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SERMON XXI

PREACHED AT ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND, JUNE 23, 1784, BEFORE

THE FIRST GENERAL CONVENTION OF THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CLERGY IN THAT STATE, ASSISTED BY LAY DELEGATES, VOLUNTARILY ASSEMBLED FOR THE FOLLOWING PURPOSES; V12.

1. To conclude finally on a Declaration of the Spiritual and Ecclesiastic Rights, to which they conceive themselves entitled, in common with other Christians, in their New situation, as citizens under the American revolution.

2. To consider what alterations may be necessary, in our Liturgy and forms of Prayer, to accommodate the same to that situation as aforesaid; and for other good purposes, respecting uniformity of worship, and the good government and full organization of our Church, according to the best models of Primitive Episcopacy.

ANNAPOLIS, JUNE 22, 1784. The Convention having assembled at the State House, it was “ Unanimously requested, That the Reverend Dr. SMITH “ would open the Business of the Meeting, with a Discourse to

morrow at 11 o'clock, A. M. and that the Reverend Mr. “ KEENE would read Prayers."

JUNE 23, P. M. " The thanks of this Convention were returned to the Re“ verend Dr. Smith for his most excellent Discourse, delivered “ in the morning, and a request was made that a copy might be “ given for the press."

A TRUE COPY FROM THE MINUTES.

WM. WEST, SECRETARY.

TO HIS EXCELLENCY

WILLIAM PACA, ESQUIRE,

GOVERNOR AND COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE STATE OF

MARYLAND, &c.

THE FOLLOWING SERMON

IS INSCRIBED,

IN SINCERE TESTIMONY AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT,

AS WELL OF HIS PUBLIC ZEAL AND REGARD

FOR THE

INTERESTS OF RELIGION AND LEARNING,

AS OF

THE PRIVATE FRIENDSHIP AND ESTEEM,

WITH WHICH,

FROM AN EARLY PERIOD OF HIS LIFE,

HATH SUBSISTED BETWEEN HIM,

AND HIS MOST AFFECTIONATE,

OLD PRECEPTOR,

AND OBEDIENT SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR.

SERMON XXI.

2 TIMOTHY, Ch. I. ver. 13, 14-and Ch. IV. ver. 3,

Hold fast the form of sound Words which thou hast heard of me

in Faith and Love which is in Christ Jesus—That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy

Ghost which dwelleth in usFor the Time will come when they will not endure sound Doc

trine, but after their own Lusts shall heap to themselves Teachers, having itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the Truth, and shall be turned unto Fables

In this very adventurous and inquisitive Day, when men spurning their kindred-earth, on which they were born to tread, will dare, on airy (or balloon) wing to soar into the regions of the sky; were it the pleasure of our Almighty Creator to purge any of us mortals of our terrestrial dross, and to place us, in good earnest, upon some distant orb, from which with clear and serene view, corporeal as well as intellectual, we could survey this world of ours--what a strange scene would it appear? Itself in the rank of worlds, dwindled into a small mole-hill; and men, the little emmets upon it, bustling and driving and crossing each other, as if there were no settled walk of life, no common tie, or “ Form of sound words to be held fast of all, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus?"

In our intellectual view, from this eminence of station, we should behold one set of men, who boast of the all-sufficient and transcendent power of Reason, as their rule and guide; but yet all wandering through different tracts, although in the same pursuits of Happiness and Peace! Another set of men would be seen who call themselves the Special Favourites of Heaven, and say they are guided by a glorious Inward Light, communicated, (or, as they pretend communicated) immediately from the everlasting Fountain of all Light! yet we should not see them walking toge. ther in unity, or pursuing any common path or way; but fiercely contending concerning their Inward Light; some calling their's the good Old-Light, and others calling their's the true New-Light. To whom, an old divine of our church, spoken of in the note below, were he now living would say—“There is no Light among you the Devil hath blinded

you

all!" But, Thirdly, we should find another set of men, and those of truly respectable and venerable name, professing themselves guided only by a sure and written Form of Sound Words, revealed and given to them for their Instruction, their Guide, and their Salvation, by their Almighty Creator himself-Yet, alas! they would be seen, perhaps, almost as irregular and eccentric in all their motions as the rest! This is a sad view of things

and as the Poet says5 In Pride, in reasoning Pride, the error lies,

“ All quit their sphere and rush into the Skies.!" And would to God, therefore, that, in all Religions and in all Sciences, this accursed root of Bitterness and Contrariety could be wholly plucked out of the

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Christian world. For until Humanity and divine Charity can have their sway, until our Faith is exercised in Love, and the Truths of God are held in Righteousness of Life, there will never be a total harmony among men!

However strong our Reason, however enlightened our Souls, however ardent our Faith; unless that spirit of Love and Humility be in us, which was in Christ Jesus, all besides will be of little value.

With good reason, therefore, does St. Paul admonish his beloved Timothy to let his Faith be exercised in Love, and “ to hold fast the Form of sound Words which he had heard of him;" for even in those early days, some had begun to depart from the foun. dation laid by Christ and his Apostles; following “ vain babblings,” being like withered leaves, stick. ing to the tree, only to be blown away by the first wind of doctrine; still desiring to hear some new thing; led by the ear and not by the heart, or as it is strongly expressed in my text, “ heaping to them“ selves Teachers, having itching Ears,” &c.

A venerable old Luminary of our Church, soon after the Reformation, preaching even before princes and nobles, has a most severe stroke of irony against this itching Humour, according to the honest and indignant (although perhaps blunt) Satire of the Times. It is to the following effect

“ All is Hearing, now-a-days-No Fruits-The Ear is all! and if it were not for our Ear-mark, no man could tell we were Christians*!"

This quotation was made from the strong impression which the sentiment made upon the Author's memory many years ago, on reading over the works of the old Divines of the Church of England; and he thinks the

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