A SERMON PREACHED In the CATHEDRAL CHURCH of St. Peter in York, &c.
Psalm 107. Verse 2.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
Or as it is in the other Translation:
Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redee∣med and delivered from the hand of the enemy.
THis Psalm doth in the most Lively and Glorious Colours, paint forth and adorn the admirable Kindness, and Transcendent Love of Almighty God; doth visibly represent to humane Eye, the various and surprizing Scenes of Divine Providence; doth clearly evince and prove, That God who sitteth in Heaven, doth so far humble himself, as to behold the Things upon Page 2 Earth; that all the Vicissitudes and Changes, all the great Revolutions and variety of E∣vents in this World, are from the Hand of God; that all humane Affairs and Transacti∣ons are under his Providential Conduct, and Wise Disposal: And therefore it is, that the Psalmist gives us so many Illustrious Examples, such manifest Testimonies of Providence, as are able to convince any considerate Person, that the World is not governed by Fate, or gid∣dy Chance, but by infinite Wisdom and infi∣nite Goodness; that God presides over his Cre∣atures; that his Providence is deeply concern'd, and vigorously engaged in all the Changes and Chances of this Mortal Life: Thus from the Third to the Seventh Verse, we have a signal In∣stance of an Over-ruling, Omnipotent Provi∣dence, where we find the Children of Israel wandering in the Wilderness, in a Solitary Way, depriv'd of the necessary Supports and Comforts of this Life; yet, upon their devout Addresses to Heaven in Prayer, found present Relief and Deliverance from their Pressures; God, by his Gracious Providence, led them forth by the Right Way, and safely conducted them to a City of Habitation. Thus from the Tenth to Page 3 the Fourteenth Verse, we find how God is pleas'd to discipline and exercise others with Providen∣tial Afflictions, with Bonds and Imprisonments, because of their Wickedness and Impiety; yet as soon as ever such sharp Discipline, such se∣vere Chastisement has produc'd its desir'd Ef∣fect, that is, brought them to a State of Meek∣ness and Humility, Repentance and Refor∣mation; as soon as they thus endeavour to make this Atonement, God's Mercy then gets the Ascendant of his Justice, and he becomes propitious and favourable to them; brings them out of Darkness, and the Shadow of Death, and breaks their Bonds asunder.
Thus from the Twenty third to the Thirtieth Verse, we read, that such as go down to the Sea in Ships, and do Business in great Waters, such have more than ordinary Experiments of the Providence of the Sovereign Mercy and Po∣wer of God; sometimes they are Mounted in∣to the Air, and then again go down into the Depths of the Vast Ocean, are at their Wits end, in the greatest Amazement and Consternation; but when they cry or pray unto the Lord, the Violent Storm then is turn'd into a perfect Calm, & by gentle Gales, they are safely wafted to the Port they design'd to sail to.
Page 4Now, What doth the Lord require at the Hands of such as have the Characters of Di∣vine Providence, so singularly and eminently engraven upon them; for whom he hath wrought such Signal and Wonderful Delive∣rances?
Nothing but the Tribute of Praise and Thanksgiving; that is, a grateful Sense, and publick Acknowledgment of his immense Fa∣vours; such a Sense, as darts a powerful Influ∣ence upon their Life and Conversation; such a Sense, as obliges them to look up unto him as the Heroick Captain of their Salvation, to a∣scribe the Honour due unto his Name, to praise him for his Goodness, from whom they recei∣ved their Protection, their Safety and Preserva∣tion: O give Thanks unto the Lord; for he is good or gracious, and his Mercy endureth for ever; let the Redeemed of the Lord say so: Or let them give Thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed, and delive∣red from the Hand of the Enemy.
In the Words are these Two Observables:
- I. A Duty enjoin'd, together with the Object of it, and that is, to give Thanks unto the Lord.
- Page 5II. The Reason or Enforcement to the Practice and Observation of this Duty; and that is, the Consideration of a Redemption or Delive∣rance from the Hand of an Enemy: Let them give Thanks whom, &c.
