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which this learned Society is kind enough to honor me. I have long been acquainted with its useful labors. I should be most happy to live near it, and reap the benefit of its instruction. But, being on the eve of my departure for America, I must add this also to the
Nicene Creed, and that of St. Athanasius. Of the Apostles' Creed we have retained the parts that are most intelligible and most essential. And as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are there confessedly and avowedly a part of the belief, it does not appear necessary after so solemn a confession, to repeat again, in the Litany, the Son and Holy Ghost, as that part of the service is otherwise very prolix.
"The Psalms, being a collection of Odes, written by different persons, it hath happened that many of them are on the same subject, and repeat the same sentiments; such as those that complain of enemies and persecutors, call upon God for protection, express a confidence therein, and thank him for it when afforded. A very great part of the book consists of repetitions of this kind, which may therefore well bear abridgment. Other parts are merely historical, repeating the mention of facts more fully narrated in the preceding books, and which, relating to the ancestors of the Jews, were more interesting to them than to us. Other parts are local, and allude to places of which we have no knowledge, and therefore do not affect us. Others are personal, relating to the particular circumstances of David or Solomon, as kings; and can therefore seldom be rehearsed with any propriety by private Christians. Others imprecate, in the most bitter terms, the vengeance of God on our adversaries, contrary to the spirit of Christianity, which commands us to love our enemies, and to pray for those that hate us, and despitefully use us. For these reasons it is to be wished, that the same liberty were, by the governors of our Church, allowed to the minister with regard to the reading Psalms, as is taken by the clerk, with regard to those that are to be sung, in directing the parts that he may judge most suitable to be read at the time, from the present circumstances of the congregation, or the tenor of his sermon, by saying, 'Let us read' such and such parts of the Psalms named. Until this is done, our abridgment, it is hoped, will be found to contain what may be most generally proper to be joined in by an assembly of Christian people. The Psalms are still apportioned to the days of the month, as heretofore, though the several parts for each day are generally a full third shorter. "We humbly suppose the same service contained in this abridgment might properly serve for all the Saints' Days, Fasts, and Feasts, reading only the Epistle and Gospel appropriated to each day of the month.
"The Communion is greatly abridged, on account of its great length; nevertheless, it is hoped and believed, that all those parts are retained which are material and necessary.
"Infant Baptism in Churches being performed during divine service,
many sources of regret, which the kindness of the French calls forth in my heart. I shall never forget what I owe to them, still less what I owe to your Academy, to the members of which I beg you to present my respectful acknowledgments.
would greatly add to the length of that service, if it were not abridged. We have ventured, therefore, to leave out the less material parts.
"The Catechism, as a compendium of systematic theology, which learned divines have written folio volumes to explain, and which, therefore, it may be presumed, they thought scarce intelligible without such expositions, is, perhaps, taken altogether, not so well adapted to the capacities of children as might be wished. Only those plain answers, therefore, which express our duty towards God, and our duty towards our neighbour, are retained here. The rest is recommended to their reading and serious consideration, when more years shall have ripened their understanding.
"The Confirmation is here shortened.
"The Commination, and all cursing of mankind, is, we think, best omitted in this abridgment.
"The form of solemnization of Matrimony is often abbreviated by the officiating minister, at his discretion. We have selected what appear to us the material parts, and which, we humbly hope, will be deemed sufficient.
"The long prayers in the service for the Visitation of the Sick seem not so proper, when the afflicted person is very weak and in distress. "The Order for the Burial of the Dead is very solemn and moving; nevertheless, to preserve the health and lives of the living, it appeared to us that this service ought particularly to be shortened. For numbers standing in the open air with their hats off, often in tempestuous weather, during the celebration, its great length is not only inconvenient, but may be dangerous to the attendants. We hope, therefore, that our abridgment of it will be approved by the rational and prudent.
"The Thanksgiving of women after childbirth being, when read, part of the service of the day, we have also, in some measure, abridged that. "Having thus stated very briefly our motives and reasons, and our manner of proceeding in the prosecution of this work, we hope to be believed, when we declare the rectitude of our intentions. We mean not to lessen or prevent the practice of religion, but to honor and promote it. We acknowledge the excellency of our present Liturgy, and, though we have shortened it, we have not presumed to alter a word in the remaining text; not even to substitute who for which in the Lord's Prayer, and elsewhere, although it would be more correct. We respect the characters of bishops and other dignitaries of our Church, and, with regard to the inferior clergy, we wish that they were more equally
I thank you, Sir, for your Dissertation on the Laws of Lycurgus, and your Testament de fortuné Ricard.* With the latter work I was already acquainted. I had read it with pleasure, and conceived a high opinion of its author. I have just read your Dissertation. If my own approbation could add any thing to that of the celebrated Academy, which has awarded to you the prize, I should tell you, that I have been highly gratified, and that I only regret I can give you no other prize, than the sentiments of regard and respect, with which I am, Sir, &c. B. FRANKLIN.†
FROM M. DE CASTRIES TO B. FRANKLIN.
Versailles, 10 July, 1785.
I was not apprized, until within a few hours, of the arrangements which you have made for your departure. Had I been informed of it sooner, I should have proposed to the King to order a frigate to convey you to your own country, in a manner suitable to the known importance of the services you have been engaged in, to the esteem you have acquired in
provided for, than by that odious and vexatious, as well as unjust method, of gathering tythes in kind, which creates animosities and litigations, to the interruption of the good harmony and respect, which might otherwise subsist between the rectors and their parishioners.
"And thus, conscious of upright meaning, we submit this abridgment to the serious consideration of the prudent and dispassionate, and not to enthusiasts and bigots; being convinced in our own breasts, that this shortened method, or one of the same kind better executed, would further religion, increase unanimity, and occasion a more frequent attendance on the worship of God."
A translation of this curious piece was published by Dr. Price in London, as an Appendix to his Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution.
This letter is translated from a French copy.
France, and the particular esteem which his Majesty entertains for you.
I pray you, Sir, to accept my regrets, and the renewed assurance of the most entire consideration, with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
*Extract from a letter to his sister in America.
"St. Germain, twelve miles from Paris, 13th July, 1785. I left Passy yesterday afternoon, and am here on my way to Havre de Grace, a seaport, in order to embark for America. I make use of one of the King's litters, carried by mules, which walk steadily and easily, so that I bear the motion very well. I am to be taken on board a Philadelphia ship on the coast of England, (Captain Truxtun,) the beginning of next month. Not having written to you since the letter, which contained a bill on Mr. Vernon, and as I may not have another opportunity before my arrival in Philadelphia (if it pleases God I do arrive), I write these particulars to go by way of England, that you may be less uneasy about me. I did my last public act in this country just before I set out, which was signing a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia. I have continued to work till late in the day; it is time I should go home and go to bed."