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FEELING IN NEW YORK.
were in any way filled, and that the church did not perish from inanition, A century and a quarter was to pass before the creation of a bishop; although it was always distinctly advocated that the appointment should in no way encroach upon the functions of civil government.
In 1664 the Dutch were in possession of New York, and the chamber of Amsterdam wrote to the council of New Netherlands that the force sent to America was sufficient for defence. News had been received that the king of Great Britain, "being inclined to reduce all his kingdoms under one form of government in Church and State, hath taken care that Commissioners are ready in England to repair to New England to install Bishops there, the same as in Old England ; because we believe that the English of the North, who mostly left England for the aforesaid causes, will not give us henceforth so much trouble, and will prefer to live under us, with freedom of conscience, rather than risk that in order to be rid of our authority, and then again to fall under a government from which they formerly fled.” * Moreover, that a force was being fitted out to sustain this design. The council was better informed. The members expressed their doubts that there was any real intention in this respect. A patent in 1663 had been granted to Rhode Island : + “Whereby England's Majesty grants freedom of conscience in spiritual matters to every one, yea, even to the Quakers and Anna-Baptists (sic), who are the most numerous and principal there.” The council of New Netherlands considered that the frigates with the troops they contained had been sent against Long island, which had been granted to the duke of York.
After New York had become a British possession, consideration was given to the subject, for Bennet, lord Arlington, wrote to colonel Nicholls, one of the commissioners at New York, to act with caution in the matter of any proposition to establish episcopacy, and that he should not appear solicitous to make any change in matters of religion.
*[N.Y. doc., Vol. II., p. 235.) +[N. Y. doc., Vol. II., p. 505:]
The revolution of 1688 and the difficulties in the first years of William III. directed attention to other quarters than the colonies. The church at home was disturbed by the scruples of the non-juror clergy, which included the primate, Sancroft, and six bishops, among them bishop Ken, of Bath, and Wells, author of the morning and evening hymns, which will ever retain their place in the English liturgy. Amid this dissension the question of colonial bishops passed out of view; but in 1695 it was revived by Mr. Millar, who had been chaplain to the forces. He proposed the appointment of a bishop for New York, to exercise authority over all the British provinces, with the extraordinary provision that he should receive some commission of authority over New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Canada, the conquest of which should follow.*
In 1707, Compton, then bishop of London, submitted some observations regarding the establishment of a suffragan bishop. After alluding to the disorders that had arisen to the discouragement of the clergy, and established the necessity of the presence of a bishop in "those parts," he inquired what class of bishop should be appointed, an "absolute bishop" would not be proper. “It will give great alarm to the several colonies, as it did in K. Charles ye 2ds time when there came over petitions and addresses with all violence imaginable.” He advocated the appointment of a suffragan, as "the beginning of a new establishment ought to be carried on gradually."
In 1712 governor Hunter, of New York, recommended the appointment, and the Rev. John Talbot went to England to solicit the nomination as suffragan. The proposition was entertained to the extent that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel gave orders in that year for the purchase of a house and land in Burlington, then regarded as northern New York. The death of Queen Anne in 1714 took place before
* [NY. doc., Vol. 1V, P. 182.]
the measure could be submitted to parliament. In 1719 Talbot was again in England, and, failing to obtain any recognition from the bishops in authority, he received consecration from two of Sancroft's non-juring bishops, Waller and Taylor. He returned to America in 1722, claiming episcopal jurisdiction. But the Society, hearing that he was a jacobite and failed to pray for the royal family, removed his name from the list of missionaries, upon which Burnet, then governor, ordered his church to be shut up. Talbot was a man of much amiability of character and was much esteemed at Philadelphia and Burlington. His friends made great efforts for his restoration, but without avail, although Talbot is said to have taken the oaths and conformed.
On the oth of February, 1727, George I. gave power to Gibson, bishop of London, to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the colonies, which on the accession of George II., in 1728, was renewed. The church in the colonies was at this time regulated by commissioners appointed by the bishop and so remained until 1740, when the subject was taken up by archbishop Secker. In 1751 he addressed a letter to Horace Walpole and published a pamphlet explaining his views. The last named was answered by Dr. Mayhew, of Boston, upon which Secker published a second letter, setting forth the position of a colonial bishop, assigning to it the character it possesses in modern times in the outer provinces. The wisdom of the proposal is manifested by the universal adoption of the precepts it enforces. As the step required the interference of parliament, the proposal led to great misapprehension in the colonies, and was represented as an arbitrary determination to establish episcopacy. Attacks were also made on the Society for its advocacy of the measure, the argument being that in so acting it was changing its object for the propagation of christianity and protestantism to the propagation of one form of it, in opposition to the views of other protestants.
