St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church

Diocese of the Midwest

William Smith was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was ordained a clergyman of the Church of England. In 1753 Smith published a book on principles of education; and Benjamin Franklin invited him to teach at the College of Philadelphia; and he became its first provost in 1755. Smith presided over the first Convention of the American (Anglican) Priesthood in 1760; and he worked tirelessly for a resident bishop for the colonies. All ministers of the Church of England took an oath of allegiance to the King at their ordination. Thus, when tensions emerged between the British government at Westminster and the thirteen colonies in North America, clergymen like Smith were in a most awkward position. Though suspected by some of loyalist sympathies, Smith was appointed to the Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence in 1774. On June 23, 1775, at Christ Church, Philadelphia,
 Dr Smith preached a sermon entitled A Sermon on the Situation of American Affairs before the officers of the Third Battalion of the City of Philadelphia, District of Southwark. The text was Joshua 22:22: The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or if in transgression against the LORD, (save us not this day,) The following excerpt (pages 24-25) is most timely this July 4th: 

Look back, therefore, with reverence look back, to the times of ancient virtue and renown. Look back to the mighty purposes which your fathers had in view, when they traversed a vast ocean, and planted this land. Recall to your minds their labors, their toils, their perseverance, and let their divine spirit animate you in all your actions.


Look forward also to distant posterity. Figure to yourselves millions and millions to spring from your loins, who may be born freemen or slaves, as Heaven shall now approve or reject your councils. Think that on you it may depend, whether this great Country, in ages hence, shall be filled and adorned with a virtuous and enlightened people ; enjoying Liberty and all its concomitant blessings, together with the Religion of Jesus, as it flows uncorrupted from his holy Oracles; or covered with a race of men more contemptible than the savages that roam the wilderness, because they once knew the “things which belonged to their happiness” and peace, but suffered them to be hid “from their eyes.”