Philander Chase



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Successes of the Diocese of Ohio and many new churches there; necessity of more qualified missionaries to preserve these successes; the evil of people not even baptized given a seat on the council and a vote on ecclesiastical orders.




Cincinnati, OH


Diocese of Ohio; Intrepid Morse; Philander Chase Jr.; Reverend Thomas Osborne; J.M. Jones; State of the Church in Ohio in 1823; missionary society; Worthington College; church; West


To the Right Rev. the Bishops of the P. E. Church in U. S. of America,

In Genl Convention assembled, May 1823

Right Rev. and dear Brethren;

Most devoutly do I pray the Ever Blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit now and ever to be with you, to bless, preserve, and keep you; to direct you in all your ways and further you with his continual help, that in all your works begun continued and end in him, you may glorify thro’ Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.

In addition to the solicitude, for a long time entertained by me, for a personal interview with those, whose advice, under God, might be of essential service to me, I have lately had reason to feel great anxiety to see you, arising [from] the very precarious state of my health, and the frequent attacks of an alarming bodily disorder. When borne down by sickness, and, to all human expectation app[?] brought very near the confines of the eternal world, it would have served me essentially, in the article of being in a state of readiness to die, if I had previously seen the Bishops, and communicated to them somethings deemed of importance, if not to the existence, certainly to the prosperity, of primitive Christianity in the western country.

As God has seen fit, in mercy to raise me from sickness; and yet has withholden from me the means of traveling to Philadelphia to meet you in person I take it to be his will, and thence I feel it my duty, to write to you freely; communicating not only the state of the Church, publick [?] according to canon, but also my own opinions and judgment, founded on some experience and observation, not perhaps altogether within the reach of others.

Since my communication to you, in the sitting of the Genl Constitution of 1820, I have confirmed two hundred and eighty five persons; admitted to the Holy Order of Deacons three persons; to that of Priests, one; con[?] two Churches, displaced one Deacon from the ministry; and suspended one Presbyter, who has not been restored. The names of the persons ordered and censured may be found in the Journals of the Convention of Ohio, already printed. The Churches consecrates were St. Paul’s Chillicothe and St. Thomas’s, St. Clairsville.

In giving a view of the Church in Ohio, I shall first speak of the Clergy, of their success and prospects, so far, as from reports, visitations, and personal observation I have been able to judge.

The Rev. Mr. [Jho.] Hall was ordained Deacon last state Convention, and, with hopes of some support from the Missionary Society of this State, was understood to be stationed, for this year, as Ashtabula, in the north east part of the Diocese. No communications have, as yet, been made directly to me; but are expected at our Convention next June. I have heard, however, thro’ other channels, that, excepting some intermissions of duty thro’ bodily sickness, his services have been steady and constant to the evident satisfaction of the pious, and, as it is believed, to divine acceptance, thro’ Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Mr. Searle is still fixed at Medina. As he is the only Clergyman of the Church on the Connet Reserve lands in Priest's Orders, his services are required, over a great extent of Country, for the administration of the Lord’s Supper; and this renders his duties very laborious. His accounts to me are all in a strain of great encouragement, as to the success of the Gospel, not only in form, but in heart and in life. I pray God our hopes may be cherished by divine grace, and final [?]!

The Rev. Mr. Rufus Murray, ordained Deacon at the same time with Mr. Hall above named, was fixed, with hopes of some assistance from the Missionary Society, in the western parts of the Connec. Reserve; place to depend on convenience. This I afterwards understood to be Norwalk, in Huron County. Of his success on the ministry I heard favourable things till he went, for the settlement of his Father’s estate, into the state of Connecticut. I have not, as yet, heard of his return to this Diocese, tho’ he was, at the last advices, expected.

The connexion between the Rev. I Morse and St. James Parish Zanesville was regularly dissolved, in the spring of 1822; since which time, he has been fixed at Steubenville; where he has regularly and faithfully ministered, devoting a portion of his services to the Parish of St. james, Cross Creek, distant from Steubenville about 10 or 12 miles. This Clergyman is my nephew; and affection arising from the ties of consanguinity may without criminality or weakness, be supposed to give some colouring to judgment. Yet this allowance, of right, ought not, and in truth, cannot, obscure from the eye of the Publick the eminent virtues, the pious example, and the great usefulness of this meek and faithful servant of Jesus Christ our Lord.

The success of the Gospel, under his ministration, both in confirming the faithful in the paths of truth and piety, and in converting sinners to holiness, has been evident, as well in the Parish at Cross Creek, as in that at Steubenville.

