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learned by every Perfon | 24 Forms of Prayer to be
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.
Y the BISHOPS, the CLERGY, and the LAITY of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of Anterica, in CONVENTION, this Sixteenth Day of October,
in the Fear of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and
IRA sul to UK.
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 October, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety.
Tisamoft invaluable part of that bleffed liberty wherewith CHRIST hath made us free, that in his worship, different forms and ufages 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 Difcipline; and therefore, by common consent and authority, may be altered, abridged, enlarged, amended, or otherwife difpofed of, as may feem moft convenient for the edification of the people, cording to the various exigencies of times and occafions."
The CHURCH of ENGLAND, to which the Proteftant Episcopal Church in thefe States is indebted, under GOD,. for her firft foundation and a long continuance of nurfing care and protection, hath, in the Preface of her Book of Common Prayer, laid it down as a Rule, that "The particular Forms of Divine Worship, and the Rites and Ceremonies appointed to be ufed therein, being things in their own nature indifferent and alterable, and fo acknowledged, it is but reasonable that, upon weighty and important confiderations, according to the various exigencies of times and occafions, fuch changes and alterations fhould be made therein, as to those who are in places of authority, fhould, from time to time, feem either neceffary or expedient."
The fame Church hath not only in her Preface, but likewife in her Articles and Homilies, declared the neceffity and expediency of occafional alterations and amendments in her Forms of Public Worfhip; and we find accordingly that, feeking to "keep the happy mean between too much ftiffness in refufing and too much eafinefs in admitting va riations in things once advisedly established, she hath, in the reign of feveral Princes, fince the firft compiling of her Liturgy in the time of Edward the Sixth, upon juft and weighty confiderations her thereunto moving, yielded to make fuch alterations in fome particulars, as in their ref
pective times were thought convenient; yet to as that the main body and effential parts of the fame (as well in the chiefeft materials, as in the frame and order thereof) have ftill been continued firm and unfhaken."
Her general aim in thefe different Reviews and Alterations hath been, as she farther declares in her faid Preface, "to do that which, according to her beft understanding, might moft tend to the prefervation of peace and unity in the Church, 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 feek occafion, of cavil or quarrel against her Liturgy." And although, according to her judgment, there be not "anything in it contrary to the Word of God, or to found doctrine, or which a godly man may not with a good confcience use and fubmit unto, or which is not fairly defenfible if allowed fuch juft and favourable construction, as, in common equity, ought to be allowed to all human writings;" yet upon the principles already laid down, it can. not but be fuppofed, that further alteration would in time. be found expedient. Accordingly, a Commiffion for a review was iffued in the year 1689: But this great and good work mifcarried at that time; and the Civil Authority has not fince thought proper to revive it by any new Commiffion.
But when, in the course of Divine Providence, thefe American States became independent with refpect to Civil Government, their Ecclefiaftical Independence was neceffarily included; and the different religious denominations of Chriftians in thefe States were left at full and equal liberty to model and organize their refpective Churches, and forms of worthip, and difcipline, in fuch manner as they might judge moft convenient for their future profperity; confiftently with the Conftitution and Laws of their Country:
The attention of this Church was, in the first place, drawn to thofe 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
proper end of all fuch prayers, namely, that, "Rulers may have grace, wifdom, and understanding to execute juftice, and to maintain truth ;" and that the People "may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godlinefs and honefty."
But while thefe alterations were in review before the CONVENTION, they could not but, with gratitude to God, embrace the happy occafion which was offered to them (uninfluenced and unreftrained by any worldly authority whatsoever) to take a further review of the Public Service, and to establish fuch other alterations and amendments therein as might be deemed expedient.
It seems unneceffary to enumerate all the different alterations and amendments. They will appear, and it is to be hoped, the reafons of them alfo, upon a comparifon of this with the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. In which it will alfo appear, that this Church is far from intending to depart from the Church of England, in any effential point of doctrine, difcipline, or worship; or farther than local circumftances require.
And now, this important work being brought to a conclufion, it is hoped the whole will be received and examined by every true Member of our Church, and every fincere Christian, with a meek, candid, and charitable frame of mind; without prejudice or prepoffeffions; serioufly confidering what Chriftianity is, and what the truths of the Gospel are; and earnestly befeeching Almighty God, to accompany with his bleffing every endeavour for promulgating them to mankind in the cleareft, plainest, moft affecting and majestic manner, for the fake of Jefus Chrift, our bleffed Lord and Saviour.