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WHEREAS, at a Convention of the Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, held in the city of New York, from Tuesday, September 11th, to Wednesday, September 19th, 1792, the following Act was passed, viz.
AN ACT OF THE GENERAL CONVENTION, FOR SUPPORTING MIS
SIONARIES TO PREACH THE GOSPEL ON THE FRONTIERS OF
THE UNITED STATES.
1. RESOLVED, That it be, and it is hereby recommended to the Ministers of this Church, to preach a Sermon in each of the Churches under their care, on the first Sunday of September in every year; and if that day should not be adapted to the purpose, then on such other Sunday as the Minister and Vestry or Trustees of the congregation shall appoint, for the purpose of collecting money, in order to carry into effect this charitable design.
2. That the money, so collected, be entered in a record to be kept by the Vestries or Trustees of each congregation; and, by the Minister and Church Wardens or Trustees, be delivered to a Treasurer appointed by each State Convention; and, by him, transmitted to a Treasurer, who shall be appointed as herein after directed.
3. That such Missionaries as may be employed by this Church, be authorised to make collections of money, from such congregations on the frontiers as may contribute; and render an accurate account to the Bishop of this church in the state of Pennsylvania and the standing committee to be appointed by this Convention, of the sums thus collected.
4. That the Bishop of this Church in Pennsylvania, and the said standing committee, frame an address to the members of this Church, recommending this charitable design to their particular attention; which address shall be read by every Minister, on the day appointed for the collection.
5. That the Bishop of this Church in Pennsylvania, and the said standing committee, have authority to appoint a Secretary and a Treasurer; the first to carry on the correspondence, and the other to keep the accounts, and the monies of the Institution.
6. That when it shall appear to the Bishop of this Church in Pennsylvania, and the standing committee to be appointed as aforesaid, that sufficient funds have been provided for the above purpose, they shall then employ such Missionaries, allow such salaries, and make such arrangements, as to them shall seem best; reporting regularly their proceedings to each General Convention.
AND WHEREAS the Bishop of this Church in Pennsylvania, together with the Subscribers, William Smith, Samuel Magaw, John Andrews, Robert Blackwell, Samuel Powel, and John Wood, were appointed a Standing Committee to manage this Charity, and make it known to the Public; the said committee ADDRESSED the Public as follows, viz.
" THAT when the Congregations of our communion a few years ago, by a separation from the former center of their ecclesiastical union, had become unconnected with one another; the first objects which engaged the Conventions, successively held, were—the re-uniting of the component parts of the bodythe obtaining of the Episcopacy-and the reviewing of the Liturgy ;-objects of so great magnitude and difficulty, that the measures most proper to be pursued could not be ascertained, without frequent deliberation, nor determined on without much time and pains: although now happily carried into effect, with every appearance of stability, and, it is hoped, to general satisfaction and edification.
“ Our Church being thus organized, on those principles of doctrine, discipline and worship, which we had inherited from the Church of England, and which had been handed down to us, through her, from the Apostles and the early Fathers of the whole Christian Church; it must be seen, that the principal object to be promoted by all, in their respective stations, as
the effect of so good a system, is an evangelical profession of Religion, manifesting itself in holiness of heart and life-an effect which may be looked for, wherever provision has been made for the stated preaching of the word, and the administration of the Sacraments.
“ There are, however, many places, in which no such provision can be made by those who are to be benefited by it; owing to the difficulties attendant on the first settlement of a country, and to the circumstances of the settlers, which, in general, are barely competent to yield them a subsistence. Of persons thus situater, there are very many, on the extensive frontier of the United States; who, having been educated in the faith and the worship of our Church, wish to have the benefits of its ministry, but who are too few, in their respective neighbourhoods, to provide for it among themselves; or indeed to expect it at all, unless on the itinerant plan now proposed; and that to be principally supported by their richer brethren, who are also more advantageously situated for a combined effort.
