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much as any man breathing does or can; but for all that, the government must not be ruined, nor private interests served to the detriment of the public, though upon the most plausible pretences whatsoever. And therefore it will certainly concern the whole nobility, gentry, and all the sober commonalty of the nation, for the sake of God, their prince, their country, and their own dear posterity, to lay this important matter to heart. For unless these lurking subterraneous nests of disloyalty and schism be utterly broken up and dismantled, all that the power and wit of man can do to secure the government against that faction, which once destroyed it, will signify just nothing. It will be but as the pumping of a leaky vessel, which will be sure to sink for all that, when the devouring element is still soaking and working in at a hundred undiscerned holes, while it is cast out only at one.
2. My other request to you, great men, is, that you would, in your respective stations, countenance all legal, allowed, free grammarschools, by causing (as much as in you lies) the youth of the nation to be bred up there, and no where else; there being sometimes, and in some respects, as much reason why parents should not breed, as why they should not baptize their children at home.
But chiefly, and in the first place, let your kind and generous influences upon all occasions descend upon this royal and illustrious school, the happy place of your education. A school, which neither disposes men to division in church, nor sedition in state; though too often found the readiest way (for churchmen especially) to thrive by; but trains up her sons and scholars to an invincible loyalty to their prince, and a strict, impartial conformity to the church. A school so untaintedly loyal, that I can truly and knowingly aver, that in the very worst of times (in which it was my lot to be a member of it) we really were king's scholars, as well as called so. Nay, upon that very day, that black and eternally infamous day of the king's murder, I myself heard, and am now a witness, that the king was publicly prayed for in this school but an hour or two (at most) before his sacred head was struck off. And this loyal genius always continued amongst us, and grew up with us; which made that noted corypheus of the independent faction, (and some time after, namely, 1651, promoted by Cromwell's interest to the deanery of Christ
The reader is desired to cast his eye upon a printed piece, entitled, A Letter from a Country Divine to his Friend in Lon
don, concerning the education of the dissenters, in their private academies, in several parts of this nation; humbly offered to the consideration of the grand committee of parliament for religion, now sitting. Printed at London, for Robert Clavell in Saint Paul's Church-yard, 1703.
† Dr John Owen.
Church in Oxford,) often say, that it would never be well with the nation, till this school was suppressed; for that it naturally bred men up to an opposition to the government. And so far indeed he was in the right. For it did breed up people to an opposition to that government which had opposed and destroyed all governments besides itself; nay, and even itself too at last; which was the only good thing it ever did. But if, in those days, some four or five bred up in this school, (though not under this master,) did unworthily turn aside to other by-ways and principles; we can however truly say this of them, that though "they went out from us, yet they were never of us." For still the school itself made good its claim to that glorious motto of its royal foundress, Semper eadem; the temper and genius of it being neither to be corrupted with promises, nor controlled with threats.
For though, indeed, we had some of those fellows for our governors, (as they called themselves,) yet thanks be to God, they were never our teachers; no, not so much as when they would have perverted us, from the pulpit. I myself, while à scholar here, have heard a prime preacher* of those times, thus addressing himself from this very pulpit, to the leading grandees of the faction in the pew under it. "You stood up," says he, "for your liberties, and you did well." And what he meant by their liberties, and what by their standing up for them, I suppose, needs no explication. But though our ears were still encountered with such doctrines in the church, it was our happiness to be taught other doctrine in the school; and what we drank in there, proved an effectual antidote against the poison prepared for us here. †
And therefore, as Alexander the Great admonished one of his soldiers (of the same name with himself) still to remember that his name was Alexander, and to behave himself accordingly; so, I hope, our school has all along behaved itself suitably to the royal name and title which it bears; and that it will make the same august name the standing rule of al! its actings and proceedings for ever; still remember with itself, that it is called the king's school, and therefore let nothing arbitrary or tyrannical be practised in it, whatsoever has been practised against it. Again, it is the king's school, and therefore let nothing but what is loyal come out of it, or be found in it; let it not be so much as tinctured with any thing which is either republican or fanatical; that so the whole nation may have cause to wish, that the king may never want such a school, nor the nation may ever want such a king. A prince, great in every thing which
* Mr William Strong.
