« PreviousContinue »
The necessary qualifications which some politicians have required in a leader of faction, are much eloquence and little understanding: much eloquence to persuade and mislead others, but not understanding enough to foresee the dangers arising from his own conduct, lest he should be discouraged from his ruinous enterprises. And men of these qualifications are to be found in every state; who, under pretence of redressing imaginary grievances, or of reforming abuses, which never existed, are ever ready to turn the world upside down. But, before men give way to their insidious harangues, they would do well to consider, what the experience of all ages will teach them, that, however specious the pretences of such demagogues may be, self-interest generally lies at the bottom of all they do or say; that, however some grievances may and must exist, even in the best and wisest civil constitutions, yet that an imperfect administration is preferable to that anarchy and violence, which always follows the subversion of legal and settled government; and, lastly, that, however the powers of government may change hands, yet that the people are seldom gainers by the change. And should any man doubt the truth of these positions, we need only refer him to the consideration of those unhappy times in our own country, when regal authority was abolished,
Fished, and the powers of government usurped by factious disturbers or canting zealots; or again, to those successive revolutions in the Roman state, by which the governing powers were transferred, in turns, to kings, consuls, tribunes, triumvirates, decemvirates, and emperors, and in each of which the people, ever shifting, ever restless, gained only an accumulated load of misery and oppression. If, indeed, our constitutional liberties were taken from us,--if we were forcibly disseized of our property,-if the laws were trampled under foot, and the iron hand of power, or the wide-stretched grasp of prerogative, were ready to snatch away our sacred claims or chartered rights,-we might then justly complain, and think it time to look for expedients and defenders. But the reverse of all these things is true; and, for a striking proof of this, I need only appeal singly, to the impartiality with which justice is administered to all ranks of people, by men of the first abilities, and now happily independent of the will of the Crown, to convince every reasonable man that he is a free member of the most mild, wise, and equitable government in the world; which, therefore, it is his interest, as well as his duty, to support by every mark of chearful obedience in himself, and by discouraging every factious innovation in others. Let, therefore, past experience
perience teach us wisdom; and, whilst we sit every man under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, let us "fear God and honour the "King" let us study to be quiet, without pretending to interfere in things which no way belong to us, and without meddling with those that are given to change...
LUKE Xi. 2.
And he said unto them, IVhen ye pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven.
'HE disciples of our blessed Saviour having requested him to teach them to pray, as John had taught his disciples, he, with that readiness with which he ever listened to the real wants and infirmities of men, condescends to instruct them in that form, which is the most expressive of all the real wants and infirmities of men, and the best suited to all times and occasions. It has, accordingly, been wisely adopted by our Church in her several offices:-we teach it to our children in their earliest rudiments of Christian knowledge:-we conclude all our own imperfect addresses to heaven with it-and would to God I could also say, that we are as
earnest as we ought to be, whenever our lips are opened to pronounce it!
Since, therefore, it is of such general use and importance, I hope that such a short and familiar explanation of it, as may lead us to consider the nature and importance of it, however it may want the charms of novelty, will neither be unnecessary nor unprofitable, especially to the younger part of my audience, to whom I wish to be considered as now more immediately addressing myself.
Before I enter upon the consideration of the particular parts, of which this excellent prayer is composed, it may not be improper to make two general remarks:
First, That it was intended for all capacities, and, therefore, is plain and simple:-it was intended for all degrees, high and low, rich and poor, and is, therefore, comprehensive, and expressive of the wants of all:—and, at the same time, it is short; teaching us thereby, that the God to whom we address ourselves wants no information; and also, that not the length, but the sincerity, of our petitions, will be regarded by him.