Joseph Stennett.

The Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) online

. (page 21 of 28)
Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

fliare in their forrovv.

And is there not a juft ground of hope,
that the honour God has done the pro-
teftant princes and ftates, in giving their
arms fuch extraordinary fuccefs, is in order
to give them one day an opportunity of
exprelTing their gratitude to heaven, by re-
eftablifliing the proteftant rehgion in thofe
countries from v^^hence it has been extir-
pated, by the moll barbarous and perfidious
methods, contrary to all law and juftice,
the moft folemn oaths and facred treaties ?
And who knows whether a work fo juft,
fo charitable, fo pious, and every way fo
glorious, is not referved for the reign of
queen Anne ; whofe forces both by fea and
land have had fo great a hand in the mor-
tification of that grand enemy of our reli-
gion, and of the liberty of mankind ?

And now what fliall we render to the
Lord for all his benefits ? If we have any
fenfc of religion, gratitude, or ingenuity,
the fervice of this day, which is to oAIt
the facrifice of praife and thankfgiving, will
be as agreeable to us, as it is juft and reafon-
able in itfelf.

God has been pleafed to maintain the
righteous caufe in which we are engaged,
and not only to defend us from the infults


Serm. VI. vi^ory af RzmWlks, ^c. 305

of our enemies, but to punifh their trea-
chery and ambition, by making them fall
before us in the field. Hereby he has pre-
ferved to us the enjoyment of whatever is
juftly valuable among men : hereby he has
fecured her majefly's throne and the pro-
teflant fucceffion, and confirmed our hope
of tranfmitting our holy religion and civil
liberty to our poflerity, notwithftanding the
pretences and attempts which have been
made to deprive us both of the one and of
the other. How highly fhould we efteem
thofe bleflings, which have been endeared
to us by fo many wonderful turns of pro-
vidence employed for their prefervation I
What a warm and lafting impreflion ought
fo many fignal inftances of the divine favour
to make on all our minds ! efpecially when
we confider how unworthy of the leaft of
all God's mercies our fms have rendered us,
and how juflly he might have punifhed us,
by delivering us into the hands of thofe e-
nemies, whofe tender mercies are cruelty.
Since he has not been extreme to mark our
iniquities, but chufes by his goodnefs to lead
us to repentance -, fince he has encouraged
the efforts which have been made by our
governors and others for a general reforma-
tion of manners, by thefe extraordinary fuc-
cefTes of our arms, methinks it is a fufficienc
indication to us, that if good men of all
ranks and characflers among us were fo wife
and happy as to ufe their utmofl endeavours
Vol. I. X to

2o6 A thankfgiv'ing fermon for the

to advance that glorious work, we might
expert to fee yet greater things thim thefe.
O that they were ivife, that they underfiood
thisy that they ucould confider their latter end I
Howfiould one chafe a thoufand, and tisoo put
ten thoufand to flight \ &c.

But how great an unhappinefs would it be,
if thofe who have in fo many refpedts been
made by the indulgence of God to refemble
the Ifraelites, his once peculiar people, {hould
make themfelves like them too in that ingra-
titude and folly, by which they too often
interrupted the courfe of God's bleffings, and
incurred his fevere difpleafure. God forbid !
that any of us fhould imitate that ungrate-
ful people in the degeneracy of their man-
ners ; in their negled; of the efTentials of
religion, while they furioufly contended for
the minutefl circumftances of it, and fome-
tinies for things which had no juft relation
to it' ; and in their factious and inconftant
temper, which made them uneafy under the
happieft government, and murmur at the
beft of governors. For if we {hould imitate
their fins, what reafon have we to promife
ourfelves impunity, any more than they ;
who, by their folly, became at I aft as re-
markable examples of God's extraordinary
judgments, as they once were of his pecu-
liar favours ? After all the great things God
has done for us, may we never give him


Serm. VI. vi^oty at Ramillies, ^c. 3 07

occafion to upbraid us as he did that people :
T)o ye thus requite the Lord^ O foolifi nation F
Is not he thy father^ who hath bought thee ?
Hath he not made thee^ and efiablijhed thee ^ ?
And to complain of us, as he did of them :
^hey are a nation 'void of counjel^ ?ieither is
there underjlanding in them ^.

