« ZurückWeiter »
most of our neighbours, but shall also burn, and catch and spread, like a wide conflagration, till it has illuminated the remotest parts of this immense conti. nent!
I would not, however, be understood from any thing here said, to think it expedient for ministers of the gospel to interfere any farther in civil concerns than is just necessary to support that spirit of liberty, with which our holy religion is so inseparably connected; for such a conduct might engage us in broils, rufile our tempers, and unfit us for the more solemn part of our duty. Nor do I think we ought to dwell any farther on the errors of others, than just to enable those, with whom we are connected, to shun them; lest, instead of the spirit of true holiness, a spirit of vain-glory, self-righteousness, and hypocritical-pride, should be promoted.
'Tis true, as hath been already said, that we can never be too much upon our guard against the growth of a corrupt and slavish religion among us, but we may be in as much danger, on the other hand, from infidelity, a morose and censorious spirit, and a neglect of the practice of all religion. Hence, then, though on proper occasions, we are to rise with a noble contention of soul, against vice and error; yet still our favourite subjects ought to be on the brighter side of things—to recommend the love of God and our neighbours, together with the practice of every social and divine virtue.
I would just observe farther, though, in such circumstances as the present, sermons from the press may be sometimes both necessary and seasonable,
yet I am far from thinking that this will be our most effectual method of serving religion, in general. We shall be vastly more useful in this cause, by being much among the people committed to our care, and knowing how to accommodate our private as well as public instructions to their various dispositions and necessities.
That the author of every good gift may enable you to be more and more useful in this and every thing else that can adorn the character of a preacher of righteousness, is my sincere wish, as I cannot think myself indifferent to any thing that affects the credit of your ministry.
I am, &c.
PARTICULARLY THOSE OF THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT; ON THE
OPENING OF THE CAMPAIGN, 1758: WRITTEN AND PUB, LISHED, AT THE DESIRE OT BRIGADIER-GENERAL FORBES,
WHEN LEVYING FORCES FOR THE EXPEDITION AGAINST
FORT DU QUÉSNE, which wAS AFTERWARDS TAKEN BY
BRETHREN AND COUNTRYMEN,
I AM now to address you, in the most solemn manner, on the present posture of affairs, and the duty we owe to his sacred majesty, to our holy reli. gion, and to our latest posterity, on this important occasion. As I would be understood by all, I shall not affect a vain parade of words, or pomp of stile. Brevity and perspicuity shall be my principal aim.
The almighty author of our nature has thought fit to create man a needy and dependent being, inca. pable of subsisting in a solitary state with any degree of happiness, In order to his well-being, a mutual interchange of good offices with his fellow creatures is absolutely necessary.
Hence the origin and foundation of civil societies, which are nothing else but certain bodies of men linked together by common compact or agreement,
for the better securing themselves against want, and defending themselves against danger. In consequence of this compact, every individual is under the most solemn obligations to contribute what he can, for the general welfare, and preservation of the community, whereof he is a part; and when this is done with zeal, fidelity, and an elevated sense of duty, it is denominated public virtue and love of our country; than which, human nature boasts of no qualities that are more amiable or more divine. Both reason and religion inculcate this in the strongest terms. A narrow selfish spirit is odious to God and man; and no community ever subsisted long where such a spirit disgraced its members. It is scarce to be conceived how great a difference public virtue makes in the state of nations. Animated by it, the smallest remain powerful and safe; while, without it, the most populous are despicable and weak.
The little state of Sparta was an illustrious proof of this. To acknowledge no lord or master; to live independent and free; to be governed by their own laws and customs; to preserve themselves from corruption, selfishness and effeminacy; and to be the avengers of justice and the scourges of tyrannywere the highest wishes which Spartans knew; and, whenever they were called to exert themselves on this score, they declined neither toils nor dangers nor sufferings. The blaze of public spirit then shone illustrious from bosom to bosoni, till it had effectually subdued and consumed the enemies of their country. Their very women shared the holy flame; and whenever the trumpet sounded the alarm of war,
one fitted out a husband, and another a son; charging them, by all the ties of love and honour and duty, not to disgrace the dignity of the Spartan name, and either to chastize the insolence of their enemies, or perish in the glorious attempt.
Seeing then, my countrymen, such was the vir. tue of a Spartan, and even of a Spartan woman,
what may not be expected from Britons; who, added to all the advantages which the former enjoyed, have that of the Christian religion and its everlasting prospects to animate and inflame their conduct? We are, or might be, the happiest and most enlightened people in the world; and, by consequence, we ought to be the bravest,
Were we to cast our eyes over this globe, and to take a view of the condition of our fellow creatures in other countries; how should we bless our lot, and how dear would the name of Britons become to us!
Not to mention many parts, even of Europe itself, where the common people are in a manner the property of their lords, and on little better footing than their cattle themselves; I might carry you through Asia and Africa, to shew you the deplorable state of human nature in those countries, groaning under a race of monsters that disgrace their very shape; and in a condition so completely miserable, that you have neither seen nor can imagine any thing of the kind. The wild savage, that roams the American wilderness, is infinitely happier than they.
But I shall not take up your time with these eastern scenes of servitude and woe. Thanks be to