In our Enthronement ceremony the Sovereign is enjoined to follow the glorious example, of those holy and righteous men of old and I thought it might be appropriate to speak to you tonight about two or three of them.

The first must be Moses, the lawgiver. You all know the story as told in the early chapters of Exodus - how Moses slew an Egyptian overseer who was maltreating one of his fellow-countrymen, and fearing for his life, fled into the desert where Jethro took him in; and how when he was grazing Jethro's sheep in the back of the desert, he saw this bush which was who11y on fire and yet was not consumed, "the BB which used to appear on our certificates. As he approached this holy ground, a voice called on him to return and lead the Israelites out of their bondage; and when Moses asked who was speaking, there came that great statement “I AM THAT I AM", - the first monotheistic utterance, that god was not a god of the forest, the mountain, or the river, nor of the sun or moon but one spirit pervading the whole universe. And god then ordered Moses to bring his chosen people back to this place at the foot of Mount Sinai.
You all know how Moses, in obedience to God's order, won the Pharaohs consent to lead his brethren out ofEgypt. After a battle against the Amalekites in the valley of Rephidim where he had prevai1ed at the end of a long day when by Gods will his arms had been kept raised high, he brought his Israelites back to Sinai. Here it was that God told him that he bore them on eagles' wings and brought them unto Himself. Here it was that Moses went up into the mountain and camedown with the Ten Commandments, that basis for a moral and civi1 code, which has served the world for two millennia.

From the earliest days of the Christian era this site has been sacred. Holy men and hermits gathered here in huts and cells. In 327 A.D., Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, heard of their plight and had a refuge built to protect them from wild beasts and tribesmen. In 630 A.D. another great lawgiver, the Emperor Justinian protected them with a defensive wall. They survived in the next century the Mohammedans who were spreading their faith by killing infidels, by build1ng inside their wall ~ Mosque Where Muslims who came to kill remained to pray. Through the Middle Ages the site remained a goal for pilgrims. Napoleon after his defeat at the Battle of the Nile still sent his engineers to repair the wall, which had fallen into decay. In 1859 von Tichendorf, a German theologian, led an expedition to examine ancient texts collected there and discovered the codex Sinaiticus a manuscript of the New Testament. This hepresented to the Prussian Tsar who gave the monastery 9000 roubles as a gift. In 1933 the Soviet government sold this manuscript to Britain for one hundred thousand pounds and it now resides in the British Museum. The monastery still exists to this day under the name of St. Catherine’s, still marking the site of the Burning Bush, that turning point in the 1ife of Moses and of our faith.

Perhaps for a second holy man I might have chosen Isaiah but I have chosen Tobit. Tobit wrote the book of that name in the Apporcrypha omitted from our Bible understandably because of some elements of sorcery and magic. Tobit was a member of the tribe of Naphthali and when that tribe turned to worship the pagan heifer Baal, Tobit still went up to. Jerusalem on holy days and paid his tithe to the Levite priests in the Temple. He was carried off by the Assyrians in the second captivity but was taken to Nineveh and not to Babylon.



He prospered there but continued to give alms. Indeed he writes continuously about alms; that people should give according to their abundance and even those who have only little should give according to that. He asks that we should give of our bread to the hungry and of our garments to the are naked, words with a very familiar sound to our ears.

Tobit not only bound up the wounds of the afflicted but attended to the burial of the dead victims of Sennacherib and Sarchedon. Indeed it was in performing such a task that he lost his sight and being discovered in these forbidden duties, his estate was confiscated. And so he needed to send his son Tobias of' to Medea to call in an old debt from a kinsman.

When Tobias was setting out on his journey and had some doubts of the way, in seeking a guide he found Raphael who was, unknown to Tobias, an angel, when he asked  “Canst thou go with me to Ragesh and knowest thou these places well", the angel replied, "I will go with thee and I know the Way well for I have lodged with these people".

Perhaps I should point out that this is the only place in Holy Writ where Raphael appears. Although as a guide for Tobias, he has a prominent role, in the Book of Tobit, this is a relatively minor place in Scripture. It is in Milton’s Paradise Lost that Raphael really becomes an important figure where through a large part of this epic poem, he debates with Adam and Eve as God's emissary to warn them of the temptations that Satan is preparing.
So. Tobit is important in our order as the source for Raphael but perhaps even more so because he is one of few Old Testament preachers to set down in words the new and better covenant “Love thy brethren".
As the last of my holy men I take the Roman Emperor Constantine although with some reservation. When the Roman Empire was falling apart, under pressure from migrating tribes but also because of decay since citizens who had once gloried in performing civil and military duties were now preferring a life of easy self- indulgence (a lesson we should remember) as I say, when his Empire was falling apart he held it together with his military and administrative skill, Indeed that was how he won the title. He was at York with his father, the Emperor Consantius when his father died. His legions at once proclaimed Constantine as Emperor but he was far away and no less than five other claimants arose. It took him five years to build a base in Britain, France and Spain before he lay claim to Rome itself.

By that time two claimants were dead but Maxentius held Rome with a much larger army. Constantine crossed the Alps and defeated armies sent against him at Turin and Verona. At 1ast Maxentius was forced by the citizens to take the field. Constantine trapped him in a large bend of the Tiber at Saxa Rubra and then won a great victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Maxentius trying to escape over it fell into the river and was drowned. Constantine now had only one rival for this rival Licinius had disposed of the fifth, warring in the Eastern provinces. It took fifteen years before Licinius was finally defeated and Constantine now occupied another capital at Byzantium, renamed Constantinople from where he ruled the Empire for the rest of his life.




What has this to do with our order? Firstly it was Constantine who 310 legalalized Christianity. Certainly his mother Helena was a devout Christian and as we have heard, not only founded the refuge at the foot of Mt Sinai for holy men but also had been inspired to locate the site of Christ's tomb and had founded there the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Doubtless his mother had influence on him but more importantly it was a vision on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge that prompted him. In that vision the labarum came to him - a sign composed of the first three letters of the Greek word for Christ, CHI RHO and IOTA which when superimposed look like a cross with a vertical sword. Constantine had adopted this labarum as his standard before the battle and attributed his success to it. Indeed the legend grew that with this standard, he was invincible and the labarum guarded by fifty picked troops, lent morale to his army.

Whether Constantine was a Christian frombirth is debatable. Certainly he continued to perform the traditional ceremonies of the Roman beliefs and offered libations to their gods, accepting baptism only late in life. But he was present at the Christian Council of Nicaea in 325 when the basis of our Trinitarian Christian faith was laid down, and indeed the creed we still say. When his mother was led by divine inspiration two years later to the site of Christ's tomb, he built there the wonderful Temple. Surely he has for us, a rightful claim as one of the founders of the Trinitarian Christian faith.

I leave it there. I hope that these three, Moses, Tobit and Constantine who have all shed lustre on our name, may encourage us as charge suggests, to the faithful performance of every duty.




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