Always Craving

John Keble.

St. Paul has ranked even personal liberty, liberty opposed to the condition of a slave, among other temporal blessings, as an object, comparatively speaking, below the serious concern of a redeemed immortal being. “Art thou called being a slave? care not for it: but even if thou mayest be made free, put up with it rather.” That is, “make the best of your condition as it is, rather than grasp, with eager anxiety, at every chance of emancipation.” And what he says of personal liberty, is true, I suppose, a fortiori, of civil liberty as opposed to subjection. “Care not for it,” says the inspired Voice: “let it be your tendency, in this as in all things, rather to improve existing opportunities, than to be always craving after a change of condition.”

But what says the Christian world to this? Do not men, somehow, think of liberty, as of something unlike other outward blessings, such as health, riches, domestic comfort? something, the mere pursuing of which, for its own sake, is a part of virtue? Contented slavery in either kind, are they not apt to pronounce it meanness?

All this being calmly considered, and compared with what our Lord and His Apostles have said; or rather, with what they have left unsaid, (for there is a silence more significant than words;) I think one must own, that civil liberty, high as it may stand among earthly blessings, is usually allowed to fill a space in our thoughts, out of all proportion to that which it fills in the plan of happiness drawn out in the Bible. Though men commit things worthy of death, yet if they be done for freedom’s sake, the world finds pleasure in them that do them.

Sermon V. Danger of Sympathizing with Rebellion. Preached by John Keble before the University of Oxford, 30 January 1831.

This Unhappy Warre

Royal Arms of King Charles the Martyr, from Εἰκὼν Βασιλική, 1649.

For Thou, O Lord, seest clearly through all the cloudings of humane affaires; Thou judgest without prejudice: Thy Omniscience eternally guides thy unerrable Judgement.

O my God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soule, and have not set Thee before their eyes.

Consider My enemies, O Lord, for they are many, and they hate me with a deadly hatred without a cause.

For Thou knowest, I had no passion, designe or preparation to embroyle My Kingdomes in a Civill Warre; whereto I had least temptation; as knowing I must adventure more then any, and could gaine least of any by it.

Thou, O Lord, art my witnesse how oft I have deplored, and studied to divert the necessity thereof, wherein I cannot well be thought so prodigally thirsty of my Subjects blood, as to venture my own Life, which I have been oft compelled to doe in this unhappy Warre; and which were better spent to save then to destroy my People.

O Lord, I need much of thy grace, with patience to bear the many afflictions thou hast suffered some men to bring upon me; but much more to bear the unjust reproaches of those, who not content that I suffer most by the Warre, will needs perswade the world that I have raised first, or given just cause to raise it.

The confidence of some mens false tongues is such, that they would make me almost suspect my own innocency: Yea, I could be content (at least by my silence) to take upon me so great a guilt before men, If by that I might allay the malice of my Enemies, and redeeme my People from this miserable Warre; since thou O Lord knowest my Innocency in this thing.

Thou wilt finde out bloudy and deceitfull men; many of whom have not lived out half their daies, in which they promised themselves the enjoyment of the fruits of their violent and wicked Counsells.

Save, O Lord, thy servant, as hitherto thou hast, and in thy due time scatter the people that delight in Warre.

Arise O Lord, lift up thy self, because of the rage of mine Enemies, which encreaseth more and more. Behold them that have conceived mischief, travelled with iniquity, and brought forth falshood.

Thou knowest the chief designe of this Warre is, either to destroy My Person, or force My Judgment, and to make me renege my Conscience and thy Truth.

I am driven to crosse Davids choise and desire, rather to fall into the hands of men, by denying them, (thought their mercies be cruell) then into thy hands by sinning against My Conscience, and in that against thee, who art a consuming fire; Better they destroy Me, then thou shouldst damne Me.

Be thou ever the defence of My soul, who wilt save the upright in heart.

If nothing but My bloud will satisfie My Enemies, or quench the flames of My Kingdomes, or thy temporall Justice, I am content, if it be thy will, that it be shed by Mine owne Subjects hands.

But O let the bloud of Me, though their King, yet a sinner, be washed with the Bloud of My Innocent and peace-making Redeemer, for in that thy Justice will find not only a temporary expiation, but an eternall plenary satisfaction; both for my sins, and the sins of my People; whom I beseech thee still own for thine, and when thy wrath is appeased by my Death, O Remember thy great mercies toward them, and forgive them! O my Father, for they know not what they doe.

