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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Chapter III. — The Stone's Preservation

Chapter III.

The Stone's Preservation.

This great and dangerous impostor. Prejudice, who dressing up falsehood in the likeness of truth, and so dexterously hoodwinking men's minds as to keep them in the dark with a belief that they are more in the light than any who do not see with their eyes.—Locke.

Prejudices, I should think, would be a sort of property which, like paving stones in a man's pockets, it would be kind to free him from as soon as possible.—James.

Whether we regard the history of the Nation from the British-Hebrew view point or not, it perfectly agrees with the requirements of the vision of Nebuchadnezzar, in having an origin apart from, and outside of the Image powers, for we can trace the ancestral line of our monarchs to a period anterior to the date of the vision. Nor were the people, who page 16 have since that time united and formed the present noble empire, ever component parts of the nations which formed the antitype of the colossal image. Their migrations and unions form unique episodes in the history of nations. It would be impossible to find another people whose origin and progress is analogous. It was not so much by the force of arms as by the blending of tribes, and the coalescence of apparently strange peoples into one compact whole, that the "chief people" of the present age have become what they are.

The history of Britain is as unique as its origin. Trace it through the frequent changes of its religious and political career, and nothing appears more clearly, as the result of such a survey, than the fact that Britain's history is one prolonged story of divine control and protection. True enough her naval and military prowess have done much to make her feared and honoured. But her salvation from destruction in times of the most critical and serious danger, has been more frequently effected by the intervention of an invisible power than by the valour of her soldiers and seamen. Never has a foreign power been able to get a permanent footing on her shores, and most frequently, when her enemies had laid their grandest and most powerful schemes for her complete overthrow, has some severe storm, or placid calm, been the medium of her deliverance, and the destruction of the foe that sought to tread her down. There are many events which prove indisputably that Britain's preservation from foreign invasion was not always due to her own skill and power, but to an overruling providence, who was rearing up a people for his own glory in the last ages.

The glory of God is in the highest,
His glory is also in the lowest,
Guiding the worlds in their courses,
And piloting the thistle-down, not less.
He riseth on the wings of the storm,
He lingereth in the perfume of the lily.
He that raised up a Timour or a Cæsar,
For judgment on the nations,
Sitteth also by the school child
As she singeth at her sampler.
There is an intricate perfection,
A minute fitness and completeness
In everything about us:
Providence, Grace, and Nature.



No country has been so often menaced, yet so absolutely untouched, by kings whose wrath and hatred burned hot with disappointment, envy, and revenge, as England. For centuries, weak in herself, yet acting in such a manner as to provoke the strongest nations of the Continent to retaliation, she defied them all, though in numerical power of army and navy she was far behind her threatening antagonists. From the very first attempt of Philip, King of France, who undertook an expedition at the instigation of Pope Innocent, in the reign of King John (1213), to the effort of Napoleon I., some apparently singular event has occurred to frustrate each design. Something beyond human power, or the freaks of fortune, chance, or luck, must have presided over the destinies of the page 17 British people, as a nation, in their numerous situations of peril. Britain was the "best hated" of European nations for centuries; had the most enemies; was the object of the most powerful of antagonistic leagues; of the most extensive armaments, and yet was the only nation absolutely preserved from the feet of the invader.

"No people," says Hozier, "had ever so many enemies to confront, and yet we escaped or defeated them all. When war was declared we were always in a state of unpreparedness; and our fleets—whether as regarded the number of vessels, or the weight of metal—were greatly inferior to those of our antagonists. And not only so, but through a shameful niggardliness, they were very imperfectly provided with the munitions of war. And yet, notwithstanding these manifold drawbacks, the victory was constantly on our side! The armaments of our enemies melted away, and either sank in the mighty waters, or fell into the hands of British commanders. Yet, bravely as the British sailors fought, it was not to their prowess nor to our own counsels that we owed our success. We triumphed gloriously because He whom the winds and the waves obey was our helper and defender."

Great deliverance hath He given, and shown great mercy to his people;
He alone is to be praised, and unto Him alone will we pour thank offerings.
Praise the Lord for avenging our Israel, all ye sons of war.
And O thou Zoar of the plains, O thou Goshen in this Egypt,
Island city of refuge for the nations of the Earth,
England, happy shore, bill where the true light shineth,
Home of real religion, freedom, tolerance, and truth,
Rejoice, and shout the hymn of praise through all the countries round,
From sea to sea, from land to land, where'er thy flag is flying,
Let cannon roar thy thankfulness, and bells clang out thy joy!