It ought to be mentioned, to the honour of the people among whom he ministers, that they have been mindful of their duty, in taking all due care that those, who minister to them spiritual, be not wanting to the great detriment of the Gospel, in temporal things.

The Rev. Mr. Morse, in lack of health, and under a great depression of spirits, thro’ providential application, in the very sudden loss of a beloved wife, was advised to travel; and, in so doing, he performed an important missionary tour thro’ a considerable part of the state, last fall. This, I hear, has done much good. With what fervency of entreaty, do I pray God to send forth a like character devoted entirely to the Missionary duty, in this diocese! But of this more hereafter.

In visiting St. Clairsville I found that the ministrations of the Rev. Jho. Armstrong had been well received, that he had exerted himself in stirring up and uniting the hearts of the people to build a Church; and that God had blessed his labours in things spiritual. The irregularity of his first introduction into the Diocese was rectified by his cheerful conformity to every canonical requisition, and, according to our diocesan provision, I gave him certificates of his appointment as Missionary; which, tho’ he lives in Virginia, entitle him to have the cure of souls and a seat in Convention, in the Diocese of Ohio.

Besides the labours of the Rev. Mr. Armstrong in St. Clairsville which seem blessed in no common degree, he officiates occasionally at Morristown, a Parish 10 m to the east where they have lately commenced the building of a small church.

My Son, the Rev. Philander Chase Junior, in having left the school at Worthington, which, under a combination of a number of very disagreeable circumstances, it was thought inadvisable to [?] any further, fixed himself at Zanesville; uniting the tuition of 10 or 15 pupils in the classes with the care of the Parish, so far as that could be done, he being yet only in Deacon’s orders.

In this course of duty, he continued, I believed, to great satisfaction, till about the first of Feb. last, when he was seized with a very alarming bleeding at the lungs. I went to see him tho’ nearly 70 miles from me; and, beholding his danger, advised him to relinquish not only his school but the duties of his [public] ministry, till God, in mercy, restore him to health. As this event, from all similar examples, is very uncertain, and even improbable, I leave it with you, My Brethren, to judge of the depth of my sorrows, and the need I have of your prayers for resignation to the Heavenly will.

The Parish in Zanesville, though small, had, by their unanimity and zeal, endeared themselves to their Minister, and by their uncommon attention to him, especially to his late sickness they had manifested that he was very dear to them. These two instances, joined to the very affecting manner in which he bore testimony to the truths of the gospel and exhorted his people to holiness of life, while he lay bleeding, for many hours, in his late attack, I humbly hope will be the means of doing much good to the interests of Religion, in that very interesting Parish.

In speaking of the Rev. Ezra B. Kellogg, if a reference be had to the very high estimation, in which his services are held, by the People of Chillicothe, I can hardly err on the score of commendation. He was fixed there under an agreement to devote one fourth of his time to the Parish of Allsaints at Portsmouth, and another fourth at Circleville, the former 45 south, the latter 18 m. north, of Chillicothe. This arrangement continues, till very lately, when the people of Chillicothe, offering to support their Pastor for the whole of the time, could hardly be denied so reasonable a privilege. This leaves Portsmouth and Circleville again without a shepherd.

The Rev. Mr. K. as I passed thro’ Chillicothe a few weeks since, told me that he had reason to relieve that the divine word and sacraments had been blessed, and that there were many ready for the Holy Rite of Confirmation and desirous of receiving it.

The Rev. Mr. Samuel Johnston still continues his services in the Parish of Christ-Church Cincinnati. His piety and diligence in the duty of his calling deserve my highest commendations; would that they met with a better reward, even in temporal things. But such is the deranged state of secular concerns, in this city, that his support is lamentably deficient. God grant that the times may change for the better; especially that his people may be incited to seek those heavenly treasures, which none can tell from them!

The Rev. Thomas Osborne, last fall, accepted a call from Edisto Island, in the Diocese of S. Carolina, and removed from this state. His learning, virtues, and piety had commanded, ere he left us, great respect from all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. The prayers of many, and of none more sincerely than myself, follow him.

The Rev. Mr. Spencer Wall, from the Diocese of Maryland, came into this Diocese and from his zeal in the ministry in the spring and former part of the last summer excited many hopes of great good to some of our poor destitute parishes; but by his very suddenly leaving the state, these hopes were not fulfilled.

