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with your own eyes the state of things, and sound the disposition of the people; but I am nevertheless inclined to think, that, in making the tour, you will hardly be encouraged to attempt the change, unless the Society for Propagating the Gospel, or the British government, would fix a sufficient income to be paid you from England. Such a journey may, however, contribute to establish health, as well as pleasingly gratify the curiosity of seeing the progress, which the arts, agriculture, science, and industry are making in a new country. With great respect, I have the honor to be, &c. B. FRANKLIN.
TO GRANVILLE SHARP.
Law of Gavelkind. - Election of Bishops. - Abridged
Passy, 5 July, 1785.
I received the books you were so kind as to send me by Mr. Drown. Please to accept my hearty thanks. Your writings, which always have some public good for their object, I always read with pleasure. I am perfectly of your opinion, with respect to the salutary law of gavelkind, and hope it may in time be established throughout America. In six of the States, already, the lands of intestates are divided equally among the children, if all girls; but there is a double share given to the eldest son, for which I see no more reason, than giving such share to the eldest daughter; and I think there should be no distinction. Since my being last in France, I have seen several of our eldest sons, spending idly their fortunes by residing in Europe and neglecting their own country; these are from
the southern States. The northern young men stay at home, and are industrious, useful citizens; the more equal division of their fathers' fortunes not enabling them to ramble and spend their shares abroad, which is so much the better for their country.
I like your piece on the election of bishops. There is a fact in Holinshed's Chronicles, the latter part relating to Scotland, which shows, if my memory does not deceive me, that the first bishop in that country was elected by the clergy. I mentioned it some time past in a letter to two young men,* who asked my advice about obtaining ordination, which had been denied them by the bishops in England, unless they would take the oath of allegiance to the King; and I said, I imagine, that, unless a bishop is soon sent over with power to consecrate others, so that we may have no future occasion for applying to England for ordination, we may think it right, after reading your piece, to elect also.
The Liturgy you mention was an abridgment of that made by a noble Lord of my acquaintance, who requested me to assist him by taking the rest of the book, viz. the Catechism and the reading and singing Psalms. These I abridged by retaining of the Catechism only the two questions, What is your duty to God? What is your duty to your neighbour? with answers. The Psalms were much contracted by leaving out the repetitions (of which I found more than I could have imagined), and the imprecations, which appeared not to suit well the Christian doctrine of forgiveness of injuries, and doing good to enemies. The book was printed for Wilkie, in St. Paul's Church Yard, but never much noticed. Some were given away, very few sold, and I suppose the bulk became waste paper.
*See the Letter to Messrs. Weems and Gant, July 18th, 1784.
In the prayers so much was retrenched, that approbation could hardly be expected; but I think, with you, a moderate abridgment might not only be useful, but generally acceptable.*
I am now on the point of departing for America where I shall be glad occasionally to hear from you, and of your welfare; being with sincere and great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant, B. FRANKLIN.
On this subject Mr. Sharp had written as follows. "I have been informed, that, several years ago, you revised the Liturgy of the Church of England, with a view, by some few alterations, to promote the more general use of it; but I have never yet been able to see a copy of the form you proposed. Our present public service is certainly, upon the whole, much too long, as it is commonly used, so that a prudent revision of it, by the common consent of the members of the Episcopal Church in America, might be very advantageous; though, for my own part, I conceive, that the addition of one single rubric from the Gospel would be amply sufficient to direct the advisers to the only corrections that seem to be necessary at present. I mean a general rule, illustratedby proper examples, references, and marks, to warn officiating ministers how they may avoid all useless repetitions, and tautology in reading the service." - London, June 17th, 1785.
The title of the volume, alluded to in the text, is as follows. 66 Abridgement of the Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, according to the Use of the Church of England; together with the Psalter, or Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches. London; printed in the Year MDCCLXXIII." The "noble Lord," who is mentioned as having aided in preparing this volume, was Lord Le Despencer. In the summer of 1773, Dr. Franklin passed some time with Lord Le Despencer, at his residence in the country, and it was probably during this visit that the work was completed. The Preface is wholly from the pen of Dr. Franklin, and is evidently a studied composition. It is interesting and curious, as exhibiting his views, more fully than they are anywhere else to be found, on the subject of public worship, and the best forms to be adopted in conducting it. The Preface is here printed from a copy of the volume, that formerly belonged to Bishop White, and was presented to him by Dr. Franklin's daughter. A large part of it is extant in Dr. Franklin's handwriting.
