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The House o( Bishops sits with closed doors, conclusions (inly being announced, but it is understood that among the prominent speakers are the Rt. Rev. Drs. Henry C. Potter, Hugh Miller Thompson, F. D. Huntington, A. C. Garrett, T. U. Dudley, G. F. Seymour, A. M. Randolph, Ethelbert Talbot, Leighton Coleman, Davis Sessums, T. F. Gailor, William Lawrence, A. C. A. Hall, Henry Y. Satterlee, D. S. Tuttle, and H. B. Whipple. The missionary bishops, whose addresses will be made in public sessions of the combined houses, are the Rt. Rev. Drs. Hare, Brewer, Johnston, Leonard, Kendrick, Gray, Wells, Graves, Brooke, Rowe, Morrison, Horner, Edsall, Funsten, Ferguson, McKim, Partridge, Holly, and Kinsolving, the two last from the independent dioceses of Haiti and Brazil.
It will prove of interest to note the change of view which thinking men in both Houses have undergone in three years concerning the new canons on marriage and divorce, which is the prominent question of public interest to come before the Convention. It will be remembered by our readers that in 1898 both Houses failed to take action on these canons, which recorded the advanced position in the battle for the preservation of home life and the social order which the Episcopal Church is seeking to take. She stands now easily in the lead in this matter, as her clergy are forbidden to perforin the marriage ceremony for any divorced person other than the innocent party in a suit for adultery. The proposed canon declares that no marriage of a divorced person is to be solemnized, save in the case of a marriage annulled by decree of a competent court for a cause existing before marriage. If this section of the new canon passes, it will be with the understanding that many deputies believe that its action may and must do injustice in certain cases, yet that the general good of society and of the Church requires this sacrifice of the isolated sufferer. Another section of the canon states the Levitical code of consanguinity, and points out that marriage within its limits is not permissible. The most drastic section of the new canon is the third, which forbids the parish minister to give the sacraments of the Church to any person married after divorce, unless
he be the innocent party in a suit for adultery. The clergyman is made judge in this matter; but the severity of this disciplinary canon is relieved by the fact that appeal to the bishop, who may deliver final judgment, is allowed. These canons are reported by a special committee of the House of Deputies; but a joint committee appointed by the two Houses to consider the same matter substitutes the table of affinities in use in the Church of England for the words of the Levitical code. This form will bring up the deceased wife's sister tradition, and although approved by such able social workers as Bishops Doane and Hall, the provision forbidding a man to marry his sister-in-law will scarcely gain the general approval of American Churchmen. There are twentyone canons on other subjects which require action.
The Provincial system, whose consideration had been somewhat complicated by irrelevant talk of primates, archbishops, and metropolitans, is, as its system is proposed by the report of the committee, a simple and potentially effective system for organizing adjacent dioceses. In a country where there is no acknowledged metropolis and no authority to be conferred, English terms need scarcely be dreaded. It is scarcely to be conceived that any American province will ever endow its bishop with such metropolitical authority as to justify such terms as archbishop and the like. It is not in the American blood. A party of Western bishops has but recently denied to the Presiding Bishop even the authority to investigate the ritual insertions in a consecration service, made without authorization by the several diocesan bishops sent by his own appointment to conduct the service. Provinces would be at their least and best simply groups of neighboring dioceses, with councils which might relieve the General Convention of much local legislation, and could not fail to work in the interest of the allied charities and benevolent institutions of the several dioceses represented. It is proposed also that they might contain the constituent elements of the much-needed judicial system, and begin their work in the line of the foundation of Courts of Appeal. A body of canons relating to Courts of Appeal has been prepared by two tlis
tinguished jurists, the Hon. Charles Andrews and the Hon. Robert Earl. It suggests the division of the dioceses and missionary districts of the Church in the United States into five judicial departments. This foundation of a competent judicial system for the Episcopal Church will undoubtedly receive careful consideration.
A matter of more general interest, however, is to be brought i-p in the report of a committee appointed by both bishops and delegates on marginal readings. The number of these suggested alternative readings of Holy Scripture is so great that the report, intended merely to alleviate certain glaring errors in the King James or Standard Bible of the Church, amounts, in fact, to a new version of the Scriptures. It is proposed to print these emendations, of which about seven thousand are suggested, as interlinear readings incorporated into the text. Some of the readings are taken from the margins of the version of 1611, some from the text of the Revised Version, and some from its margins; other readings are those preferred by the American Revisers of 1881, and for many suggestive changes this present joint committee of the two Houses assumes responsibility. While it is certain that some alternative readings are desired by all the clergy, who are denied the relief afforded by the Revised Version to other religious bodies, it is improbable that the Convention will feel itself competent to undertake the work of a new translation of the Bible, a service usually performed after years of labor by experts in Biblical science. It will be curious to note the result of the discussion of this matter in the present Convention. Time will scarcely allow the shaking of the sacred Scriptural fringes, yet something must be done, and the discussions may lead to permission to use the Revised Version, or to the conviction that the Episcopal Church needs an entire and separate revision of the Authorized English Version for its special use.
The agitators for a change of name of the Church are mustering in force, and will again seek, with stress and fervor, the elimination of the objectionable adjectives Protestant and Episcopal from the legal title of the Church, which has for over a hundred years borne up nobly
and with little protest under their weight. When the agitation for change began fifteen years since, the term Protestant bore the brunt of disfavor as negative, uncatholic, and tending to perpetuate theological discords of past centuries; in the present symposiums "Episcopal " shares the attacks of the agitators. It is, in the words of one writer, on " a level with 'funeral obsequies,'" while another advances the claim that "this Church is not episcopal in her mode of government," authoritative legislation being vested in the General Convention, no bishop having government in the Church, save under the limitations and regulations of that body. The old words are approved by many, and will possibly weather this latest storm of disapproval. Brilliant debaters will rally to their support, and equally good oratory will expend its forces in advocating one or the other of the twenty-one suggested titles, of which "The Church in the United States of America " seems to find most favor.
The first subject to be taken up by the House of Deputies we mention last, because it comes up for final action, and has been already discussed. It is a series of amendments to the Constitution of the Church, eleven in number, which have been sent down to the several dioceses for approval, and must now receive final action. It is probable that the provision making the senior bishop in order of consecration Presiding Bishop will be seriously reconsidered in the House of Bishops, and the House of Deputies may seek an amendment to the proposed article on the Book of Common Prayer, in order that the introduction of unauthorized ceremonies into the worship of the Church may be made impossible in the future.
The Church people of California and the other dioceses of the coast are looking hopefully for the stimulus and encouragement which must come from the intelligent help and sympathy of so large a number of their brethren in council assembled, while delegates from the East are prepared for an enlarged vision, a keener appreciation of opportunity, to be gained from insight into the possibilities of the vast dioceses of the West, and an outlook into an inspiring future of service across the farthest ocean.