A Religious Foundation for Patriotism
LUKE VII. 5.
"For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue."
One objection which the enemies of christianity have made to the gospel-institution is, that it
nowhere recommends a public spirit and the love of our country, or annexes any rewards to those
patriot-virtues, which formed the distinguishing characteristic of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and raised
those celebrated republics to the highest pitch of power and opulence. But whoever examines divine
revelation with candor, will soon see that this is a groundless and unreasonable charge.
'Tis true, that intemperate zeal for the prosperity of a particular people, that strong and unbridled passion for the national
glory, which was what they understood by love to their country, and which, after all the encomiums lavished upon it, often
prompted to great injustice to other nations, has no place in the scheme of christian morals, nor is it fit it should.
Such a temper and conduct, instead of a beauty, would be really a blemish and defect, in a revelation designed to
subserve the general good of society, and promote universal love and benevolence to all mankind. And had our saviour
and his apostles, in the name of God, animated the Jewish nation to a warm zeal for their country and its liberties,
had they promised divine and eternal rewards to the exercise of this virtue; this, in the then present disposition and
circumstances of the nation, would doubtless have been construed as a lawless attempt to subvert the constitution, and
foment a spirit of sedition and rebellion in the state.
But if by love to our country be meant a well-tempered zeal for the
public-good; if an earnest desire for the welfare of the community to which we belong; if well-meant wishes for
the national happiness, and the most active endeavours to promote its true interest, consistent with the general laws of
charity, and the universal obligations of benevolence to the whole human race; if this be the true notion of patriotism,
and conveys the most rational idea of that truly amiable and generous virtue; 'tis no where so effectually taught as in the
sacred oracles, no where carried to so high a pitch of perfection as in the word of God.
"that charity which seeks not her own," [Cor.13.5.] will exert itself for the good of others;
that christian law of our divine master, which commands us "to love even our enemies," [Mat. 5. 44.]
will not suffer us to overlook and neglect our friends; that principle of universal benevolence which shines on millions,
and encircles all mankind in its friendly embrace; will scatter its warmest and kindest influences on our dear country;
and those precepts which require us to maintain such a noble spirit of disinterested love to our brethren, as "to lay down
our lives for their sakes" [I John 3. 16.], would surely engage and animate us, even to die for the good
of the community, if called by divine providence so to do.
Accordingly, there never was so glorious an instance of this noble and generous virtue, as we see exhibited in the life
and actions of our blessed REDEEMER, the divine author of this institution. Warm with a generous, a distinterested benevolence
to mankind; he laid down his life for their redemption: Animated by a true spirit of patriotism, he gave the most signal
proofs of love to his country, and manifested the sincerest affection for the Jewish nation, from whom he sprung, according to the flesh.
Hence arose that amiable concern he expressed for the miseries he foresaw coming upon them, in his moving and pathetic
lamentation over Jerusalem, recorded by the evangelists [Luke 13. 34.].
Hence were those kind endeavours he used to prevent these
evils, by checking the tumultuous spirit then kindling among them, and engaging them to a peaceable subjection to the Roman
government. And to this, may we not add, it was owing, at least in part, that, as he declared "he was not sent, except to
the lost sheep of the house of Israel" [Mat. 15. 24.]; so the whole of his
public ministry was confined to that nation, and all those glorious and beneficient miracles he wrought, were limited to the
country that gave him birth?
May we not view these miraculous operations, in one respect, as so many solid attestations of true
patriotism and striking evidences of love to his country? In this view, no doubt, they were considered by the men of
that age: And therefore when the elders of the Jews apply to him, with a request from the Roman centurion, that he would
come and heal his servant; they reoommend him as one who was eminently possessed of this virtue, and as such, a very proper
object of our Saviour's regard. "He is worthy, (say they) for whom thou shalt do this, for he loveth our nation, and
he hath built us a synagogue."
He was a Roman officer: But as he was posted in Judea, he considered it as his country,
and testified his affection to it, by public-spirited
actions. note 1
And tho' he was probably educated in idolatry, yet such was his regard for his fellow-subjects among whom he lived, that he cheerfully
contributed to the support of the Jewish religion, and generously built them a synagogue, for the worship of the God of Israel,
at his own expense.
Whether this centurion was a proselyte to the Jewish church, or not,
appears to me very uncertain. Mr. Pool's continuators upon the parallel
place Mat. 8, rather think he was not, tho' some interpreters suppose he was. Our Saviour, in the commendation he gives of his
great faith, seems rather, I imagine, to consider him as one who had hitherto lived in Paganism, and therefore his great faith in the power
and grace of Christ was the more remarkable on that account "I have not found (says he) so great faith, no
not in Israel." And in this view his building the Jews a synagogue will appear a more notable and striking instance of public spirit
and love to his country.
The true patriot will not abate of his love to his country, or desert its interests,
barely because the
religion therein professed and established, differs from his own: So far from it, that if there be nothing in such religion repugnant
to the general laws of reason and morality, or subversive of the natural rights and liberties of mankind; he will look upon
himself obliged to promote it, and chearfully contribute to its support.
This then was the virtue, on account of which this Roman officer was recommended by the Jewish elders, as worthy the notice of our Saviour,
and of which Christ accordingly testified his approbation by going and healing his servant. And in this view the words
afford a proper argument for a discourse upon the virtue of PATRIOTISM, and naturally lead us to consider this noble principle in its nature,
properties and effects.
True PATRIOTISM then, considered as a principle, is the same thing with public spirit, or a generous love to our country, a regard
for the happiness of our fellow-creatures, especially a tender concern for the welfare of our fellow-subjects.
SELF-LOVE, or a regard to our own happiness, is an innate and inextinguishable principle in the human mind: But then,
that we are not born for ourselves only, consequently are not to confine our views to our own private interest, separate from
that of the community, much less in opposition to it; is a genuine dictate of reason, philosophy, and revelation. From the
first dawn of life to its final period, we are necessarily dependent. First and principally indeed, upon the great author
of nature; but next and subordinately upon our fellow-creatures with whom we stand connected. As we advance forward in
life, these reciprocal dependencies and connections, and consequently the social obligations thence resulting, multiple and
increase. Our happiness and security, or rather the springs from whence they derive, branch out into innumerable channels, and
demand a correspondent attention. If therefore a principle of self-love, prompts us to seek our own particular happiness,
because it is ours; the same principle must induce us to love our country and seek its welfare, because our own is involved
in it, and inseparably connected with it. And thus even from self-love and a desire of happiness, we are directed to seek the
good of the public, and yield obedience to that apostolic precept, "look not every man on his own things, but every man also
on the things of others [Phil. II. 4.]."
In this view of the case that observation is verified,
"That true self-love and social are the same."
This principle of benevolence begins with ourselves Family connections
and private friendships are its next objects. It spreads on to our neighbours and acquaintance. Our country feels its
cherishing influence next. Still it expands and widens till it comprehends all the human species, and finally encloses the
whole creation in the friendly and generous circle.
"Self love but serves the virtuous mind to wake,
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake;
The centre mov'd, a circle strait succeeds,
Another still, and still another spreads,
Friend, parent, neighbour, first it will embrace,
Our country next, and next all human race.
Wide and more wide, th' o'erflowings of the mind,
Take ev'ry creature in, of ev'ry kind;
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest,
And Heav'n beholds its image in his breast."
Pope's Essay on Man: pag. 86.
Hence it appears, that though patriotism has its origin in self-love, and is ever consistent with it; yet it is widely different
from, or rather directly opposite to the principle that commonly goes under that name. The true patriot has a noble and exalted
notion of happiness: He does not confine it to his own personal interest and convenience, or limit it to the contracted circle of
his family, or particular friends; but comprehends in his idea of it the welfare of millions, and especially includes the safety
and prosperity of his dear country in the account. And while the selfish man confines his views wholly to his private interest,
and meanly coils himself up in the narrow and dirty shell of his own personal safety, and happiness; the true patriot, ever
studious of the public good, and concerned for its prosperity; ardently desires its happiness, and warmly interests himself in
its various vicissitudes.
The miseries of his country awaken his inmost grief and compassion. At sight of the public calamities, his
benevolent heart bleeds. He rejoices in its emolument, and feels the noblest satisfaction in its safety, prosperity and glory.
However flourishing his own private affairs are; if his country is in danger, and the public happiness interrupted or insecure:
Is it involved in the calamities of war, ravaged and depopulated by foreign enemies, or weakened and rent by civil discord,
domestic faction, and intestine strife: Does it groan under
the iron rod of despotism and tyranny, or has its foundations sapped
by a prevailing spirit of anarchy, levelism, and
If public credit runs low, and a general temper of diffidence, distrust, and disaffection to government prevails:
If economy, and industry, manufactures, navigation, and commerce, those sources of wealth, and unfailing springs of
public prosperity, dwindle and decline: And on the other hand, idleness, contention, intemperance, dissipation, and
prodigality, increase and abound. In a word: If righteousness, charity, peace, truth, faithfulness, and liberality,
together with those other amiable and salutary virtues, so directly tending to "exalt a nation," evidently fade and languish; and the
opposite vices, which are a "reproach," a shame and ruin to a civil community, become fashionable and prevail:
These things will affect the true patriot with the most keen and sensible anguish, will dispirit his happiness, and damp his joy amidst the
highest tides of domestic prosperity, or the greatest affluence of personal and family enjoyments.
