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When virtue shines from the throne, it warms the hearts of all below it, and the advantage of the station gives it an influence not to be resisted; religion in the height of greatness is an amiable sight, and the people will insensibly learn to imitate what they cannot help admiring. Would it not teach the haughtiest mind humility, to see majesty itself lie prostrate at the altar, imploring the divine assistance with such a sense of its dependence as is but rarely found in the lowest fortune? Must it not shame us into mutual kindness and benevolence, when we see with how uncommon a love the princess embraces all her subjects, even the worst deserving; imitating the example of divine mercy, which makes the sun to rise both on the just and on the unjust? Can the people refuse submission to such a prince? Can they scruple to follow the law as the rule of their obedience, which they see their princess submitting to as the rule of her government.
Lastly, there is one thing more which comprehends in it all that a nation can wish for, and which always attends the government of a just prince; I mean the blessing and protection of Heaven. As kings are the immediate ministers of God, so are they his immediate care; he ruleth both their hearts and their hands, and turneth them as seemeth best to his wisdom. It is easy for him to punish the wickedness of a prince and his people, by making foolish the wisdom of their wise men, and only suffering them to choose their own destruction; it is as easy to reward the good, by establishing the heart of the prince in council and in wisdom, and guiding him insensibly into the road of honor and prosperity. Time would fail me to set before you the instances of God's judgments and mercies. Those of the former sort (blessed be his name!) have no relation to this day; and for the latter, you might justly blame me should I search for foreign or for distant examples, when our own country and our own times furnish us with such ample materials: this day, as it is my subject, so shall it be my witness also; and I need call no other to prove the happiness of a people, whose prince ruleth in the fear of God.'
The virtues of the royal blood of Britain were never more amiably possessed than now, when the majesty of the crown is displayed in the softness of her sex who wears it, and seems
rather to invite than to command obedience: so equally are the graces mixed, that her authority creates no terror, her mildness no contempt; so tender is she of the privileges of her people, that the nation must ever praise her; so just to the rights of the crown, that her successors will never blame her. Her reign in every respect has been so just a transcript of the constitution, that time perhaps may make it doubtful whether our excellent constitution were not a copy drawn from the example of her government.
If the state may thus rejoice in the care of her princess, the church has equal right to boast of her protection. Our queen was born within her pale, and learned betimes to know and love her when the fears of popery surrounded her, and when every prospect, wherever she turned her eyes, was dark and gloomy; when some who wore her honors forsook her cause, and some silently lamented her condition; in that day of her distress, our princess misliked her not, but followed the worst of her fortunes, till the wisdom of Providence has raised her at last to become the author of her best, to be a nursing mother to the church and all her children.
Whilst Britain has been thus cherished, thus happy at home, under the influence of a mild government, she has not been less glorious abroad, extending her victorious arms to every country, either to protect her friends or to subdue her foes. We had been so long unaccustomed to success, that it was thought a conquest not to be subdued; a triumph to defend ourselves: the British victory seemed to pine for her ancient heroes, her Harries, and her Edwards, and scarcely lived on the faded honors of Cressy Field and Agincourt, till the genius of this day arose, and taught her once more to gather fresh laurels in distant countries. To such a height of glory has this female reign arrived, such honor and such triumphs has it brought our nation, that should any future king prove unfortunate, Britain perhaps, grown superstitious on the successes of her queen, will wish he had been a woman.'
But great as these successes were, yet still they brought a grief with them, which easily found its way to a compassionate heart; the queen could not hear of victory without lamenting the loss of her brave countrymen, without pitying even her
conquered foes: and so tender a regard has she for mankind, that, notwithstanding all these honors of the field, she reckons it the glory of her reign, that she has stopped even the triumph of her arms by peace, and gave the harassed nations leave to respire.