I have closed my observation on the Clergy and their labours in the part of Christ’s vine [?] committed to my change. It is but justice to them as well as pleasing to myself, to observe, that they not only live in peace, harmonizing for the glory of God, and the good of souls, but afford me every assurance of canonical obedience and personal respect.

It remains now, that I speak of the Diocese, in reference to the waste places, vacant parishes, and the scattered sheep of our Fold. And here I beg leave to refer you to circular letter, which God enabled me to address to you, by my Son, when on his tour to the eastern Dioceses in quest of relief to our pressing wants.

I did hope that [such] were our necessities and so essential was deemed the prosperity of the Church in this state, even to its existence in the west, that pains would have been taken to select and send to me some few, if only two or three, faithful ministers, peculiarly fitted, by their piety and zeal, for the work of the Gospel in the wild wood of the west. The accomplishment of this wish, so sincerely urged in the address above referred to, would have perfected the work of charity begun in the liberal donations sent me. But instead of this what have been the pangs of our regret in seeing the spiritual husbandry [?] [desolate], for want of labourers; precious time consuming, and the wild beasts every day [?] our treasures. Buoyed up by the fond hope of soon receiving some intimations of a MIssionary coming among us, I have traversed our extensive country alone, to keep alive what must otherwise die. My [?], at length, has yielded to premature infirmity; and the object of my prayer is not accomplished.

Do I say these things to reprove you? No - I say them in the anguish of a full heart; to give vent to my feelings, which I can express to no one else, on earth, so properly. If the wants of Twenty two vacant Parishes besides many hundred of scattered sheep can not command the services even of two or three Missionaries for a season even with the assurances of a reasonable compensation - what an awful truth does it unfold, touching the zeal, and government of a church, having undoubted claims to a primitive origin!

If the candidates for the ministry have that zeal, which I humbly conceive is requisite to qualify them for their Master’s service, the same, it is hoped, might by the authority which Christ has left with his Church, be directed into such channels as necessity requires.

If, on the contrary, the chief motive of young men in seeking the office of shepherds, universally be that of the enjoyment of ease and plenty, green fields and fenced pastures; who will keep off the wolf and the Bear - who will enlarge the borders of their Lord’s [possessions]; and who will receive his commendations of “well done,” at the Last?

Are the young men, who present themselves for Holy Orders, less disposed “to endure hardness” in the work of the gospel, than those who seek for the ministry among other denominations? If so: which I am inclined, from long and critical observation, to believe, whence is the cause of this difference? However this question be answered; is not the cure of this very humiliating evil, under God, within the reach of the House of Bishops? Is not their influence (granting it unanimous) in the making of canons, in the explaining of the Ordination service, in the laying of injunctions in composing the Pastoral letters and in giving advice on this head, sufficient, with God’s blessing to put down an evil of this nature?

The Church in Ohio, however blessed, where there have been Ministrations, has evidently lost ground both in numbers and piety during the past years. Two pious and zealous Missionaries, it is morally certain, under a common blessing, could have prevented this retrograde steps, so distressingly humiliating to every sincere Churchman acquainted with the past.

In trying to prevent the deleterious effects from the want of ministers I have had recourse in one instance to the appointment of a Catechist. This person was a Mr. J. M. Jones a native of Wales, Engd, remarkable for his sober and pious deportment. With no family, but a discreet wife, he was prepared to accept of a small stipend of $30 per annum and as a schoolmaster, to settle in Monroe County to read prayers and catechise the youth on Sundays. The result of this effort to save that poor perishing people has not been as yet fully known; but there is every reason to believe that the measure will be blessed with exemplary success.

This gives me an opportunity of saying, what I wish I could say, more fully than I can do on paper, that were an Order of men recognized by the discipline of the Church of an Inferior grade to the Deacons, qualified, in English learning, to teach in common schools; to read prayers and catechise on Sundays; and, otherwise, by their pious example and advice, to gather, and keep from straying, the Lambs of Christ’s fold, it would lend more than any other known practicable measure, to accomplish the great end we have in view, of rearing the Church in the wilderness. Let me have but five pious young men - or those with small families possessed with a good English Education (I mean in the most ordinary branches of Engh Grammr and Arithmetic) sincerely attached to our primitive church, and I will place them in good schools, give them each $50 per ann. extra; and by their exertions on Sunday and other holy days, keep twice 5 parishes from ruin. May I not hope some such class of people will be recognized by our canons; and that persons of the specified qualifications be recommended, by some public order, to come to our assistance?

