Of the Happiness of PRINCES led by DIVINE Counsel. A SERMON Occasioned by the Death Of that most Excellent PRINCESS, Our late Sovereign, Queen MARY. By THOMAS GOODWIN.

Prov. 31. 29.
Many Daughters have done vertuously, but Thou excellest them all.

London, Printed by J. D. for Jonathan Robinson at the Golden-Lion in St. Paul's Church-Yard. 1695.

PSAL. 73. 24.‘Thou shalt guide me with thy Counsel, and afterward receive me to Glory.’

IF the Great and Wise God regards the mean­est of his Creatures, to provide for them in every Exigency of their Case, to relieve their Wants, and help them in all Difficulties and Distresses, we may be assur'd that his kind and watchful Providence is more peculiarly im­ploy'd about the Persons of good and pious Prin­ces. While they live in this World, he guides them by his Counsel, he steers the Course of those Kingdoms over which they reign: He by admi­rable and unaccountable Methods, points to a Discovery of those dark Conspiracies which were aim'd at their Ruin: He protects them, and is a safer Defence than the greatest Numbers of their armed Guards. He influenceth their Minds and Thoughts to observe the wisest and best Rules of Government; and he so disposeth the Temper of [Page 2] their Hearts, that Kings become nursing Fathers, and Queens nursing Mothers to his People and Church; when the most who have rul'd the Nations of the Earth, destitute of this Divine Care and Direction, have been Tyrants and Op­pressors: And when the Date of the Life and Reign of good Princes is ended, at the appointed Period, God removes them from a low Throne on Earth, to an higher in Heaven; and he takes off a Crown sharpned with Troubles and Cares, as so many Thorns, to set one of undisturbed Happi­ness and Glory on their Heads. This is the bles­sed State of just and good Princes, so rarely found among Men, that God will not only here guide them by his Counsel, but lead and securely bring them to his Eternal Glory.

The Psalm, tho wrote by Asaph, yet hath an apparent regard to David; and of him as a King, whom God had established on the Throne, and prosper'd his Reign, guiding the whole Course of it by the best and wisest Counsels, the Words of my Text are meant; which also express the firm Confidence which this Great King and Prophet had in God, that to the latest Moments of his Life and Reign, he would assist him with his suc­cessful [Page 3] Directions, and that when his last Day was ended, he would bring him to the Possession of a Glory infinitely exceeding all the Splendor and Magnificence of that Royal Majesty of which he must be disrobed. It is by these Considerations he supports and solaces his Soul; which, upon first Thoughts, was vex'd at the Prosperity of wicked Princes, who grew old in Tyranny and Oppres­sion, who daily increas'd in Greatness and Power, tho founded on the Blood and Ruin of many Na­tions; who triumph'd in uninterrupted Successes, when as his own just and good Reign was perpe­tually disturb'd by the Wickedness of his own ungrateful Subjects, or the Invasions of unjust Enemies. But when he consider'd that the wick­ed Counsels by which they acted, would not al­ways be prosperous, for God would blast and confound them; that all their Arts of Policy would fail for want of God's Direction and Bles­sing; that all their Supports of Power would be suddenly broken, and that the Ground on which they stood was uncertain and slippery, and so they would tumble into unexpected Destruction: When this good King entertain'd himself with these wise and sober Thoughts, the Hurries of his Mind were presently compos'd, and he no [Page 4] longer envied at the Prosperity of the Wicked, nor complain'd that God was pleas'd to fill his own Life with Difficulties and Troubles. What­ever Tumults and Combustions disquieted the Peace of his Reign, yet he enjoy'd an undi­sturb'd Repose within his own Breast; and un­der God's Protection and Care, he was sure of being inviolably safe. As long as he was led by God's Counsels, which never fail of Success, he knew certainly that neither his Kingdom, nor his own Person, could be in danger. He knew that he should live gloriously, and die happy; that God would receive him to a greater Glory, than what he left here; and that he would only take off an Earthly Crown, to set an Heavenly One infinite­ly more bright and shining, on his Head. Thus Good Princes are entirely bless'd; while they live, God is not only their Guard to defend them, but their chiefest Minister of State, to give them the wisest and most faithful Counsel; and when they die, they go off honour'd and lamented by all their People: nor do they leave only a Glori­ous Name behind them, but they go to possess a solid, and eternal Glory, which fadeth not a­way. They but step out of one Throne, to ascend another in Heaven, which cannot be shaken, nor endanger'd.