Let us beware, left after having fmig the
praifes of God, we forget his works, and re-
fufe to wait for his counfel y. Let not our
thankfgiving evaporate into pride and levity,
or fink into intemperance and luxury -, but
let it appear in a rational and religious joy,
accompanied v^ith an humble acknowledg-
ment, that we owe all the fuccefTes we now
celebrate to xh^fljield and fword of the Lord ;
that 'tis thro' him that our troops have done
valiantly, and that it is he who hath trodden
down our enemies ^. Let us always depend
on his almighty power, and the wife condudl
of his providence. While fome truji in cha-
riots, and fome in horfes, let us ftill remember
the name of the Lord our God \ Let our
prayers, which he has fo often anfwered, be
conflantly addrefTed to him, for the accom-
plifhment of that great work of reftoring
liberty to Europe, which has been advanced
to fo good a degree by his fpecial providence ;
and for the profperous and flourifhing ftate of
the church of God thro'out the world.

* Deut.32. 6. I ^ Pfal, 60. II.

* Ver. 28. I » Pfal, lo. 7.
y Pfal. 106. 12, 13. I

X 2 Let

3o8 A tbankfgtv'mg fermon for the

Let us (hew ourfelves grateful to God, in
giving all due honour to thofe illuflrious
perfons whom he has chiefly employed to
mortify the pride and infolence of our ene-
mies, and to fecure us from their power.
Let our ingenuous and juft acknowledgment
of their merit, {hew we are very far from
envying them the glory of their prudence
and valour : nor are we to forget how much
we owe to the refolution and courage of the
forces under their command, who have fo
often hazarded their lives for our fafety.

Let us blefs God for the great favour he
has fhown us, in placing her majefty on the
throne of thefe kingdoms, under whofe hap-
py government we enjoy fo many peculiar
bleflings. Let the eminent reward of her
virtues, by the victories that God has given
her, incite us to the imitation of her royal
example. Let us continually pray for the
happinefs and profperity of her perfon and
government, and contribute all we can to
the fupport of her throne.

To conclude : If our hearts were gene-
rally fo affected with the triumphs God has
given us, as to engage us to declare and
maintain an irreconcileable war againfl our
fins, we might reafonably hope, that as our
enemies have been already found liars, both
on the account of their fraud and treachery,
and in regard of their vain-glory and boaft-
ing ; fo we fhall be bleft with repeated vic-
tories, till we Ihall fee peace and righteoufnefi


Serm. VI. vi^ory af KamilliQS, &c. 309

the liability of our times ; and that it fhall ftill
be faid of England as it was of Ifrael : Happy
art thotiy O England ! who is like unto thee, O
people, faved by the Lord ! the Jhield of thy
help, and who is the fword of thy excellency.
And thine enemies fd all be found liars unto thee ;
and thoufialt tread upon their high places.

X3 A

( 310 )

A fermon preach 'd on the ifl: oiMay,
1707. being the day appointed for
a pubHck thankfgiving for the hap-
py union of England and Scot'


Judges V. latter part of the 15th verfe.

• For the divtfions of Reuben, there were
great thoughts of heart.

S this day is devoted to folemn
^p joy and thankfgiving for the com-
mencement of the union of the
two kingdoms of Great Britain ;
it feems no lefs proper and fea-
fonable to refleft on the mifchief and dan-
ger of divifion, than to look forward to the
happy confequences to be expe(fted from a
well-concerted union : for both thefe views
are neceflary to make us comprehend how
much we owe, firfl to the divine providence,
I and

Serm. VII. of England and Scotland. 3 1 1

and then to the good condudt of the go'
vernment under which we hve, for giving
us this occalion of publick rejoicing, and
confequently to difpofe us to obey the call
of both, in the performance of the duties
of praife and gratitude after a becoming

The text I have chofen for this purpofe,
is a pafTage of the fong which Deborah com-
pofed, on occalion of the wonderful fuccefs
of her arms againfl: the Canaanites.

Whilft fhe applauds the vigor and courage
of fome of the tribes in the defence of their
common liberty, fhe can't forbear to take
notice of the great danger to which the ftate
of Ifrael was expofed by thofe divifions,
that made others of them lefs concerned for
the publick intereft, and lefs capable of fer-
ving it. For after having faid. Out of E-
phraim was there a root of them againjl Ama-
lek^ after thee Benjamin among thy people j out
of Machir came down governors^ and out of
Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer :
and the princes of Iffachar were with Deborah^
even Iffachar 5 and alfo Barak ^ he was fent on
foot into the valley : fhe adds. For the divi-
fions of Reuben there were great thoughts of
heart ^. Why abodeji thou among the jheep"
foldsy to hear the Heatings of the fiock f for
the divifons of Reuben there were great fear ch'
ings of heart S Gilead abode beyond Jordan,

.*Ver. 14,15. I c Vcr. itf.