But First, of the First Observable, A Duty enjoin'd, together with the Object of it, and that is, to give Thanks unto the Lord.
To give thanks, in this place, is, according to the Version of the LXX, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Word, which according to the Sence of the Ancient Interpreters, properly imports Con∣fession; and in this Sense I find it us'd by St. James, 5.16. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Confess your Faults; and indeed, before we offer up unto God, any Eucharistical Sacrifice, it is ne∣cessary for us to Confess and beg Pardon of our Sins, which hinder God's acceptation of our Ser∣vices; for if we regard Iniquity with our Hearts, the Lord will not hear us, Psalm, 66.18. And here, by the by, we may admire the Beauti∣ful Succession of Times and Seasons. Yester∣day was Ash-Wednesday, a day of Sack-cloth and Ashes, a day of Sorrow and Humilia∣tion Page 6 for Sin; to day, a day of Thanksgiving and Joyfulness.
But, as Heinsius observes, according to the Modern Interpretation, the Word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 doth likewise import to praise, or give Thanks unto the Lord; and in this Sense I find it, Mark 10.21. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉; Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father.
To give Thanks unto the Lord, is a Duty frequently inculcated and press'd upon us in Holy Scripture; thus Phil. 4.6. In every thing by Prayer and Thanksgiving, let your Requests be made known unto God; thus Col. 2.7. Abounding therein with Thanksgiving; and Chap. 4.2. Con∣tinue in Prayer, and watch in the same with Thanks∣giving; thus 1 Tim. 4.4. Every Creature of God is good, if it be received with Thanksgiving; thus Rev. 7.12. Blessing, and Glory, and Wisdom, and Thanksgiving, be unto GOD for ever and ever. Amen.
We have not only Precepts for, but rare and illustrious Examples in Holy Scripture, for the Practice and Observation of the Duty of Thanks∣giving:
Page 7Not to Multiply too many Instances;
Where do we find a more Noble Pattern of Gratitude, than the Royal Prophet, King David? He thought no place unfit, no time unseasonable for the Practice of this Duty; he continually revolv'd in his Thoughts, and im∣printed upon his Memory, the Mercy and Lo∣ving Kindness of the Lord; it was his pious Resolution to meditate or muse upon all his Works, Psal. 77.11.12. thus Psal. 103.2. Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all his Benefits, which he expresses, Verse 4. Who saveth thy life from Destruction, and crowneth thee with Mercy and loving Kindness.
Who can look upon God as his Creator, and not at the same time think himself under an indispensable and eternal Obligation to praise and give him thanks? Have we not the strongest Obligations to thank and praise him, who is the Author of our Frame and Constitution? Who is the Preserver of our Being? Who su∣stains Page 8 our Life by the continual Influence of his Love? Upon him we have a constant and a necessary Dependance; to him we owe the Common Protection of Life, the Mercies of Health and Liberty, and the reasonable Expe∣ctation of Happiness hereafter: Can we then be so unnatural, so inhumane, so disingenuous, as not to praise and give him thanks? It is he that has made us, saith the Royal Psalmist, Psal. 100.2. and not we our selves; we are his People, and the Sheep of his Pasture, upon this Foundation he superstructs our Duty in the next Verse; O go your Way into his Gates with thanksgiving, and into his Courts with praise, be thankful unto him and speak good of his Name!
