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THE ADVANTAGE OF THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST IN THE SHAKING OF THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD; OR, Providential Alterations In Their Subserviency To Christ’s Exaltation.
THE battle of Worcester, “the crowning mercy,” as Cromwell termed it, which effectually reduced Britain under his control, was fought on the 3d of September 1651, the anniversary of his victory at Dunbar. On the 24th of October following, a day of thanksgiving was observed for this success, and “sundry other mercies.” On this occasion Owen, by this time Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford, preached before the House of Commons the following sermon. “It contains,” says Mr. Orme, “many free and eloquent passages, especially on the danger of human governments interfering with the principles and rights of the kingdom of Christ; and on the abomination and extent of the antichristian apostasy.” He refers, in illustration, to the passage which occurs on page 322. — ED. Tuesday, October 28, 1651. ORDERED by the Parliament, That the thanks of this House be given to Mr. Owen, Dean of Christ Church in Oxford, for his great pains taken in his sermon preached before the Parliament, at Margaret’s, Westminster, on Friday the 24th of October (being a day set apart for public thanksgiving); and that he be desired to print his sermon; and that he have the like privilege in printing the same as others in like case have usually had; and that the Lord-General do give him the thanks of this House, and desire him to print his sermon accordingly. HEN. SCONELL , Cler. Parl. TO THE SUPREME AUTHORITY OF THE NATION, THE COMMONS ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT.
RIGHT HONOURABLE, OF all the times which the Holy One of Israel hath caused to pass over the nations of the world, there hath not any from the days of old been so filled with eminent discoveries of his presence, power, and providence, in disposing of all affairs here below according to the counsel of his own will, as the season wherein he hath made you a spectacle unto men and angels, being the instrument in his hand to perform all his pleasure. Neither in this season hath he, upon any opportunity, so gloriously laid hold upon his own strength and goodness, to manifest the firedness of his eye on those who are as the apple of it, as in that mighty deliverance the high praises whereof, according to his good hand upon you, you lately tendered unto him.
The more beauty and desirableness any design against the Lord Christ is clothed withal, the more power and subtlety it is supported with, the greater is the brightness of his coming for its wasting and desolation. With what deceivableness of unrighteousness and lies in hypocrisy the late grand attempt of those in Scotland, with their adherents (which also was of the former, and is gone into destruction), was carried on, is in some measure now made naked, to the loathing of its abominations. In digging deep to lay a foundation for blood and revenge, — in covering private and sordid ends with a pretense of things public and glorious, — in limning a face of religion upon a worldly stock, — in concealing distant aims and bloody animosities to compass one common end, that a theater might be provided to act several parts upon, — in pleading a necessity from an oath of God unto most desperate undertakings against God, and such like things as these, perhaps it gives not place to any which former ages have been acquainted withal. Now, to reject all the claims of the authors and abettors thereof to any commission from above, to divest them of all pretenses to religion and zeal thereof, to disappoint them in their expected associations, and to make all their strength to become as tow that hath smelt the fire, hath been His work alone who takes to himself his great power to carry on the interest of his kingdom against all opposers. Under the shadow of this mercy — composed of as many branches of wisdom, power, goodness, and faithfulness, as any outward dispensation hath brought forth since the name of Christian was known — do you now sit in council, and the residue of the nation in peace. What obligations from the Lord, what cords of love are upon us! The returnal and improvement of all his dealings with us, which he requireth and expecteth from us, I have pointed you unto in the following sermon. For the present I shall only add, that as whatever there hath been of beauty, glory, or advantage unto the people of God, in the late transactions, hath been eminently of undeserved grace; so the dreadful vengeance which the Lord hath executed against the men of his enmity and warfare hath been most righteously procured, by their clothing cursed designs of revenge, persecution, bondage in soul and body, spoil and rapine, with the most glorious pretenses of zeal, covenant, reformation, and such like things, — which never came into their hearts.
Therefore, that the God of all our mercies and deliverances would for ever keep alive in your hearts a faithful acknowledgment of his grace, and a practical detestation of those ways which are such a provocation to the eyes of his glory, shall be the constant prayer of Your most humble Servant In our dearest Lord, J.OWEN.