« ZurückWeiter »
vereign has the distinguished glory of governing a free people, the least of whom is protected by the laws, in luch a manner, that, until condemned by his own peers, he cannot be put to death. The ve. ry possessions, as well as perlons, of Britons are fo defended, that the meaneft subject cannot be forced, without a parliamentary authority, to part with his own property. And, though the whole executive, and a principal share in the legislative, power, is lodged in the British monarch, it is neither his prerogative to counteract established laws, nor folely to impole new statutes : nay, the sovereign's claims upon those over whom he sways the scepter, must be made, and can only be effected, by due course of law; and, what crowns our privileges as British subjects, the sovereign himself, in his officers of state, may be sued, and cast in his own courts. When such a happy constitution is compared with that of other pations, how dear, to us, should our sovereigta be, who has accepted the regal office, upon conditions so fafe for the subjects, as well as honoura. ble for himself? And with what distinguishing infamy does their ingratitude deserve to be branded, who make no conscience of the Christian duties of “ supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanks" givings,” for him.
But, while the British monarch is fo restricted by law, as the loyal and obedient subject has nothing 'to fear, he is justly cloathed with such power and authority, as, from every thinking perion, must challenge veneration and respect. Besides ihe whole executive power of the laws, which includes the right of filling every chair in the different courts of judicature, his fole prerogative extends to the making of peace or war, sending or receiving ambassadors, entering into leagues and treaties with foreign states, convoking, adjourning, proroguing,
and diffolving parliaments, chusing and nominating commanders, and other officers for the Acet or army, counsellors also, and officers of state, 0. gether with that of bestowing all honours of higher and lower nobility, at what time, and upon what persons, he pleaseth. These are some of the great lines of that extensive power, lodged by Britain in her king, which, as it is sufficient to secure the respect due to enthroned majesty, should stir up Christians to the faithful discharge of the duties prescribed by our apostle, that the fovereign may be under the direction and influence of heaven, in the exertion of it.
"All that are in authority,” have likewise, by the apostle's warrant, a claim upon Christians, for the concern to which out text has a respect. And as we imagine that civil authority is particularly intended, our present view shall be confined accord. ingly.
The king, as was faid, is the fountain of all civil authority and honour, che prerogative of making laws excepted ; and, therefore, in exercising a due concern about him, Christians may be said to exercite a concern about “all in authority.”
The true interest of the fubjects, however, depending so much on those in eminent places, as the phrase might be rendered, it may not be unuseful to put you in mind of some of these eminent places, or perfons filling them, which have a fcriptural demand on the Christian's concern before God.
And shall we proceed to this, without admiring and adoring the divine goodness, in the wisdom that has appeared in our king's council, the faithfulness in his ministry, the bravery in his army, the intrepidity in his navy, and the harmony a. mongst all his servants, for several years past? These qualities my brethren, of those in authority,
animated by the complication of them all, in their late royal mafer, have rendered Britain respectable amongst firent nations abroad, as well as endeared the eminent perions the mielves to their countrymen at home. And has not our preleat sovereign, given realon for the further exercise of that gratitude to Jehovah our God, in the jud cious measure of continuing thele lervants, in their relpective cffices, at lealt, for leveral months to come? Who knows but this is the result of his asking, and getting wiidom from that God, “who giveth liberal“ ly, and upbraidcth Lot ?" Can you ever reflect on his retiring to his closet, if public fame may be trustid, when fii it into med of the crown devolv: ing upon him, without imagining that you see the royal, the lovely youth, prostrate before the King of kings, and hear him, in the words of an illuftrious casern monarch, say, “Give therefore, O es Lord my God, unto thy lei vant, an understand“ ing heart, to judge thy people, that I may dis* cern beiween good and bad: for who is able to “ judge this thy so great a people ?” i Kings ii. 2. May the event demonstrate, that the fame anTwer was given to him, from the hearer of prayer, which young Solomon received, “ Behold, I have 36 done according to thy words,” veri. 12.
To return. The eminent persons, whom ChriStians should remember, with concern, at the throne of grace, are thole who are 10,-- either in respect of extraction or office The former include the whole peeiage and grandees of the nation, with others, whoti circumstances in the world, fet them on a level, for influence and capacity of usefulness. Theie, though employed in no office of the statc or the crown, have much in their power, coward promoting or suppressing the interells of rue ChriNiunity; and, therefore, that Christians may kad the
quiet and peaceable life mentioned by the apostle, it is useful, it is necessary, that such persons be comprehended in their “ supplications, prayers, in“ tercessions, and thanksgivings.”
In this passage, however, it is more than probae ble, that those eminent in respect of office, are more chi-fly pointed out. Being entrusted by their king or country, with the concerns of the nation, the manner in which that trust is discharged, may, nay, must infallibly affect the interest of individuals.
Those with whom the legislative power is lodg. ed, claim cur first regard ; that public statutes may be always public blessings; and, if in any
thing, oppression is enacted, that it may, by their i authority, be repealed.
'The king's council is an eminent place, and all it's members are men in authority; that, therefore, they may fo consult and advise, in what comes before them, as shall most secure the honour of their sove. reign, and the good of their country, should be the burden of the Christian's concern in their behalf.
The secretaries of state are in such eminent place, as makes them no less need the intercession of Christians, than it in titles them to it. The receiving and making all dispatches from or to foreign parts; the representing the subjects to the sovereign, and the sovereign to the subjects, as to addresses and answers; the preparing business for the council-board, and making proposals, of public concern to them. These and such things are their immediate province, and, on the right discharge of them, it is easy to see how much the common good must necessarily depend. Need I put you in mind of the singular benefits Britain and her colonies have reaped from that very quarter, since the commencement of the present war? The ministerial character has been highly honoured in
the diligence, capacity, resolution, patriotism, and other diffusive virtues, so illuftriously displayed in the conduct of one, equally trusted by his king, and admired by his country. Without meaning to, derogate from the praise justly due to his noble and illustrious colleague, the ministry of a Pit will cut a resplendent figure in the British annals, long after we are gathered to our fathers.
The gentlemen of the sword may be considered as likewise in authority, or eminent places: those of them we mean, who command in the Aeet or army, and are entrusted by the government, with the execution of the most important orders. The peculiar rifque they run, and danger to which they are exposed, should recommend them, and their brave followers, to the special concern of the church of Christ.
Need we mention the eminent places of judges and magistrates through the land, as what inftruet their right to the “ supplications, prayers, inter“ ceflions, and thanksgivings," of Christians ? To their interpretation of the laws, and interposition of authority, our peace and quiet, as men and Christians, are more immediately owing; and, therefore, by a particular concern for them, our gratitude to God thould be more immediately expressed.
The college of justice, in particular, has, to this kingdom, been, generally, and with great 'truth, considered as the moft substantial blessing; for the senators of it are not only a proper check upon all inferior and lefs qualified courts; but the manner of their procedure in judgment is so modelled, that the mean and obscure are equally encouraged to expect the fairest hearing, and justest deliverance, froin that bench, with the noble and the great.