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Doc. 26. Bishop Potter's address to the Clergy and congregations of the diocese of Pennsylvania.

My dear brethren: The President of the United States, moved by his own sense of duty, and by the request of both Houses of Congress, has designated the last Thursday in September (the 26th inst.) as a day of “humiliation, prayer, and fasting, for all the people of the nation.” He earnestly recommends that the day be observed in all families and churches with religious solemnity, and with a deep sense of our sins as a nation, of our sore distress and danger in this hour of trial, and of our intimate dependence upon the Divine care and protection.

At no period in our history could such an observance be more proper. Our greatest sin is forgetfulness of God--our greatest peril presumptuous trust in our own wisdom and might. Institutions, in which we exulted with impious confidence, are in jeopardy; a Union, which we boasted that nothing could destroy, totters to its fall; material resources, with which we thought to defy the world, take to themselves wings and fly away. Our reliance on the God of Nations and of Battles needs to be revived and strengthened; and where can this be done, but at the footstool of the Divine Mercy? Let us, then, brethren, hasten to the throne of the Heavenly Grace in our closets, in our families, and in the sanctuary, and implore of God that He do not forget or forsake us in this our sin, but that He bring us to repentance and a better mind. And on this day, set apart by the highest civil authority, let us assemble in our respective places of worship and pour out our hearts before the Lord.

On this diocese it is peculiarly incumbent at this time to mourn and to supplicate for Heavenly grace. One who was over you in the Lord — who had won your affection and respect — who had gone in and out before you, bearing his office so meekly, so unselfishly, so diligently — who, with open hand and sympathizing heart, had ministered, with almost prodigal generosity, to the needy among clergy and laity — who was ever about his Master's business — this, your beloved Assistant Bishop, has been suddenly stricken from his work, and translated to the rest of God's people. He mourned, with all a Christian's and all a patriot's heart, over the calamities and distractions of our land. His prayers went up, unceasingly, that it might win back the lost blessings of peace and Union, and, above all, that it might be baptized in the spirit of true humility and faith. He has been taken away in the midst of his vigor and usefulness, and when we had looked for long years of beneficent and faithful activity. We have need, then, as a diocese, to prostrate ourselves before the Divine Majesty, and to implore its guidance and help in this hour of our bereavement.

And shall we not offer some testimonial of affection to his memory, and of zeal for the work to which his heart and hands were given? [61] He died on the banks of the beautiful Allegheny, when on his way to the population which has been attracted to the shores of that river in the counties of Butler, Venango, and Warren. The teeming multitudes which have gathered there of late, and who are almost without spiritual privilege, deeply moved and attracted him, and nothing would have delighted him more than to have raised, had God given him the means, a church among them at his own expense.

I propose, then, that the people of this diocese undertake this work as a memorial of his worth, and of their affectionate veneration for his character. Let a church be erected on the banks of the Allegheny, somewhere between Kittanning and Warren, or at the latter place, as shall be hereafter determined upon mature consideration, to stand forever as the Bishop Bowman Memorial Church, and let this pious work be that of all the congregations throughout this diocese. Especially would I commend it to those of our number who, during the past three years, have received at his hands the rite of Confirmation.

I propose, further, that we begin this work of taking up offerings for it on the fast day herein recognized, viz.: the 26th day of September, and that on that occasion, in every congregation, opportunity be given to the people to contribute, as God hath blessed them, to testify at once their devotion to the God of their fathers — their respect for the memory of one of His honored servants, and their desire to extend to those who need it, the Gospel of His grace.

Contributions can be sent to John Welsh, Esq., Treasurer of the Episcopal Fund.

Alonzo Potter, Bishop of the Diocese of Penpsylvania. Philadelphia, Sept. 2, 1861.

Special service for the National fast.

Morning Prayer.--Instead of the Venite, the 130th Psalm.

Proper Psalms, 51st and 77th.

First Lesson, Isaiah 58th. Second Lesson, St. Luke 12th, from 22d verse.

The Greater Litany, with the Special Prayers already set forth.

The Epistle, Gospel, &c., for Ash Wednesday, with the following Collect:--

“O God, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy, receive the humble petitions, which, with one heart and one mouth, throughout this land are now offered unto Thee; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of Thy great mercy loose us. Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder the restoration of Godly union and concord; that, as there is but One Body, and One Spirit, and One Hope of our Calling, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God and Father of us all; so we may once again be made to be of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may, with one mind and one mouth, glorify Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Evening Prayer.--Proper Psalms, 49th and 90th.

First Lesson, Ezek. 33d. Second Lesson, Hebrews 12th.

Collect as in the morning — Special Prayers.

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