Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

force them to lay down their crowns; yea, and though we should succeed in our rebellion, and prove too hard for our governors, yet, first or last, our religion will be sure to smart for it. For when we have pulled down them, we must set up some others in their room; and whosoever they are, though they may love the treason by which themselves were advanced, to be sure they will hate the traitorous religion, and never think themselves safe in their usurpation, whilst those principles prevail in the consciences of the people, upon which they rebelled against their former governors. For let men be never 80 zealous for seditious principles whilst they are rebels, you may depend upon it they will be as zealous against them when they are usurpers, and be as much concerned to suppress and extirpate them, as ever they were before to uphold and propagate them. Of the truth of which you have a notorious instance in the late usurper; who, though while he was a subject, was a zealous stickler for those religious pretences under which that barbarous rebellion was conducted, yet was no sooner seated in the throne, but he grew quite weary of them; and could he but have seduced our sequestered clergy from their natural prince, which he sundry times attempted, would willingly have pulled down those seditious sects that raised him, and reestablished the church of England, of whose inflexible loyalty to government he had had sufficient experience.

Our loyalty therefore is not only the honestest, but the wisest provision we can make for the safety of our religion; because hereby we recommend it to princes as the safest guard of their thrones, and the surest defence of their authority, as that which will secure and facilitate their government, and tie their subjects to them by their hearts and consciences; and when by good experience they are convinced of this, they cannot be enemies to it without being enemies to themselves, and arming their power against their own authority.

[graphic]

Fourthly, and lastly, Consider, that if we of this nation had no other motive, yet in mere gratitude we stand obliged to render faithful subjection to our princes. For considering with what an easy and indulgent government, and with what a succession of excellent princes God Almighty hath blessed us, I know no nation under the cope of heaven that may be so happy as ourselves, if we please : for as our government is, in the frame and constitution of it, a most easy yoke and gentle burden; so for sundry ages we have had princes as gentle and gracious as our government; princes that have studied our ease and happiness, and that have in nothing so much exceeded, as in mercy and indulgence towards us. For not to mention that glorious lady queen Elizabeth, that wise and learned, that peaceable and gracious prince king James the First, of the blessings of whose reigns but few, if any of us, were partakers; not to mention that pious and every way incomparable prince Charles the First, whose sacred blood is such a monumental shame to treason and rebellion, as must make rebels and traitors, if they have any modesty remaining in them, to blush and be confounded for ever: besides these, it is not long since that God Almighty hath deprived us of one of the wisest, most gracious, and merciful kings that ever swayed a sceptre; a king that had been long endeared to us, not only by the gentleness of his reign, the prudence

[blocks in formation]

of his conduct, and the incomparable sweetness of his temper; but also by sundry miraculous deliverances, and as miraculous a restoration, a restoration that proclaimed and signalized him the darling and favourite of the divine providence; a prince that reigned in all honest hearts by the inconquerable charms of his own native goodness; which had virtue enough in them, had the thing been possible, to have obliged ingratitude, and even to have made faction ashamed and fanaticism loyal.

And now to him, in despite of all the hellish machinations of a restless faction, our present rightful lord peaceably succeeds; a prince whom God seems to have reserved on purpose to make us amends for the inestimable loss we sustained in Charles the wise and good. And indeed, considering the great and princely virtues which adorn his mind, and shine through the whole sphere of his activity, we have all the encouragement in the world to promise ourselves a continuance of those halcyon days under his happy influence, if by our intestine seditions we do not cloud and disturb them, that we have so long enjoyed under the auspicious reign of his brother: for if from an undaunted courage and firmness of mind; if from an immense greatness and generosity of soul; if from an inflexible sincerity and integrity of manners; if from an impartial justice, sweetened with an endearing benignity of temper; if from the fair conjunction of these royal virtues in a prince, a people may presage their own happiness; we have all these to build our hope on in our present sovereign; who, to give an absolute confidence to our hope, hath graciously deposited in our hands that sacred pledge of his own royal faith by a public, re

peated declaration, inviolably to preserve our laws, and liberties, and properties, and, which ought to be dearer to us than all, the established religion of our church; which for purity of worship and doctrine, for antiquity of discipline and government, for loyalty of principles and practice, outshines all the churches in the world : and for us to mistrust the security of that faith which yet was never forfeited to any man, would be not only rude and disingenuous, but unjust and malicious. So that, considering the admirable frame of our government, and the unparalleled goodness of our princes, we are certainly the most obliged subjects in the world. And if, after this, we should prove factious and disloyal, what will the world say of us, but that we are a people of a base and ungrateful genius, whom no goodness can endear or oblige? and what may we expect from God, but that, as a just retribution for our black ingratitude, he should make us feel the smart of all those barbarous tyrannies and oppressions which hitherto we have unjustly complained of? Wherefore, unless we intend to render ourselves both infamous to men and odious to God, let us cheerfully comply with this great precept of our religion ; Let every soul of us be subject to the higher powers, forasmuch as the powers that are, are ordained of God,

1

SERMON VII.

PREACHED BEFORE

THE RIGHT HON. THE LORD MAYOR, ALDERMEN, AND
CITIZENS OF LONDON, AT ST. MARY LE BOW,

SEPTEMBER 2, 1686.

Joun y. 14.
Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing

come unto thee,
THESE words are the advice of our Saviour to
the impotent man, whom he miraculously cured,
after he had long waited to no purpose at the poo!
of Bethesda : and seriously when I consider the
miserable state to which this ancient city was re-
duced by the late stupendous fire, and the since glo-
rious recovery of it out of its mighty heap of ruins,
it seems to me an exact emblem of this poor patient
in my text. With him, not long ago, it was reduced
to a wretched impotent condition; its goodly piles
lay bedrid in their own sad ruins, almost despairing
of recovery; and the utmost that human prudence
could hope was, that the next age might see their
resurrection. But by the miraculous courage and
industry with which God inspired their former in-
habitants, behold they are raised again within a few
years, more glorious and magnificent than ever;
and we that saw their desolations, and were almost
ready to give them over for irreparable, have lived to
see them rise again in state and splendour out of

« ПредишнаНапред »