The next thing deeply affecting the interests of the Church of Christ, even here in our new Country, is the subject embraced in the Recommendation of the House of Bishops concerning theatrical representations. You would hardly believe if you were not, from known and accredited authority assured, that the practices enumerated in the forementioned injunction, are to be found in almost all our little villages scattered up and down our world of woods. The clergy of the Diocese have uniformly (with the exception of one, since degraded) thought themselves bound by the spirit of the gospel, to obey the [?] of the Episcopal injunction. In so doing tho’ in the spirit of great mildness, they have in some instances met with hostility evidently inconsistent with the character of the meek and pious disciples of the Blessed Jesus. Now what is to be done in such cases? Are the communicants to proceed from one degree to another, till the advice and entreaty of the Minister are brought in to utter contempt; and still be admitted to the table?

If the meaning of that Recommendation were passed into a canon prohibiting such practices in communicants and after the second and third admonition, the clergyman were authorized to suspend from the privileges of the Altar; would not a sufficient check, against [?] if any such were apprehended, be forced in a provision for our appeal to the BIshop, in case the aggrieved thought proper so to do?

As it now stands there is just enough done by the Church to point out the right ways; and there, leave the clergy to stand still, like finger posts, without life and power sufficient to pursue it.

But I leave this subject, for one, which during a long period, has rested on my mind with much greater weight. In mentioning it, I earnestly define to write the discharge of my conscience with a very sincere respect for the venerable framer of the constitution and canons of our American Church. Nothing that I shall say, it is desired, will be taken as any reflection upon their wisdom or holy intentions.

Being then understood I shall express my opinion, I hope with modesty, yet with the freedom of one who perhaps may never have another opportunity.

Is there no way of guarding from abuse the right, which the Laity have by our constitution, to a seat in our ecclesiastical council? As things are now, there is no procession made to prevent the election of persons to the state, or genl conventions, ho are not communicants, or even baptized.

I forbear to mention past instances and to fancy the possibility of future cases wherein the silence of our Constitution and canons in this respect has led or may lead to consequence inconsistent with the very nature of all government divine or even prudential. I would speak only of the evil itself and suggest a remedy.

This liability to abuse is unauthorized by scriptural example. If by “the brethren being present” in some meetings for ecclesiastical decisions, it must be understood that these brethren were the Laity; and if by their being present it must, with equal clearness be inferred that they took an active and controlling part in such decisions; then certainly, the very name of “Brethren” implies that they were such, by having previously conformed to the tests, which the Lord Jesus and his apostles had instituted not only as means of grace, but as badges of discipleship: in other words they were baptized confirmed and recipients of the Holy Eucharist. 2. This liability to abuse is unexampled in other denominations. What Conference, Synod, Council, or Assembly of the Methodists, Baptists, Dutch, or Presbyterian communions is not sufficiently guarded against the evil of which we are speaking? How would even they blush to be told, that it were possible for persons having never made a profession of Religion, not only to hold a seat in their councils, but, in some instances, give the casting vote in decisions involving doctrine and disciple of the first importance? Yet such is the case of the P. E. Church of U. S. of America.

If I were asked for a remedy of this evil, I should find it in the fraternal care of the House of Bishops. The whole Church looks to them for direction especially in matters of such vital importance as this: and in this expectation they ought not to be disappointed. If it be said, that by making a Canon on this subject, our shame will be exposed to the world: let a private injunction as by unanimous agreement among the Bishops, be solemnly laid upon the Clergy of every Diocese to use all prudence care and advise that none be elected to the state of Gen. Conventions but such as are Communicants at the Lord’s table.

If this do not in every respect cure the evil - (confident I am that it will do it in a great measure) then let other means be used more effectual.

As it respects myself, so fully am I persuaded that it is my duty to do all I can to obviate and destroy this evil, that I do now solemnly desire that my protest against its continuance may be recorded in the minds of all my brethren.

Prevented from seeing you, not by want of earnest desire, but my providential impediments I think I have just reason to expect in answer to this, some communication from the House of Bishops containing fraternal advice, Christian encouragement and other means of fellowship dictated by our common faith.

In the meantime I beg leave to reiterate the assurances of my esteem for your personal and official characters and of my earnest prayers for your temporal and eternal happiness.

The Grace of our Lord jesus Christ and the love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all amen.


[signature missing]

Apl 11 AD 1823

Cincinnati, Ohio

Letter to the General Convention of the P.E. Church of U. S. A.



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