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THE BRITISH JUBILEE,
PREACHED ON THE
25th OCTOBER, 1809.
1 KINGS viii. 66. "And they blessed the "KING; and went unto their tents joyful and "glad of heart, for all the goodness that the "Lord had done for David, his servant, and for Israel, his people."
SINCE the great Jubilee in the days of SOLOMON, to which these words refer, there has not, perhaps, been a more august festival before the Lord than the BRITISH Jubilee, which we celebrate on this day.
To constitute a Jubilee, in the highest sense, there must be a knowledge of the true God, a
pure faith, a people exulting in the favour of the Almighty, a people animated by loyalty to their king," Peace within our walls, and pros"perity within our palaces." It will heighten the grandeur of the occasion, if the people be powerful and stand conspicuous among nations.
All these particulars centre with us. They are to be found in our nation to an extent and degree never known, perhaps, by any other people. At the present era Great Britain stands conspicuous in the eyes of the world she assumes a commanding attitude; and has become, by divine providence, the constituted guardian, in a manner, of the religion and liberties of men. And, behold, while occupying this exalted station, she announces a grand Jubilee, to be celebrated on the occasion of an event which rarely occurs to great empires,the arrival of the fiftieth year of her monarch's reign.
It is to be wished, that an important use could have been made of this event; that the impression of it could have reached all nations; that the trumpet of our Jubilee could have been heard by all the world. It would have accarded well with the character of this day, that an illustrious act of national merey had commemorated it for ever. In strict conformity to the name we have given it, EVERY DER
TOR IN THESE REALMS, OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN RELEASED; AND EVERY CRIMINAL OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN. And, then, should we have done as a nation, what we are disposed to do as individuals. For this was the character of the original Jubilee ordained by God; and that Jubilee was a type of the generous compassion and enlargement of spirit, which should animate the hearts of men under the grace of the Gospel. If it be objected, that such a celebration of this festival would have been too vast and magnificent in its nature, and without precedent for its magnanimous character, we would observe, that Great Britain is the most enlightened nation in the most enlightened age; that she is exhibited as a pattern to mankind, in religion, in justice, and mercy; and that the noblest principles of religion and humanity might be expected to be exemplified on this occasion; for this is an event which may not happen again, under circumstances so favourable to a grand and salutary celebration, during the ages of the world. Could they have been so exemplified by an imperial act of the kingdom itself, it would have been a great and illustrious display to nations near and remote, of our principles and character. As it is, these noble principles have been exemplified by millions of individuals, spontaneously, though privately, throughout the land; by in
telligent and enlightened indviduals, in perhaps every city, town, village, parish, county, and province, in the kingdom. And it is pro. bable, that the operation of the loyal and benevolent virtues on this day will give a new impulse to the national patriotism and beneficence, and tend to strengthen and confirm our attachment to our religion, to our king and to our country.
The words of our text so fitly express the object of the present solemnity, that we may adopt them with but little variation. For we also are now assembled "to bless the KING, "and to be joyful and glad of heart for all the "goodness that the Lord hath done for the king, his servant, and for us, his people." The words of the text refer, as we before observed, to a grand festival given by Solomon, the king, to Israel his people; but the chief theme of their thanksgiving was the long and glorious reign of David. Let us consider the circumstances under which the people of Israel celebrated their Jubilee.
King David reigned forty years over his people. His reign did not extend, like that which we celebrate this day, through that revolution of years necessary to constitute a Jubilee. But it was an arduous reign, and was marked by extraordinary vicissitude and revolution. And its issue was glorious; for though