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more or less thinking of him since the news of his great danger was made known; their attention has been drawn that way by a kind of instinct, of which many would find it hard to give any account themselves.
And it is well that so it should be, provided the thoughts we have of our Sovereign's death be of the right sort, that is, of a reli. gious sort ; provided we take occasion from this act of God's outstretched arm to pray earnestly that He would fix in our hearts a deep sense of the vanity of this world, and the eternity of the next; of the heavy account we shall have to give, as of all other duties, so of what we owe to kings and princes; and also of the duty and the wisdom of trusting God in all things, little and great, and of always being on the Church's side, since we know not what shall be on the morrow, only we are quite sure that He will order matters, so that in the end the kingdom of His Son, that kingdom of which earthly governments are parts and shadows, is sure to prevail against all opposition for ever. If we thus consider the death of our King, it is well ; but it is not well, if we regard it as matter of mere curiosity, wondering what will come next; which is a way of thinking natural enough to most men, and likely to become more and more common among us, as it becomes easier to know what men are doing everywhere. You may, perhaps, think it a mere trifle, a matter of no consequence for good or for evil, whether one is fond of hearing news or no. But hear what was said five hundred years ago by one of the best and wisest teachers of holiness whom the Church has seen since the Apostles' days. “He that desires much to hear news, is never void of passions, and secular desires, and adherences to the world.” It is a bad sign, therefore, when people listen eagerly to the accounts of our King's sickness, death, and funeral, merely as to something new,
and there an end. To say no more of it, it is disrespectful treatment of the sad and serious dispensations of Almighty God; it is the same kind of thing as reading the Bible with the notion that you are reading a book of history, a report of what happened to the Jews.
It is still worse, if any man look on the death of his King as a matter of mere gain or loss to himself or his friends, or to this or that party in the state. For so it is, unhappily, that this kingdom of England is so divided into parties, that every thing almost
which happens in it, and much more so important an affair as the death of the Sovereign, is sure to be considered by many persons just as it may happen to affect the interest of themselves or their party for the moment. We of this congregation happily are most of us too far from the tumult of public life to be much, or immediately, in the way of this temptation; yet there are probably not a few here, who understand, and more or less care about, the manner in which the death of a King of England may possibly affect the course of the government; and to these I would wish
Take heed that you do not let your thoughts dwell only on calculations of this sort; if you do not mind, they will take off your attention from the warning which-such an event conveys to all men ; you will think too much of what men are doing, and too • little of God's overruling Providence.”
This that I have last mentioned is the error of persons who enter more or less into what are called politics ; but I should not wonder if there were some, among the poor more especially, who look on the death of their King with a sort of proud indifference, as if it were, to them at least, no more than the death of another man. They may perhaps be tempted by the spirit of discontent to say to themselves, “I am a poor man, just, or hardly able to get my bread by hard labour : what are kings and great men, living or dead, to such an one as I ?” Thus some may speak; but I would beseech them to consider whether this their feeling is any better than a sullen repining spirit, which would cause them in like manner to be unkind and envious towards all who are richer or greater or more fortunate than themselves. I would have them reflect whether they are not going on much in the same spirit as Judas Iscariot was, when he grumbled at so much being laid out in what he thought mere barren honour to his Master. Why was this waste of the ointment made ?” sounds not very unlike what some persons nowa-days think the perfection of wisdom and common sense. King, after all,” they say, “is but a man, and why should so much more be made of him, living or dead, than of another person ?”
In opposition to all these errors, hear how the holy Book of God teaches us to meditate on the death of our Sovereign Lord the King. The substance of its teaching on such an occasion is briefly comprehended in the short but high and mysterious Psalm
from which the text is taken. We are there taught that the ever present God is present in a peculiar manner among princes and other chief rulers of the world ; that He expostulates with them against the oppression and injustice of which they are tempted to be guilty; by the checks of conscience, and by His written Word, and by the warnings of His Church and ministers, He is continually saying to them, “ How long will ye give wrong judgment, and accept the persons of the ungodly? Defend the poor and fatherless ; see that such as are in need and necessity have right.” This is, in short, the history of the Church, how she has in all ages lifted up her voice against whatever oppression and injustice the strong ones of the world have practised upon the weaker. And it is because the world has refused to hear these warnings, that things have gone on so disorderly as we read of and experience. The world will not be taught by the Church, will not understand her meaning, nor listen to her voice ; therefore, and for no other reason, “ all the foundations of the earth are out of course.”
Well, so far the Divine Psalmist teaches the great men of the world their duty. But in the next verse, according to the impartiality of Scripture, which excepts no man's person, but warns rich and poor alike, he goes on to show what we should think of these princes, even though they should oppress us; and how we should look upon their deaths. “ I have said, Ye are gods : and ye are all the children of the Most Highest.” Our SAVIOUR Himself observed once to the Jews, as a remarkable thing, that the Holy SPIRIT “ called them gods to whom this word of God came;" that is, the kings and princes of the earth, however unworthy, are, in right of their office, a kind of gods; that is, in God's stead, to their subjects. As such, God looks on them with peculiar care, counts them His children in an especial manner. " Ye are all,” saith HE, “ the children of the Most HIGHEST: but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." Yet,” He adds, in order to make them understand that they too had an account to give, “yet ye too shall die like men, and fail like any one of the princes beside and before you." And the Prophet himself, carried away by his deep thoughts on this awful manner of communing between the Almighty and his chosen deputies, the kings of the kingdoms of
the earth,—the Prophet utters a kind of response, and let every creature join with him : “ Arise, O God, and judge Thou the earth; for Thou shalt take all heathen to thine inheritance." Which is a prayer to the same effect as when the souls of the Martyrs under the altar cry to God in the book of Revelation, to avenge their blood on their persecutors; or, as when we ourselves, taught by our LORD, pray daily, “Thy kingdom come."
I think it will appear, from a few observations I shall now offer in conclusion, that the end of this Psalm does in a remarkable way point out the chief purposes of God's providence in such a dispensation as the death of a Christian King. First, a man must be cold hearted indeed, not to feel in such an event the touch of an Almighty hand, awakening him to consider the utter vanity and worthlessness of this life, considered in itself. Can we help saying to ourselves with the son of Sirach, “ He who is to-day a king, to-morrow shall die? And when a man is dead," king and subject alike, " he shall inherit creeping things, beasts, and worms.” The sentence of decay, as well as death, passes alike impartially on all. Who can think seriously on this, and not be ashamed of having set his heart on such trifling transitory things as the honours, riches, satisfactions of this world ? The bells that were tolling yesterday evening in so many churches all over the country, did they not say to every Englishman, as plainly as if an angel from Heaven had said it, Why will you set your heart on things which will not endure? Do you not, one and all, see what the best of this world must come to, and that very soon? Think how short a time it is, not quite seven years, since we were mourning in the same way for a former king; think, thus it is with the best and highest of the things which people seek on this side the grave; we have them not at all for our own, but for a very short and uncertain lease; but in the other world God has given us, if we would but lay hold of it, a kingdom and a crown which will endure for ever ; has given us, I say, for so the Scripture speaks : Christ " hath made us kings to God and His Father." He has given us power to rule ourselves here, by the help of His Holy Spirit, in such a manner that we may secure, without fail, a crown and a kingdom, where all things are eternal. This spiritual aid God sealed to us in Holy Baptism; and the death of our King is one among many warnings, whereby He would hinder us
from throwing it away. It is as if He spake aloud, Behold, what comes of the greatest and highest in this world, even when innocently obtained, and blamelessly (as far as we see) enjoyed ; full of care while it lasts, gone in a moment, and never to return."
And will you not rather think on that world, which “ they who are counted worthy to obtain shall never die any more, but shall be equal to the angels, and shall be children of God, being the children of the Resurrection ?” When you see that he who was the highest amongst us has found One yet higher than himself; he who could not be called to account on earth is gone to give an account in the unseen world, and to be judged by the same rule as the meanest of his Christian subjects; will you not at such an hour look forward to your own last trial, and wish, and pray, and resolve to endeavour that you may not be found unprepared?
But, secondly : although the sight of a king's death is naturally apt to make us all have sad thoughts of our common mortality, yet the Scripture warns us that we think not rudely on it, as if it proved kings, while they lived, to be no more than other men. You perceive, that in this same place where kings are warned that they shall “ die like men ;” they are nevertheless called gods, and are said to be all of them “ the children of the Most HIGHEST.” Wherefore the death of one sovereign, and succession of another, may well cause us to have serious thoughts of the high and sacred office of our King; and to remember that he is not, as some imagine, (a strange imagination surely for Christians,) set over the people by their own choice, so as to be only or chiefly their minister ; but he is, as St. Paul says, “the minister of God;" a minister in somewhat of the same sense as bishops and priests are ministers. He is called our Lord the King, our gracious Sovereign; his subjects bow the knee before him, when specially called into his presence; and to him all persons in the kingdom are to look as the fountain of judgment, justice, and mercy; the Defender of the Faith, the protector of the good, and the punisher of wrong doers. These are so many instances of something like Divine honour being paid to Christian kings, and may serve to explain the remarkable expression : “I have said, Ye are gods." As Moses taking God's message, was said himself to be a god to Pharaoh, so kings are called gods, as being in Christ's place on earth. For Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, set down on