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learned by every Person|24 Forms of Prayer to be
confirmed by the Bishop.
Ý the ;
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of Anterica, in CONVENTION, this Sixteenth Day of October, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and
iM 21 to the Eighty-nine :
This Convention, having in their present Session, set forth A BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, AND ADMINISTRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS AND OTHER RITES AND CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH, do hereby establish the said Book : And they declare it to be the Liturgy of this Church; and require, that 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 OEtober, 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 to as that the inain 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 ain in these 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 Churches the procuring of reverence, and the exciting of piety and devotion in the worship of God; and, finally, the cutting off occafion, from them that seek occafion, 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 submit unto, or which is not fairly defenfible 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, tħat further alteration would in time be found expedient. Accordingly, a Commission for a review was ifsued in the year 1689: But this great and good work miscarried at that time, and the Civil Authority has not since thought proper to revive it by any new Commiflion,
But when, in the course of Divine Providence, these American States became independent with respect to Civil Government, their Ecclesiastical Independence was necesfarily 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 neceflary 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
proper end of all such prayers, namely, that, “Rulers inay 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 in 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 essential point of doctrine, discipline, or worship; or farther than local circumstances i'equire.
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 sincere 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, moft affecting and majestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Chrift, our bleffed Lord and Saviour.