One thing only she wants to complete her happiness, to see her subjects unite in love and mutual confidence; to see those heats and animosities buried in oblivion, which threaten the peace of our Israel. But why do I sully the glories of this day with mention of our divisions, those wounds of our country, at which her best life flows out, and leaves her sickly in the very season of her youth, and whilst all her honors bloom fresh around her? How earnestly has the queen commanded, exhorted, intreated, nay even begged of you to forget your resentments? And could you but offer up to her the quarrels of your country, it would be a more welcome present than should you lay the treasures of both Indies at her feet.
Thus happy in the affections of her queen, Britain must ever think of her with joy and pleasure: and yet one circumstance there is that often gives her pain, always when she reflects that her princess is mortal; witness her late distraction, when uncertain fame variously reported her princess's illness. Not Rome was more dismayed when Hannibal was at her gates; every thing was fear and confusion, and men began to look suspiciously on each other, as if in every face they had seen a foe; the 'treasury of the city' one would have thought was plundering; and yet no enemy was near, but Britain in her disorder was preying on herself.
Blessed be the Power, the almighty Power, that has dispelled these fears! Let every heart be lifted up in praise to his holy name, who hath given life and salvation to his servant, and hath not denied the request of her lips.'
And yet when she requested life, it was for her country's sake, and not her own; her mortality is what she oftener and more willingly thinks on than we do; and whenever she does, finds nothing to disturb her mind, but the concern for her people, who will be left behind her: a concern that has more than once been expressed in the most generous regard to posterity, by providing for the future peace and happiness of these king
doms, in the settlement of the crown on the ILLUSTRIOUS HOUSE OF HANOVER: a blessing for which the nation can never be thankful enough. But it raises an indignation unbecoming this day, to hear some pleading their affection to this happy settlement, as a mark and distinction of their party; a settlement which is undeniably our common good, and I trust also our common care. But let no prospect of distant happiness, how entertaining soever, render us insensible of the present good we enjoy; but let every wish that looks to the suc
cession centre in this point, that we may never see it; that our country may never lose it:' whilst we live, may this day return (and whilst it does return it always will) with fresh honor! but when we are forgot; when she, who is our glory, is called to a better throne, may late posterity enjoy the fruits of her care, in deriving the crown on so noble a family! As long as our wishes are confined within these limits, there is no reason to make a secret of our affections to the protestant succession; it is an affection which every lover of his country ought frankly to proclaim; which is the proper way of keeping this common concern from becoming a party cause; and stilling those fears and jealousies which are destructive of our peace and happiness.
May He, who stilleth the raging of the seas and the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people, send us peace and concord, and minds capable of enjoying the blessings which he has so plentifully showered on us! and to complete our happiness, may he add length of days to our gracious sovereign, and continue her to be a comfort to her people, till she shall as far surpass the oldest of her predecessors in number of years, as she has already outdone the bravest in honor and glory!
SUMMARY OF DISCOURSE V.
ACTS, CHAP. VII.-VERSE 25.
THE text is part of the dying speech of St. Stephen, delivered to the high priest and the people just before he was offered up a glorious sacrifice for the truth of the gospel. The design of it was to set before the people of Israel the history of their redemption from slavery and idolatry, and excite them to attend to the present offers of peace through Jesus Christ, by showing them the fatal mistakes they had often made in despising or abusing former mercies: their conduct to Moses in this point enlarged on.
To draw parallels between the histories in Scripture and those of our own times, is a slippery subject, in which there is a danger of missing Scriptural doctrines, and publishing our own partial sentiments, under cover of that divine book which was given to amend them. The subject of this discourse therefore is confined to such observations and such applications of them, as naturally arise from the text and our own circum
First, then, we may observe from the text that Moses, though raised by God in a wonderful manner to be the deliverer of his people, yet fell under great discouragements from his countrymen, for whose sake he was raised up: this topic enlarged on. Notwithstanding however this blindness of the people, the murderer, as they called him, was ordained by God to be their prince and deliverer; and they were at last happily convinced of their mistake, by receiving at his hand the blessings promised to their forefathers.