[Page 5] Observ. That they are most certainly bless'd whom God loves, and takes care of; whom he leads by his Counsel through all the troublesome Passages of their Lives; and after all Storms and Dangers, lands them safely on the Shores of his Glorious Kingdom above. As he always gives the best Advice, so they can never miscarry who fol­low it; but if we trust to our own Wisdom, and pursue Counsels different from what he gives us, we renounce his Care, we refuse his Instruction, we blindly rush on without him, and so bewil­der our selves, that we are fatally lost. He knows what is for our Good, and kindly directs us to it. He sees a-far off the threatning Danger, and warns us to avoid it. He discerns what may ef­fectually promote our Happiness and Safety, which is not descry'd by us short-sighted Creatures; and all his Counsels have a tendency to bring us unto Blessedness: and if we are led by them, we shall not miss of arriving at Glory. But he who forsakes this sure Guide, most certainly loseth his Way; and is dismally benighted, and falls down a Pre­cipice into the Place of everlasting Night and Darkness. I shall consider,

  • [Page 6]1. What Counsel is in general.
  • 2. Who the Person is, who so graciously offers us his Help to conduct us safely by his Counsels, through all the Temptations, Distresses, and Dangers of this Life.
  • 3. I shall shew how the Circumstances of our Case make it necessary for us to be counsell'd and directed by God; and that if we do not mind what he says to us, if we are obstinate and will not observe his Directions for our Happiness, we must unavoidably be miserable.
  • 4. I shall display the blessed Fruits, and Effects of being led by God's Counsels; what Peace and Satisfaction of Mind there is in following his Gui­dance, what Security in such a Course; what in­ward Joys fill the Heart from these Thoughts, that we shall be safe through all the Time of our Lives, and shall be blessed and glorious whenever we die.

1. What is Counsel. It is a wise Advice to direct us what is fittest to be done according to [Page 7] the Circumstances of Case; and what may be the properest, and most successful Means to accom­plish the intended and desired Effect. Such Coun­sel all Kings want, but few are so happy as to ob­tain it. Thrice happy was our Queen, who was not only directed by her Counsel of State, but by that of Heaven too. It is God the absolute Disposer of all Affairs both in Heaven and Earth, as uni­versal Monarch of both Worlds, who gives out Commissions to the Kings of the Earth; and when they govern according to his Orders, and are led by his Counsels, they are Fathers of their Coun­try, and publick Blessings. It is this great and wise God, who alone can make any Nation flourishing and prosperous, by instructing the Prince, and the Senators in Wisdom.

2. If we consider the excellent Perfections of this mighty Counsellor, Isa. 9. 6. they all are so many convin­cing Arguments to prevail on us to observe his Instructions while we live; and to have the stron­gest Confidence and Hope, that being pursued by us, they will make us happy when we die.

1st. The Greatness of God gives Authority to his Counsel. We redily hearken to those who are [Page 8] above us, and every Word which they speak car­ries a weight in it, and is forcibly impress'd on our Minds. If a Friend adviseth us to what we appre­hend may be an Advantage, we chearfully re­ceive, and follow his Counsel: But the Di­rection of a Superior is a Command, and adds the Obligation of Duty to the Consideration of our own Benefit. God then who is the greatest above all, may very well guide all by his Counsel; and it is not more a Duty than a Privilege, to observe the Measures of his Conduct. Within this Circle our Queen was secure, when in the Management of all Affairs, she was under the Guidance of a Power infinitely greater than her own.

