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any one deny that the scriptures are for stated and settled pastors over particular churches ? But how is it possible for stated pastors to maintain love, unity, harmony and peace, among their respective flocks, while such a number of peripatetics are continually intruding upon their province, and seeking by all means to draw away disci ples after them ?-Upon the whole, if it be scriptural that every church should have its own stated minister, then the contrary is unscriptural, and must come to nought; whenever the church shall appear in her beauty and splendor, and command the respect she deserves.
The order and regulations of the Protestant Episcopal Church are, in my opinion, as apostolic, as any church whatever; and from the decency and edifying system of her public worship, as well as from former interpositions of Divine Providence in her favor, I am led to think she will yet see beta ter days, than at present-she will get arise and shake herself from the dust, and be, in some measure, respected, according to her real worth. I have no expectation I shall live to see this—but shall die in the hope of it.
Seeing I have so high an opinion of our church, and my expectations of her future
.., prosperity and glory are so great, you may
wonder I do not more constantly attend her annual conventions of clergy and laity, in Virginia. But I have reasons for absenting myself from these, which appear satisfactoTy to me, though they may not appear so to you and others. These reasons I will here simply write down.
I have already mentioned the unkind disposition of the clergy towards me from the beginning. They always seemed to look at me with an evil eye, and therefore there was little or no intercourse between them and myself. However, in the year 1774, I went to one of their conventions, which they used to hold, in the city of Williams. burg, for certain purposes. At that convention, I was causelessly insulted, and treated in such an ungenteel, not to say unchristian, manner, as, till that time, I had been a stranger to-and, what was still worse, I was distressed to hear some of the most sacred doctrines of Christianity treated with ridicule and profane burlesque. You may be sure I went to no more of their conventions at Williamsburg, E' After the revolution, and the removal of the seat of government from Williamsburg to Richmond, several conventions of the clergy were held, at the place last menti
oned, to consult on church affairs--the establishment then being done away. But I was sensible I could have no weight in any convention, as long as the disposition of the clergy toward me continued as it was, and therefore I went not to any of their conventions.
Some time after the peace between GreatBritain and America was concluded, our state assembly incorporated the Protestant Episcopal Church, by a law, and a convention was then called, at Richmond, to devise rules for our ecclesiastical government: many clergymen and delegated lay. men attended on the occasion. I also went. But I found such a shyness and .coldness still prevailed among the clergy toward me, that even those, with whom I had some acquaintance, would hardly speak to me, or seem to know me, fearing, as I might suppose, lest they should chance to be treated as coolly as I was, by their taking any notice of me. I felt very disagreeable in my situation among them, and, after about two hours, took my departure, and returned no more for five or six years. Indeed I thought I had done with conventions forever. · But in the year 1790, a bishop was to be elected, and a full convention was den
sired on the occasion. I was written to by the standing committee, and my pre-sence was solicited. I attended, and Dr. ·Madison was elected for our bishop, by a
great majority. Some notice was taken of -me at this convention, and I was nominated to read prayers on one of the mornings while I staid there. In a word, several both of the clergy and laity spake to me, with a degree of freedom, I had not known before, and I began to hold up my head, and open my mouth in the convention. I hoped there was an alteration for the better --and I resolved to go to the convention, in the year 1791.
I did somand was received with much .cordiality. Here that canon, which stands -the sixth additional canon, was fabricated, and brought before the committee of the whole house. This canon I opposed, with all my might, as being most abhorrent to my mind : and after a lengthy debate, it was thrown out by a majority of six.. But the aspect of that canon, and other things, which I thought savoured more of men than of God, gave me some uneasiness, and my hopes of a change for the better, began to subside. Before the convention broke up, I was appointed to preach at the next convention. We all parted in peace.
In the year 1792, we met in convention again. I preached according to appointment-and this was the last sermon, which has been preached before any of our conventions. My sermon was approved by the convention, and a vote past for its publication. The next day I was on the committee for devising rules for carrying certain general canons into effect, especially those which relate to discipline and the taking the number of Episcopalians. But the rules were rejected, and the whole business laid over to a future day—which has not yet come. I saw the reason of this was of a pecuniary nature, and that nothing was to be done, if temporal interests were to be threatened. I thought it was then time for me to retire. I considered that the intent of meeting was to make rules and if the rules already made were not to be observed, I thought it needless to make any new ones. Going to conventions appeared a needless expence of time and treasure. Indeed, as I told you in a letter some time ago, we do not want rules, so much as men. Men I cannot make and experience has shewn me, that I cannot introduce proper subjects into the ministerial office, nor prevent improper from entering. Of this I