of this town on yesterday, I do so with the sincere acknowledgment of the courtesy and spirit of conciliation manififested by you in the discharge of a duty which you states yourself to be of a delicate and in part painful nature, and also in the earnest conviction thata respectful and clear statement of the circumstances and principles which direct our views (clear than any that could be made in a loose and rambling conversation on the part of those who unexpectedly were called on to appear before you in this matter) might not be without its effect upon the ultimate decision of the question on your part. It has been stated upon creditable authority that in the discussion of the question whether the aoth of allegiance to the United States should be administered to the citizens of Richmond, President Lincoln said that his mind was not made up as to the expediency of the measure, and that he referred it to the military authority; whereupon Major-General Weitzel is reported to have said that his mind was fully made up, and that his experience had convinced him of the inexpediency and uselessness of the measure, and that then it was decided that the oath should not be enforced for the present. It is not my province to prove that the wisdom of thios decision is indorsed by all the lessons of history, and useless I mistake in accordance with the almost universal practice of nations. But I would most respectfully put the inquiry whether the principle of that decision does not apply with even greater force to the question presented by you yesterday in its bearing upon the services of the Episcopal churches in this city. Allow me, as briefly as possible, to state my views. In their civil capacity clergymen can claim no exemption, nor do they claim any exeption, from the duties incumbent upon the inhabitants of the Commonwealth in general, though under the contitutions of several of the States they cannot claim all the rights which other citizens possesses, being by their position excluded from some public position open to others. But on general grounds they stand in the same position, being bound to loyalty and obedience to the laws of the land and liable to presecution and penaty for disloyalty and violation of those laws. If, for instance, the Government should demand the aoth of allegiance of the citizens of Richmond, it is clear that the clergy would be included by the provisions of that order. If the policy of the Government at this time foregoes this demand, it would necessarily operate upon the ministers of the gospel.
But in the capacity as ministers we stand ecclesiatical, not under civil law. This is in accordance with the fundamental laws of this country. There is no legal power in this land to interfere there, and it never has been done. Whether there shall be one undivided Episcopal Church on this continent or two, or any number of them, does not come within the cognizance of the civil courts; and should any one diocese act contraf the church of which it formed a part, and separate from it, it might make itself liable to ecclesiastical censure and perhaps excommunication; but the church could not call upon the secular authority to enforce its decision or accompany it with penalties. Whatever may have been the occasion of the separation of the Southern dioceses from the Episcopal Church in the United States, that separation may involve ecclesiastical misdemeanors; it cannot be construed into a civil misdemeanor, and there is no court in the United States before which the case could be tried. If, according to them firm belief you expressed yesterday, the time is near at hand when the authority of the United States Government will be established over the whole of its former extent, the question whether the church in the South would reunite with that in the North, or