2dly. The Wisdom of God assures us that his Counsels are not obnoxious to the least Mistakes: and that by adhering to them, we can never be misguided. The greatest Politicians may see their truest Rules fail them, and their exactest Measures broken; for there are so many nice Circumstan­ces of Affairs which indiscernably pass by, and cannot be fore-seen, that it is impossible for the Wisest to provide against all Events. The best-laid Design may be frustrated by very slight unthought of Accidents, which could not fall within the pro­spect [Page 9] of the most careful, and considering Desig­ner. But the all-knowing God, who sees the Is­sues of things, before we can discern their Begin­nings, makes such effectual Provisions, that no­thing can interrupt, or disappoint his Coun­sels.

3dly. The Goodness of God gives us sufficient Security, that he will not advise us to any thing for our Hurt; but that all his Counsels come full charged with Blessings to us. It is condescending Goodness, that he will instruct his Creatures, whom he might have left to wander and perish in their Folly. Since then, to prevent their Ruin, he is so gracious as to advise them, we may be certain that he doth not direct them to any thing but what is mightily conducive to their Welfare and Happiness.

3. Let us reflect how our weak and helpless Condition makes it necessary for us to be coun­sell'd and directed. What is the greatest among Men, without the Care and Aids of the Almigh­ty, but a poor wretched Creature abandon'd to Misery, and Despair? When encompass'd with a­mazing Difficulties, all his Presence of Mind is [Page 10] lost, if God doth not reassure him; and his Thoughts are so disorder'd and perplex'd, that he knows not which way to turn himself, nor what Knot he should first untie to loosen his In­tanglements: It is only the Thought of his be­ing under the Care and Conduct of the Wise and Good God, which can restore his Spirit to him, and fortify his Resolution.

4. What are the signal Advantages of being protected by God's Love and Care, and guided by his Counsels.

1. The Assurance that we have of God's kind and careful Regard to us, and that he will, suta­bly to the Exigencies of our Case, not only pro­tect, but counsel us too, gives us the truest Sense of Pleasure in every State of Life. There is no Condition so prosperous, but the Consideration of the Vanity of its Enjoyments, or the Fears of a Succession of Misery, may imbitter it to us. We gain therefore, in the most flourishing Circumstan­ces of our Days, a double Advantage by our In­terest in God's Care and wise Conduct: For the Experience of it represents to us those Blessings we enjoy, not only as Pleadges of his Love, and [Page 11] Testimonies of his Favour, but as Gifts which Infinite Wisdom thinks meet to bestow on us, and will teach us to make a right and good Use of them; and this encreaseth their Value, and en­hanceth the Pleasures of Enjoyment. The Con­fidence also which we have in a Divine Provi­dence, kind and indulgent to us, and carefully managing all our Concerns for the best Purposes of our Happiness, doth fence us against too anxi­ous Fears of a Change of our present easy Condi­tion: For tho we know that all things here are variable, yet we are undoubtedly certain that God never alters in the greatest Revolutions, which toss this lower World, and wholly change the Posture of it. That he continues the same Care over those whom he loves, tho their Condition is varied. That no Extremities of Misery, nor Perplexities of Affairs, can put his Wisdom to a loss, but it is always able to shew us a Way to e­scape; and that therefore tho all the Calamities should come upon us which Men have either suffer­ed, or do fear, yet we shall be secured by the Bene­fit of Divine Counsel. The Thoughts and Hopes of this therefore can only afford us a solid Com­fort in the deepest plunges of Misery: For what can support us in any sad Moments of our Lives, [Page 12] wherein all things may seem to conspire our De­struction, when a Storm threatens from all Sides, and a wide Ruin opens to swallow us? Where can we find Ground for hope to settle upon, or from whence can we expect a Rescue? If in so sad and desperate a Condition we look on all things about us, we have nothing in prospect but De­spair. It is the Sense of that part which we have in the Protection and Conduct of God, to whose Power all things are subject, and whose Wisdom was never perplex'd by the greatest Difficulties, which can here alone bear us up from sinking un­der our despairing Thoughts. This Faith suppor­ted David, Psal. 62. 1, 2. Truly my Soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my Salvation. He only is my Rock and my Salvation: he is my Defence; I shall not be greatly moved. And the same Faith so strongly establish'd the Heart of our Queen, that no Report of Evil Tidings, nor Appearan­ces of Danger, could once move it from its due Station, but she firmly bore all Events with an equal Mind.

