Daily Reading for September 22 • Philander Chase, Bishop of Ohio, and of Illinois, 1852
In the year of our Lord 1793-94, while [Philander Chase] was a member of the sophomore and junior classes, he became acquainted with the Common Prayer-Book of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. This circumstance formed an important era in his life and that of his venerable parents and beloved relatives in Cornish, New Hampshire, and in Bethel, Vermont, where they resided. Hitherto they had all been Congregationalists, and as such, had much ignorance and many prejudices to overcome in conforming to the worship of God as set forth in that primitive liturgy. The more, however, it was examined and compared with the word of God, the more forcibly did its beauties strike their minds. Amidst the manifold divisions, not to say schisms and heresies, by which they were circumstanced and to which an extemporaneous mode of worship had evidently led, the Prayer-Book seemed a light, mercifully designed by Providence to conduct them into the path of peace and order; and then the holy faith which it was designed to preserve, as the vessel preserves the oil from being spilled and adulterated, how pure and undefiled did it appear! How primitive when compared with the multiform articles of belief which had grown up, and still continue to grow up, all around them!
These considerations respecting the liturgy of the church, joined to her well-authenticated claims to an apostolic constitution in her ministry, were among the principal reasons which induced so many of his relations to conform to the Protestant Episcopal Church, and instead of repairing the meeting-house, where both his grandfather and father had officiated as Congregational deacons, inclined them to pull it down and erect on its spot an Episcopal Church. This was effected in great harmony; not a voice was raised against the measure throughout the neighborhood. As it respects himself, having become ardently desirous of entering, when qualified, into the ministry, the question, who had the divine power and authority to ordain him and thereby give him an apostolic commission to preach and administer the sacraments, became a matter of the utmost consequence, affecting his conscience. How this was answered, his course of life has shown. As he depended not on others’ opinions, but examined for himself, even so let others do; always remembering that truth doth not depend on man, but on God.
From Bishop Chase’s Reminiscences: An Autobiography by Philander Chase (J. B. Dow, 1848).