We are his Creatures! A Word of the greatest Emphasis; a Word, that demands and extorts from us all imaginable Thankfulness, all possi∣ble Praise and Adoration; being Creatures, shews us God's absolute Soveraignty and Dominion over us; we depend upon him, as a Ray depends upon the Sun. When the Sun goes off the Hori∣zon, the Rays perish and vanish away: Thus if God should withdraw his Influx from us, we should instantly lapse and return into our primi∣tive Nothing. But,
Page 9Fourthly; That we may be perswaded to of∣fer up unto the Lord the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving, let us consider, that by such Sa∣crifices we not only glorify the Lord, but our selves; we thereby pursue our own Eternal Wel-fare and Felicity; for God is so infinitely happy in Himself, so perfect and beautiful, so transcendantly glorious, that we can give no Addition, no Lustre to his Divine Majesty, by the greatest Praise, and most Solemn Thanksgiving; No! God enjoins us to this duty of praise and thanksgiving, not for his, but our own Interest and Advantage. He would have us contemplate his Glory and Perfection, bless and praise him for no other end and purpose, but that thereby we may be excited to transcribe into our Na∣ture his Adorable Perfections, and thus fit and qualify our selves for Heaven, and the Joys of Eternity.
These are Ties, these are Obligations strong enough of themselves to enforce upon us the Constant Practice of the Duty of Thanksgi∣ving.
But these are not all;
There is yet behind one Argument more; an Argument of no little Weight and Importance; Page 10 an Argument, which, if any thing can, must rouze and awake us to the Duty of Thanksgi∣ving; must perswade us to entertain a grateful Affection, a deep Sense of the Mercy and Lo∣ving Kindness of the Lord; and that is, the rare Accident of Divine Providence, our Miraculous Deliverance, for which we are this day met to praise the Lord: And which is the Second Observable in the Words of my TEXT; Namely,
The Reason or Enforcement to the practice and observation of the Duty of Thanksgiving; and that is, the Consideration of a Redem∣ption or Deliverance from the Hand of an Enemy: Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redee∣med and delivered from the Hand of the Enemy.
And here I might Discourse of the Universal Redemption of Mankind by Christ, who paid the greatest Price, who purchased our Liberty and Enlargment with his dear and precious Blood; who delivered us from our Spiritual Enemies; from the Principalities, and Rulers of the Darkness of this World; from Spiritual Wickedness in High Places, by recovering lapsed Man to his for∣mer Capacity of Bliss and Happiness, by an Expedient as full of Wonder as Mercy, of Page 11 which we can never express too grateful a Re∣sentment.
But I shall only speak of a Temporal Redem∣ption, or Deliverance; for to such a Deliverance the Text directly points; Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed and delivered from the hand of the Enemy; E manu tribulantis, de manu angustiae, de potentia angustiatoris; Out of the hand of the Oppressor, out of our Distress, out of the Power of such as vexed and afflicted us. This is that for which we are now to celebrate the Divine Goodness, to magnifie him who hath demonstrated his Providence in so wonderfully relieving us in the time of Danger and Di∣stress; Let us give thanks whom the Lord hath deli∣vered from the hand of the Enemy; that is, from the detestable Superstitions and Corruptions of Po∣pery, from the intolerable Yoke of the Romish Church.
A Church, which is our implacable Adver∣sary; a Church, which is become our Ene∣my for telling the Truth, because we worship God after the way which they call Heresy; a Church, which mortally hates us for recovering the Chri∣stian Religion to it's ancient Brightness and pri∣mitive Splendor; for professing that Faith, which Page 12 was once delivered to the Saints; Is not this to hate us without a Cause? Because we have accurately filed Religion, polished and freed it from the Rust it had contracted, and set upon it its for∣mer Lustre; because we have fully discovered their horrible Cheats, and grand Impostures, by which they get their Wealth: The Romanists for these reasons industriously endeavour to take away both our Place and Nation, to destroy not only our Holy and Excellent Religion, but our Incomparable Government, and to bring our independent Freedom into a Subjection to their Foreign and Antichristian Yoke.
How many Efforts have been made? How many Arrows have been shot at this Glorious Nation, out of their Quiver of malice and re∣venge? but all of them missed the Mark; it was God that covered this Nation with the Wings of his Providence, that Defended it from the Arrows that flew by Day, and from the Pestilence that walked in Darkness.
