Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Of the People

It has been said of us that, although dealing much in sacred things, we refuse to be pious about any subject. Yet, as our royal martyr might have said himself, a sovereign is no subject; and today of all days we are grave.

We are encouraged that the observance of this anniversary has not degenerated into a nostalgic dead letter, but remains still a matter of political controversy. Yet no synod has resolved that those who assent to the deed are loyal Anglicans as well as those who dissent.

If consciences are tender, we remind those opposed that Common Worship is optional: return to conformity to the Prayer Book, and, ironically, no mention need now be made of our royal martyr.

Nonetheless, the suspicion of this observance is misplaced. Those who are politically inclined to oppose the powers of this world ought to embrace with awe and love a truly hereditary monarchy. This exercise of mere power against it is the antithesis of the values of the kingdom, and the practical end, as the king himself prophesied, of the security of the rights of the people. We should not be surprised at this, since the position of the hereditary king and the rights of the people spring from the same source.

The king’s rights and ours are truly born in us, entered into sacramentally, and fulfilled in imitation of the true man of blood. No power is needed to establish right; and by no power may it be taken away. Or would we rather rely on the goodwill of power than on the providence of God?

This is, indeed, a lesson to be learned even by kings. Charles had few friends in the days when he tried to rule by power, and they despaired of him; but many in the days of his weakness, and we love him dearly and still. And we count it a matter of pride that he did not suit his undoubted though corruptible crown, being more suited to a better one.

In repentance for past temptations of power and in final submission to weakness in truth Charles, King and Martyr became both the image of kingship and the image of a godly people. Indeed, every king in truth will find they are the same thing. And as rex quondam, so Rexque Futuris. Redeat.

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