Some of our good friends tell us that England owes her freedom from invasion to her national Protestantism. Surely they must be wrong: for the apparent cause of this aversion of the great forces of the King of France was the pledge given by the fickle, faithless, and vile King John to acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope, and the authority of the Church of Rome. It was not, then, because England was Protestant, nor because she was powerful, that this invasion was turned away from the shores of Albion to vent its rage upon the people of Flanders. Nor was it the agency of blind chance, or of capricious fortune. Much as we may admire our nation for its Protestant principles, we are bound to recoil from the falsification of history for Protestant aggrandisement. England was not Protestant from 1213 A.D. to 1550 A.D. What then of her freedom from invasion during this period? For 900 years, while she was a Catholic country, she was as free from the scourge of the invader as she has been for the past 330 years, during which period she has been nominally Protestant. If protestantism has been a shield to Britain, why has it not been so to Germany, Denmark, or Holland? Was not Prussia a Protestant country when the iron heel of Napoleon I. passed through it, with blood and fire? Protestantism did not save Prussia. There is some other cause for Britain's long and strange preservation.

page 18

The Protestantism of England was partly the cause of the preparation of Spain's "Invincible Armada" in 1588 A.D. Philip II. was smarting under many defeats sustained at the hands of British vessels and armies. He had lost several heavy laden treasure-ships, and suffered the loss of much in war against his hated foe. Moreover, he was indignant at the treatment received at the hands of Britain's queen, who refused to accept his offer of marriage; and, above all this, he was anxious to see the Protestantism of Britain extinguished, sincerely believing it to be a revolt against God and the true Church. He had therefore several causes or reasons for undertaking this great enterprise; and for the execution of his purpose he literally impoverished his kingdom in the attempt to make everything a complete success. An immense armament was prepared, consisting of 150 vessels of great size, so that they were capable of carrying 20,000 soldiers, besides several thousands of marines. Europe unanimously declared the day of England's judgment was come, and that her utter destruction was a matter of certainty.

England trembled, but did not succumb to despair; many a fervent prayer was then uttered by as many earnest men and women, that the Great Governor of nations should interpose on her behalf. Her little army was got ready; her impoverished navy was fitted up and sent out to watch the advancing enemy, while not a heart within that island home but beat with a more rapid pulsation through fear of the result. But He who destroyed the Assyrian hosts near the walls of His holy city was not unmindful of the little nation of the Isle. The storms were in His power, and after allowing the ships of Britain to inflict the first blow upon the ponderous ships of haughty Spain, He undid the storm-locks and scattered them upon the coasts, so that out of the 150 vessels which sailed from Corunna, only 54 battered and dismantled hulls returned to their own waters. Well might Queen Elizabeth cause a medal to be struck, bearing the inscription:—

"Flavit Jehovah, et dissipati sunt":
Jehovah blew and they were scattered.

And but natural were the words of Philip when the remains of his greatest enterprise returned to him from their humilating devastation. "I sent it to combat the English, not the elements. God be praised the calamity is not greater." From that time the navy of Spain generally sank into insignificance, while Britain's has ever increased in strength. We are always most interested in narrow escapes from danger, while we take little notice of less hair-breadth deliverances. We take more interest in England's escape from the attack of the "Invincible Armada" than of her preservation from the gigantic and skilfully-planned designs of Napoleon I., simply because the former approached the shores of the country and was engaged in battle in British waters, after which the greater portion of the fleet was wrecked upon the rock-bound coast of the impregnable island; while the other never succeeded in starting to cross the Channel, although the ships were fully equipped, and had sailed to the West Indies to decoy the British from the Channel defence. page 19 Notwithstanding the latter was the more formidable of the two, only the power which controlled the elements on previous occasions controlled men's actions and resolutions in this, so that the plot exploded before it reached fruitition, and therefore He proved in this case more truly the great Benefactor, in keeping the danger so far off.

It is scarcely correct to speak of the arrival of the Prince of Orange as an invasion. He came not to subjugate Britain to a foreign power. He was not led to descend upon the British coast, by a desire to humble the nation, or to inflict a punishment upon it. William was not the enemy, but the friend of the British. He merely led a few more of the same race from the Continent to the island, which had in centuries preceding poured in under the names of Saxons, Danes, and Normans. His banner bore the device, I will maintain the liberties of England. Moreover, he came at the invitation of some of the most patriotic of England's nobles to assume a crown to which many considered he had a just claim. And unlike all other attempts to invade England, he was enabled to land all his forces in comfort, weather and other circumstances all favoring him.

By what theory can we account for this strange immunity from foreign invasion, in which our nation stands quite alone in the universal history of the world? It is vain to say her position gives her an unassailable advantage. If fleet after fleet, destined to invade Britain, found it impossible to cross the Channel because of its tempestuous nature, how does it happen that these tempests were never injurious to the British fleets, but invariably in their favor? It is contrary to fact to assert that the winds were sent against all invading fleets: for Britain's invading expeditions were never baffled by tempestuous weather. Why, then, has England been preserved in this singular manner? Surely there must be some reason for so prominent a fact. We can find no answer to the question in the natural or physical features of the surroundings. And yet by attributing it to the action of providence or divine care, does it not seem strange that the British should be the subjects of such exceptional treatment, while more populous, more powerful, more refined nations were disregarded? If indeed Britain is a Gentile nation, are other Gentile nations not as worthy of providential interference? Why should Germany, where the great Protestant Reformation first took firm hold and prospered, be not preferred to one smaller in numbers, and less closely connected with the great nations of the world?