Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History

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Religion

IV. KING’S COLLEGE

Evils of a Sectarian College Supported by Public Funds.

" . . .I shall now proceed to offer a few arguments, which I submit to the Consideration of my Countrymen, to evince the necessity and importance of constituting our College upon a Basis the most catholic, generous and free.

It is in the first place observable, that unless its Constitution and Government, be such as will admit Persons of all protestant Denominations, upon a perfect Parity as to Privileges, it will itself be greatly prejudiced, and prove a Nursery of Animosity, Dissension and Disorder. . . . Should our College, therefore, unhappily thro’ our own bad Policy, fall into the Hands of any one religious Sect in the Province: Should that Sect, which is more than probable, establish its religion in the College, show favour to its votaries, and cast Contempt upon others; ’tis easy to foresee, that Christians of all Denominations amongst us, instead of encouraging its prosperity, will, from the same Principles, rather conspire to oppose and oppress it. Besides English and Dutch Presbyierians, which perhaps exceed all our other religious Professions put together; we have Episcopalians, Anabaptists, Lutherans, Quakers, and a growing Church of Moravians, all equally zealous for their discriminating Tenents: Whichsoever of these has the sole Government of the College, will kindle the jealousy of the rest, not only against the persuasion so preferred, but the College itself. . . .

In such a state of things, we must not expect the Children of any, but of that sect which prevails in the Academy, will ever be sent to it: For should they, the established Tenets must either be implicitly received, or a perpetual religious War necessarily maintained.

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Another Argument against so pernicious a Scheme is, that it will be dangerous to Society. The extensive Influence of such a Seminary, I have already shown in my last Paper. And have we not reason to fear the worst Effects of it, where none but the Principles of one Persuasion are taught, and all others depressed and discountenanced? Where, instead of Reason and Argument, of which the Minds of the Youth are not capable, they are early imbued with the Doctrines of a Party, inforced by the Authority of a Professor’s Chair, and the combining aids of the President and all the other Officers of the College? That religious Worship should be constantly maintained there, I am so far from opposing, that I strongly recommend it, and do not believe any such Kind of Society, can be kept under a regular and due Discipline without it. But instructing the youth in any particular Systems of Divinity, or recommending and establishing any single Method of Worship or Church Government, I am convinced would be both useless and hurtful. Useless, because not one in a Hundred of the Pupils is capable of making a just Examination, and reasonable Choice. Hurtful, because receiving Impressions blindly on Authority, will corrupt their Understanding, and fetter them with Prejudices which may everlastingly prevent a Judicious Freedom of Thought, and infect them all their Lives, with a contracted turn of Mind.

A Party-College, in less than half a Century, will put a new face upon the Religion, and in Consequence thereof, affect the Politics of the Country. Let us suppose what may, if the College should be entirely managed by one Sect, probably be supposed. Would not all possible Care be bestowed in tincturing the Minds of the Students with the Doctrines and Sentiments of that Sect? Would not the students of the College, after the Course of their Education, exclusive of any others, fill all the Offices of the Government? Is it not highly reasonable to think, that in the Execution of those Offices, the Spirit of the College would have a most prevailing Influence, especially as that Party would perpetually receive new Strength, become more fashionable and numerous? Can it be imagined that all other Christians wou d continue peaceable under, and unenvious of, the Power of that Church which was rising to so exalted a Pre-eminence above them? Would they not on the Contrary, like all other Parties, reflect upon, reluct at, andvilify such an odious Ascendency? Would not the Church which had that Ascendency be thereby irritated to repeated Acts of Domination, and stretch their ecclesiastical Rule to unwarrantable and unreasonable Lengths? Whatever others may in their Lethargy and Supineness think of the Project of a Party-College, I am convinced, that under the Management of any Particular Persuasion, it will necessarily prove destructive to the civil and religious Rights of the People: And should any future House of Representatives become generally infected with the Maxims of the College, nothing less can be expected than an Establishment of one Denomination above all others, who may, perhaps, at the good pleasure of their Superiors, be most graciously favoured with a bare Liberty of Conscience, while they faithfully continue their annual Contributions, their Tythes and their Peter-Pence.

A Third Argument against suffering the College to fall into the hands of a Party, may be deduced from the Design of its Erection, and Support by the Public.

The Legislature to whom it owes its Origin, and under whose Care the Affair has hitherto been conducted, could never have intended it as an Engine to be exercised for the Purpose of a Party. Such an Insinuation, would be false and scandalous. It would therefore be the Height of Indolence in any to pervert it to such mean, partial and little Designs. No, it was set on Foot, and I hope will be constituted for general Use, for the public Benefit, for the Education of all who can afford such Education: And to suppose it intended for any other less public-spirited Uses, is ungratefully to reflect upon all who have hitherto, had any Agency in an Undertaking so glorious to the Province, so necessary, so important and beneficial.