It was in Eighty eight, when the Spanish invincible Navy came, like Great and For∣midable Castles, floating to our Coasts, with Sails swell'd with fury, and puffed up with hopes of Victory; but the Lord fought for us Page 13 by Fire & Winds, by Rocks and Tempests; how did the Lord then display his Wonders for us in the deep? How wonderfully did he then deliver us from the hand of the Enemy? Oh that men would therefore Praise the Lord for his Goodness, and declare the Wonders he hath done for the Children of Men!
It was in the Reign of King James the first of Blessed Memory, that the Execrable Gun-Powder Plot, that damnable Contrivance, was formed under Jesuitical Wings; but when it was grown to Maturity, and ready to be Hat∣ched, GOD Crushed this Hellish Project by a timely Discovery, and Delivered the Nation from the Hand of the Enemy.
It was in Eighty eight too, that we as well as our Fore-Fathers, were redeemed and delivered from the hand of the enemy, from Popery and Arbi∣trary Power.
Great were the hopes that the Papists had of introducing and setling their Religion; A Prince of their own Religion upon the Throne: A Zealous and an Industrious Prince too for propagating the Principles of his Religion: This gave them a Charming Prospect of Suc∣cess; this made them leave no Stone unturned; Page 14 this made them, Jehu like, drive on with all imaginable Fury and Violence; this Emboldned them to put that galling and fretting Yoke upon our Necks, which neither we nor our fore-fathers were able to bear: Unhappy and Unfortunate Prince! How is the Mighty faln! I am Distressed for him. Who can reflect upon his mis∣fortunes without pity and perturbation of Mind? How would his Throne a' been Establish'd in Righteousness, had but the wicked been taken away from before him? Had but his base Flatte∣rers, and false Prophets been removed from his Court and Councils, the Hearts of his People would never a' been Alienated from him: Never Prince came to the Crown with more una∣nimous and cheerful Acclamations; he was look'd upon as a Prince of no less Heroical Vertues, than Noble Extraction: He then de∣clared that the Laws of England were sufficient to make him as Great a Monarch as his Heart could wish, and therefore promised his Endeavours to Preserve the Go∣vernment both in Church & State as by Law Established.
In all Probability he might have been the Greatest, the most Triumphant Monarch that ever sway'd the English Scepter, had not his Passion of Glory yielded to his Bigottry Page 15 and Zeal for his Religion; had he not put the Reins of Government into the Hands of a Fiery Jesuit; who, Phaeton like, presently set the Nation on a flame, put him upon such Ille∣gal Practices as prov'd destructive of the Na∣tion's Happiness and Tranquillity, and plun∣ged him into the most calamitous and deplora∣ble Circumstances.
We have now seen by woeful Experience what the Prophetick Parliaments at Westminster and Oxford, in the Year 80. Prognosticated: We are now, I hope, highly sensible that they were compos'd of Persons of greater Understanding and Integrity than the World at that time was pleas'd to represent them; 'tis now plain that the clear prospect they had of the Kingdoms Interest conducted all their Consultations; it now appears that the Bill of Exclusion was carried on thro' a true Zeal for the Nations Safe∣ty & Happiness, for the Protection and Security of the Peoples Liberty and Property, and for the Preservation of, what ought to be dearer to us than our Lives, the Protestant Religion: But their weighty reasons could make no Impression, their Designs were all blasted; and we may attribute it to the good and secret Hand of Page 16Providence that they were so; for probably, if they had taken effect, the Nation would have been involv'd in Blood and Confusion, because of its unbelief, That ever Popery could have produc'd Arbitrary Power, that ever Po∣pery could have destroyed the Protestant Religion and unhing'd the Government: For though in History we have Recorded many pregnant Instances, many ample Testimonies of Popish Perfidiousness and Impiety; yet no In∣stance, no Testimony so convincing and im∣pressive as Experience; Popery was never so generally understood as it is at this day; we now see the truth and certainty of this Maxim.
That it is impossible for the Protestant Religion to flourish under, or the present Constitution of the English Government to be preserved by any Per∣son whom Rome hath stamped her Proselyte.
