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To the Honourable the Speaker, and the Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses,
 
To the Honourable the Speaker, and the Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses,
  The Petition of the Presbytery of Hanover, in behalf of themselves, and all the Presbyterian in Virginia
+
The Petition of the Presbytery of Hanover, in behalf of themselves, and all the Presbyterians in Virginia
 
in particular; and all Protestant Dissenters in general, Humbly sheweth, That upon application made by the revd.
 
in particular; and all Protestant Dissenters in general, Humbly sheweth, That upon application made by the revd.
Mr James Anderson in behalf of the Synod of Philadelphia, The honourable Governour Gooch with the advice of the Council,
+
Mr. James Anderson in behalf of the Synod of Philadelphia, The honourable Governour Gooch with the advice of the Council,
 
did, in the year 1738, or about that time, for the encouragement of all Presbyterians who might incline to settle in the Colony,
 
did, in the year 1738, or about that time, for the encouragement of all Presbyterians who might incline to settle in the Colony,
 
Grant an Instrument of writing, under the seal of the Colony, containing the most ample assurances that they should enjoy
 
Grant an Instrument of writing, under the seal of the Colony, containing the most ample assurances that they should enjoy

Revision as of 10:44, 1 April 2020

To the Honourable the Speaker, and the Gentlemen of the House of Burgesses, The Petition of the Presbytery of Hanover, in behalf of themselves, and all the Presbyterians in Virginia in particular; and all Protestant Dissenters in general, Humbly sheweth, That upon application made by the revd. Mr. James Anderson in behalf of the Synod of Philadelphia, The honourable Governour Gooch with the advice of the Council, did, in the year 1738, or about that time, for the encouragement of all Presbyterians who might incline to settle in the Colony, Grant an Instrument of writing, under the seal of the Colony, containing the most ample assurances that they should enjoy the full and free exercise of their Religion, and all the other priviledges of good subjects. Relying upon this express Stipulation, as well as upon the Justice and catholic Spirit of the whole Legislative body, several thousand families of Presbyterians have removed from the northern Provinces into the frontiers of this Colony; exposed themselves to a cruel and savage enemy, and all the other toils and dangers of settling a new Country, and soon became a Barrier to the former inhabitants who were settled in the more commodious [parts] of the Colony. Ever since that to [] we have [been] considered and treated upon an equal [footing] with our fellow subjects, nor have our ministers or people been restricted in their religious priviledges by any law of the Colony. Your humble Petitioners further shew, that with gratitude they acknowledge the catholic design of our late honourable Assembly to secure by law the religious liberties of all protestant Dissenters in the Colony; accordingly they did in the year 1772 prepare and print a Toleration Bill; but as the Subject was deeply interesting it was generously left open for amendment. But not withstanding, we are fully persuaded of the catholic and generous design of our late representatives; Yet we are deeply sensible that some things in the above named printed Bill will be very grevious and burdensome to us if passed into a law. Therefore we humbly and earnestly pray that the said Bill may not be established without such alterations and amendments as will render it more agreeable to the principles of impartial liberty and sound policy, which we presume were the valuable ends for which it was first intended. Therefore we humbly beg leave, while we are making the payer of our petition in a more paticular way, to lay before this honourable house in the most respectful manner, a few remarks upon the Bill.

 The Preamble is agreeable to what we desire; only we pray that the preamble and every other part of the Bill may

be so expressed as will be most likely to obtain the royal assent.

 We are also willing that all our Clergy-men should be required to take oaths of allegiance, & c. usually

taken by civil officers; [which] declare their [illegible] Holy Scriptures.

 Likewise, as is required in the said Bill, we shall willingly have all our [] and stated places for public

worship registered, if this honourable house shall think proper to grant it. But every minister of the Gospel is under indespensable obligations to follow the Example of our blessed Saviour, who went about doing good, and the Example of his Apostles who not only "taught in the Temple, but in every house where theycame they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ"; From which, and their constant practice of traveling into every quarter of the world, we humbly trust that it will appear to this Assembly, that we cannot consistent with the duties of our office wholly confine our administrations to one place or number of places; and to be limitted by Law would be the more grevious, because in many parts of this Colony even where the majority of the inhabitars are Presbyterian, it is not, and perhaps it may not, in any short time be easy to determine where it would be the most expedient to fix upon a stated place for public worship; and indeed where we have houses for worship already built, generally the bounds of our Congregations are so very extersine, that many of our people, especially women children and Servants are not able to attend by reason of the distance, which makes it our duty as faithful ministers of Christ to double our deligence, and frequently to Lecture and Catechise in the remote corners of our Congregation [illegible] be very grevious to us in many other respects; We only beg leave to add, First the number [illegible] province is now very great and the number of Clergy-men but small, therefore we are obliged frequently to venerate and preach through various parts of the Colony, that our people may have an opportunity to worship God & receive the Sacraments in the way agreeable to their own Consciences. As to our having meetings for public worship in the night , it is not in frequent practice among our Churches; yet sometimes we find it expedient to attend night meetings, that a neighborhood may hear a Sermon or a Lecture, or be catechized, without being much interrupted in their daily labour: And so long as our fellow subjects are permitted to meet together by day or by night, for the purposes of business or diversion, we hope we shall not be restrained from meeting together as opportunity serves us, upon business of all others the most important; especially if it be considered that the Apostles held frequent societies by night, and once St. Paul continued his speech till midnight; accordingly it is well known that in city and collegiate churches evening prayers and lectures have long been esteemed lawful and profitable exercises. As to any bad influences of this practice may have upon Servants or any others, it is sufficient to say that there is nothing in our principles or way of worship that tends to promote a spirit of disobedience or disorder, but much to the contrary; and if any person shall be detected in doing or teaching a thing eximinal in this respect, we presume he is liable to punishment by a law already in being; therefore we pray that no dissenting minister qualified according to law may be subjected to any penalty for preaching or Teaching at any time, or in any place in this Colony.

 We confess it is easy for us to keep open doors in [illegible] service [illegible]

of the weather; Yet we would humbly represent that such a requirement implies a suspicion of our [Loyalty illegible] fix a Stigma upon us to after ages, Such as we presume our honourable representatives will not judge that we have any now incurred; therefore we pray that this clause may also be removed from the Bill.

 And as to baptizing or receiving servants into our Communion, we have always anxiously defined to do it with

permission of their masters; but when a servant appears to be a true penitant and makes profession of his faith in Christ, upon his desire it is our indispensable duty to admit him into our Church, and if he has never been baptized, we are to baptize him according to the command of Christ, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have [commanded] you and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen". And we are so confidently persuaded of the liberal sentiments of this house, that in obeying the lays of Christ, we shall never be reduced to the necessity of disobeying the Laws of our Country.

 And we also, having abundant reason to hope that we shall be indulged in every other thing that may 

appear reasonable, your Petitioners further pray.