Eikon Basilike, ix.

The White King’s Chastened Soul

CHARLES I.
AN OLD HARPER’S TALE.

The tide of time hath swept the land, and the blight of blackened grain
Lies withered, and ungarnered, that encumbered England’s plain;
The sowers cast the seeds of death, and reaped with blood-stained sword,
That day they sent the white king’s soul to meet their Judge and Lord.

I knew him in his youth, my Lords! and loved his winsome ways,
The scholars’ or the artists’ taste for quiet and restful days;
I said ‘Tis well for England’s need, bold Harry holds the helm,
And not this gentle boy whom adverse winds would soon o’erwhelm.

I trembled, for I loved him so, that day I saw him crowned,
To mark the dreamer’s listless gaze unheed the lowering brows around.
‘No power to stand between thy will and God’s—O! Sovereign Lord, and King,
‘Twas much to place in that frail hand, the power of one man’s seal and ring.

Of mind too delicate to bear the glare and dazzle of a throne,
I ne’er had feared for Harry’s sake—had he to stand alone!
God willed it otherwise, my Lords! the strong was ta’en in death,
To leave the sceptre of his race to pass—with one poor victim’s death.

I saw him in his spotless garb, that winter’s day he died!
The dreamer’s gaze had gone, my Lords! the gold was there in furnace tried.
Not Harry in his boldest mood, more fearless could have stood,
Nor sweeter smile have lit that face, the day his Spanish bride he woo’ed.

Had he but waked to clearer sight, nor tried to quell with cold disdain,
But one short year o’er this, he had not reigned a king in vain!
Yet ah! the cruel destiny that erst pursued his race, he shared:
To nerve the murderer Cromwell’s hand, to raise the flashing steel unbared.

I saw him die, my Lords! I wept the blood-stain on our land,
I never wept for him, my Lords! he was too high and grand.
White was his chastened soul, my Lords! white were the robes he wore,
And the white snow fell from God’s own hand on the purple pall they bore.
White to his cruel grave he went, so quiet, so calm, so pale,
For kingly race will tell, my Lords! where baser blood would fail.

— Alice C. MacDonell of Keppoch.

The Crying Bloud of Our Pious Souveraigne

Speech of Sir Wm. Berkeley before the Grand Assembly in Virginia, March 1651 (1650/51).

GENTLEMEN you perceave by the Declaration that the men of Westminster have set out, which I beleeve you have all seene, how they meane to deal with you hereafter, who in the time of their wooing and courting you propound such hard Conditions to be performed on your parts, & on their own nothing but a benigne acceptance of your duties to them.

Indeed me thinks they might have proposed something to us which might have strengthned us to beare those heavy chaines they are making ready for us, though it were but an assurance that we shall eat the bread for which our owne Oxen plow, and with our owne sweat we reape; but this assurance (it seemes) were a franchise beyond the Condition they have resolu’d on the Question we ought to be in: For the reason why they talke so Magisterially to us in this, we are forsooth their worships slaves, bought with their money and by consequence ought not to buy, or sell but with those they shall Authorize with a few trifles to Coszen us of all for which we toile and labour.

If the whole Current of their reasoning were not as ridiculous, as their actions have been Tyrannicall and bloudy; we might wonder with what browes they could sustaine such impertinent assertions: For if you looke into it, the strength of their argument runs onely thus: we have laid violent hands on your Land-Lord, possess’d his Manner house where you used to pay your rents, therfore now tender your respects to the same house you once reverenced: I call my conscience to witnes, I lie not, I cannot in all their Declaration perceave a stronger argument for what they would impose on us, then this which I have now told you: They talke indeed of money laid out on this Country in its infancy: I will not say how little, nor how Centuply repaid, but will onely aske, was it theirs? They who in the beginning of this warr were so poore, & indigent, that the wealth and rapines of three Kingdomes & their Churches too, cannot yet make rich, but are faine to seeke out new Territories and impositions to sustaine their Luxury amongst themselves. Surely Gentlemen we are more slaves by nature, then their power can make us if we suffer ourselves to be shaken with these paper bulletts, & those on my life are the heaviest they either can or will send us.

