Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Prayer of a Theonomist: Edward Seymour's Prayer to Glorify God as Lord Protector of England

Edward Seymour (1506-1552) was the brother of Jane Seymour, King Henry the VIII's third wife and mother of Edward VI. When Edward VI came to the throne of England at a very young age, the Royal Council established Edward Seymour as Lord Protector of England for two years (1547-1549)

During his protectorate, Seymour (who became the Duke of Somerset) worked to abolish images and other Roman Catholic influences on worship

Seymour understood that serving as a minister of God, especially in such a high position as lord protector, was a very serious matter. One author writes, "His piety appears from a devout prayer which he seems to have used constantly with reference to the important charge which devolved upon him."[1] This prayer looks to God as sovereign over all things (including civil matters) and seeks His aid in the administration of justice with the aim to glorify God in all things. The prayer reads as follows:

"Lord God of hosts, in whose only hand is life and death, victory and confusion, rule and subjection, receive me, thy humble creature, into thy mercy, and direct me in my requests, that I offend not thy high majesty. O my Lord and my God, I am the work of thy hands; thy goodness cannot reject me. I am the price of thy Son's death, Jesus Christ; for thy Son's sake thou wilt not lose me. I am a vessel for thy mercy : thy justice will not condemn me. I am recorded in the book of life, I am written with the very blood of Jesus; thy inestimable love will not cancel then my name.

"For this cause, Lord God, I am bold to speak to thy Majesty. Thou, Lord, by thy providence hast called me to rule; make me therefore able to follow thy calling. Thou, Lord, by thine order hast committed an anointed king to mv governance; direct me therefore with thy hand, that I err not from thy good pleasure. Finish
 in me, Lord, thy beginning, and begin in me that thou wilt finish.

"By thee do kings reign, and from thee all power is derived. Govern me, Lord, as I shall govern; rule me, as I shall rule. I am ready for thy governance; make thy people ready for mine. I seek thy only honour in my vocation; amplify it, Lord, with thy might. If it be thy will that I shall rule, make thy congregation subject to my rule. Give me power, Lord, to suppress whom thou wilt have to obey.

"I am by appointment thy minister for thy king, a shepherd for thy people, a sword-bearer for thy justice: prosper the king, save thy people, direct thy justice. I am ready, Lord, to do that thou commandest; command that thou wilt. Remember, O, God, thine old mercies; remember thy benefits showed heretofore. Remember, Lord, me thy servant, and make me worthy to ask. Teach me what to ask, and then give me that I ask. None other I seek to, Lord, but thee, because none other can give it me. And that I seek is thine honour and glory.

"I ask victory, but to show thy power upon the wicked. I ask prosperity, but for to rule in peace thy congregation. I ask wisdom, but by my counsel to set forth thy cause. And as I ask for myself, so, Lord, pour thy knowledge upon all them which shall counsel me. And forgive them, that in their offence I suffer not the reward of their evil.

"If I have erred, Lord, forgive me; for so thou hast promised me. If I shall not err, direct me; for that only is thy property. Great things, O my God, hast thou begun in my hand; let me then, Lord, be thy minister to defend them. Thus I conclude, Lord, by the name of thy Son Jesus Christ. Faithfully I commit all my cause to thy high providence, and so rest to advance all human strength under the standard of thy omnipotency."[2]


[1] Unknown author in Edward VI, Writings of Edward the Sixth, William Hugh, Queen Catherine Parr, Anne Askew, Lady Jane Grey, Hamilton, and Balnaves: Volume 3: of British reformers (London: Religious Tract Society, 1831), 3.
[2] Cited in Ibid., 3, 4.

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