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P R E FAC E.
It is now more than five years since the author of this work undertook, with the aid of a valued friend,* the task of collecting such fragments of the history of the Prot. estant Episcopal church in the United States as, having escaped the ravages of time, were to be found among the manuscripts of the earlier clergy, or rested in the less secure repository of the memory of the aged.
Encouraged in the undertaking by many of the bishops and clergy of the church, the plan originally proposed was, to preserve in the form of annals the facts thus saved from oblivion, for the benefit of some future historian who might attempt a connected narrative of events, believed to possess some interest, at least for Episcopalians. After some progress had been made in the work, and materials, both more numerous and more valuable than had been antici. pated, had accumulated on the hands of those who had undertaken the task-death removed the colleague of the author, and he was left to pursue alone a work which, in addition to the interest it had for him, afforded also a melancholy pleasure by often recalling the memory of a buried friend.
It was not until some time afterward, that it occurred
The Rev. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina.
to the writer, that his labour might prove more acceptable to the members of the communion to which he belonged, should he attempt himself the narrative which he had hoped might at a future period proceed from some pen more fitted for the task than his own. He, accordingly, (not, however, without some distrust of himself, selected Virginia as being the oldest state in the Union, and the result is in the reader's hands. Had he supposed that he was adding nothing to what already existed touching the history of his country, it would have been his duty to be silent ; for he who publishes a book can justify it to a becoming sense of modesty only by the hope that he is communicating something which is new, or happily enforcing something which is old. The author, therefore, ventures to hope that in this contribution to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States, (as yet an almost untrodden field,) he has performed a work not entirely useless. That it has faults, no one knows better than he who wrote it; that it contains errors, is not improbable; for in the labour of research, which it will here be seen has not been small, it is scarcely possible always to avoid mistake: for the faults, the author begs indulgence ; and of the errors, if such there be, he can only say they were undesigned
It was impossible to write upon the subject treated of in the following pages, without sometimes adverting to religious denominations different from that to which the author belongs. There were events affecting the Episcopal church in Virginia, in which they were actors, and a regard for truth required the notice of them,
A Protestant Episcopalian, not merely from the prejudices of early education, but from the deliberate examination and conviction of his riper years, it is not improbable that the author's affection for the faith of his fathers may sometimes be seen. of the peculiarities of his creed, he will here only say, that he has not sought unnecessarily to obtrude them; and as little has he endeavoured to keep them out of sight. It may be (for he claims no exemption from the infirmities of human nature) that, however anxious to eradicate prejudice, he has not always succeeded in the effort to do so; he has, however, endeavoured to speak of that church, which he does not hesitate to say he loves best, with an impartiality too proud to cover up its faults, and an honesty too stern to hide its delinquencies. That church has sometimes erred, and the author has said so. If he knows his own heart, he never had in view, in his work, an object so contemptible as that of writing eulogy under the guise of history. His wish has been to tell the truth as far as he could discover it; and if in doing this, a blow fell, it mattered but little to him where it alighted. But he owes it to himself to add, that he has uniformly spoken of other religious denominations with respect; for he freely owns that the love of his own religious system does not, to his mind, impose upon him the necessity of haling either the persons or the creeds of others. He may lament what he deems their mistakes, and yet hopes to be pardoned, should he doubt whether insult be their best corrective. He would rather burn his book than wilfully inflict a wanton injury upon the personal feelings of any sincere Christian: and if he has incautiously so done in
these pages, he here humbly begs forgiveness of God and of the injured.
A word more as to his plan. The present volume is an experiment. Should it succeed, and the life of the writer be prolonged, it will be followed by others; for there are materials on hand to furnish a volume for each of the older diocesses. Indeed, with respect to some of them, the story is partly written; whether it will ever be published, depends less upon the author than upon others. . Another motive for sending forth this volume now, is to be found in the fact, that it has recently been made the duty of the author, by the church to which he belongs, to collect and preserve all that he can, tending to illustrate any por. tion of its history. He has, therefore, hoped that by bringing before his brethren a specimen, exhibiting the nature of the task in which he is engaged, some among them may be induced to furnish information, and thus contribute materials for future volumes.
He need not add, that for all such aid he will feel most grateful. Should he thereby procure nothing more than copies of the early journals of the several diocesses, a work of some importance will be accomplished. Very few, if any, complete sets of diocesan convention journals are now in existence; the author, therefore, considers the appendix, containing the records of the Virginia church, (which he has here reprinted, at the request of many of his brethren,) as not the least useful part of this book. The Episcopalian of Virginia, has in the volume all that industrious research was able to collect concerning the history of his own church. Should another edition ever