網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

ly declaring to all the world, that although in the constant course of my ministry I have never failed on proper occasions to recommend, urge, and insist upon the loving, honouring, and reverencing the prince's person, and holding it, according to the laws, inviolable and sacred; and paying all obedience and submission to the laws, though never so hard and inconvenient to private people: yet did I never think myself at liberty, or authorized to tell the people, that either Christ, St. Peter or St. Paul, or any other holy writer, had, by any doctrine delivered by them, subverted the laws and constitutions of the country in which they lived, or put them in a worse condition, with respect to their civil liberties, then they would have been had they not been Christians. I ever thought it a most impious blasphemy against that holy religion, to father any thing upon it that might encourage tyranny, oppression, or injustice in a prince, or that easily tended to make a free and happy people slaves and miserable. No; people may make themselves as wretched as they will, but let not God be called into that wicked party. When force and violence and hard necessity have brought the yoke of servitude upon a people's neck, religion will supply them with a patient and submissive spirit under it, till they can innocently shake it off; but certainly religion never puts it on. This always was, and this at present is, my judgment of these matters: and I would be transmitted to posterity (for the little share of time such names as mine can live) under the character of one who loved his country, and

would be thought a good Englishman, as well as a good clergy man.

This character I thought would be transmitted by the following sermons, which were made for, and preached in a private audience, when I could think of nothing else but doing my duty on the occasions that were then offered by God's providence, without any manner of design of making them public: and for that reason I give

them now as they were then delivered, by which I hope to satisfy those people who have objected a change of principles to me, as if I were not now the same man 1 formerly was. I never had but one opinion of these matters; and that I think is so reasonable and well grounded, that I believe I can never have any other.

• Another reason of my publishing these sermons at this time is, that I have a mind to do myself some honour, by doing what honour I could to the memory of two most excellent princes, and who have very highly deserved at the hands of all the people of these dominions, who have any true value for the Protestant reli. gion, and the constitution of the English government; of which they were the great delivers and defenders. I have lived to see their illustrious names very rudely handled, and the great benefits they did this nation treated slightly aud contemptuously. I have lived to see our deliverance from arbitrary power and Popery traduced and vilified by some who formerly thought it was their greatest merit, and made it part of their boast and glory to have had a little hand and share in bringing it about; and others who, without it, must have lived in exile, poverty, and

misery, meanly disclaiming it, and using ill, the glorious instruments thereof. —Who could expect such a requital of such merit: I have, I own it, an ambition of exempting myself from the number of unthankful people; and as I loved and honoured those great princes living, and lamented over them wien dead, so I would gladly raise them up a monument of praise, as lasting as any thing of mine can be; and I choose to do it at this time, when it is so unfashionable a thing to speak honourably of them.

• 'The sermon that was preached upon the duke of Gloucester's death was printed quickly after, and is now, because the subject was so suitable, joined to the others. The loss of that most promising and hopeful prince was, at that time, I saw, unspeakably great; and many accidents since have convinced us, that it could not have been overvalued. That precious life, had it pleased God to have prolonged it the usual space, had saved us many fears and jealousies, and dark distrusts, and prevented many alarms, that have long kept us, and will keep us still, waking and uneasy. Nothing remained to comfort and support us under this heavy stroke, but the necessity it brought the king and nation under of settling the succession in the house of Hanover, and giving it an hereditary right by act of parliament, as long as it continues Protestant. So much good did God in his merciful providence, produce from a misfortune which we could never otherwise have sufficiently deplored!

• The fourth sermon was preached upon the queen's accession to the throne, and the first year in which that day was solemnly observed (for, by

some accident or other, it had been overlooked the year before;) and every one will see, without the date of it, that it was preached very early in this reign, since I was able only to promise and presage its future glories and successes, from the good appearances of things, and the happy turn our affairs began to take, and could not then count up the victories and triumphs that for seven years after made it, in the prophet's language, a name and a praise among all the people of the earth. Never did seven such years together pass over the head of any English monarch, nor cover it with so much honour: the crown and sceptre seemed to be the queen's least ornaments; those other princes wore in common with her, and her great personal virtues were the same before and since; but such was the fame of her administration of affairs at home, such was the reputation of her wisdom and felicity in choosing ministers, and such was then esteemed their faithfulness and zeal, their diligence and great abilities in executing her commands; to such a height of military glory did her great general and her armies carry the British name abroad, such was the harmony and concord betwixt her and her allies, and such was the blessing of God upon all her councils and undertakings, that I am as sure as history can make me, no prince of our's ever was so prosperous and successful, so beloved, esteemed, and honoured by their subjects and their friends, nor near so formidable to their enemies. We were, as all the world imagined then, just entering on the ways that promised to lead to such a peace as would have answered all the prayers of our religious queen, the care and vigi

lance of a most able ministry, the payments of a willing and obedient people, as well as all the glorious toils and hazards of the soldiery, when God, for our sins, permitted the spirit of discord to go forth, and, by troubling sore the camp, the city and the country (and oh that it had altogether spared the places sacred to his worship!) to spoil, for a time, this beautiful and pleasing prospect, and give us in its stead, I know not whatOur enemies will tell the rest with pleasure. It will become me better to pray to God to restore to us the

power of obtaining such a peace as will be to his glory, the safety, the honour and welfare of the queen and her dominions, and the general satisfaction of all her high and mighty allies.' May 2, 1712.

T.

STEELE.

No. 385. THURSDAY, MAY 22.

-Thesea pectora juncta fide. Ovid. TRIST. Breasts that with sympathizing ardour glow'd And holy friendship such as Theseus vow'd.

I INTEND the paper for this day as a loose essay upon friendship, in which I shall throw my observations together without any set form, that I

may avoid repeating what has been often said on this subject.

Friendship is a strong and habitual inclination in two persons to promote the good and happiness of one another. Though the pleasures and

« 上一頁繼續 »