2. The Apprehension of being guarded by God's careful Love, and guided by his Counsel, will give us that entire Satisfaction of Mind, as [Page 13] we shall possess Ease and Joy within; which is a Rational, and therefore the best and purest Pleasure. What greater Torment is there, than a Man's own unruly Passions when let loose, which rage with the utmost Vio­lence? What Delight doth a Man feel, when those Furies being quell'd, he enjoys an un­clouded Serenity of Mind? It is the pleasing Reflections which we make on our being un­der the Conduct of a Good and Wise God, which breaths this Calm in our troubled Breasts, and lays the Storms which were rais'd there, either by our own blustering Pas­sions, or the Impressions of outward Acci­dents: For Man is not only expos'd to all manner of present Evils, but tormented with the Fears of greater to come, which aggravates and sharpens the Sadness of his Condition: For as an Addition to his present Distresses, he anticipates those Mise­ries which he apprehends will come upon him; and all those Evils which he yet sees but at a greater distance, are represented by his Fears as present in the most horrible Appearance. If he be therefore left wholly [Page 14] to the Mercy of his present Troubles, with­out any Defence, and hath no hopes of his future being prevented, he cannot entertain one comfortable Thought: The Horror of so sad and dismal a Condition, will eter­nally confound him, and he will always be distracted with his own Fears; Prov. 28. 1. The Wicked fly when no Man pursues: They startle at the least Appearance of Danger, and fly from those terrible Shadows which their own Phancies have frightfully drawn: They have no Interest in the Care and Counsel of God, which only can help a forlorn aban­don'd Creature, and relieve him in the most deplorable Extremities: They have no Strength to oppose against the dreaded Dan­ger, no Refuge to fly unto for Security. Whither shall that Man go for Advice, whom God refuseth to lead by his Counsel? Where can he be safe, whom God will not take care of? To what Power shall he have Re­course to defend him, who wants the Divine Assistance? or by what Hand can be expect to have what he fears turn'd off from him, who hath not the least apprehension that [Page 15] God hath a kind Regard to him, and will safely conduct him thrô all the wild and ha­zardous Passages of this World, to Eternal Bliss and Glory? Such a wretched Man must necessarily be left to the Fury of his own fretting Thoughts, and to the Violence of the deepest Despair, who not only groans under present Evils, but is wrack'd by Fears of the Future, without any hopes of Relief. But the happy Person, who knows that the whole Course of his Life is steer'd by a wise and skilful Hand, which is so kind as to be careful of his Welfare and Felicity, may banish all Fears and troublesom Passions from his Breast, reposing himself secure upon the Love and Care of his God.

Thus our Queen was led by God's Coun­sels; and though in the Administration of Affairs she imploy'd that admirable Wisdom with which God had endow'd her, and fitted her to sway the Scepter of Three Kingdoms, yet with an entire Confidence she commit­ted all the Events of Government unto him. This made her always easy in her own Mind, [Page 16] whatever Occasions there were, which would have disquieted any Soul less firm than Hers; and her Thoughts were ever com­pos'd and serene.

And as God answer'd that Trust which she repos'd in him, in leading her by his Counsels in the Conduct of a Reign, which though alas but too short, yet was very difficult, and in preserving her Person and Government; so when the sad Hour ar­riv'd, sad indeed to Three Nations, but glorious to Her, in which a Period was put to a Life so dear to all good Men, and which the Worst could not but admire, God made good his own Promise, and sa­tisfy'd her Hopes and earnest Wishes, in bringing her to his Glory. In the joyful Assurance of this, the Great Soul took its flight to its Redeemer, and is for ever with the Lord.