‘Tis true with us they have long threatned the Barbados, yet not a ship goes thither but to beg trade, nor will they do to us, if we dare Honourably resist their Imperious Ordinance. Assuredly Gentlemen you have heard under what heavy burthens, the afflicted English Nation now groanes, and calls to heaven for relief: how new and formerly unheard of impositions make the wifes pray for barreness and their husbands deafnes to exclude the cryes of their succourles, starving children: And I am confident you
do believe, none would long endure this slavery, if the sword at their throats Did not Compell them to Languish under the misery they howrely suffer. Looke on their sufferings with the eyes of understanding, and that will prevent all your teares but those of Compassion. Consider with what prisons and Axes they have paid those that have served them to the hazard of their soules: Consider your selves how happy you are and have been, how the Gates of wealth and Honour are shut on no man, and that there is not here an Arbitrary hand that dares to touch the substance of either poore or rich: But that which I woud have you chiefly consider with thankfullnes is: That God hath seperated you from the guilt of the crying bloud of our Pious Souveraigne of ever blessed memory: But mistake not Gentlemen part of it will yet staine your garments if you willingly submit to those murtherers hands that shed it: I tremble to thinke how the oathes they will impose will make those guilty of it, that have long abhor’d the traiterousnesse of the act: But I confesse having had so frequent testimonies of your truths and courages, I cannot have a reasonable suspition of any cowardly falling of from the former resolutions, and have onely mentioned this last, as a part of my duty and care of you, not
of my reall doubts and fears: or if with untryed men we were to argue on this subject, what is it can be hoped for in a change, which we have not allready? Is it liberty? The sun looks not on a people more free then we are from all oppression. Is it wealth? Hundreds of examples shew us that Industry & Thrift in a short time may bring us to as high a degree of it, as the Country and our Conditions are yet capable of: Is it securety to enjoy this wealth when gotten? With out blushing I will speake it, I am confident theare lives not that person can accuse me of attempting the least act against any mans property? Is it peace? The Indians, God be blessed round about us are subdued; we can onely feare the Londoners, who would faine bring us to the same poverty, wherein the Dutch found and relieved us; would take away the liberty of our consciences, and tongues, and our right of giving and selling our goods to whom we please. But Gentlemen
by the Grace of God we will not so tamely part with our King, and all these blessings we enjoy under him; and if they oppose us, do but follow me, I will either lead you to victory, or loose a life which I cannot more gloriously sacrifice then for my loyalty, and your security.

Grieved Subjects

The Solemn League and Covenant, as published in England, 1643, from J. Lane, The Reign Of King Covenant, London 1956.
The Solemn League and Covenant, as published in England, 1643, from J. Lane, The Reign Of King Covenant, London 1956.

We shall demand nothing of the King’s Majesty but the settling and securing of the true Religion and Liberties of this Kingdom, according to the Constitutions and Acts of the late Assemblies and Parliament, and what a just Prince oweth by the Laws of God and the Country to his grieved Subjects, coming before him with their humble Desires and Supplications. Our abode in England shall be no longer time than in their Parliament, our just Grievances and Complaints may be heard and Redressed, sufficient Assurance given for the legal Trial and Punishment of the Authors of their and our Evils; and for reforming and enjoying their and our Religion and Liberties in Peace, against the Machinations of Romish contrivance acted by their degenerate Countrymen. Our returning thereafter shall be with Expedition in a peaceable and orderly Way, far from all Molestation; and we trust the effect shall be against Papists, the extirpation of Popery; against Prelates, the Reformation of the Church; against Atheists, the flourishing of the Gospel; and against Traitors and Firebrands, a perfect and durable Union and Love between the two Kingdoms; which he grant who knoweth our Intentions and Desires, and is able to bring them to pass. And if any more be required, God will reveal it, and go before both Nations, and if God go before us, who will not follow, or refuse to put their Necks to the Work of the Lord?

The Intentions of the Army of the Kingdom of Scotland, Declared to their Brethren of England by the Commissioners of the late Parliament, and by the General, Noblemen, Barons, and other Officers of the Army. Historical Collections of Private Passages of State: Volume 3, 1639-40. Originally published by D Browne, London, 1721.

True Son of Our Dear Mother

The Execution of King Charles I, Unknown Artist (National Portrait Gallery, London).
The Execution of King Charles I, Unknown Artist (National Portrait Gallery, London).