Alas! What signify all the plausible preten∣ces, all the fair promises and assurances where Popery hath got the ascendant? What security can there be to the Protestant Religion and Liberty, where there is a subjection to the Pope? Where Jesuitical Counsels influence and command? Alas! There is no Faith to be kept with Hereticks. This is the Decree of the Roman Councils, this is Page 17 the standing Rule, this is the unalterable reso∣lution of the Roman Church, this is the Doctrine which she hath constantly practis'd, and the sad effects of it such have sensibly felt as have justly oppos'd her usurped Sovereignty and Domini∣on; witness the Parisian Massacre, a villai∣ny that had its Authority and Approbation from Rome; never did that polluted City re∣joice so much in Memory of Christ's Birth, or St. Peter's, as at the joyful news of that more than Herodian Butchery; how did she sound the praises of the bloody Actors and Contrivers of that shameful Tragedy?
Not to expatiate upon the Irish-Massacre.
Witness too, the late Persecution in France and Piedmont: O Barbarous and more than Scythian or Thracian Cruelty! Those our poor Brethren had Edicts, Promises, and Oaths sealed with the Holy Sacrament; but alas! as soon as ever an opportunity presented it self, they found that Popery can absolve from the strictest Oaths, can tear in pieces the most Religious Seal, and cancel the strongest Obligation.
We have Instances enough at home, which plainly shew that Popish Engagements and Pro∣mises, are lighter than the very Breach that utters Page 18 them: Did not Queen Mary promise the Norfolk and Suffolk Inhabitants, and call'd her God to Wit∣ness too, That she would content her self with the Private exercise of her own Devotion, and Preserve the then Protestant Government, un∣injur'd? and yet as soon as ever her Sovereign Power was securely Establish'd, the Masque then fell off, Fire and Faggot then Illuminated the Peoples understanding; nay, those very men, who rais'd her to the Throne, felt the most signal marks of her vengeance; they made Claim indeed of her former Promises, but were thought insolent, and accounted as criminals for so doing; they found that no Merits or Service could secure any from the Cruelties of that Religion; for, her Princely gratitude for their Crowning her with a Diadem, Crown'd them with Martyrdom.
We our selves too, had promises of the like Nature, and thought we deserved them; but alas! they proved as Quick-sands, not the least glimpse of Safety to be repos'd in them, not the least hopes to be built upon them: Had we not Assurances; and yet at the same time the great∣est Invasion of Rights and Privileges? Instead of Governing according to Law, such a Dispen∣sing Power set a foot as laid all the Laws Page 19 asleep, as would presently have laid in Ashes, too, the beautiful Fabrick of our excellent Reli∣gion, and incomparable Government; Promi∣ses! it is the nature of the Popish Religion, first to deceive and then destroy; it is a Religion that Transubstantiates the very Nature of him who embraces it; it is a Religion that acts in dis∣guise and masquerade, changes frequently its colours, and puts out a false Flag to conceal the Py∣rate; no! it is better to trust in the Lord than to put any confidence in man; it is better to trust in the Lord th•n to put any confidence in Princes.
What great Reason then have we to mag∣nify Divine Providence? What an obligation do we all lie under, to pay all imaginable re∣spect, all possible gratitude to the Lord who hath Redeem'd us from Popery and Slavery, from a Remorseless, Bloody, and Treacherous Religion? Let us give thanks whom the Lord hath so wonderfully delivered from the hand of the enemy.
We have the best Religion, the best constituted Government in the whole world; a Religion which meer flesh and blood never revealed; a Religion, that is retrench'd from all False Do∣ctrine and Superstitious Practices; a rational Re∣ligion; a reasonable Service, against which our Ro∣manPage 20 adversaries have no exception, But that it preferrs the written Word before uncertain Tra∣ditions; and the all-sufficient blood of Jesus Christ, before the impure and imperfect works of Mortal Men.
