[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]




AT a meeting of the officers of the third Battalion, of the city of Philadelphia and district of Southwark-agreed that Dr. Smith be thanked for his excellent Sermon, preached at their request the twenty-third instant; and that he be requested to furnish a copy of the same for publication; as, in their opinion, it will promote the cause of Liberty and Virtue.

Signed by order,



“THE following Sermon was drawn up on a few days notice, and without any view to the press, at the request* of some of the Author's worthy friends, to whom he could refuse nothing of this kind. At their request, it was likewise submitted to the Public, as it was preached, without varying or suppressing a single sentiment or material expression; and with the addition only of a few lines, and three or four explanatory notes.

The Author considered that, although he was called to this office by a particular body, yet he was to address a great and mixt assembly of his fellow-citizens, and a number of the first characterst in America, met in consultation, at a most alarming crisis.

Animated with the purest zeal for the mutual interests of Great-Britain and the colonies; ardently panting for the return of those Halcyon-days of harmony, during which both countries so long flourished together, as the glory and wonder of the world; he thought it his duty, with the utmost impartiality, to attempt a state of the unhappy controversy which (then) rent the empire in pieces; and to shew, if peradventure he might be permitted to vouch for his fellow-citizens, so far as he had been conversant among them, that the idea of an independence upon the Parent-country, or the least licentious opposition to its just interests, was utterly foreign to their thoughts; that they contended only for the sanctity of charters and laws, together with the right of granting their own money; and that our rightful Sovereign had no where more loyal subjects, or more zealously attached to those principles of government, under which his family inherits the throne.

• John Cadwalader, Colonel; Thomas Miffin, Major, &c. + The Continental Congress.

These, with a few things which seemed necessary respecting the clergy and church, whereof the author is a member, are the topics handled in the following Sermon. If the principles it contains are but thoroughly felt, the reader will not regret that the limits of a single discourse would not allow a particular application of them. They will lead to their own application; or, at least, that field is left open to succeeding preachers.

Upon the whole, if the kind expectations of the Author's friends can be in any degree answered; if what he has delivered shall tend to promote the cause of Liberty and Virtue;" and particularly, if it may find its way to the closets, or rather to the hearts, of the Great, and (after all the arguments they have heard from others) can in the least induce them to juster and more benevolent sentiments concerning their American brethren-he will account it among the happiest circumstances of his life.

Enough has surely been attempted, by way of experiment, to convince our British Brethren t:at the people of this country know their rights, and will not consent to a passive surrender of them— It is, now at least, time to pursue onother method, and to listen to some plan for averting the dreadful calamities which must attend a hostile prosecution of this unnatural contest. The Author's wishes for the accomplishment of such a plan, have been so frequently expressed, as to subject him, perhaps, to suspicions which he would not wish to merit. But still, if he could see such a plan of reconciliation take place upon a just and permanent foundation, he would be content, if it were required, to sing his nunc dimittis,' and to take a final leave of earthly concerns."

Thus far the ORIGINAL PREFACE, which must now be continued out to some length, to shew the fate of the Sermon; which became an object of considerable notice and controversy, of praise and censure, in Great Britain, as well as in America, according to the different principles of its readers. Having in a few weeks, run through several American editions, viz. in the States of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and some of the nearest neighbouring states; the first mark of displeasure which the Author received on account of it, was from governor Tryon

at New-York, who told him that he had considered it as his duty, to transmit a copy of it to the Bishop of London, as well as a copy of Mr. Duche's Sermon, which was preached a few days after this Sermon, to another city. Battalion. Governor Tryon added that he did not doubt but that the Bishop would soon signify his highest disapprobation, and severe censure of both Mr. Duche and myself. I replied briskly to his Excellency (intending it to be understood as a sneer upon his officiousness) that I had already sent a copy of the Sermon, as well as of sundry other proceedings of the Clergy, both in their civil and religious capacity, to the Bishop; that, as to myself, I had well weighed the principles contained in the Sermon, before I submitted them to the public, either from the Pulpit or the Press; and that I must take my chance of the Bishop's pleasure or displeasure.

The anxiety with which, as I understood, from some of my friends afterwards, governor Tryon had frequently inquired of them—“ Whether they knew that I had received any Reprimand from the Bishop," inclines me to believe that he had not thought it beneath him, to be active in advising such reprimand; which, if ever sent, never came to my hand, although I received several letters from the Bishop afterwards (who was a good man); some of which may appear, if I live to complete another publication, intended on sundry interesting civil Topics.

The first account, therefore, which I received of the reception of the Sermon in England, was from Dr. Franklin, about the beginning of November, 1775, who handed to me the two following extracts of letters to Him, dated in August preceding, viz. EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM DR. PRIESTLY TO DR.

FRANKLIN. “ I thank you for Dr. Smith's excellent Sermon. If it be “ not impertinent, give him my most respectful compliments " and thanks. I think to get it printed.



“ The chamberlain of London has just ordered ten thousand copies of Dr. Smith's Sermon to be printed at his expense, in so cheap a form as to be sold at two-pence each."

Soon after this the reverend Dr. Ewing arrived from London, and brought me some printed copies of the Sermon, presented to me by Messrs. Dilly; who, besides the small edition printed at the expense of the Chamberlain, had published in a short time two elegant editions, in a large size on his own account. Editions also, were printed and published at Bristol and elsewhere in Great-Britain and Ireland; so that, without any seeking of mine, I found it to be very generally circulated; and it appeared by the news-papers, that came over at the same time, to have become a subject of considerable attention and controversy among the polemical and political writers of the parent countries.

The authors of the Monthly Review for August, 1775, gave the following favourable criticism on Dilly's second edition.

“ Our readers are not unacquainted with the abilities of this « American orator; whose volume of discourses preached on “ public occasions at Philadelphia, was recommended in the “ 21st volume of our review; and again, on the appearance of a “ new edition, with additional sermons, in vol. 29th."

The reviewers then give some account of the occasion of the sermon, extracted from the preface, and proceed as follows, viz.

" It is left for us to add—what could not, with equal pro“ priety, have come from the pen of the author-That his dis« course is equally sensible and animated, and that his zeal for “ the cause of American Liberty, though warm enough to kindle “ the hearts of his hearers, never transports him beyond the “ bounds of that moderation, by which true Patriotism, on either « side of the Atlantic, will ever be guided.

66 Towards the conclusion of his Sermon, the preacher grows « Prophetic; and as his Prophecy is included in a few words, « we shall give it as a specimen of the author's manner and « spirit."

“ For my part (says Dr. Smith) I have long been possessed « with a strong and even enthusiastic persuasion, that Heaven “ has great and gracious purposes towards this Continent, which “ no human power or human device shall be able finally to frus« trate. Illiberal or mistaken plans of policy may distress us « for a while, and perhaps sorely check our growth; but, if we

« VorigeDoorgaan »