Thanksgiving, Thanks-living, and the Jacobite Rising

A sermon was preached on 9 October 1746 by Pastor William Wood to the congregation of Protestant-dissenters in Darlington after the Jacobite Rising. Wood stated that his sermon was to “cultivate Loyalty and Social Affection, on the large and solid Basis of Christian Catholicism, Universal Charity and Benevolence, to which the popish Practice of Persecution for Conscience-Sake is diametrically opposite.”[1]

William Wood’s sermon of 1746. Public domain.

The Jacobite Rising had caused much division with Charles Edward Stuart’s attempt to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. The rising began in August of 1745 but did not last long, as the Battle of Culloden fought on 16 April 1746 essentially brought it to end, although there was also the French privateers who landed with money in the hopes of aiding the Jacobite cause and then lost at the Battle of Loch nam Uamh on 3 May when Royal Navy sloops attacked them. In addition, there was the capture and beheading of two of the four rebellious Scottish Lords, the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerinoch.

Effigies of Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino with a scene of the execution. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

With all the divisiveness, Wood hoped that his sermon of 9 October 1746 would bring everyone together so that they could receive God’s blessings and allow unity to dwell throughout the kingdom. To that end, in part of his sermon, Wood listed things that he felt everyone should be thankful for, and, as the Thanksgiving Holiday is nearly here, I thought I would provide that portion verbatim as a reflection of how he felt at the time:

“[P]ermit me to exhort you, from the Consideration of God’s Goodness, in working this great and glorious Deliverance for us, to excite your Souls to a thankful Remembrance. This is the very End for which this Day of publick and national Thanksgiving is appointed, that we may return God Thanks for the eminent and remarkable Interposition of his kind Providence. Let us remember this Deliverance, as the Work of the Right Hand of the Lord Most High. …

All of my Discourses, from the fatal twenty-first Day of September, to the joyful 16th Day of April, being levelled at giving you justly frightful Impressions of the Pretender, and his public and private Abbettors; and at Attaching Your Minds and Affections to the Family on the Throne. … I assure myself you will with Pleasure have your memories refreshed with them now, to stir you up to the highest Degree of Thankfulness to the Kings of Kings. …

Let us then be truly thankful to God, that we are delivered from the direful Calamities owing to the intestine Commotions of the Civil-War; that we are delivered from the Oppressions, Disturbances, Rapines, Plunders, Rapes, and Murders, committed by that odious Swarm of Rome’s Vermin that lately overspread so much of the Country; that the savage and disorderly Mobb, that trampled upon Laws, and disposed of the Lives and Fortunes of our Fellow Subjects according to their own Caprice, is quelled; that these Men (more deserving of the Name of Brutes for their Actions) who made Sport of spilling Blood of the Innocent, have themselves got their own Blood to drink, as being worthy; that God has delivered us from the Sound of the Trumpet, and the Alarm of War, and has stilled the Noise of the Sea, the Raging of their Waves, and the Tumults of the People, that French Invasions are frustrated of their Design, and the Counsels of French Achitophels are turned to Foolishness; that popish Plotters are made to imagine a vain Thing; that He who sits in the Heavens laughs at their ambitious Projects; and that the Lord has their romantic Schemes of universal Empire in Derision.

Let us be truly thankful, that we can exult and triumph, not in Mock-shew, like the French, with their sham Te-Deums; but in Sincerity and Truth, like Moses concerning Israel of old, when, in the Elevation of his Soul, at the View of Israel’s singular happy State, He, most pathetically, as well as poetically, expresses his extatic Satisfaction in the peculiar Protection of divine Providence. …

Let us be truly thankful, that we can congratulate one another upon a Series of Successes, and repeated Defeats of the Machinations of our Enemies, (from the Reformation to this Day) who at their innumerable fruitless Attempts to curse, and to devote us to Slaughter, must be forced to pronounce with Balaam, Sure there is no Inchantment against Jacob, neither is there an Divination against Israel … Behold, the People shall rise up as a great Lion, and lift up himself as a young Lion: He shall not lie down until he eat of the Prey, and drink the Blood of the Slain.

Let us be truly thankful that we are delivered from Popery and Slavery, from Tyranny in Church and State, and from those worst of Evils which are the Spawn of Superstition and blind Bigotry.

Let us be truly thankful that we are again delivered from the Fear of Massacres, Persecutions, and Inquisitions.

Let us be truly thankful for the Preservation of our rightful Sovereign, King George, whose just mild, and legal Administration, ought to endear Him to every individual of his Subjects.

Let us be truly thankful that his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales is preserved, to succeed to the Throne of these Dominions, when Providence shall see fit to bereave us of his Royal Father.

Let us be truly thankful that the Life of his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland has been precious in the Sight of God; that God has put a Covering on his Head in the Day of Battle, and preserved his Life in the most imminent Dangers, to which He had freely exposed Himself for the common Good of the Nation; and that God has endued Him with Courage and Conduct in his juvenile Years, and made Him a Man of War from his Youth; and thereby given us a Proof of his Designation to eminent Services …

Let us be truly thankful for the Preservation of all the Royal Family; each of whom, in their respective Stations, as Opportunity has offered, have demonstrated their princely Virtues, suitably to their Years and Abilities.

Let us be truly thankful to God, for restoring our Peace at Home, and for securing to us the Enjoyment of our Lives, our civil and religious Liberties, our Fortunes, and every Thing we hold dear and desirable.

Let us be truly thankful that we have the Prospect of the Continuation of these invaluable Blessings to ourselves and to Posterity, by the present Royal Family, and their Descendants, possessing the Throne of these Realms to the latest Ages

Let us be truly thankful that our Protestant King has a numerous Issue; so that we need not be at a Loss of agreeable Heirs to the Crown.

Let us be truly thankful that we see a Prospect of the Attachment of the Nation to the present Royal Family …

And let us shew our Thankfulness in our Works, as well as in our Words. Let us prove our Sincerity in Thanksgiving by Thanks-Living.”[2]

On this holiday, may we all be thankful, and may we all create a future as Pastor Wood says, one of “Thanks-Living.” See you after the Thanksgiving holiday.

References:

  • [1] W. Wood, Britain’s Joshua [i.e. William, Duke of Cumberland]: A sermon preached at Darlington, October 9, 1746; the day of public thanksgiving for the suppression of the late rebellion (Newcastle: John Gooding, 1746), p. i.
  • [2] Ibid., p. 12–19,

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