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An Episcopalian Mistake
by [?]

Sometime ago a correspondent sent the ICONOCLAST a newspaper report of the “jubilee sermon” of a Rev. Mr. Reed, rector of a Protestant Episcopal church, and inquired if the statements contained therein were true. The clipping has been mislaid, and I do not now remember where Rector Reed is located; but I do know that his statements, so far as I have investigated them, are arrant falsehoods. He affirms that the American Republic is the handiwork of Episcopalian patriots; that more than two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and an equal proportion of our generals, statesmen and presidents have been members of that denomination. As the sources of information regarding the religious views of most prominent Americans are shamefully meagre, I was inclined to regard Rector Reed’s sermon as a historical document of inestimable value. Being prone, however, to act upon the advice of St. Paul and “prove all things,” I began a cursory investigation. Rector Reed neglected to give the source of his information, and to save me I could find but seven presidents, including Washington, who were Episcopalians, and now Col. Patrick Ford, of the Irish World calls my attention to Jared Spark’s statement that the Father of his country “withdrew himself from the communion service.” Jefferson, whom Rector Reed claims as an Episcopalian, was, as every school-boy knows, an avowed free-thinker. The Adamses were Unitarians, Garfield was a Campbellite, Jackson, Buchanan, Cleveland and Ben Harrison were Presbyterians, Lincoln was non-sectrian, Grant and Hayes were Methodists, as is McKinley, while the religion of several others is unknown. Rector Reed’s other statements stand examination as poorly as that relating to the presidents. It is pretty safe to judge a church by its clergy, and the clergy of the Anglo-American or Episcopal church were tory almost to a man. As I have made this statement before, and it has been flatly denied in the Chicago press by an Episcopalian bishop, it may be well to quote a few paragraphs from an article by Rev. Chas. Inglis, entitled “State of the Anglo-American Church in 1776.” Inglish was at the time Rector of Trinity Church, New York, and afterwards bishop of Nova Scotia. His article may be found in Vol. 3, O’Callaghan’s “Documentary History of the State of New York.” Inglis says under date of October 31st, 1776:

Reverend Sir: The confusions which have prevailed in North America for some time past must have necessarily interrupted the correspondence of the missionaries with the society. A short authentic account of them, and of the Church of England in general, in this and the adjacent colonies, may be acceptable to the society at this most critical period. The success of his majesty’s arms in reducing the city, and driving out the rebels, the 15th of last month, affords me an opportunity of doing this, as packets are now again established between this port and England. I have the pleasure to assure you that all the society’s missionaries, without excepting one, in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and, so far as I can learn, in the other New England colonies, have proved themselves faithful, loyal subjects in these trying times; and have to the uttermost of their power opposed the spirit of disaffection and rebellion which has involved this continent in the greatest calamities. I must add that all the other clergy of our church in the above colonies, though not in the society’s service, have observed the same line of conduct; and although their joint endeavors could not wholly prevent the rebellion, yet they checked it considerably for some time, and prevented many thousands from plunging into it who otherwise would certainly have done so. . . . The present rebellion is certainly one of the most causeless, unprovoked and unnatural that ever disgraced any country; a rebellion marked with peculiarly aggravated circumstances of guilt and ingratitude. . . . About the middle of April, Mr. Washington–commander-in-chief of the rebel forces, came to town with a large reinforcement. Animated by his presences, and I suppose, encouraged by him, the rebel committees very much harassed the loyal inhabitants here on Long Island. Soon after Washington’s arrival he attended our church; but on the Sunday morning, before divine services began, one of the rebel generals called at the rector’s house (supposing the latter was in town) and, not finding him, left word that he came to inform the rector that “General Washington would be at church, and would be glad if the violent prayers for the king and royal family were omitted.” This message was brought to me, and, as you may suppose, I paid no regard to it. Things being thus situated, I shut up the churches. Even this was attended with great hazard; for it was declaring, in the strongest manner, our disapprobation of independency, and that under the eye of Washington and his army. I have not a doubt but, with the blessing of Providence, his majesty’s arms will be successful and finally crush this unnatural rebellion.”

The ICONOCLAST is indebted to Col. Patrick Ford for a transcript of Rev. Inglis’ ebulition. It fully substantiates the statement made by this journal some time ago that the Episcopal churches were, during the revolution, “nests of tories and traitors.”