOR.

PREFACE

то

THE FIRST EDITION.

Many years ago, the author of the following work began to commit to writing the most material facts which had occurred, relative to the Church of which he is a minister: intending, in the event of the continuance of life and health, to carry on the recital. This was not with a view to early publication, because of the small extent of the sphere, in which the detail of very recent events was likely to interest curiosity. Accordingly, what was thus prepared laid unnoticed, until an application was made, about twelve years ago, by the editor of the American edition of Dr. Rees's Cyclopedia, requesting attention to certain parts of that work, with a view to other objects. On this occasion it occurred, that there might be propriety and use in inserting, in a work of that kind, a brief account of what had been transacted during some years preceding, within the Episcopal Church. For this reason, there was made a draft from the netes before taken, for the purpose stated. As what remained comprehended sundry matters, not of sufficiently general concern for insertion in the Cyclopedia, it was afterwards reviewed under the impression that the time might come, when the former labour would not be unacceptable, within the communion for which it had been designed. In the present publication, the narrative has þeen continued to the present time. With it, there are given the matters kept back from the publication in the Cyclopedia; and a continuation of similar statements and remarks.

It has been occasionally suggested, from a knowledge of the materials in the hands of the author, and in consideration of the opportunities which he has possessed of personal observation of characters and of facts, that it would be better to embody the narrative with the remarks, and to make a history of the whole. The mere melting of them into one mass, after the separation of them as related above, did not seem likely to be fruitful of any considerable advantage; and as to the name of " a history,” it would not only be disproportioned to the work, but perhaps pledge to an attempt, beyond what there are materials to accomplish. Of materials concerning the aggregate Church, the author possesses all that are necessary, and more than will be here given; the view being confined to the more important: but his collections in regard to the Church in the different dioceses, are perhaps incomplete, although he is furnished with almost all their journals, and thinks himself well informed as to all the material events which have occurred for half a century backward. Besides, there are a few points on which he wished to retain a liberty that would be inconsistent with the fulness, and, considering what is to be expected in such a work, the fidelity of a history. One of these points is, that he chooses to be silent in regard to a few transactions, which, although sufficiently known and discoursed of when they happened, are not of so much importance to the future concerns of the Church, as to induce a wish to perpetuate the remembrance of them; and thereby the personal irritation by which they were accompanied.

Besides these reasons, there is one arising from the desire of avoiding such a development of the characters of agents, as might induce the relating and the unintentional misstating of what may have passed in unguarded conversation. It is an unfair advantage taken of a deceased

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.

vii

character, for an author to represent him as his own prejudices or his passions dictate; when, perhaps, the other party would have had the precaution to make his own story known, had he foreseen such a result of the freedom of social intercourse. . Another license which has grown out of the adopted plan, is the anticipating of some circumstances which took place in England, during the intercourse with his grace the archbishop of Canterbury; when such anticipation might illustrate any matter previously under review. The motive, was the desire to record the said intercourse in the form in which it now appears, that is, in letters to the committee of the Church in Pennsylvania; which, having been written when the matters related were fresh on the mind of the narrator, is the more likely to be a faithful exhibition of them. To have enlarged the letters would have been incorrect; and yet, in what passed in the intercourse, there was such connexion with some points in an earlier part of the work, as was too material to be disregarded. Although there has not been an enlargement of the letters, nor alı alteration of them in any instance, there have been attached to them a few notes, containing matters of less moment.. u The motive of the author in the statements, is principally to record facts, which may otherwise be swept into oblivion by the lapse of time. For the mixing of his opinions with the facts, a reason may be thought due. It is, that the habits of his life having exercised him much, on subjects which have bearings on the concerns of the Church in doctrine, in discipline, and in worship; and his principles, having been formed with deliberation, and acted on with perseverance, not without prayer to the Father of Lights for his holy guidance; there seems to bim nothing unreasonable in the wish, to give the weight of long observation, to what are truth and order in his esteem. He has not the presumption to aspire to, nor the vanity to expect to share in the direction of the concerns of the Church, after the very

few years, in which there will be a possibility of his being present in her councils : but he commits his opinions, to the issue of what may be thought in reason due to them.

On the author's review of his statements and remarks, he had often a painful sensation of the frequent prominence in them of himself. In the way of apology, let it be remarked—first, that the apparent fault is in a great degree inseparable from the delivery of the results of personal observation; and, secondly, that he has had more agency than any other person, in the transactions recorded : owing to the circumstances in which he was placed; to a cause for which he cannot be sufficiently thankful, the continuance of his health and strength; and to his having attended every General Convention, from the beginning to the present time. Under the weight of these considerations, he commits himself to the candour of the reader.

Of the papers in the Appendix, a great proportion are what may be read in the printed journals; but they were thought necessary to the series of the events presented. Those papers which were in the private possession of the author, and were designed to have an influence on the concerns of the Church, he has thought it due to the object of this work, to perpetuate. The printing of any document which took the shape of a canon, has been judged unnecessary.

In regard to letters, let it be noticed, that there are none besides those, which, like the papers above referred to, were designed to have public influence. In private letters, there is much to confirm the statements made, and to enlarge them, if that were the design.

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »