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The book of Common Prayer of the Protestant Episcopal church.
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BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.
By the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopale, Church in the United States of America, in Convention, this 16th, Day of October, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hunan
dred and eighty-nine. THIS Convention, having in their present Session, set forth A.
Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacruments, 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 Mem." bers 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.
Iris a most invaluable part of that blessed liberty wherewill
Christ hath made us free, that in his worship. diilerent forms and usages may without oii'ence be allowed. provided the substance 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 consert and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwise dišu posed of, as may seem most convenient for the edification of the people, 'according to the various exigencies of times and occasions.'
The Church of England, to which the Protestant Episcopal Cburch in these States is indebted, under GOD, for her first foundation and a long continuance of mursing care and protection, bathi, in the Preface of her Book of Common Prayer, laid ii down as a 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 so acknou ledged, 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 should, from time to time, seem either necessary or expedient.'
The same Church hatlı not only in her Preface, but likewise ili hier 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 Lappy inean between 100 much stiffness iu refusing, and too much easiness in admitting variations in thitiys once advisedly established. she hath, in the reign of several Princes, since the first compiling of her Liturgy in ihe time of Edward the Sixth, upon just and weighiy considerations her thereunto moving, yielded to make such alterations in some particulars, as in their respective times were thought convenient; yet so as that the main body and essential parts of the same (as well in the chiefest materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have still been continued firm and unshaken.'
ller general aim in these diferent Reviews and Alteration: hath been, as slie further declares in her said Preface, 'to do that which, according to her best understanding, might most tend to te preservation of peace and quity in the Church; the procuring of reverence, and the exciting of piety and devotion in the worship of God; and, finally, the cutting off occasion, from them that seek occasion, of cavil or quarrel against her LiturgyAnd although, according to her judgment, there be not'any thing in it contrary to the Word of God, or to sound doctrine. or whici a
godly man may not with a good conscience use and submit unto, or which is not fairly detensible, if allowed such just and favourable construction, as, in common equity, ought to be allowed to all luran 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 time ; and the Civil Authority has not since thought proper to revive it by any new commission.
But when in the course of Divine Frovidence, these American States became independent with respect to Civil Government, their Ecclesiastical Independence was necessarily included ; and the different religious denoninations of Christians in these States wcre left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their respective Churches, and forms of worship, and discipline, in such inanner as they might judge most convenient for their future prosperity ; consistently with the Constitution and laws of their Country:
The aitention of this Churcii was, in the first place, drawn to those alterations in the Liturgy which became necessary in the Pravers for our Civil Rulers, in consequence of the Revolution. And the principal care herein was to make them conformable to what onght to be the 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 in review before the Convention, they could not but, with gratitude to God, embrace the happy occasiou which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unrestrained liy any worldly authority whatsoever) to take a further review of the Public Service, and to establish such other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedieut.
It seems unnecessary to enumerate all the different alterations aud ameudments. 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 further 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 Memher 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, most affecting, and man jestic manner, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour.