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His Father's right hand, is, as we know, “ the Prince of the kings of the earth, King of kings, and Lord of lords.” These are among His own chosen titles, as you may read in the Book of Revelation. But the several kings are Christ's deputies, trusted with a part of His power in the several countries and standing, as they do, in His stead, must be honoured with a religious and sacred honour, as all things ought that especially pertain to Him. To remind persons of this, it has ever been the custom of God's Church, before our Lord's coming, as well as after, to anoint the sovereign with holy oil, as we read that David and Saul were anointed. For the same reason the crown is put on his Majesty's head, not by a great nobleman, but by a Bishop of the Church of God; and he is sworn on the Bible to those duties especially, in which he most nearly represents Jesus Christ glorified, namely, to the protection of the Church, and the administration of judgment with mercy.
All these customs Christian kingdoms have received, in order that both kings and people might be duly reminded, how very sacred is the royal office, how nearly it approaches to that of an ordained minister, how deeply we are all bound to venerate our Sovereign, as holding a leading office in the Church of God, being Christ's chief minister there in one way, as Bishops are in another way; deputed by God's own commission to be nursing fathers to the children of the Church, as Bishops and Priests are spiritual fathers of the same. Regarding the King thus as a headservant in the Church, we see with how much force and reason the two commands are joined together by St. Peter, Fear God, honour the King."
Thirdly, we learn to have due thoughts of the great anxiety of His Majesty's office, and the especial dangers, spiritual and temporal, which must needs wait upon so high a trust in this bad and unquiet world. “ Ye shall fall,” says the sacred text, “ like one of the princes;" evidently meaning that princes, as such, were in more than common danger of falling; their life, as it were, hung by a thread, so many and so restless were their enemies, and so wearisome their heavy duties. This was still more evidently the case in unsettled countries, and in the time when the Psalms were written ; as every one must know who has looked into the history of the kings of Israel, in the books of Kings and Chronicles ; where sometimes in one chapter, and in the course of a very few years, we find five or six sovereigns succeeding each other, and perishing by violence. The expression, therefore, “ Ye shall fall like one of the princes,” probably means,
« Great as you may now seem, you are subject to the same casualties and dangers as the other princes before you ;” and you will do well to remember this your condition, that you may not be lifted up, nor forget God.
In our time, and in our part of the world, the personal danger of a sovereign may be much diminished; though many who now live may remember a King of France murdered publicly by his own subjects; a sad proof that good and great kings are not yet exempt from violent deaths. But however, the anxiety and trouble of a true Christian mona
narch, a dutiful son and daugh. ter of the Church, called to rule a nation like this, must indeed. be something overpowering, something intolerable, were it not for Divine support. Our young Queen, whom God preserve, has acknowledged that she so' feels it; her own royal words are, “ I should feel myself utterly oppressed by the burthen, were I not sustained by the hope that Divine Providence, which has called me to the work, will give me strength for the performance of it." And it is said, I know not how truly, but certainly it seems very reasonable to believe, that she was in the greatest distress for many days, when she first knew that she was likely to be called to the crown immediately. Now of this, two good uses may be made by every one of Her Majesty's subjects :--First, That we remember to join most earnestly in the prayers which the Church daily offers up for her, join in them heartily, for Charity's sake, as we should if any person in great affliction desired the prayers of the congregation : Secondly, That we learn to be more and more contented with our own lowly condition, as many of us as are tempted sometimes to consider themselves too low in the world. For here we see that the highest and noblest condition is, in many respects, even more exposed to fears and cares than the lowest.
Fourthly, we shall do well to add to these thoughts a humble and thankful remembrance of God's mercy in giving us an undoubted hcir to the throne, so that when His Majesty King William died, there could be no question who should come to be obeyed in his room. And thus, as in the Church it is undoubted who are our governors, since we know none can be so, but such as receive their commission from the Apostles by laying on of the Bishops' hands, so in the State we are at no loss to know whom God has made His chief minister; the royal line in the one case answering, as it were, to the apostolical line in the other. And this may carry on our thoughts further, to the consideration of one great end which in common belongs to both the Kingly and the Episcopal office, namely, to be in Christ's stead, carrying on His government here on earth, and preparing the way for His heavenly kingdom. His special Providence, in furnishing us so far with a sure and unquestionable succession in both these lines, may be to us a pledge of the sure continuance and final triumph of His Church. His holy Arm is so far revealed in sight of the nations of the earth ; they see it held out to support His own building, and carry on His own work; and the faith of good men is strengthened to look on more and more steadily to the end. To such meditations the Holy Scripture leads us, by what occurs at the end of the Psalm concerning the final end of earthly sovereignty. “Arise, O God, and judge Thou the earth; for Thou shalt take all heathen to Thine inheritance.”
And surely, while we are acknowledging God's fatherly provi. dence, in giving us princes to continue a Christian kingdom among us, even as He gives us Bishops to continue His Church, we can hardly help asking ourselves with all seriousness, How have we deserved such merciful care ? How have we prayed for our King ? how have we reverenced, how have we obeyed him in times past? Have not our prayers been too often careless, our thoughts hard and irreverent, our obedience to the laws for wrath only, and not for conscience sake ? Certainly, if God be so gracious to us as to continue the blessings of His Church and the monarchy among us, we cannot say that it is for want of provocation on our part to take them away; we must own that it is all of His free and unspeakable mercy. Considering the many sins of our land, and our own part in them, we have need to bow the knees of our hearts, and prepare ourselves for the worst that may happen to ourselves and our country; humbly submitting to what we cannot help, and when we have a choice, faithfully endeavouring to serve our Queen and our God; and the more unsettled we find things on earth, the more stedfastly endeavouring to fix our hearts and our hopes on Heaven, where only true peace can be found, and on the Church, which is the appointed way to Heaven.
ST. PAUL AT ATHENS.
Acts xvii. 32-34.
“And when they heard of the Resurrection of the dead, some mocked; and
others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.' So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit, certain clave unto him, and believed."
Among other good and gracious purposes, for which the Holy Spirit of God seems to have provided the Acts of the Apostles, one is, To hinder men from expecting too much from the Gospel, though it be preached never so faithfully: and also to warn them of those evil tempers, which are most likely to hinder them from receiving it worthily. All things considered, that Sacred History represents to us the hearers of the Apostles themselves behaving much in the same sort of way as people do now in the like circumstances. Some believed the things that were spoken, and some believed not.” Some “ spake against them, contradicting and blaspheming :" but the greater part, it should seem, like Gallio, “ cared for none of these things,” any more than just to satisfy their curiosity. Not even the miraculous gifts, and holy lives, and willing martyrdom, of such men as St. Stephen and St. Paul, could prevail, in all or most instances, against the pride and corruption of man. Recollecting what very great numbers continued even then in unbelief, we cannot, I think, well say, that the Christian Faith, supported as it was by the visible aid of the Holy Ghost, met with a better reception than now.