She is gone, and hath left us to our Sighs and Tears, to bewail a Loss, of which e­very Day will make us more and more sen­sible. [Page 17] She is retir'd out of sight, and our Eyes will no longer be charm'd with the View of so many Excellencies, as are the Wonder of this Age, and will difficult­ly be believ'd by the Succeeding, to have been found in any one single Person. She was weary of the Troubles which infest this lower Region, where nothing but Sin and Sorrows dwell, and silently withdrew to a safe and pleasant Retreat. Her calm and gentle Soul was contrary to Storms, though it was never disturb'd by them; and by the Direction of God's Counsel it hath arriv'd in a quiet and smooth Haven, while looking on this little World, it sees every Shore cover'd with the sad scatter'd Re­mains of innumerable Shipwracks of Prin­ces and Nations, whom God led not by his Counsels, but left them to steer their own fatal Course.

She enjoys not only a perpetual Peace, and uninterrupted Pleasures for ever more, Psal. 16. 11. after all her Cares and Labours employ'd for the Happiness of her Subjects, [Page 18] but God hath brought her to his Glory; a Glo­ry which, being above our highest Thoughts, must necessarily exceed the Compass of any Words to express it; an Eternal Glory which can never decay, and in comparison of which all the Magnificence of the great­est Earthly Monarchs, is but the Pageantry of an Hour, and a transitory Shew. But though she hath left this World, her Great and Honourable Name and Memory will never leave it; that, Immortal as her Mind, will be had in everlasting Remembrance, Psal. 112. 6. and Princes in many Ages to come, will strive to resemble her Character, as the most ex­act Pattern of an Excellent Queen.

She was greater by her Vertues, than by her Birth and Dignity; and the Blood of Kings which flow'd in her Veins, was one of the least Things which enobled Her. Those ex­traordinary Qualities by which she was so illustriously distinguish'd from all others a­mong Men, would have rendred her wor­thy of the greatest Crown on Earth, tho she had not been born to one: And if she [Page 19] had liv'd among Nations, where not di­stinction of Birth, but the Suffrages of the People, place the Crown upon the worthi­est Head, and the Power of Empire is con­ferr'd on the Person, whose Majestick Pre­sence, and Great and Noble Mind, recom­mend him as the most deserving and fit­test to command others, whom he so emi­nently excells; Her alone appearance among the assembled Tribes, at the very first sight, would have determin'd the Choice of the rejoicing People. Never was in any finite Person, such a due mixture of Sweetness and Majesty; and Royal Greatness was ne­ver so equally lov'd and rever'd before. We saw, with a surprizing Amazement, all those manly Vertues in the softer Sex, which we admire in a Heroe; Wisdom in Counsels, a steady firmness of Mind amidst all the perplexing Difficulties of Govern­ment, and a Resolution never startled by the sudden appearance of any sad Accidents or unexpected Dangers.

[Page 20] But Accomplishments of Nature have been seen, and with wicked Flattery have been ador'd in Heathen Princes; though the greatest Examples of them cannot, by many Degrees, reach the Height of our Queen: She excell'd them in all the Heroick Ver­tues with which God hath been pleas'd (that the Designs of his Providence might be effected) to dignify sinful Humane Na­ture in several Persons, who neither knew nor acknowledg'd him. A Crown never shin'd so brightly before, though worn by many Kings of the Christian Name, be­cause the Grace of God, which so very rarely sparkles there, hath never, since the Time of David, spread such a Lustre on any Crowned Head.

Our Queen (whose Loss not only we, but many Ages to come will deplore) was not only Great, but truly Religious; She had not meerly the Vertues of an Ex­cellent Princess worthy to command Men, but the Graces of a Christian. She had [Page 21] not the empty Title of Defender of the Faith, but knew, and heartily believ'd the Truths of the Gospel, and felt their lively Influence on her Heart, and the Fruits were visibly apparent in the Actions of her Life.