Namely, Westminster-Abbey, where this sermon was appointed to have been preached.
deserves to be accounted great; a prince, who has some of all the Christian royal blood in Europe running in his veins; so that to be a prince, is only another word for being of kin to him who, though he is the princely centre of so many royal lines, meeting in his illustrious person, is yet greater for his qualifications than for his extraction; and upon both accounts much likelier to be envied, than equalled, by any or all the princes about him. In a word, and to conclude all; a prince so deservedly dear to such as truly love their country and the prosperity of it, that, could it be warrantable to pray for the perpetuity of his life amongst us, and reign over us, we could not do it in words more proper and significant for that purpose, than that God would vouchsafe to preserve the one, and coutinue the other, till we should desire to see a change of either.
To which God, the great King of kings and Lord of lords, be rendered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, might, majesty, and dominion, both now and for evermore. Amen.
ILLUSTRIOUS, BLESSED, AND NEVER-DYING MEMORY
CHARLES THE FIRST,
KING OF GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND IRELAND, DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, &c. CAUSELESSLY REBELLED AGAINST, INHUMANLY IMPRISONED, AND AT LENGTH BARBAROUSLY MURDERED BEFORE THE GATES OF HIS OWN PALACE, BY THE WORST OF MEN AND THE MOST OBLIGED OF SUBJECTS.
PRETENCE OF CONSCIENCE NO EXCUSE FOR REBELLION.
KING CHARLES THE SECOND,
CHAPEL IN WHITEHALL,
THIRTIETH DAY OF JANUARY, 1662-3,
BEING THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE EXECRABLE MURDER OF THE LATE KING CHARLES 1. OF GLORIOUS MEMORY.
"And it was so, and all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds."― JUDGES, Xix 30.
THE Occasion of these words was a foul and detestable fact, which had happened in one of the tribes of Israel; and the occasion of that fact was (as the text not obscurely intimates) the want of kingly government amongst the Israelites at that time: it being noted as a thing of particular remark, (in Judges, xxi. 25,) that this villainy was
committed "when there was no king in Israel;" and when (as a natural consequent thereof) men resolved to live at large; every one, without check or control, doing, as the text tells us, "what was right in his own eyes;" or (according to the more sanctified language of our late times) "as the Spirit moved him." Such a liberty of conscience, it seems, had they then got, for serving the Devil after his and their own way.
As for the infamous actors in this tragical scene, we have them boldly owning their shameless fact in open field, avowing it with sword in hand, and for some time defending the same with victory and success against their brethren, then the peculiar people and church of God, twice routed and slaughtered before them in a righteous cause; a cause managed by all the rest of the tribes engaged in it; and that not more with the proper arms of war in one hand, than with a commission from God himself in the other. In which and the like respects, so great a resemblance must needs be acknowledged between this and the late civil war amongst ourselves here in England, that the proceedings of forty-one, and some of the following years, may well pass for the Devil's works in a second edition, or a foul and odious copy, much exceeding the foulness of the original.
I profess not myself either skilled or delighted in mystical interpretations of scripture; nor am I for forcing or wiredrawing the sense of the text, so as to make it designedly foretell the king's death and murder; nor to make England, Scotland, and Ireland (as some enthusiasts have done) the adequate scene for the prophetic Spirit to declare future events upon; as if, forsooth, there could not be so much as a few houses fired, a few ships taken, or any other calamitous accident befall this little corner of the world, but that some apocalyptic ignoramus or other must presently find and pick it out of some abused, martyred prophecy of Ezekiel, Daniel, or the Revelation. No; I pretend not to any such illuminations. I am neither prophet nor prophetic prelate, but account it enough for my purpose, if I can bring my present business and the text together, not by design, but accommodation; and as the words themselves are very apposite and expressive, so I doubt not but to find such a parallel in the things expressed by them, that it may be a question, whether the subject of the text, or of this mournful day, may have a better claim to the expression.