X 4 and

312 A thanhfgiving fcrfnon for the union

and ivhy did Dan remain in Jl.nps ? AJher
continued on the fea-Jkore^ and abode in his
breaches. Zebulun and Naphtali were a peo-
ple that jeoparded their lives unto the death ^. —
Tho thefe Reuben ites were not the only
tribe who were hindered by their divifions
from an equal {hare both in the fervice and
honour of that glorious day, celebrated in
this triumphant fong ; yet their negligence
and coldnefs in the caufe of liberty, confi-
dering the advantages they were under, are
particularly remarked by this princefs. Not
that all the Ifraelites on the other fide Jordan
w:;re negligent of the common fafety, for
out of Machir ca?jie down goverfiors ; that is,
from among the Manaffites, who inhabited
Gilead, came fome of the heads of families,
and joined their troops to thofe of the other
tribes. Nor were all on this fide Jordan fo
well-afFeded to the government of Deborah,
and to the glorious caufe in which (he was
engaged, as to affifl her, on this emergency,
with a zeal becoming the occafion : for
which fhe mildly reproves them, when fhe
complains, JVhy did Dan remain in Jhips ?
Af:)er continued on the fea-fiore, &c.

But thefe fupine or difafFeded perfons lall
mentioned, that inhabited fome parts of Ca-
naan, feem not fo formidable either for their
number or power as thofe beyond Jordan j
and therefore this wife princefs rcfled:s on

' Ver. 17.


Serm. VII. of England and Scotland. 3 1 3

their divifions with a repeated emphafis, as
that which had extremely affedled both her
and thofe Ifraelites, who had heartily joined
in the expedition againft king Jabin : For
the divijions of Reuben^ fays fhe, there were
great thoughts of heart.

From which words I ihall take occafion
to inquire,

I. What were thefe divifions of Reuben.

II. What is lignified by the great thoughts
of heart concerning them.

I. What were thefe divifions of Reuben.
Some think the people of this tribe, were
fo divided among themfelves, by the diffe-
rence of their opinions concerning the pre-
fent juncture of affairs, that they could come
to no fix'd refolution of falling into thofe
good meafures which were taken by the
greateft part of the tribes for the recovery
of their liberty, and for their future fecurity
from tyranny and oppreffion : that tho
they had a zeal equal to that of the other
tribes for the general intereft of Ifrael, in
which their own welfare was involv'd ; yet
their intefline animofities and difputes made
them too regardlefs of the common danger,
and deprived them of an opportunity of fig-
nalizing their valour, equally with their bre-
thren, againft the great enemy of their


514 ^ thank/giving fermon for the union

Others think the divifions of Reuben, in
the text, fignify, that this tribe, tho united
aniong themfelves, yet was making a fepa-
rate intereft from the reft ; and that this
unhappy divifion prevented them from fend-
ing their quota of auxiUary troops againft
the Canaanitifh king, on the occafion of that
glorious expedition of Deborah and Barak,
which this fong commemorates.

Neither of thefe interpretations is impro-
bable, and I fee no reafon why they may
not very well confift together : that they
were in fome fort divided in their fentiments
and condud: from the reft of the tribes,
appears by the complaint the prophetefs
makes of their abiding in JJjeep-foldSy when
they ftiould have been in their tents ; and
of their contenting themfelves to hear the
bkatings of their focks, when they ought to
have attended the call of the trumpet. And
'tis not unlikely that they were divided a-
mong themfelves on this occafion, fince 'tis
hard to imagine that any mifunderftanding
fhould fo far prejudice that numerous and
warlike tribe againft their brethren, as to
make them all intirely negligent of their
own intereft ; and that they fhould all
carry their refentments fo high, whatever
offence they had taken, as to chufe rather
to expofe themfelves to the utmoft danger,
than to fliare the honour and advantage o^
a viftory over the common enemy. 'Tis
fcarce to be doubted, that a great number


Serm. VII. ^/England and Scotland. 315

of the Reubenites were in as good a dif-
pofition as the reft of the tribes to make a
campaign with Deborah and Barak, in the
defence of Ifrael ; but their want of una-
nimity, and the feuds and animofities which
may be fuppofed to have happened among
them on this account, could not be fo fpee-
dily extinguifhed, as to put them into a
capacity of fending any conliderable body
of troops to the army.

