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and in order to conference, if occasion or opportunity should occur, this House will appoint by ballot, a Committee of five Bishops as an organ of Communication or Conference, with such Christian bodies or individuals as may desire it, to be entitled the Commission on Church Unity.
"5. That in making the above appointment, it is distinctly understood that the Commission is clothed with no authority to mature plans of union with other Christian bodies, or to propound expositions of doctrine and discipline."
The above preamble and resolution were referred to another Committee, by which the following majority and minority reports were submitted.
The Report of the Majority.
"The Special Committee, to whom was referred a preamble and resolution relating to certain resolutions adopted by the House of Bishops respecting the use of the Book of Common Prayer, have had the same under consideration, and respectfully report:
"That by the 8th article of the Constitution of the Church, the Book of Common Prayer, as adopted by the General Convention, is directed to be used in all the Dioceses which shall have adopted the Constitution; and no alteration or addition shall be made to the Book of Common Prayer, or other offices of the Church or the Articles of Religion, unless the same shall be proposed in one General Convention, and by a resolve thereof made known to the Convention of every Diocese, and adopted at the subsequent General Convention. The effect of this article is to make the whole Book of Common Prayer, with all its Rubrics and Ritual, as authoritative as any article of the Constitution; and we are not remitted to tradition or ancient usage to ascertain the form of worship thus sanctioned, but the express words of the Constitution point us to the Book established by the General Convention.
“We therefore have as a starting-point a written document, unalterable except by the General Convention, after communication with the Dioceses. The General Convention is a body composed of two Houses. It follows of necessity that the concurrence of both is necessary to effect any lawful change, and that the separate action of either must be submitted to the other, before it can have any legal efficacy.
“It appears to your Committee, that written law is chiefly valuable, in that it can not be changed, saving by interpretation or new enactments made by lawful authority. Interpretation of the law in cases that come up for adjudication, is the office of a court. Any more general interpretation is only another name for a legislative enactment, and like an enactment, would require the sanction of the lawmaking power.
“ Your Committee have most carefully considered the preamble and resolutions of the House of Bishops, which form the subject-matter of the resolution referred to them, and can regard them in no other light than as an exercise of legislative authority. They possess none of the characteristics of a judicial act. No case is made, no parties appear, no court is organized. There is not a single feature which professes to be judicial.
“Here, then, is a general interpretation of the intent and meaning of a Ritual and of Rubrics, by resolutions of one branch of a legislative body. Such resolutions, if they have any legal force, are, in fact, declarative statute. Of course, the other coördinate branch of the legislative body must have the same right, and may pass resolutions contrary to those of the other body. These, too, must bave the same legal force, and we are thus presented with the anarchy of two statutes in the same government, in direct conflict with each other. The only alternative to this anomaly is to consider the action of each body as inchoate legislation, having no binding efficacy until transmitted to the other body, and adopted by them.
"The action of the House of Bishops in the matter under consideration seems to your Committee to be a legislative proceeding. Without entering upon other considerations, there is one which seems to your Committee to be conclusive. The resolutions assert that the Services of the Church being separate Services, may, as in former times, be used separately, and then adds, under the advice of the Bishop of the Diocese.
"If indeed, the Services are separate, and might be used separately, then as there was no Rubric or Canon limiting the discretion of the Minister, the clause in the resolution which subjects the matter to the advice of the Bishop, is entirely new, and gives an earmark to the whole enactment; and the third resolution authorizes the whole Book of Common Prayer to be set aside in certain cases, of which the Bishop of the Diocese is constituted the sole judge.
"Your Committee consider it the well-established order of this Church, that no law can be enacted or changed without the concurrence of the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity. In the worship and doctrines of the Church, they all have an equal interest, and for the security of each, the Book of Common Prayer, the administration of the Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the Church, the Articles of Religion, and the form and manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, were made part of the Constitution of the Church. If the Bishops can in any manner change these particulars, then the rights of the Clergy and Laity are infringed; and even should the Clergy make a change, with the advice or consent of the Bishop, the rights of the Laity are in. fringed, and the change can not have the force of law until they all consent.