At present, it is but in Embrio, yet the Money hitherto collected is public Money; and till it is able to support itself, the Aids given to it will be public Aids. When the Community is taxed, it ought to be for the Defence, or Emolument of the Whole: Can it, therefore, be supposed, that all shall contribute for the Uses, the ignominious Uses   of a few? Nay, what is worse to that which will be prejudicial, to a vast Majority! Shall the whole Province be made to support what will raise and spread desperate Feuds, Discontent and ill-Blood thro’ the greatest Part of the Province? Shall the Government of the College be delivered out of the Hands of the Public to a Party! They who wish it, are Enemies to their Country: They who ask it, have, besides this Anti-Patriotism, a Degree of Impudence, Arrogance and Assurance unparalleled. And all such as are active in so iniquitous a Scheme, deserve to be stigmatized with Marks of everlasting Ignominy and Disgrace. Let it, therefore, ever remain where it is, I mean under the Power of the Legislature: The Influence, whether good or bad, we shall all of us feel, and are, therefore, all interested in it. It is, for that Reason, highly fit, that the People should always share in the Power to inlarge or restrain it: That Power they will have by their Representatives in Assembly; and no man who is a friend to Liberty, his Country and Religion, will ever rejoice to see it wrested from them.

It is further to be remarked, that a public Academy is, or ought to be a mere civil Institution, and cannot with any tolerable Propriety be monopolized by any religious Sect. The Design of such Seminaries, hath been sufficiently shown in my last Paper, to be entirely political, and calculated for the Benefit of Society, as a Society, without any Intention to teach Religion, which is the Province of the Pulpit: Tho’ it must, at the same time, be confessed, that a judicious Choice of our Principles, chiefly depends on a free Education.

Again, the Instruction of our Youth, is not the only Advantage we ought to propose by our College. If it be properly regulated and conducted, we may expect a considerable Number of Students from the neighboring Colonies, which must, necessarily, prove a great Accession to our Wealth and Emolument. For such is our Capacity of endowing an Academy; that if it be founded on the Plan of a general Toleration, it must, naturally, eclipse any other on the Continent, and draw many Pupils from those Provinces, the Constitution of whose Colleges is partial and contracted: From New England, where the Presbyterians are the prevailing Party, we shall, undoubtedly, be furnished with great Numbers, who, averse to the Sect in vogue among them, will, unquestionably prefer the free Constitution, for which I argue, to that of their Colleges in which they cannot enjoy an equal Latitude, not to mention that such an Increase by foreign Students, will vastly augment the Grandeur of our Academy.

Add to all this, that in a new Country as ours, it is inconsistent with good Policy, to give any religious Profession the Ascendancy over others. The rising Prosperity of Pennsylvania, is the Admiration of the Continent; and tho’ disagreeing from them, I should always, for political Reasons, exclude Papists from the common and equal Benefits of Society; Yet, I leave it to the Reflection of my judicious Readers, whether the impartial Aspect of their Laws upon all Professions, has not, in a great Degree, conduced to their vast Importation of religious Refugees, to their Strength and their Riches: And whether a like Liberty among us, to all Protestants whatsoever, without any Marks of distinction, would not be more commendable, advantageous, and politic."

Text—Hastings: Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York, Vol. V, pp. 3339–41.

The Royal Charter of October 31, 1754

"GEORGE THE SECOND, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc. To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting:

Moneys raised for Founding a College

Whereas, by several acts of the Governour, Council, and General assembly of our Province of New York, divers sums of money have been raised by Public Lotteries, and appropriated for the founding, erecting, and establishing a College in our said Government, for the Education and Instruction of Youth in the Liberal Arts and Sciences:

Land Given by Trinity Church

And Whereas, the Rector and inhabitants of the City of New York, in Communion of the Church of England, as by Law Established, for the encouraging and promoting of the same good design, have sett apart a parcell of ground for that purpose, of upwards of Three Thousand Pounds value, belonging to the said Corporation, on the west side of the broadway, in the west ward of our City of New York, fronting easterly to Church street, . . . And have declared that they are ready and desirous to Convey the said Land in Fee, to and for the use of a College, intended and proposed to be Erected and Established in our said Province, upon the terms in their said declaration mentioned.

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Religion of the President, Corporate Name of the Institution; . . .

And that in Consideration of such Grant, to be made by the Rector and Inhabitants of the City of New York, in Communion of the Church of England, as by Law Established, the President of the said College, for the time being, shall forever hereafter be a member of, and in Communion with the Church of England, as by Law established;

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Oaths of Office

And we do by these presents will, ordain, and direct, that the said Governors of the said College (Except always the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being, and our first Lord Commissioner for Trade and Plantations) do, at their first meeting, after the receipt of these our Letters patents, and before they proceed to any business of and concerning the said College, take the oaths appointed to be taken by an act passed in the first year of our Late Royal Father’s Reign, Entituled, (an Act for the further security of his Majesty’s Person and Government, and the Succession of the Crown, in the Heirs of the Late Princess Sophia, being protestants, and for extinguishing the Hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales, and his open and Secret abettors), and make and subscribe the declaration mentioned in An Act of Parliament made in the twenty fifth year of the Reign of King Charles the second, Entituled, (an act for preventing Dangers which may happen from popish Recusants;) as also, an oath, faithfully to execute the trust Reposed in them, as members of the said Corporation, which Oaths we authorize and Impower the Justices of our Supreme Court of Judicature, for our said Province of New York for the time being, any or either of them to administer; and that when, and as often as any person or persons, either by his office or place in our said Government, or Elsewhere, (Except always the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being, and our first Lord Commissioner for Trade and Plantations for the time being,) or by Choice of the said Governors of the said College, shall become, or be Chosen, a Member or members of the said Corporation, they shall, before they are admitted, or enter into the said office or Trust, take the said Oaths, and Subscribe the said Declaration to be administered to them in the manner above directed.