What was the occafion of the difcontent
of the Reubenites, cannot ealily be deter-
mined i whether they were not fo early con-
fulted, and their aid fo particularly impor-
tuned in this war as they expected, as feems
probable in that the troops of Naphtali and
Zebulun were firft affembled, and that this
occafioned a murmuring among them, like
that which afterwards happened among the
Ephraimites againft Gideon : Why hafi thou
ferved lis thus, fay they, that thou didji not
call us when thou wentejl to fight with the
Midianites ? And, as the holy text adds,
they chid him Jharply ^ : and as they after-
wards contended with Jephtha, on a like
occafion, in very fevere terms ; Wherefore
didft thou pajs over to fight againfi the chil-
dren of Ammon, and didfi not call us to go with
thee ? We will burn thy houfe upon thee with
fire ^ ; which controverfy rofe to that height
that it could not be decided without a bat-

! Judg. 8. 1. I f judg. II. 1, 2, 3, 4, oc,


^i6 A thank/giving fermon for the union

tie : or whether they fuppofed the enter-
prize of Deborah in making war with Jabin
was too hazardous an undertaking, and if it
fhould prove unfuccefsful, likely to increafe
their mifery j as the men of Succoth, with
yet greater precaution, refufed to furnifh
provifion for the troops of Gideon, when in
purfuit of the Midianites, left thefe fliould
rally again, and the courfe of vidlory fhould
turn : as feems plain from their words, Are
the hands of Zeba and Zalmunna^ i. e. the
kings of Midian, now in thy hands^ that we
fhould give bread to thy army ? Whether, I
fay, they were uneafy on either of thefe ac-
counts, I fhall not determine. 'Tis not im-
probable the tribe of Reuben thought that
deference and refpeft was not given them
which belong'd to the eldeft tribe ; and how
well foever they were fatisfied at prefent
with the unexceptionable government of
Deborah, yet were apprehenfive they might
be lefs under a future governor, and there-
fore were refolv'd, upon her demife, to fet
up one of their own chufing : and already
began to fhew a diffidence of their brethren,
not caring to be concern'd with them in any
publick affairs. And perhaps their fituation
on the other fide the river, gave rife to fome
differences about trade and commerce, which
making their intereft often interfere with
that of the other tribes, proved a hinderance
to their familiar converfation , and fo their
want of a good correfpondence, might revive


Serm. VII. ^/England ^;/^ Scotland. 317

that jealouiy in their minds which they for-
merly conceived, when they, with the Ga-
dites, and part of the tribe of Manafleh, re-
turned to their pofleffions, after the conquefl
of Canaan, and the fettlement of the reft of
the tribes in that country ; and which made
. them fear they fhould be treated not only as
if they were a diftindt nation, but as if they
profelied a different religion : to prevent
which, they eredted an altar on the borders
of Canaan, as a ftanding teftimony that they
were true Ifraelites, as they declare to the
reft of the tribes, when they took umbrage
at that monument. — In time to come, fay
they, your children might /peak unto our chil-
dren, faying. What have you to do with the
Lord God of Ifrael f for the Lord hath made
Jordan a border between us and you ; ye chil-
dren of Reuben, afid children of Gad, ye have
no part in the Lord : fo fhall your children
make our children ceafe from fearing the Lord.
T^herefore we [aid. Let us now prepare to build
us an altar ; not for burnt-offering, nor for
facrifice, but that it may be a witnefs between
us and you, and our generations after us, that
we might do the fervice of the Lord before him
with our burnt-offerings, and with our facri^
fees, and with our peace-offeritigs : that your
children may not fay unto our children in ti?ne
to come, Te have no part in the Lord ^. It is
not unlikely, I fay, that that there was a re-

« Jofh. 22. 24, vc,


3 1 8 ^ thank/giving fermon for the union

vival of this former jealoufy in the Reube-
nites, and that they thought the tribes on
the other fide Jordan fcarce look'd on them
as true Ifraehtes, but as a nation divided
from them by their intereft and opinions,
as well as fituation j and were uneafy that a
prophetefs of mount Ephraim fhould govern
' them *", fince this made them with regret re-
member the tranilation of the birthright
from them to the fons of Jofeph, as the go-
vernment was afterwards transferred to Ju-
dah : for thus the words of Jacob to Reu-
ben, Gen. 49. 4. that he Jhould 7iot excels
are explained, i Chro?t. 5. i, 2. For he, i. e.
Reuben, was the jirft-born : but forafmuch as
he defiled his father s bed, his birthright was
given to the jb?is of Jofeph, the fan of Ifrael ;
and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the
birthright. For Judah prevailed above his
brethren, and of him came the chief ruler ; but
the birthright was Jofepljs. It cannot be
thought this could be eafily borne, and there-
fore they might conclude it would be mofl:
expedient to atfert their antient fovereignty
over the other tribes, or at leail declare
themfelves intirely independent on them.
But after all, whether this, or any other of
the things above-mentioned, occafioned the
divifions of Reuben fpoken of in this paflage
of Deborah's fong, the brevity of that hiftory
will not permit us certainly to refolve i and

h judg. 4. 5-


Serm. VII. ^/England and Scotland. 319

therefore we mull content ourfelves with
fuch conjedlures as appear to have the great-
eft probabiUty. I fhall therefore proceed,