The crime here set off with such high aggravations, was an injury done to one single Levite, in the villainous rape of his concubine; a surprising passage, I confess, tc us who have lived in times enlightening men to the utmost hatred and contempt of the ministry, as a principal part (or rather whole)
of their religion: nevertheless we see how, even in those "dark times of the law," (as our late saints used to call them,) the resentment of the wrong done to this poor Levite rose so high, that it was looked upon as a sufficient ground for a civil war; and accordingly made the concern of all Israel to revenge this quarrel upon the whole tribe of Benjamin, for abetting the villainy. This was the unanimous judgment of the eleven tribes, and a war was hereupon declared; in which the conduct and preeminence was by divine designation appointed to the royal tribe of Judah; the sceptre being judged by God himself most concerned to assert the privileges of, and revenge the injuries done the crosier; the crown to support the mitre; and, in a word, the sovereign authority to vindicate and abet the sacerdotal, as well as to be blessed by it.
But now, to come to the counterpart of the story, or the application of it to our present case. He who dates the murder of king Charles the First from the fatal blow given upon the scaffold, judges like him who thinks, that it is only the last stroke which fells the tree. No; the killing of his person was but the consummation of the murder first begun in his prerogative: and Pym, and some like him, did as really give a stroke towards the cutting down this royal oak, as Ireton or Cromwell himself. Few, I believe, but have heard of that superfine, applauded invention of theirs, of a double capacity in the king personal and politic: and, I suppose, the two noted factions, which then carried all before them, distinguished in him these two, that so, to keep pace with one another, each of them might destroy him under one.
For as for those whose post-dated loyalty now consists only in decrying that action, which had been taken out of their hands by others more cunning, though no less wicked than themselves; who, having laid the premises, afterwards ridiculously protest against the conclusion; they do but cover their prevarication with a fig-leaf, there being no more difference between both parties, but only this, that the former used all their art, skill, and industry to give these infamous contrivers of this murder the best colour and disguise they could; whereas their younger brother, the Independent, thought it the safest and surest way to disguise only the executioner.
Well, then, when a long sunshine of mercy had ripened the sins of the nation, so that it was now ready for the shakings of divine vengeance, the seeds of faction and rebellion having for a long time been studiously sowed by seditious libels, and well watered with schismatical lectures; the first assault was made against the clergy, by a pack of inveter
The presbyterian faction,
ate avowed enemies to the church, the fury of whose lust and ambition nothing could allay, but a full power and liberty (which they quickly got) to seize her privileges, prostitute her honours, and ravish her revenues; till at length, being thus mangled, divided, and broke in pieces, (as the Levite's concubine was before her,) she became a ghastly spectacle to all beholders, to all the Israel of God.
Such, therefore, was then the woful condition of our church and clergy, upon the Puritans' invasion of their rights, at the breaking out of the late civil war: in which, as we hinted before in the Levite's case, so amongst ourselves also, the cause of our oppressed church was owned and sheltered by the royal standard, and the defence of the ministry (as most properly it should be) managed by the defender of the faith. But, alas! the same angry Providence still pursuing the best of kings and causes with defeat after defeat, the lion falling before the wolf, as Judah (the royal tribe) sometimes did before Benjamin, the king himself came to be in effect first unkinged, and all his royalties torn from him, before the year forty-five; and then at last, to complete the whole tragedy in his person as well as office, Charles was murdered in forty-eight.
And this is the black subject and occasion of this day's solemnity. In my reflections upon which, if a just indignation, or indeed even a due apprehension of the blackest fact which the sun ever saw since he hid his face upon the crucifixion of our Saviour, chance to give an edge to some of my expressions, let all such know, the guilt of whose actions has made the very strictest truths look like satires or sarcasms, and bare descriptions sharper than invectives; I say, let such censurers (whose innocence lies only in their indemnity) know, that to drop the blackest ink and the bitterest gall upon this fact, is not satire, but propriety.
And now, since the text here represents the whole matter set forth in it, in these most significant and remarkable words, that "there was no such deed done or seen for many ages before;" and with which words I shall clothe the sad subject before us; I conceive the most proper prosecution thereof, as applied to this occasion, will be to shew wherein the unparalleled strangeness of this deed consists. And for this, since the nature is not to be accounted for, but from a due consideration of the agent, the object, and all that retinue of circumstances which do attend and specify it under a certain denomination, I shall accordingly distribute my discourse into these materials.
I. I shall consider the person that suffered. II. I shall shew the preparation and introduction to his suffering.
III. Shew the quality of the agents who acted in it,
IV. Describe the cireumstances and manner of the fact. And,
in Christendom is the church of England; and the great thing that does now cement
V. Point out the dismal and destructive and confirm the church of England is the consequences of it.
blood of this blessed saint.