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Appointment of Professors and Tutors

. . . Wee do for us, our heirs, and Successors, Give and Grant unto the said Governors of the said College of the Province of New York, . . . full power and authority to Elect, nominate, and appoint any person to be president of the said College in a Vacancy of the said Presidentship for and during his Good Behaviour; provided, always, such President Elect or to be elected by them, be a member of, and in Communion with the Church of England, as by Law Established;

And, also, to elect one or more Fellow or Fellows, Professor or Professors, Tutor or Tutors, to assist the President of the said College in the Education and Government of the Students belonging to the said College, which Fellow or Fellows, Professor or Professors, Tutor or Tutors, and every of them, shall hold and Enjoy their said office or place, either at the will and pleasure of the Governors of the said Corporation or during his or their Good Behaviour, according as shall be agreed upon Between such Fellow, or Fellows, Professor or Professors, Tutor or Tutors, and the said Governors of the said College, Provided, always, such Fellow or Fellows, Professor or Professors, Tutor or Tutors, before they or either of them enter into or Take upon themselves such office, do take the Oaths and subscribe the declaration herein before directed, to be taken and subscribed by the Governors of the said College before they enter upon their said Respective offices, . . .

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Text-books, Rules, Discipline

And we do further, of our Especial Grace, Certain Knowledge, and meer motion, Give and Grant unto the said Governors of the said College, that they and their Successors, or the major part of any fifteen or more of them Convened and met Together in manner aforesaid, shall and may direct and appoint what Books shall be publickly read and taught in the said College, by the President, Fellows, Professors, and Tutors:

And shall and may, under their Common seal, make and set down and they are hereby fully Impowered, from time to time, to make and set down in writing, such Laws, ordinances, and orders, for the Better Government of the said College, and Students, and Ministers thereof, as they shall think best for the General Good of the same, so that they are not Repugnant to the Laws and statutes of that part of our Kingdom of Great Britain called England, or of our said Province of New York, and do not extend to exclude any person of any Religious Denomination whatever from Equal Liberty and advantage of Education, or from any the Degrees, Liberties, Privileges, Benefits, or Immunities of the said College, on account of his particular Tenets in matters of Religion; And such laws, Ordinances, and orders, which shall be so made as aforesaid, we do by these Presents, for us, our heirs, and Successors, Ratify, Confirm, and allow, as Good and Effectual to bind and oblige all and every the Students and Officers and Ministers of the said College;

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Public Worship. Visitation by Governors

And we do further will, ordain, and direct, that there shall be forever hereafter Publick morning and evening service Constantly performed in the said College, morning and evening forever, by the President, Fellows, Professors, or Tutors, of the said College, or one of them, according to the Liturgy of the Church of England as by Law Established, or such a Collection of prayers out of the said Liturgy, with a Collect peculiar for the said College, as shall be approved of from time to time by the Governors of the said College, or the major part of any fifteen or more of them Convened as aforesaid:

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Conferring of Degrees

And we do further, of our Especial Grace, Certain Knowledge, and meer motion, will, Give, and Grant, unto the said Governors of the said College, that for the Encouragement of the Students of the said College to Diligence and Industry in their Studies, that they and their Successors, and the major part of any fifteen or more of them Convened and mett together as aforesaid, do, by the President of the said College, or any other person or persons by them authorized and appointed, Give and Grant any such degree and degrees to any the students of the said College, or any other person or persons by them thought worthy thereof, as are usually Granted by any or either of our universities or Colleges in that part of our Kingdom of Great Britain called England, and that the President, or such other persons to be appointed for that purpose as aforesaid, do sign and seal Diplomas or Certificates of such Degree or Degrees, to be kept by the Graduates as a Testimonial thereof.

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Text—Hastings: Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York, Vol. V, pp. 3506–13.

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Chicago: "The Royal Charter of October 31, 1754," Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History 244–249. Original Sources, accessed September 19, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNQ9I18ZAJ4ES27.

MLA: . "The Royal Charter of October 31, 1754." Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp. 244–249. Original Sources. 19 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNQ9I18ZAJ4ES27.

Harvard: , 'The Royal Charter of October 31, 1754' in Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History. cited in , Source Book and Bibliographical Guide for American Church History, pp.244–249. Original Sources, retrieved 19 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNQ9I18ZAJ4ES27.