"The editor of the following abridgment of the Liturgy of the Church of England thinks it but decent and respectful to all, more particularly
TO DAVID HARTLEY.
Passy, 5 July, 1785.
I cannot quit the coasts of Europe without taking leave of my ever dear friend Mr. Hartley. We were long fellow laborers in the best of all works, the work of peace. I leave you still in the field, but, having finished my day's task, I am going home to go to bed. Wish me a good night's rest, as I do you a pleasant evening. Adieu! and believe me ever yours affectionately,
B. FRANKLIN, in his eightieth year.
to the reverend body of clergy, who adorn the Protestant religion by their good works, preaching, and example, that he should humbly offer some reasons for such an undertaking. He addresses himself to the serious and discerning. He professes himself to be a Protestant of the Church of England, and holds in the highest veneration the doctrines of Jesus Christ. He is a sincere lover of social worship, deeply sensible of its usefulness to society; and he aims at doing some service to religion, by proposing such abbreviations and omissions in the forms of our Liturgy (retaining every thing he thinks essential) as might, if adopted, procure a more general attendance. For, besides the differing sentiments of many pious and well-disposed persons in some speculative points, who in general have a good opinion of our Church, it has often been observed and complained of, that the Morning and Evening Service, as practised in England and elsewhere, are so long, and filled with so many repetitions, that the continued attention suitable to so serious a duty becomes impracticable, the mind wanders, and the fervency of devotion is slackened. Also the propriety of saying the same prayer more than once in the same service is doubted, as the service is thereby lengthened without apparent necessity; our Lord having given us a short prayer as an example, and censured the heathen for thinking to be heard because of much speaking.
"Moreover, many pious and devout persons, whose age or infirmities will not suffer them to remain for hours in a cold church, especially in the winter season, are obliged to forego the comfort and editication they would receive by their attendance on divine service. These, by shortening the time, would be relieved; and the younger sort, who have had some principles of religion instilled into them, and who have been educated in a belief of the necessity of adoring their Maker, would probably more frequently, as well as cheerfully, attend divine service, if they were not detained so long at any one time. Also many well disposed tradesmen, shopkeepers, artificers, and others, whose habitations
TO MATHON DE LA COUR.
Passy, 9 July, 1785.
I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to write in the name of the Academy of the city of Lyons. I accept with gratitude the title, with
are not remote from churches, could, and would, more frequently at least, find time to attend divine service on other than Sundays, if the prayers were reduced into a much narrower compass.
"Formerly there were three services performed at different times of the day, which three services are now usually joined in one. This may suit the conveniency of the person who officiates, but is too often inconvenient and tiresome to the congregation. If this abridgment, therefore, should ever meet with acceptance, the well disposed clergy, who are laudably desirous to encourage the frequency of divine service, may promote so great and good a purpose, by repeating it three times on a Sunday, without so much fatigue to themselves as at present. Suppose, at nine o'clock, at eleven, and at one in the evening; and by preaching no more sermons than usual, of a moderate length; and thereby accommodate a greater number of people with convenient hours.
"These were general reasons for wishing and proposing an abridgment. In attempting it we do not presume to dictate even to a single Christian. We are sensible there is a proper authority in the rulers of the Church for ordering such matters; and whenever the time shall come when it may be thought not unseasonable to revise our Liturgy, there is no doubt but every suitable improvement will be made, under the care and direction of so much learning, wisdom, and piety, in one body of men collected. Such a work as this must then be much better executed. In the mean time, this humble performance may serve to show the practicability of shortening the service near one half, without the omission of what is essentially necessary; and we hope, moreover, that the book may be occasionally of some use to families, or private assemblies of Christians.
"To give now some account of particulars. We have presumed upon this plan of abridgment to omit the First Lesson, which is taken from the Old Testament, and retain only the Second from the New Testament; which, we apprehend, is more suitable to teach the so-much-tobe-revered doctrine of Christ, and of more immediate importance to Christians; although the Old Testament is allowed by all to be an accurate and concise history, and, as such, may more properly be read at home. "We do not conceive it necessary for Christians to make use of more than one Creed. Therefore in this abridgment are omitted the VOL. X.