Of all which in their order; and,
I. For the first of them; the person suffering. He was a king; and, what is more, such a king, not chosen, but born to be so; that is, not owing his kingdom to the vogue of the populace, but to the suffrage of nature. He was a David, a saint, a king, but never a shepherd. Some of all the royal blood in Christendom ran in his veins, that is to say, many kings went to the making of this one.
And his improvements and education fell no ways below his extraction. He was accurate in all the recommending excellencies of human accomplishments, able to deserve, had he not inherited a kingdom; of so controlling a genius, that in every science he attempted, he did not so much study as reign; and appeared not only a proficient, but a prince. And to go no farther for a testimony, let his own writings witness so much, which speak him no less an author than a monarch; composed with such an unfailing accuracy, such a commanding majestic pathos, as if they had been writ, not with a pen, but with a sceptre. And for those whose virulent and ridiculous calumnies ascribe that incomparable piece to others, I say, it is a sufficient argument that those did not write it, because they could not write it. It is hard to counterfeit the spirit of majesty, and the inimitable peculiarities of an incommunicable genius and condition.
At the council-board he had the ability still to give himself the best counsel, but the unhappy modesty to diffide in it; indeed his only fault; for modesty is a paradox in majesty, and humility a solecism in supre
Look we next upon his piety and unparalleled virtues; though without an absurdity I may affirm, that his very endowments of nature were supernatural. So pious was he, that had others measured their obedience to him by his obedience to God, he had been the most absolute monarch in the world; as eminent for frequenting the temple, as Solomon for building one. No occasions ever interfered with his devotions, nor business of state ate out his times of attendance in the church. So firm to the protestant cause, though he conversed in the midst of temptation, in the very bosom of Spain, and though France lay in his, yet nothing could alter him, but that he espoused the cause of religion even more than his beloved queen.
He every way filled the title under which we prayed for him. He could defend his religion as a king, dispute for it as a divine, and die for it as a martyr. I think I shall speak a great truth, if I say, that the only thing that makes protestantism considerable
He was so skilled in all controversies, that we may well style him in all causes ecclesiastical, not only supreme governor, but moderator, nor more fit to fill the throne than the chair; and withal so exact an observer and royal a rewarder of all such performances, that it was an encouragement to a man to be a divine under such a prince.
Which eminent piety of his was set off with the whole train of moral virtues. His temperance was so great and impregnable, amidst all those allurements with which the courts of kings are apt to melt even the most stoical and resolved minds, that he did at the same time both teach and upbraid the court; so that it was not so much their own vice, as his example, that rendered their debauchery inexcusable. Look over the whole list of our kings, and take in the kings of Israel to boot, and who ever kept the bond of conjugal affection so inviolate? David was chiefly eminent for repenting in this matter, Charles for not needing repentance. None ever of greater fortitude of mind, which was more resplendent in the conquest of himself, and in those miraculous instances of passive valour, than if he had strewed the field with all the rebel's armies, and to the justness of his own cause joined the success of theirs. And yet withal so meek, so gentle, so merciful, and that even to a cruelty to himself, that if ever the lion and the lamb dwelt together, if ever courage and meekness united, it was in the breast of this royal person.
And, which makes the rebellion more ugly and intolerable, there was scarce any person of note amongst his enemies, who, even fighting against him, did not wear his colours, that is, carry some peculiar mark of his former favours and obligations. Some were his own menial servants, and "ate bread at his table," before they "lifted up their heel against him." Some received from him honours, some offices and employments. I could mention particulars of each kind, did I think their names fit to be heard in church, or from a pulpit. In short, he so behaved himself towards them, that their rebellion might be malice indeed, but it could not be revenge.
And these his personal virtues shed a suitable influence upon his government. For the space of seventeen years, the peace, plenty, and honour of the English, spread itself even to the envy of all neighbour nations. And when that plenty had pampered them into such an unruliness and rebellion as soon followed it, yet still the justness of his government left them at a loss for an occasion; till at length ship-money was pitched upon, as fit to be reformed into excise and taxes, and the
burden of the subject to be took off by plunders and sequestrations.