She wore a Crown, not to glory in the Pride of Majesty, but to feel the Weight of it; and the Regal Power did not administer to her the Luxuries and Pleasures of a Court, but the anxious Cares of Government; and when other Kings have been only solici­tous to make the Throne easy and de­lightful, and to indulge themselves in all things which the Licentiousness of a Scep­ter would afford, She alone burden'd her Self with the Affairs of Three kingdoms; and her constant Thoughts were to provide for the Welfare and Safety of her numerous Subjects in them all. This was her trou­blesome Employment; Religion was her great and pleasing Business, as those many Hours which she spent in Sacred Retire­ment, and a Spiritual Converse between [Page 22] God and her own Soul, did evidence. These happy Moments solaced her amidst all the Disquiets of her Reign, and eas'd the Burden of that Crown which would other­wise have oppress'd her. As she lov'd her Lord Jesus, she made him her Support, trusted in him, cast her Care upon him, according to the Direction of the Apostle Peter; and her Faith and Hope in him, who is King of Kings, made her Soul calm and serene, when threatning Storms arose, and the Hearts of all the People trembled: Her Faith did not only establish her Mind, but was fruitful in good Works towards others; and that remarkable and distinguishing Cha­racter of a true Christian, which could never be found in the most celebrated In­stances of Ethnick Vertue, was eminently dis­cern'd in Her.

She lov'd and did good to them who hated her; and they that could not be her Enemies, without being so of their Coun­try too, felt the Blessings of a Govern­ment which they so eagerly endeavour'd [Page 23] to subvert. She reliev'd their Wants, who would have rejoic'd to see her reduc'd to the Condition of the meanest of her Sub­jects; and who not only murmur'd, but would have cut off the Hand which fed them. They then who regarding only their private Gain and Interest, and insensible of the Calamity of the Country, triumph'd at her Death, might yet with better Reason have bewail'd their private Loss in the Publick One of the Nation; for they soon were sensible of the Decay of those Streams of Bounty which refresh'd them, when the Spring was dry'd up.

As such Instances of all Princely Quali­ties, join'd with the Graces of a Saint, are very extraordinary, we ought to acknow­ledg them as Publick Blessings, and most joyfully to praise God, that he hath fa­vour'd this Nation with such Examples, as very rarely appear upon Earth: We ought to value, love and reverence their Persons, to do all that we can to ease the Cares and Weight of a Crown, by our chearful Obe­dience [Page 24] to all just Commands; and by our readiness to imploy our Lives, and all that we have, for the Support of their Govern­ment.

When God deprives a People of a Wise, Good, and Pious King or Queen, we should tremble at such a dreadful and portentous Sign of his Displeasure, as foreboding Ruin to us, if we will yet be obstinately resolv'd to continue in Sin, and refuse to be re­form'd. We ought not only to bewail the Loss of so much Excellence in the Death of the Queen, but to lament it as a National Calamity, and to feel the Wound that is struck so deep into the very Bowels of our Country. When good Princes die, the strong and healthy Constitution of a good Government is impair'd; and the Life and Vi­gour being gone, with the departure of the Universal Soul by which it was animated, a Kingdom lies expiring, when They resign their latest Breath. This draws Tears from all Eyes at their Funerals,2 Chron. 35. 24. and not only the Court, but a Whole Nation goes into Mourning.

[Page 25] Our Sorrow should sharpen a just Hatred and Indignation against our Sins, as the Causes of that dismal Calamity, which oc­casions it. The Sins of a Country shorten the Lives of those, who are the Fathers of it. They infect the Air of a Nation; and Good Princes first fall, and then the un­guarded People perish in whole Multitudes. They destroy with a swifter Violence than the malignant Designs of Secret, or the Swords of Open Enemies.

Let us not put our entire Trust in Prin­ces, though the best upon Earth; for none but God who cannot die, nor any of his Perfections ever decay, but are unchangeable, is strong enough to bear up all the Confi­dence we can put in him.

We have sadly experienc'd how soon we may be disappointed in the best of Crea­tures. What great, and just Expectations had we from the Reign of a Princess, in whom Regal Power was join'd with Good­ness, [Page 26] and Grace? How did we promise to our selves from the vigorous Constitution of her Youth, not only happy Influences, and Prosperity of her Government, but also a long Continuance? But how soon were our Desires and Expectations blasted on a sud­den? and when we did not suspect it, a cru­el and treacherous Disease in a few Hours murther'd all our Hopes. It is then in our Lord Jesus Christ alone, who is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and who pre­sides not only over Nations, but the Per­sons of Kings themselves, that we ought perfectly to confide; and if we believe, and trust in him, be will here lead us by his Counsel, and assuredly bring us to his eternal Glory.


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