KING CHARLES THE MARTYR

This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

1 Peter ii. 19.

Praise to our pardoning God! though silent now
The thunders of the deep prophetic sky,
Though in our sight no powers of darkness bow
Before th’ Apostles’ glorious company;

The Martyrs’ noble army still is ours,
Far in the North our fallen days have seen
How in her woe this tenderest spirit towers
For Jesus’ sake in agony serene.

Praise to our God! not cottage hearths alone,
And shades impervious to the proud world’s glare,
Such witness yield; a monarch from his throne
Springs to his Cross and finds his glory there.

Yes: whereso’er one trace of thee is found,
As in the Sacred Land, the shadows fall:
With beating hearts we roam the haunted ground,
Lone battle-field, or crumbling prison hall.

And there are aching solitary breasts,
Whose widow’d walk with thought of thee is cheer’d
Our own, our royal Saint: thy memory rests
On many a prayer, the more for thee endear’d.

True son of our dear Mother, early taught
With her to worship and for her to die,
Nurs’d in her aisles to more than kingly thought,
Oft in her solemn hours we dream thee nigh.

For thou didst love to trace her daily lore,
And where we look for comfort or for calm,
Over the self-same lines to bend, and pour
Thy heart with hers in some victorious psalm.

And well did she thy loyal love repay;
When all forsook, her Angels still were nigh,
Chain’d and bereft, and on thy funeral way,
Straight to the Cross she turn’d thy dying eye.

And yearly now, before the Martyrs’ King,
For thee she offers her maternal tears,
Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling,
And bury in His wounds our earthly fears.

The Angels hear, and there is mirth in Heaven,
Fit prelude of the joy, when spirits won
Like those to patient Faith, shall rise forgiven,
And at their Saviour’s knees thy bright example own.

The Christian Year, John Keble.

 

Attachment to the Cause of Our Injured King

Portrait of King Charles I in his robes of state (1636) by Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641).
Portrait of King Charles I in his robes of state (1636) by Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641).

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, 30 January 1831.

King Charles the Martyr

I must tell you that the liberty and freedom [of the people] consists in having of Government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having share in Government, Sir; that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the Power of the Sword, I needed not to have come here, and therefore I tell you… that I am the martyr of the people.

— Charles I, on the scaffold before his execution (30 January 1649).

A Gentle and Generous Mode of Conduct

Triple portrait of King Charles I which was commissioned to be sent to Bernini in Rome for a royal commission of the King’s bust.

Be your holiness persuaded that I am, and ever shall be, of such moderation as to keep aloof, as far as possible, from every undertaking which may testify any hatred towards the Roman Catholic religion. Nay, rather I will seize all opportunities, by a gentle and generous mode of conduct, to remove all sinister suspicions entirely; so that, as we all confess one undivided Trinity and one Christ crucified, we may be banded together unanimously into one faith.

— Letter to Pope Gregory XV (20 April, 1623).

Multiplyed, Corrupted and Debaucht

And now to gather up all, Religion being thus multiplyed, corrupted and debaucht, being made the Game of the Tongue, and the Frolick of Imagination; phantastick in its principles, sordid in its practices, separated from the foundation of a vertuous life, and made to serve the ends of Pride and Avarice; what was like to follow, according to the nature and order of things, but Atheism and contempt of all Religion? And when one sayes, here’s Religion, and another sayes, there’s Religion; a third will contemningly ask, where’s Religion, and what’s Religion? When the Heathen Deities were so multiplied, that every thing was made a God; Protagoras, Diagoras, and others, first began to question, and next to affirm that there was NONE. Religions have been multiplied in our dayes, as much as Gods in theirs; and we have seen much of the same fatal event and issue. They made their Gods contemptible and vile, by deifying things that were so, and we had no less detracted from the credit of Religion, by bringing it down to things of the lowest and vilest rank and nature. Our Idolized Opinions were no better than their Garlick and Onyons. The diseases of the Mind, Phrensie and Enthusiasm, which our dayes have worshipped, were no better than those of the Body which they adored. And they never raised Altars to worse Vices than REBELLION, FRAUD, and VIOLENCE, which our Age hath hallowed and made sacred. So that notwithstanding all the glorious pretensions of those Times, Religion was, among many, taken off all its Foundations, and the World prepared for Atheism. The Follies and Divisions of one Age, make way for Atheism in the next.

— A Loyal Tear Dropt on the Vault of our Late Martyred Sovereign in an Anniversary Sermon on the Day of His Murther. By Joseph Glanvill. London: Printed for James Collins, 1667.