Nothing, however, could have been less aggressive. Archbishop Secker was desirous in every respect of avoiding the appearance of any propagandism. “ We must be extremely cautious,” he wrote,“ how we appoint new missions where Presbyterians and Independents have assemblies." February, 1759, he drew up a paper on the church in the colonies. It set forth that in 1620 the first appeal was made for procuring ministers; in that year there were but five ministers in the plantations. In 1679 instructions were sent that no minister could be named to a benefice without a certificate from the bishop of London. In 1725 bishop Gibson, uncertain of the powers he possessed, submitted the necessity of having explicit authority from the crown.
* Letter to the Rev. Dr. Johnson. Lambeth, Sept. 27th, 1758. The tolerance of Secker's opinions is shewn in the same letter, in which he sets forth the grounds on which the appointment of a bishop was desirable. Nothing was ever intended at which Christians of any denomination have cause to be alarmed: but merely a provision that those of our communion in the Colonies might have that complete and easy exercise of every branch of their religion which others there have, and would complain bitterly if they had not ; and ought, therefore, from the love which they prosess of universal harmless liberty, not only to consent that our people should have, but join to procure it for them. The powerful objection made at home against our proposal, is, that the Dissenters abroad have terrible apprehensions of being injured by it. And in proportion as their remonstrances are vehement, our endeavours will be unpromising. Therefore, the principal point is to convince them, that whatever the Bishops were, from whom their ancestors fled into the new World, those of the present age are, and always have been, most sincere patrons of extensive toleration; and that we are for sending persons of our own order into America, not to claim the least jurisdiction over them, but merely to ordain Ministers for Episcopal Congregations, without the trouble, expense, and hazard of a voyage to England ; a burthen, to which if they were subjected, they would think insupportable, to confirm from time to time the Youth of those congregations; a practice which, rightly or wrongly, we hold in high esteem ; and to exercise such discipline in those congregations only, as they exercise by ordained Presbyters or Lay Elders ; which discipline of ours would no more hurt them than theirs hurts us.” [N. Y. doc., Vol. VII., p. 348.) We may place side by side with this statement John Adams' account of this attempt. “It excited a general and just (!) apprehension that Bishops, and Dioceses and Churches, and Priests and Tythes were to be imposed upon us by Parliament. It was known that neither King, nor Ministry nor Archbishop could appoint Bishops in America without an Act of Parliament; and if Parliament could tax us, they would establish the Church of England with all its Creeds, Articles, Texts, Ceremonies and Tythes, and prohibit all other Churches as conventicles and Schism-shops." [N.Y. doc., Vol. VI., p. 907.)
The case was referred to the law officers, who reported that the jurisdiction did not belong to any bishop but was vested solely in the crown by virtue of the act of supremacy. Accordingly, the patent previously alluded to as granted by George I. was issued to Gibson personally, and not to his successors, so it died with him. Sherlock pointed out the difficulties under which the church laboured in the colonies ; churchmen were totally denied confirmation, and the clergy were forced to proceed to England to be ordained. Nonconformists in America would loudly complain, if they could not appoint their own ministers ; "they would think it a great hardship and inconsistent with the rights they claim by toleration.” What he suggested was that one or more suffragan bishops should be sent to America. **
After the conquest of Canada in 1763 the matter again became the subject of discussion. Those not of the church of England continued to exclaim against it. The proposal was described as a desire "to episcopize new England," while the advocates of the measure declared that those who opposed it “know the thing is reasonable, that we should and ought to be compleat in our kind as well as they in theirs." +
The question arose, if a bishop were named for Quebec with no jurisdiction over non-conformists, whether objection would be made to the appointment. It does not seem that it would have excited opposition, and, however insufficient the appointment might have been in many respects, it was con
*[N.Y. doc., VII., p. 363. The views of those who advocated the appointment of a bishop can be read in the correspondence of Dr. Cutler and Dr. Samuel Johnson with archbishop Secker. Johnson was the first president of King's College, New York, and Dr. Cutler, president of Yale College. [N.Y. doc., Vols. VI., VII.]
These letters will repay republication, for they place in its right character a matter which has been persistently misrepresented. It is a curious commentary on the manners of the time that the archbishop, in thanking Johnson for two small tracts sent him, added, “But the postage of them amounted to thirty-five shillings, and, therefore, you will do better to await a little for opportunities of sending books, as indeed, you have done since."
+ [Johnson to Secker, roth of August, 1763, N.Y. doc., VII., p. 537.)