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moon, but what is derived from the sun even here is borrowed; the stars' light is borrowed also, and when the sun appears, they cease to shine. The stars at this time shine as much as at midnight, but that the light of the sun doth darken them. Even so in the presence of majesty, those other excellent dignities do not shine at all.
2. To come to the eminency of power; for a king to have great state and to have no power, he were then but a poor king.
A duke of Venice is served in as great state as can be, but he hath no power at all.
There is a subordination of power in all government, which because it cannot go ad infinitum, it must needs rest somewhere, and that is in the king. "Let every soul he subject to the higher powers." And the apostle distinguisheth," whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by God, for the punishment of evil doers;" and he adds, "that by so doing, the ignorance of foolish men may be put to silence."
If any professor of religion do rebel against the king, this is a scandal to religion.
Now the apostle did foresee that such there would be, and therefore commands that they be put in mind to be subject, &c. But if any that profess religion do rebel, as I said before, it is the fault of the professor, and not of the profession; for the Church of England doth teach the contrary.
But when men shall not only practise, but teach rebellion (for "by their fruits ye shall know them,") this amounts to a very high crime indeed.
"The king," as St. Peter saith, "hath the excellency of power, as sent by God."
But, what need I say any more? We all swear that "the king is the only supreme governor in his dominions." A man would think, that that word only might be spared,
h 1 Peter, chap. 2. ver. 13.
since nothing can be above supreme, but it is put there by way of eminency.
There can be no dominion in the world, unless there be an eminency of power in some one or other. If a man be wronged in any court, he may lawfully appeal higher; but then, appeals must not be infinite, there must be a supremacy of power somewhere to rest in.
The philosopher saith, it must be either in one, or in all. Where the eminency of power is in one, it is called a monarchy. The king must only have the supreme power, for if any be joined with him, then it is no monarchy.
If the power be in a certain number, it is called an aristocracy.
If the power be in all, a democracy; and all power then is derived from the body of the people, and where you say so, you destroy the monarchy, and erect a democracy.
The duke of Venice hath, as I said before, a marvellous great state, and yet the state of Venice is no monarchy, because the supremacy of power is not in him. He cannot receive a letter, nor make an edict without the state's allowance; nay, he may be called to account by them.
I read in Josephus, that Herod having offended Cleopatra, she besought Antony, who did not use to deny her any thing, to call him to account; but Antony refused so to do: "Then," saith he, " he will be no king."
Look upon the commonwealth of Lacedemon, they had kings lineally descended from the race of Hercules; but shall we say they had regal power? nothing less, because there were Ephori in that state, a certain power in the people to call their kings to account: the supremacy of power there was not in the prince.
In Switzerland there is a democracy, and the only democratical government I know of. They have their magistrates that govern the people. And yet though there be many magistrates that govern in those cantons, this is no aristocracy, for all the magistrates in Switzerland are ac
countable to the people, and all their power is limited by them. The supremacy of power is in the people there, and thence it comes to be a democracy.
Eminency of power. "Ini the word of a king there is power," saith the preacher. It was wont to be so, and by the word of God you see it ought to be so. But I will not enlarge upon this. It may be, some ears will not endure sound doctrine.
But the king, we see, must be acknowledged to be supreme, and no superior to the king.
Far be it from me, being in God's place, to flatter any man, I thank God I fear no flesh, but to deliver the truth.
Having now spoken of the two branches of majesty, dignity and power, we shall speak of a birth-right that descends to kings. It should have been Reuben's right here, if God had not taken it from him for a fault.
This day is the birth-day of our sovereign lord. Birthdays of kings have been usually celebrated with great solemnity in former times. Herod's birth-day was celebrated many years after his death: and the Herodians, for the many mighty works that Herod did, believed him to be the Messiah.
It pleaseth God that this day begins the forty-ninth year of his life, and let me call it the year of jubilee to his Majesty.
The Jews had a custom that in the forty-ninth year of any man's life, he should be at liberty, whatever his sufferings were before. It must be the desire and prayer of every loyal heart, that the king may have a jubilee indeed. This is that which loyalty bids us do.
I will not stand too much upon this particular. But this I will say, O that we knew our happiness; to have a king that is the son of nobles! A king that is not a child. A king that is at full age to govern, by wisdom, and prudence. And truly as God gives us this blessing, so he expects we should acknowledge it thankfully. "Woe be
Eccles. chap. 8. ver. 4.
Ibid. chap. 10. ver. 16.
to thee, O land," saith the preacher, "when thy king is a child:" and, "Blessed art thou, O land, when thy king is the son of nobles:" that hath his breeding answerable.
To have him, when his experience hath rivetted in him sound judgment, and ability to govern. The Lord threatened Jerusalem: "I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them." Those that would have their own wills, could, I warrant you, be content that the youngest should reign.
To have a base man exalted, is one of the things that the earth cannot bear. But some body must have the government, it doth not belong to all. You see here is, by birth, one that hath a right unto it.
When Jehosaphat distributed his estatem, he gave gifts to his other sons, but the kingdom unto Jehoram, because he was his first born. A kingdom is not a thing divisible.
So the king of Edom", though he took and offered his eldest son, that should have reigned in his stead, as an offering: yet in the prophecy of Amos, he is called the king of Edom, because he had it in view.
Now to come to Christians; we are kings in our sort, we are primogeniti, we are the Israel of God. When God sent Moses to deliver his people, he bids him deliver this message to Pharaoh: "Thou shalt say to Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn." Here is our privilege, though God hath many sons, yet, being found in Christ, we are all first-born. And so the children of God are called, "TheP congregation of the first-born." Every one that is a member of Christ hath the privilege of a first-born. They are all heirs. In the same relation that Christ is by nature, we are by grace and adoption: and being so, we have the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power.
Isaiah, chap. 3. ver. 4.
n 2 Kings, chap. 3. ver. 27. Heb. chap. 12.
m 2 Chron. chap. 21.
• Exod. chap. 4. ver. 22.
We do not speak of the power of this world: Christ said, "My kingdom is not of this world."
They that preach, "The saints shall reign upon the earth," did not learn it from God; "For our kingdom is not of this world."
There is not that excellency to be found in any of the sons of men, as is to be found in one poor child of God.
Will you see David a king? when he comes with a pious eye, see who are there the most worshipful persons. "In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but honours them that fear the Lord." When he sees God's image in any soul, he honours him, and if he be a wicked man, a child of the Devil, he is a vile person in his eyes. A sinner, though otherwise never so noble, is a very vile person: "My goodness," saith David, "doth not extend to thee, but unto the saints upon the earth."
The apostle St. John, "Beholds," saith he, "what manner of love the Father bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God, and therefore the world doth not know us."
But if they be so excellent, how come they to be so despised in the world? the reason is, because the world doth not know them to be such. The world doth not know Christ's children more than they know Christ himself.
9 Psalm 15. ver. 4.
1 John, chap. 3.
I have often thought, that when his Majesty was in France, where he was not known, a neglect put upon him there, would not have been in any proportion so bad, as the like must needs be amongst his own subjects. And so it is with us. We are spiritual kings, a royal priesthood. If the world did know us to be such, they would deal with us otherwise than they do; "but our life is hid with Christ in God," and one day it shall appear, and then shall the righteous shine in the kingdom of their Father. Beloved, hereupon it is that the children of God have their guard of angels.