A Government too incomparable for its constitution; the legislative Power is so lodg'd, that nothing can be Enacted without the King and Parliament; thus as the inferiour Orbs do, by their transverse and opposite motions, stay and moderate the rapid force of the primum mobile or first Sphere, so Parliaments by their Fabian Counsels, do temper and moderate the quick motion of Sovereign Power: All our Laws and Decrees, by which we are govern'd, are first of our own choice, and then confirm'd by the King; nei∣ther the morning, nor the evening Star in the Heavens, is more beautiful than the frame and complexion of our Government; we have Laws that are sufficiently able to make us a Nation of Righteousness, if they be but actuated by men of impartial Justice and Integrity.
Now! Was this our excellent Religion in danger of being overflown with the filthy streams of Popery and Superstition? Was this our incomparable Government brought by Ar∣bitrary Page 21 Power to the very brink of De∣struction? And hath God preserv'd both our Religion and Government? Have we now a blessed and a comfortable Hope of seeing our Religion and Government flourish? Of having our Judges restor'd, as at the first; and our Counsel∣lors, as at the beginning? Isai. 1.26. How ought we then to magnify the Divine Goodness? How prudently and religiously have our Sena∣tors acted, in appointing this day of solemn thanksgiving, to pour forth our Praises to him, who hath so strangely redeemed, so miracu∣lously deliver'd us from the hand of the enemy?
A Redemption, that bears the most legible Characters of Divine Providence! That God should send us over a Deliverer at a season, when sailing was dangerous; at a time, when the Waves of the Sea rage horribly and swell, when the Winds are most tempestuous, that most of our Nobi∣lity and Gentry, that a standing-Army too (in which the Papists seem'd to repose the greatest Con∣fidence, because Numbers of their own Religion were mix'd with it, because several Regiments therein were under the command and conduct of Popish Officers) should concurr to our delive∣rance, and that there should be no effusion of Blood;Page 22 this was Digitus Dei, the Finger of God, and we cannot reflect upon it without Astonishment and Admiration.
A sudden and a seasonable deliverance: A deliverance which argues the vigilant Eye of Providence, and the powerful Hand of God; the deep waters of the proud had gone even over our Soul; we escaped even as a Bird out of the snare of the Fowler; the snare is suddenly broken and we are deli∣vered; our enemies were stopp'd in their Career their undermining Projects and base Designs were prevented by a sudden and an unexpected change of the Scene, by a most strange and a∣stonishing revolution.
Thus the Lord on a sudden dash'd in pieces the black contrivances of wicked Haman, when he had procur'd a Royal Decree, and fixed a time for the quenching of his thirst with Tor∣rents of Jewish Blood; thus the Lord discomfited the Egyptian Host, dispirited their Horses, and affrighted Pharaoh with Thunder and Lightning; made the Sea to swallow him and his Army, when he was upon the heel's of the Children of Israel; thus when Sennacherib had encamped a∣gainst Jerusalem with a formidable Army, and had made all necessary preparations for a storm, Page 23 the Lord sent an Angel, who rais'd the siege by the destruction of one hundred and eighty five thousand, 2. Kin. 19.35. and indeed, in several other pla∣ces of Holy Scripture we find this to be the fre∣quent practice, the usual method of Divine Pro∣vidence.
It is true, God can blast a project, God can defeat an hellish Design upon its first formation, in its very Embryo; but, to Illustrate his Providence, he generally suffers it to come to some ripeness and maturity, to the very birth, and then de∣prives it of Strength to bring forth; permits the Pro∣jecters to mount up to the top of confidence, and then tumbles them down; stays till his innocent People are placed upon the very precipice, and then with his own right hand and his out-stretched Arm doth he catch hold of them, and saves them from the design'd destruction; when men are thus snatch'd, as it were, from the jaws of Danger, when both Church and State is, as it were pull'd out of the fire, they cannot but see that the Lord hath done it; unless they wilfully shut their Eyes against the light, they cannot but perceive that it is his Work; this cannot but enforce them to mag∣nify the Lord, and praise his Divine Good∣ness.