“Upon the whole matter, then, it seems to your Committee that the separate action of the House of Bishops, as published in the Journal of the Convention, is an infringement of the privileges of this House; and that it becomes a solemn duty which we owe to ourselves, to our constituents, to the Church, and to our posterity, to take appropriate action upon the matter. Such an infringement even in cases of ordinary legislation, would present grave considerations. But in a case like this, where the Prayer Book and the Constitution, where the rights of Clergy and Laity, where the order and good government of the Church are involved, the matter assumes the gravest importance.
"Believing these views to be founded on truth and justice, your Committee entertain the hope that they will have weight in inducing the Right Reverend Bishops to reconsider their action. The preamble and resolution referred to your Committee are conceived in that Christian spirit which directs us to apply in the first instance to our brother to correct what we think an error, and therefore meet our approbation. No opinion whatever is expressed upon the expediency of the measures proposed by the House of Bishops. All that is asked for, is the recognition of the just rights of this House as a coördinate branch of the General Convention, and each member is left free to act as he shall see fit, upon any measures that may be proposed.
“The Committee, therefore, recommend the adoption of the preamble and resolution referred to them.
FRANCIS L. HAWKS,
Mr. Wm. Welsh, of Pa., from the same Committee, presented a minority report upon the same subject :
The undersigned, as a member of the Committee appointed to consider the preamble and resolution offered by Mr. Memminger, respectfully reports:
"That he can not unite with his colleagues in asking this House to pass the preamble and resolution referred for the consideration of the Committee, for the following reasons:
“Ist. Because the preamble and resolution of the Bishops is not officially in possession of this House, and therefore should not be considered by it.
“2d. Because Mr. Memminger's preamble and resolution asserts that the House of Bishops adopted the preamble and resolutions, implying that the action was by that House as a coördinate branch of the General Convention, and consequently, subject to revision by this House, whereas it is to be viewed as merely a concurrence of the Bishops sitting at a Synod or Council, answering a memorial of vari. ous presbyters addressed to the Bishops, only asking that a commission of Bishops be appointed to consider whether some means could not be devised to better adapt the Episcopal Church to the social necessities of the day, etc., etc.
“3. Because there was no adequate testimony presented to the Committee to substantiate what is asserted in the preamble, that the uniformity of the worship in our Church has been disturbed by the action of the Bishops, whilst my own observation and the testimony of impartial witnesses, lead me to believe that the efficiency in the ministrations of our Church has been greatly promoted in the true spirit of the first Christian Council, where it was charged that it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things.
"4. Because the proposed preamble and resolution is aimed at one of the prerogatives of the Bishops, as invariably acknowledged by this House, that is, of interpreting the Rubrics and regulating the worship in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer. When decisions are asked for by this House, an answer is sent to it not for revision, but for information. When questions are submitted by others, no notice to this House is required. It may be seen in the Journal of 1847, that similar questions may originate elsewhere.
"5th. Because the adoption of such a preamble and resolution could be of no possible benefit, whilst it would seem to cast reproach upon the Bishops for doing that which they, through the commission, expressly disclaim any intention of doing, as will be seen in the Appendix of the Journal of 1856, from which I quote:
" It has been the purpose of the commission, however, so far as their present labors go, to leave the Prayer Book untouched: they have also doubted how far the consideration of such proposed alterations would fall within the duty assigned to them; and at all events, they felt that if any alterations of the Prayer Book were proposed, the House of Deputies would be entitled to take part in the preliminary discussions connected with them.'
"The authority for the Bishops to prepare and publish Forms of Prayer for occasions not provided, can be seen in
"CANON XLVII. “. Of Forms of Prayer or Thanksgiving, for extraordinary occasions. [Former Canons on this subject were the ninth of 1795, and thirty-eighth of 1808.]