The king, now, to scatter that cloud which began to gather and look black both upon church and state, made those condescensions to their impudent petitions, that they had scarce any thing to make war for, but what was granted them already; and having thus stript himself of his prerogative, he made it clear to the world, that there was nothing left them to fight for, but only his life. Afterwards, in the prosecution of this unnatural war, what overtures did he make for peace! Nay, when he had his sword in his hand, his armies about him, and a cause to justify him before God and man, how did he choose to compound himself into nothing, to depose and unking himself, by their hard, unconscionable, inhuman conditions! But all was nothing; he might as well compliment a mastiff, or court a tiger, as think to win those who were now hardened in blood, and thorough paced in rebellion. The truth is, his conscience uncrowned him, as having a mind too pure and defecate to admit of those maxims and practices of state, that usually make princes great and successful.
Having thus, with a new, unheard of sort of loyalty, fought against, and conquered him, they commit him to prison; and then the king himself notes, that it has been always observed, that there is but little distance from the prisons of kings to their graves. To which I farther subjoin, that where the observation is constant, there must needs be some certain standing cause of the connection of the things observed. And indeed it is a direct transition from the prison to the grave, a carceribus ad metam, the difference between them being only this; that he who is buried is imprisoned under ground, and he who is imprisoned is buried above it. And I could wish, that as they thus slew and buried his body, so we had not also buried his funeral.
But to finish this poor imperfect description, though it is of a person so renowned, that he neither needs the best, nor can be injured by the worst; yet in short, he was a prince whose virtues were as prodigious as his sufferings, a true pater patriæ, a father of his country, if but for this only, that he was the father of such a son.
And yet, this the most innocent of men, and the best of kings, so pious and virtuous, so learned and judicious, so merciful and obliging, was rebelled against, driven out of his own house, pursued like a " partridge upon the mountains," and like an exile in his own dominions, inhumanly imprisoned, and at length, for a catastrophe of all, barbarously murdered; though in this his murder was the less of the two, in that his death released him from his prison.
II. Having thus seen the quality and con
dition of the person who suffered, let us in the next place see the engines and preparations by which they gradually ascended to the perpetration of this bloody fact. And indeed it would be but a poor, preposterous discourse, to insist only upon the consequent, without taking notice of the antecedent.
It were too long to dig to the spring of this rebellion, and to lead you to the secrecies of its first contrivance. But, as David's phrase is upon another occasion, it "was framed and fashioned in the lowest parts of the earth," and there it was 66 fearfully and wonderfully made," a work of darkness and retirement, removed from the eye of all witnesses, even that of conscience also; for conscience was not admitted to their councils.
But the first design was to procure a Levite to consecrate their idol, that is to say, a factious ministry to christen it the cause of God. They still owned their party for God's true Israel; and being so, it must needs be their duty to come out of Egypt, though they provided themselves a red sea for their passage.
And then for their assistance they repair to the northern steel;* and bring in an unnatural, mercenary army, which like a shoal of locusts covered the land. Such as inherited the character of those whom God brought as scourges upon his people the Jews. For still we shall read that God punished his people with an army from the north. (Jer. 1. 3,) "Out of the north there cometh up a nation which shall make her land desolate." (Jer. iv. 6,) “I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction."
Now, to endear and unite these into one interest, they invented a covenant, much like those who are said to have made "a covenant with hell, and an agreement with death." It was the most solemn piece of perjury, the most fatal engine against the church, and bane of monarchy, the greatest snare of souls, and mystery of iniquity, that ever was hammered by the wit and wickedness of man. I shall not, as they do, abuse scripture language, and call it "the blood of the covenant," but give it its proper title, it was "the covenant of blood." Such an one as the brethren Simeon and Levi made, when they were going about the like design. Their very posture of taking it was an ominous mark of its intent, and their holding up their hands was a sign that they were ready to strike.
It was such an oglio of treason and tyranny, that one of their assembly,† of their own pro
This is no reflection upon the Scotch nation, nor intended for such, there having been persons as eminent for their loyalty,
piety, and virtue, of that country as of any other; but it reflects upon that Scotch faction, which invaded England with an army, in assistance of the rebels, and together with them made a shift to destroy the monarchy and the church in both kingdoms.
↑ Mr Philip Nye.