Page 24And such a sudden and an unexpected delive∣rance was ours; the Enemy cry'd, Come and let us root them out that they may be no more a People, and that their name may be no more in remembrance; our heart was disquieted within us, and the fear of death was faln upon us, and an horrible dread overwhelmed us. Why? Because Treason walk'd barefac'd in our Streets at broad noon-day with the great∣est effrontery and impudence; because unrighte∣ousness was in the City; because a false and super∣stitious Religion wrestled with our own, and endeavour'd to lay her honour in the dust; nay! it was not only an open and a declar'd Enemy that struggled with her, but even some who call'd themselves her Children, who came to the house of God, and pretended to her Doctrine and Worship, and yet, (intolerable hypocrisie!) endeavour'd as much as in them lay, to throw down her Walls and destroy her Fences, to overthrow all her hedges, and break down her strong holds, to take away such necessary, such good and wholsome Laws, as were her greatest visible Security and Protection.
If such low-priz'd Souls; such mercenary Crea∣tures; (whose God was Mammon, who studied nothing but their own advancement to honour, and promotion to profitable employments, to Page 25 build their nests on high, tho' it were upon the ruins of their Mother,) I say if those temporizing Persons, had once broken down the hedge of our Religion, her Grapes then would soon a' been pluck'd off, the wild Boars would soon a' rooted her up; the Romish Priests, and fiery Jesuits, would soon have been possess'd of our Garden of Eden, and sow'd it with the seeds of Popery and Su∣perstition.
Thus when our Church had Enemies with∣out, and (which is more dangerous) within, when no small Tempest lay upon her, when all hopes of her being sav'd were taken away, it pleased the Lord to visit her, to arise and have mercy upon Zion, to redeem her from the hand of the Enemy, to still the proud and insulting Waves, to make the storm to cease, and to bring her to the haven where she would be: Oh that we may therefore praise the Lord for his good∣ness!
Secondly, Hath his Providence watch'd over us with a careful Eye? Hath he in the time of trouble and imminent danger rais'd us up a Prince; a Prince of the greatest Courage and Conduct, the Terror as well as the Envy of France and Rome, a Prince equal to His Ancestors in all Noble and Vertuous Qualities, enrich'd Page 26 with Wisdom and the greatest Integrity; a Prince of a Martial and Noble Temper, who will really venture his Life in Defence of this Nation, and in the preserving of it in all its just Rights and Liberties; a Prince who will be a Courageous Defender of our Faith, as well as of our Laws; who is resolv'd to encourage and protect us and our excellent Religion?
But here, Behold a Miracle indeed! Stand and admire the Divine Providence; God hath not only Blessed us with a Prince who will be a Nursing Father, but also with a Princess who will be a Nursing Mother of our Church; our Church was never more Blessed before; a Princess of our own Nation, as well as Religion; a Princess of exemplary Piety, and unparallell'd Good∣ness.
Now, I say, hath the Lord given us such Bles∣sings? What then shall we render unto him for all his Benefits? What return shall we make for this his transcendant Love, and admirable kind∣ness?
Nothing but thanks for his unspeakable Gifts, no∣thing but an heart possessed with a grateful Sense and Affection, nothing but the Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving: O then sing unto God, and sing Page 27 praises unto his name; praise him in his name; yea and rejoice before him.
But this is not all:
We must praise the Lord our God, not only with our Lips, but in our Lives; We must not express our Joy for our stupendious deliverance, by Rioting and Drunkenness, and such like extrava∣gancies, but by walking in all Holiness and Pu∣rity of Conversation; let me beg of you, al∣ways to remember the Holy Apostle St. Paul's humble and passionate request, which is the fi•st sentence in the Form of Prayer for the day, and the first verse in the second Lesson: I beseech you Brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living Sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your rea∣sonable Service.
This is the only way to endear us to the God of Heaven, and to entitle us to his Almighty Favour and kind Protection.