II. To confider what is fignified by the
great thoughts of heart occafioned by this

We may be fure all thofe Ifraelites who
had a true relifh of liberty, and a lincere
love to their religion, were not a little con-
cerned at the diviiions of Reuben, and that
both before and after the conqueft of the
Canaanitifh army : for the original will e-
qually bear the words to be rendered. For
the divijions of Reuben there were^ or there
are, great thoughts of heart. And 'tis not to
be doubted that Deborah, who had nothing
fo much at heart as the welfare of all her
people, was extremely thoughtful of the
evil confequences which might attend thefe
breaches, and very felicitous of finding means
to repair them.

The greatnefs of her conqueft over the na-
tions of Canaan, can't make her forget the
unreafonable factions of the tribes of Ifrael.
The divifions of Reuben feem to abate the
joy of victory, and now and then force a ligh
from her, even in the midft of her trium-
phant fong : For the divijions of Reuben there
were great thoughts of heart ; and again, F'or
the divijions of Reuben great Jearchings of heart :
expreffions which fufficiently declare the tem-
per of the generous foul of that mother in


3 2 o A thankfgiv'tng fermon for the union

Ifrael^ who could not think herfelf happy
in her government, till her triumphs abroad
were crown'd with union at home.

There is indeed a different turn given to
thele words by interpreters ; fome render
them, hi the divijions of Reuben were great
me7t^ and wife in hearty or, of a refolvd mind.
So they feem to reprefent that parental com-
paffion with which Deborah laments their
divifions, fmce they had among them men
no lefs famous for their knowledge and wil-
dom, than for their courage and refolution ;
and therefore as capable of ferving the pub-
lick in places of truft and honour as the reft
of the tribes, if their differences could once
be healed by a happy coalition. Others in-
terpret the words. At the divijions of Reuben^
even of the great men^ were great thoughts of
heart ; that is, at the divifions which were
among the nobles, the flatefmen, magiffrates,
and the heads of families, who made diffe-
rent parties, and divided the common peo-
ple : or. For the divifions of Reuben the great
men had thoughts of heart j and fo the text
may reprefent the application of mind with
which the greateft men in Ifracl inquired
into the true caufes of the divifions of Reu-
ben, when they perceived the dangers likely
to enfue upon them, and with which they
confulted a method of union for redifying
the prefent diforders, and preventing future
mifchief, not without the earneft recommen-
dation, and poffibly the fpecial commiflionr


Serm. VII. of England and Scotland. 3 2 j

of this wife and religious princefs 5 who,
by the fuccefs of her arms, as well as o^
the clemency and moderation of her govern-
ment, was become equally the joy of her
people and the terror of her enemies, and
much more capable of difpofing the minds
of the Ifraelites to union and a good cor-
refpondence, than a lefs gracious and wife
governor could be.

But feeing thefe thoughts of heart, both
of Deborah and the nobles of Ifrael, or thofe
reafonings and debates, as fome turn the
word, which were among them, feem plain-
ly to import the great danger they appre-
hended fiom divilion, the good efFed:s to
be expected from a nrrn union, and alfo
the great difficulty of bringing it about ;
all which might well engage their thoughts,
and caufe great confultations among them :
I fhall confider,

1. The danger of the divllions of Reuben.

2. The good confequences to be hop'd
from their union with the reft of the tribes.

3. The difficulty of accomplifliing this

Which, as I faid before, might juflly oc-
cafion great thoughts of heart in Deborah,
in all the men of fenfe and probity under
her government j and particularly in the
great men who were her chief counfellors,
and beft qualified for the higheft employ-
ments in that nation.

Vol. I. Y The

^11 A tbankfgivmg fermon for the union

The firft thing which falls under our
confideration, is the danger of the divilions
of Reuben ; which will appear very great,
when we conflder, that befides the common
difadvantages of contention and divifion, by
which men of differing parties are deprived
of thofe good offices which they mutually
owe each other, nothing is more frequently
to be obferved, than that the averfion which
arifes from the ftrife of contending commu-
nities, is eafily fomented and increafed : fo
that the difficulty of extinguifhing it grows
in proportion to the time of its continu-
ance. The circumftances of Ifrael at this
time rendered the danger fo much the more
terrible, in that the tribes had been long

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 23 24 25 26 27 28

Online LibraryJoseph StennettThe Works of the late Reverend and Learned Mr. Joseph Stennett : in five volumes ; to which is prefix'd some account of his life (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 28)