““The Bishop of each diocese may compose forms of prayer or thanksgiving, as the case may require, for extraordinary occasions, and transmit them to each clergyman within his diocese, whose duty it shall be to use such forms in his church on such occasions. And the clergy in those States or dioceses, or other places within the bounds of this Church, in which there is no Bishop, may use the form of prayer or thanksgiving composed by the Bishop of any diocese. The Bishop in each diocese may also compose forms of prayer to be used before legislative and other public bodies.'
“I append the preamble and resolutions approved by the Bishops, as expressing their views of the interpretation of the Rubrics, and if they are examined carefully by unprejudiced minds, they will not be found to conflict with a fair interpretation of the Rubrics. Before the adoption of this interpretation by the Bishops each deacon, presbyter, and Bishop determined for himself what was public worship; what the special occasions requiring some variation from the Rubrics; hence there was great diversity in their construction. The Bishops having concurred in some general principles, greater rubrical conformity will result therefrom.
"PREAMBLE AND RESOLUTIONS. “" Whereas, the use of the Book of Common Prayer, as regulated by custom, has special reference to established parish churches, and to a population already incorporated with the Church:
"And whereas, our actual work is, or should be, among many, not yet connected with our congregations, or where there are no established parishes, and where said parishes are yet in their infancy:
“And whereas, there are or may be in different dioceses, peculiar emergencies arising out of the character or condition of certain portions of the population which demand some special Services :
“. And whereas, the Book of Common Prayer should be so used as most effectively to cherish true devotion, and set forth the Gospel and work of Christ, and contribute to the extension of His kingdom among men:
“And whereas, the House of Bishops have heretofore expressed opinions as to usages which may be allowed under existing Rubrics and Canons: therefore,
"Resolved, as the opinion of the Bishops,
"1. That the order of Morning Prayer, the Litany, and the Communion Service, being separate offices, may, as in former times, be used separately, under the advice of the Bishop of the diocese.'
"The separation of the offices referred to in the first resolution, was usual in England until the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and is now allowed by their Bishops, This separation was practised in Bishop White's time, and has been ever since in many churches. This resolution declares that the advice of the Bishops should be asked.
"* 2. That on special occasions, or at extraordinary services, not otherwise provided for, ministers may, at their discretion, use such parts of the Book of Common Prayer, and such lesson or lessons from Holy Scripture, as shall, in their judgment, tend most to edification.'
"In the second resolution, the Bishops authorize the use of the Common Prayer Book, instead of themselves composing forms as authorized by Canon (47) XLVII.
“* 3. That the Bishops of the several dioceses may provide such special services as in their judgment shall be required by the peculiar spiritual necessities of any class or portion of the population within said diocese, provided that such services shall not take the place of the services or offices of the Book of Common Prayer in congregations capable of its use.'
“The third resolution was meant to provide for the case of persons too degraded to use the Book of Common Prayer.
“That the whole subject may be fully considered, I offer the following resolution:
" Resolved, That the preamble and resolution submitted to this Committee for consideration, together with Canons XLV. and XLVII. of 1832, be referred to a joint committee of the two Houses, to consider and report, at the next General Convention, what modifications, if any, are needed in the mode of conducting the Services of the Church, or in the use of the Book of Common Prayer, in established parish churches, and in the missionary field, foreign and domestic.
“Minority of Committee."
The House acting upon these reports, finally adopted the following preamble and resolution :
Whereas, The preamble and resolutions adopted by the House of Bishops, on the 18th day of the last session of the General Convention, in relation to the use of the Book of Common Prayer, and published in the Journal of the said Convention, have disturbed the minds of many in our Church, creating doubts both as to the effect of said preamble and resolutions, and as to the constitutionality of the mode in which they were adopted and published; therefore,
“Resolved, That the House of Bishops is hereby respectfully requested to reconsider the said preamble and resolutions, and to throw the subject matter into such shape as will admit of the joint action of both Houses of the Convention,