We seem indeed to be the peculiar care of Heaven, to be the only Blessed Children of the Lord; yet if we live not as becometh a reformed and a redeemed People, if we live not as highly sensible of God's reiterated mercies, (which sense we must demonstrate by a life conformable to his Page 28 Divine Laws) then, though our Sky at the present is beautified with an Evening Red∣ness, which speaks the Clouds thin, and the Air pure; tho' our Firmament now looks bright and serene; yet God, if provok'd by our ingratitude and impiety, can, in the twinkling of an Eye, change it from an Evening to a Morning Redness; can in a moment make the Firmament lowring, by condensing the Clouds, and veiling the Sky with darkness; will certainly bring us into worse cir∣cumstances than before, and pour upon us fiercer instances of his anger and heavy displeasure.
One word of Exhortation, and I a' done.
As we are obliged to render unto God Al∣mighty our most Solemn Thanks for the com∣prehensive Mercy we this Day Celebrate, in the deliverance of this Nation from Popery and Arbitrary Power; so let the serious consi∣deration thereof oblige us to hold the Faith in Unity of Spirit, and in the bond of Peace; to be like minded, to have the same love, to have no divisions a∣mongst us, to be perfectly joined together, in the same mind and in the same judgment, to live together in Brotherly love and Christian charity. Charity! the Essential mark of a true Church; Charity! which Page 29 out-shines all other Christian Vertues, and Theo∣logical Graces; it is the Characteristick of our Holy and Incomparable Religion, it is a Grace so sin∣gularly eminent and ornamental, so necessary a Vertue, that without it all our doings are no∣thing worth, without it whosoever liveth is coun∣ted dead before God; without it no Beatifick Vision, no Joys of Immortality: Charity is represented by St. Paul as a Vertue of the greatest Beauty and Comeliness, he hath en∣graven upon it the most illustrious Character, as you may read, 1 Cor. 13. where we find that it is a permanent and durable Vertue; all other Gifts and Graces of the Holy Ghost only display their Glory in this sublunary World, but this Grace, this Vertue, Charity, shall retain it's native splendor and dazling bright∣ness, will be useful and necessary to us after our translation from hence to the Mansions of Eternity; and therefore the Holy Apostle gives it the Honor of Precedency, the highest Encomium, ver. 13. And now abideth Faith, Hope, Charity, these three; but the greatest of these is Charity.
We have considerable Enemies both at home and abroad, who, as they envy, so no Question will set all Engines at work, will strenuously Page 30 endeavour to disturb our Repose, and ruffle our Happiness and Tranquillity. Now, nothing can be more pleasing or grateful to them, no∣thing can give them a better Prospect of Suc∣cess than Difference and Discord amongst our selves; for where such things are, there is no∣thing but Confusion and every evil Work, nothing but Misery and Distraction: Emnity and Strife is the Rock they have all along endeavour'd to run us upon; and indeed, nothing can more ef∣fectually split our Religion and Government: A Nation divided, a Kingdom without Peace and Unity in it self, cannot stand; This is the Voice of Truth it self, If a Kingdom be divided a∣gainst it self, that Kingdom cannot stand, Mark 3.24. It is not for nothing too, that the Royal Psalmist cries out, Behold, how good and joy∣ful a thing it is for Brethren to dwell together in Unity.
The Papists are very sensible that nothing consolidates or fortifies a Nation more than Unity; and therefore it hath been their constant Practice to foment Divisions, to enkindle Jea∣lousies, to set us at Variance one with another: But remember, Sirs, we are Brethren.
Page 31Now, as we are not ignorant of their Devices, so let us strive to live together in mutual Love and Charity: For if we keep Innocency, and preserve Unity, we shall not only disappoint our Enemies Expectation, and become invinci∣ble, but we shall also oblige Heaven to be our Succour and Defence; GOD will then con∣tinue His Mercy and Favour towards us, the Lord of Hosts will secure and protect us, will alwaies deliver us from the hand of the enemy.