"I shall go from a corruptible to an incorruptible Crown, where no disturbance can be."
Tomorrow, the thirtieth day of January, is the anniversary of the martyrdom of King Charles I. In all editions of the Book of Common Prayer from A.D. 1662 to A.D. 1859, opposite January 30 in the Kalendar stands the entry, K. Charles Martyr.
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It is easy enough, no doubt, for any one who is so inclined, to neutralize all that the Church can say, by a dexterous use of party-feeling: easy, to call it a device of the State for upholding a particular set of opinions. But the matter may be brought to a short issue. If attachment to the cause of our injured King, and sympathy with his high-minded patience, were not in entire harmony with the principles inculcated in all other parts of the Prayer-Book: if Sanderson, Hammond, and Taylor, those Restorers of our fallen Church, spoke otherwise on the duty of subjects, than as former generations of true Churchmen had spoken: then we might perhaps have cause to fear, that Feeling had got the better of Reason, in this one portion of our yearly solemnities. But if they "all speak the same thing, and there be no division among them;" and (what is infinitely more) if what they speak be altogether scriptural: if the doctrine of submission and loyal obedience be only one inseparable branch of the universal doctrine of resignation and contentment—an ingredient of that unreserved Faith, without which it is impossible to please God—then let us bless our Preserver, for not leaving us without special witness to a part of our duty, where all experience has proved us so likely to go wrong. Let us trust our civil welfare to the Gospel rule of non-resistance, as fearlessly as we trust our domestic happiness to the kindred rule of filial obedience. Such conduct, if universal, would be a perfect security to liberty: inasmuch as the same principle which forbids illegal resistance, would equally forbid being agents in illegal oppression. And they who abide by it, be they many or few, have for their warrant the general tenor and express word of Revelation, the example of our Blessed Lord, His Apostles, and His suffering Church. In every case, the burthen of proof lies wholly on those who plead for resistance.
And what if young men—the high-born especially—instead of that degrading ambition of commencing, early, "men of the world," would consent to shape their own conduct by the noble simplicity and downright goodness of him, whom we this day commemorate? the secret of whose excellence lay, chiefly, in two qualities, by them most imitable: consistent purity of heart and demeanour, and strict constancy in devotional duties, under the guidance of his and our Church? Does any one believe that such a change would leave society at all a loser, in point of true generosity and courtesy, or whatever else makes life engaging?
But if all this must still be unheard—if the instruction of the day be quite drowned, in men’s eager cry for what is called Freedom: at least the service answers the purpose of a solemn appeal from human prejudice, to Him, before whom king and subject must ere long appear together. To whose final and unerring decision, not, it is hoped, with presumptuous confidence, nor yet with any uncharitable thought, but in cheerful assurance that resignation and loyalty can "in no wise lose their reward," we desire, now and always, to "commit our cause."
(Sermon V. Danger of Sympathizing With Rebellion. Preached by John Keble before the University of Oxford, January 30, 1831.)
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O Lord, our heavenly Father, who didst not punish us as our sins have deserved, but hast in the midst of judgement remembered mercy; We acknowledge it thine especial favour, that, though, for our many and great provocations, thou didst suffer thine anointed blessed King Charles the First (as on this day) to fall into the hands of violent and blood-thirsty men, and barbarously to be murdered by them, yet thou didst not leave us for ever, as sheep without a shepherd; but by thy gracious providence didst miraculously preserve the undoubted Heir of his Crowns, our then gracious Sovereign King Charles the Second, from his bloody enemies, hiding him under the shadow of thy wings, until their tyranny was overpast; and didst bring him back, in thy good appointed time, to sit upon the throne of his Father; and together with the Royal Family didst restore to us our ancient Government in Church and state. For these thy great and unspeakable mercies we render to thee our most humble and unfeigned thanks; beseeching thee, still to continue thy gracious protection over the whole Royal Family, and to grant to our gracious Sovereign Queen Elizabeth, a long and happy Reign over us: So we that are thy people will give thee thanks for ever, and will alway be shewing forth thy praise from generation to generation; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
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O Lord we offer unto thee all praise and thanks for the glory of Thy grace that shined forth in Thine anointed servant Charles; and we beseech Thee to give us all grace that by a careful studious imitation of this Thy blessed Saint and Martyr, that we may be made worthy to receive benefit by his prayers, which he, in communion with the Church Catholic, offers up unto Thee for that part of it here Militant, through thy Son, our Blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. (source "Private Forms of Prayer" 1660, Brian Duppa, Bishop of Salisbury and Winchester.)
O Most mighty God, terrible in thy judgements, and wonderful in thy doings toward the children of men; who in thy heavy displeasure didst suffer the life of our gracious Sovereign King Charles the First, to be (as on this day) taken away by the hands of cruel and bloody men: We thy sinful creatures here assembled before thee, do, in the behalf of all this Nation, which brought down this heavy judgement upon us. But, O gracious, when thou makest inquisition for blood, lay not the guilt of this innocent blood, (the shedding whereof nothing but the blood of thy Son can expiate,) lay it not to the charge of the people of this land; not let it ever be required of us, or our posterity. Be merciful, O Lord, be merciful unto thy people, whom thou hast redeemed; and be not angry with us for ever: But pardon us for thy mercy's sake. through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessed Lord, in whose sight the death of thy saints is precious; We magnify thy Name for thine abundant grace bestowed upon our martyred Sovereign; by which he was enabled so cheerfully to follow the steps of his blessed Master and Saviour, in a constant meek suffering of all barbarous indignities, and at the last resisting unto blood; and even then according to the same pattern, praying for his murderers. Let his memory, O Lord, be ever blessed among us; that we may follow the example of his courage and constancy, his meekness and patience, and great charity. And grant, that this our land may be freed from the vengeance of his righteous blood, and thy mercy glorified in the forgiveness of our sins; and all for Jesus Christ his sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
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Blessed God, just and powerful, who didst permit thy dear Servant, our dread Sovereign King Charles the First, to be (as upon this day) given up to the violent outrages of wicked men, to be despitefully used, and at the last murdered by them: Though we cannot reflect upon so foul an act, but with horror and astonishment; yet do we most gratefully commemorate the glories of the grace, which then sinned forth in thine Anointed; whom thou wast pleased, even at the hour of death, to endue with an eminent measure of exemplary patience, meekness, and charity, before the face of his cruel enemies. And albeit thou didst suffer them to proceed to such an height of violence, as to kill him, and to take possession of his Throne; yet didst thou in great mercy preserve his Son, whose right it was, and at length by a wonderful providence bring him back, and set him thereon, to restore thy true Religion, and to settle peace amongst us: For these thy great mercies we glorify thy Name, through Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour. Amen.
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