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Many years ago, the author of the following work began to commit to writing the most material facts which had occurred, relative to the church of which he is a minister: intending, in the event of the continuance of life and health, to carry on the recital. This was not with a view to early publication, because of the small extent of the sphere, in which the detail of very recent events was likely to interest curiosity. Accordingly, what was thus prepared laid unnoticed, until an application was made about twelve years ago, by the editor of the American edition of Dr. Rees's Cyclopedia, requesting attention to certain parts of that work, with a view to other objects. On this occasion it occurred, that there might be propriety and use in inserting, in a work of that kind, a brief account of what had been transacted during some years preceding, within the Episcopal church. For this reason, there was made a draft from the notes before taken, for the purpose stated. As what remained comprehended sundry matters, not of suf
ficiently general concern for insertion in the Cyclopedia; it was afterwards reviewed under the impression that the time might come, when the former labour would not be unacceptable, within the communion for which it had been designed. In the present publication, the narrative has been continued to the present time. With it, there are given the matters kept back from the publication in the Cyclopedia; and a continuation of similar statements and remarks.
It has been occasionally suggested, from a knowledge of the materials in the hands of the author, and in consideration of the opportunities which he has possessed of personal observation of characters and of facts, that it would be better to embody the narrative with the remarks, and to make a history of the whole. The mere melting of them into one mass, after the separation of them as related above, did not seem likely to be fruitful of any considerable advantage: and as to the name of “ a history,” it would not only be disproportioned to the work, but perhaps pledge to an attempt, beyond what there are materials to accomplish. Of materials concerning the aggregate church, the author possesses all that are necessary, and more than will be here given; the view being confined to the more
important: but his collections in regard to the church in the different dioceses, are perhaps incomplete, although he is furnished with almost all their journals, and thinks himself well informed as to all the material events which have occurred, for half a century backward. Besides, there are a few points on which he wished to retain a liberty, that would be inconsistent with the fulness, and, considering what is to be expected in such a work, the fidelity of a history. One of these points is, that he chooses to be silent in regard to a few transactions, which, although sufficiently known and discoursed of when they happened, are not of so much importance to the future concerns of the church, as to induce a wish to perpetuate the remembrance of them; and thereby the personal irritation by which they were accompanied.
Besides these reasons, there is one arising from the desire of avoiding such a development of the characters of agents, as might induce the relating and the unintentional misstating of what may have passed in unguarded conversation. It is an unfair advantage taken of a deceased character, for an author to represent him as his own prejudices or bis passions dictate; when, perhaps, the other party would have had the precaution to make his own story
known, had he foreseen such a result of the freedom of social intercourse.
Another license which has grown out of the adopted plan, is the anticipating of some circumstances which took place in England, during the intercourse with his grace the archbishop of Canterbury; when such anticipation might illustrate any matter previously under review. The motive, was the desire to record the said intercourse in the form in which it now appears, that is, in letters to the committee of the church in Pennsylvania: which, having been written when the matters related were fresh on the mind of the narrator, is the more likely to be a faithful exhibition of them. To have enlarged the letters, would have been incorrect; and yet, in what passed in the intercourse, there was such connexion with some points in an earlier part of the work, as was too material to be disregarded. Although there has not been an enlargement of the letlers, nor an alteration of them in any instance, there have been attached to them a few notes, containing matters of less moment.
The motive of the author in the statements, is principally to record facts, which may otherwise be swept into oblivion by the lapse of time. For the mixing of his opinions with the facts, a reason may
be thought due. It is, that the habits of his life having exercised him much, on subjects which have bearings on the concerns of the church in doctrine, in discipline, and in worship; and his principles having been formed with deliberation and acted on with perseverance, not without prayer to the Father of lights for his holy guidance; there seems to him nothing unreasonable in the wish, to give the weight of long observation, to what are truth and order in his esteem. He has not the presumption to aspire to, nor the vanity to expect to share in the direction of the concerns of the church, after the very few years, in which there will be a possibility of his be ing present in her councils: but he commits his opi: nions, to the issue of what may be thought in reason due to them.
On the author's review of his statements and remarks, he had often a painful sensation at the frequent prominence in them of himself. In the way of apology, let it be remarked, 1st, that the apparent fault is in a great degree inseparable from the delivery of the results of personal observation; and 2dly, that he has had more agency than any other person, in the transactions recorded: owing to the circunistances in which he was placed; to a cause for which he cannot be sufficiently thankful, the con