Christ Church ~ American Bible Society

Christ Church

This ancient edifice was first established in 1695, having been erected under the auspices of the Rev. Mr. Clayton. It was, originally, it appears, only one story high, and according to the best evidences that can be obtained, it was even so low in the ceiling, my to be easily touched by persons with uplifted hands. The bell which was used to summon the people to churchy was hung on a large tree, in front.

In 1710, it appears to have been enlarged, by far more commodious edifice, which was run up, over the old, where they continued to worship, until the new structure was completed, or so far advanced as to enable the congregation to worship in it.

In 1727, the western end of the Church, as it is now presented to the observer, was erected. The eastern side put up in 1731. The towering steeple, the most lofty in the city, was elevated in 1753 -54. The solemn style of the architecture which prevails throughout the edifice, is like that adopted in the execution of the "Old State House," and is said to have been introduced by a physician of Philadelphia, Dr. John Kearsley, who was popular in his profession, in those days. It is constructed with brickwork throughout.

The steeple, which has been often extolled, for its chaste simplicity of construction, in the most elegant variety of architectural forms, was elevated, it would appear, as a peculiar Monument of Philadelphia. The war having ended in 1784, a lottery was authorized to raise "£1012 10 s. 3," for aiding the construction of a steeple on "Christ Church,'' which amount was so raised. There was also a lottery, for the benefit of the vestry, and the whole amount raised by lottery, appear to have been $36,000. The steeple is one hundred and ninety-six feet in height. The cost of the steeple was £2,100, and the eight bells, imported from England, cost £900. The whole weight of the bells, 8160 lbs. the tenor one weighing 1800 lbs. When they were first put up, they were a great novelty, and when chimed, people came from the neighboring villages, to listen to their musical tones. The bells were taken down at one time, and sunk in the Delaware River, to keep them from falling into the hands of the British; but again hung up immediately, on the evacuation of the city. Amid these revolutionary scenes, too, the spirit of Independence, could no longer brook the appearance of the Bust of King George, carved in relief, in front. Some brave patriots procured gladder, and ascending with a hatchet, chopped off his head, leaving the crownless trunk, a warning to all future oppressors, of the inalienable rights of man.

Some of the original Communion Plate of the Church, was presented by Queen Anne, in 1708.

The ministerial offices were holden by several successors to the Rev. Mr. Clayton.

The Rev. Mr. White was installed, as an assistant, of the Rev. Mr. Peters, in 1772, who was finally, consecrated Bishop of the Episcopal Church, in 1787, which office he continued to fill, over one of the most respectable Churches in America, through all the trying scenes of the revolution, and the various vicissitudes of our infant republic, until death gathered him to his Fathers, to reap the Rewards of a Life, adorned by the purest principles of Christianity.

American Bible Society

The following remarks on the necessary efforts, to give a due circulation to the Sacred Scriptures, is from a Letter addressed to the Editor of the "Presbyterian"; and as it presents a warm appeal in behalf of the BIBLE, it is not necessary to apologize for its insertion in a work, professing to give a brief account, of the City of Brotherly Love, the Head Quarters of Religious action and feeling.

"Nearly ten years have now elapsed, since the American Bible Society Resolved, in connection with its local auxiliaries, to supply every destitute family in the country, with a copy of the Holy Scriptures Before the close of three years, this noble work was nearly accomplished: half a million of families were thus, put in possession of the sacred oracles.

Good and great benefits have resulted, as we have already seen, though the extent of this good, will never be known until all men are gathered before Him, who has declared, that "His Word shall not return unto Him void." Since this general supply of the country, seven or eight years have passed by. A re-examination of a few counties, in the states of Vermont, New York, and Ohio, during the last years, has convinced the Managers of the Parent Society that an appalling destitution of the scriptures again prevails, in almost every part of the land. They feel a deep and anxious solicitude that now investigations should be made in every state and county, and that ALL our dwellings should once more, be furnished in some way, with the Word of God. They are resolved to do their part, in effecting such a supply; and they beg leave to urge upon conductors of auxiliary societies, the importance of an early attention to the same. By a little prompt and energetic action, the members of each local society, can be convened, exploring committees can be appointed, books can be ordered, for cash or short credit, or if needful, solicited gratuitously, and the destitute thus be supplied. Many of those local societies, are in a languishing condition, and need to be roused: They are the best of all instrumentalities, for the wide distribution of the scriptures: But they require the watchful and encouraging attention of their respective officers, and of all, who would perpetuate our civil blessings, or prepare men for the retributions of a coming world.

But the Managers of the American Bible Society, have a further subject to present, namely, the growing demands for the scriptures in foreign countries.

In addition to frequent calls from Canada, Texas, Brazils, and the West Indies, they have still more extensive, and urgent applications, from Southern Russia, Greece, Persia, India, and the Sandwich Islands. From one Missionary station alone, they have a repeated solicitation for $25,000, to aid in printing and circulating the scriptures; from another station $10,000; from two others, $3,000; from another $2,000; and from several $1,000. Applications for aid, to the amount of $42,300 are now, before the Board, and after a conference with the officers, of the several Missionary societies, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodists, Board of Missions in Boston, &c. they see not how they can well avoid paying out, from $25,000 to $30,000, before the next annual Meeting in May; if this sum can possibly be obtained. Within a few days, an urgent call has been presented from Persia, for means to print the Bible, in Syriac, at Ooroomiah, and other calla equally important, from the Society's Agent, in the Levant towards publishing the Armenian, and the Hebrew Spanish scriptures. It is respectfully asked, that the above statements may receive attention. Clergymen it is hoped, will spread the facts given, before their respective congregations, and encourage auxiliary societies, to engage at once, either in the supply of their own destitute families, or in raising means to supply the destitute, abroad.

Nothing can be more certain to a Protestant, than that millions of Bibles must be prepared, and circulated, before the world is converted to Jesus Christ. They roust be furnished too, by those who possess, and appreciate the Bible.

The time is come, to prosecute this work on a large scale; the doors are open, in almost every land; Christian Missionaries and Agents are abroad, eager to prepare and circulate, this Sacred Volume; all things seem to be ready, and invite to action. Our desire, and Prayer to God is, that the cause of this Bible may this year, receive a new impulse, throughout the length and breadth of our land."

Among the numerous Benevolent Societies in this City, the Bible, Tract, Missionary, Education, and Sunday School, sustain an intimate connection. Each is necessary in its place; and all combined, form a comprehensive, well organized and efficient system of Agencies, for the spread of the Gospel. Each has its peculiar claims, and the arguments for each, are weighty; and must carry conviction to every candid, and unprejudiced mind.

History of Philadelphia


Source: A History of Philadelphia: With a Notice of Villages, in the Vicinity, Printed and published by Daniel Bowen, 1839


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