“ Under these circumstances, the Convention have thought it a duty, arising out of the trust committed to them by the Great Head of the Church, to direct their attention to a people, whose circumstances so strongly claim it; and to call on the pious and liberal members of their communion, to aid them in the undertaking which these sentiments have suggested.
“ It has ever been held a duty, incumbent on every branch of the Christian Church, not to neglect, as far as opportunity shall offer, the publishing of the glad tidings of salvation, even to heathen nations. Accordingly, it cannot but be the desire of every member of our Communion, that something may be attempted by us, in due time, for assisting in every laudable endeavour for the conversion of our Indian neighbours, notwithstanding former disappointments and discouragements: And it is the sincere wish and prayer of those who now address you, that the day may not be far distant, when Providence shall open the door, and we shall avail ourselves of the opportunity, for so good a work. But if this be a duty, how much more so is the extending of aid to those, who are of one Faith and one Baptism with ourselves; but who, from unavoidable causes, are without those means of public worship, which the Divine Author of our religion has accommodated to the wants and weaknesses of human nature; and which he saw to be, on those accounts, necessary for upholding the profession of his name.
“ The promise of Christ, to be with his Church to the end of the world, will never fail; and yet particular branches of the Universal Church may either flourish or decline, in proportion to their continuing in a pure profession and suitable practice on the one hand, and to their falling into error, or indifference and unholy living, on the other. However prosperous, therefore, the beginning of our Church in this new world hath been, she will have little reason to look up for a continuance of the Divine Blessing, if, when she contemplates so many members of her communion “ scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd,” she does not use her diligence to bring them within Christ's Fold, and to secure to them a stated administration of the ordinances of his religion.
6 Such was the care, in times past, of the Bishops, and of the most eminent of the Clergy, and of the Laity of the Church of England, for the fellow members of their communion; when struggling with the difficulties of settlement in the then infant Colonies, now the Independent States of our confederated Republic. The very existence of our Church, in some of these States, must be ascribed, under the blessing of God, to the aids, to which we here look back with gratitude: The degree of her prosperity, in every one of them, must have been owing, more or less, to the same cause: And therefore the example is what we ought, in reason, to imitate; so as to consider our brethren on the frontiers as not to be deserted because they are distant, but, from their remote situation, as the especial objects of our concern.
“ In accomplishing that labour of Love, which has been projected by the Convention, we shall be doing what may be expected of us, not only as Christians, but as good citizens of a land of Liberty and Law; the best security of both being moral principles and habits; which can only be derived from the influence of religion on the minds of the people. For however it may be contended by some, that the sense of religion
is unconnected with the duties of civil life, we owe it to God, and to our country, to guard the members of our church against that licentious principle; and, accordingly, to endeavour the extension of Christian knowledge, as well with a view to temporal peace and prosperity, as for the securing of the immortal happiness of a better life.
“Under the impression of these sentiments, we hope for the concurrence of all the members of our church in the undertaking now proposed to them: and intending, with the Divine Aid, to exert our best abilities for a faithful administration of the trust reposed in us by the convention, we subscribe ourselves,
« Your affectionate Brethren,
tant Episcopal Church in the commonwealth of
Pennsylvania. « WILLIAM SMITH, D. D, “ SAMUEL MAGAW, D. D. The standing “ JOHN ANDREWS, D. D. committee ap" ROBERT BLACKWELL, D. D. pointed by the « ,
convention." « JOHN WOOD, Philadelphia, April 22, 1793.
“ SAMUEL POWEL.,} Esquires.
PRAYER BEFORE THE FOLLOWING SERMON.
O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that Thou hast made, nor wouldst the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; have mercy on all those who know not Thy name and are scattered as sheep without a shepherd. Have mercy also on those, who having once known, or been baptized into, Thy name, forget, neglect, or profane the same; and so reclaim or fetch them home, blessed Lord! to Thy flock, that they may be saved among the true Israel, and made one fold, under one shepherd, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, one God. world without end.