Summary: A sermon preached for the Feast of St. Augustine.

Sermons and Sermonizing

Section Two

A sermon preached in His Majesty's Chapel-Royal at White-Hall, upon the 26th day of July, 1685: being the day of publick thanksgiving to Almighty God for His Majesty's late victory over the rebels.

Henry Hesketh, Printed for Jo. Hindmarsh
Images: Frontispiece; Sig. A3; pg. 3, Sig. Cv/pg. 16

6 July 1685 marked the defeat of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth in his uprising against James II and illegitimate claim to the throne; ten days later, Monmouth was executed and many of his enablers and confederates were banished or condemned to death.  Such strife was to remain a theme: James’ reign was continually destabilized by controversies and plotting.  Hesketh preaches about political loyalty despite such preaching being a subject of controversy in itself which eventually brought about the collapse of James’ authority in an unsuccessful and unpopular attempt to prosecute seven dissenting bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, for sedition in 1688.

A Sermon Preached in His Majesties Chapel at Whitehall, on the eighth of February 1684/5: Being the Sunday after the death of His late Sacred Majesty King Charles the Second of blessed memory.

Thomas Horne, Printed by Robert Horne
Images: Frontispiece; Sig. Bv/Pg.2; Sig. E4v/Pg. 32.

In this sermon, Thomas Horne, a chaplain to Charles II, explores the rhetorical forms of the liturgy, asking if following of the Book of Common Prayer quenched the spirit of prayer itself.  “This I intend to do,” Horne argued, “fairly, without any heat of Controversie; endeavoring rather to lay, rather than raise the dust that in the heat of skirmishes blinds the eyes of men” (Sig. Bv).  Horne falls on the side of compromise in pursuing his central consideration throughout the sermon, and such a position was timely given the political challenges of Charles II’s conversion to Catholicism near the time of his death and the ascension of Catholic James II.  “Did you ever approach with a Religious sense of the Majesty of God, with a real desire to request any blessing of him,” Horne asks as he draws his argument to a close, “and were hindered by the Liturgie?” (Sig. E4v).  With England still predominantly and staunchly Protestant, questions of toleration framed equivocally were a major feature of the political discourse of this turbulent era.

A form, or order of thanksgiving and prayer: to be used ... in behalf of the King, the Queen and the royal family, upon the occasion of the Queen's being with child.

Church of England.
London: Printed by Charles Bill, Henry Hills, and Thomas Newcomb

As with other tracts in this exhibit, this royal command sought to cause “Parsons, Vicars, and Curates, in their Respective Parish Churches, and Chapels” to preach support for the monarchy, in this case to announce the Queen’s pregnancy and order a liturgy on the occasion.  This document is deeply complicated by tracts and accounts which came later arguing that the Queen never did conceive or give birth to James Francis Edward Stuart and that the entire narrative of the birth of the Catholic prince and presumptive heir was a spectacular falsehood designed to shift control of the Crown still further to the Catholic side in what was already a time of heightened conflict and crisis.