He who regards his own interest above that of the public, is a concealed enemy to the state: He who pursues his own little
affairs at the expense of his fellow-subjects, and does not "prefer Jerusalem above his chief joy"; whenever there happens a
competition, will sacrifice the public happiness to his own private convenience; will commence a rebel, a traitor to his country;
and, if he has opportunity, rob and plunder the public, to promote his own paltry purposes and designs.
Obligations of Patriotism
To love our country then, to desire its prosperity, and warmly interest ourselves in its various vicissitudes, is part, and
but part, of this noble virtue of patriotism. Some men have so much honesty, as not to hurt the public; but have not zeal
enough for its welfare to do it any good. They are proof, perhaps, against any temptation to injure it; but will never exert
themselves for its happiness. Their love to their country is much like that cold, ineffective charity, mentioned by the
apostle [Jam. II. 16.], which barely says, "be ye warmed and filled"; but after all its
pretended good wishes, "does not profit" is of no avail to the object of it. If all men were of this indolent and lukewarm
disposition, government must soon be unhinged, the foundations of public peace and happiness dissolved, and the
safety and welfare of the community become a prey to the first invader.
Would we merit the glorious character of patriots, we must not only wish, but act for our country's good. Our love to the
public must exemplify itself, in public-spirited actions and services, equal to our abilities, and proportionate to the
utmost extent of our power and influence. The true patriot, therefore, is one who allows his country a share in his
thinking hours. He is studious of its welfare, thoughtful of its happiness, and plans and projects for its safety.
Civil government is aboslutely necessary to public happiness. But without good laws, and wholesome institutions, government
cannot subsist. At least, it can never answer those salutary
purposes for which it was appointed, in any tolerable degree.
And to frame these laws, to adapt these rules and maxims of government to the genius of the people, the circumstances of
time and place, and the various exigencies of the state; demands the study, the wisdom and skill of the politician.
But the legislator is not the only man who studies and plans for the good of the public. Whoever projects any thing conducive
to the welfare of his country, tho' it be to the throwing out a hint that may be improved to that purpose: He who
invents any new and useful arts of life, or makes or communicates any valuable improvements in those already found out;
is so far forth a patriot, and deserves his country's thanks: Especially the man who studies to promote its best interests, to
curb the vices and reform the morals of a degenerate age, and to introduce and cherish the amiable, the beneficial virtues of
christianity among its fellow-men, is highly deserving of that character: And he who refuses or neglects these things, when
it is in his power, is no true friend to the public: Nay he is an enemy to his country, in proportion to the value and
importance of his neglected services.
Further still; love to our country requires, that we act, as well as study and think, for the public good. The situation
of our country may be such, as to demand the utmost exertion of our power and influence in its behalf: And the duty we owe the public,
requires a cheerful compliance with this demand. The true patriot is one, whose purse, as well as his heart, is open for the defence
and support of his country. "His liberal soul devises liberal things," and his generous hand is
ever ready to execute his liberal purposes.
As a ruler, every well-concerted and public-spirited measure, is sure to meet with
his approbation, and gain his suffrage.
As a subject, he scorns to be stingy and parsimonious, when the safety or welfare of his
country calls for his assistance. When any noble and generous design is on foot, that has a friendly aspect upon the community;
be it for the reformation of manners, the promotion of learning, the advancement of virtue and religion, or any thing
that tends to the public emolument; then, in proportion to this ability, he will be "rich in good works, ready to distribute,
willing to communicate." [I Tim. VI. 18.]
In a word: As love to the public is his ruling passion, considered as a member of society; the grand object of his ambition
is, to shield it from danger, and promote its welfare. In pursuit of this he is indefatigable and undaunted. Nor hope nor fear can
shake his resolution, or warp him aside from his duty. The most lucrative considerations, are no temptations to him, to betray his country,
or desert its interest. To bribery he is an avowed enemy. He disdains the means and dirty arts of corruption.
To rise upon the ruins of his country, or sacrifice its interest to his own private schemes, or the narrow and contracted views of a party:
To enrich himself at the expence of the community, or fatten and riot on the public spoils, his generous soul abhors.
Love to his country is his predominate principle. He is unwearied in his attempts to promote its happiness. Not even insensibility in the public,
of his benevolent purposes; nor the most ungrateful returns for his well-meant wishes and services, can damp his patriot ardor,
cause him to discontinue his attempts in its favour, or discourage him in the noble and generous pursuit. When his country is
invaded and demands his service, he despises danger, and boldly hazards his life in its defence. He gallantly opposes his breast,
to the drawn swords and spears of its enemies; he nobly resolves to procure its safety, or shed his blood in the generous conflict,
"and bravely die in the last ditch."
Thus engaged is the true patriot in his country's behalf. His heart and his head, his tongue, his pen, and his hands, his estate,
yea and even his life too, are ready at its service, and devoted to its interest, whenever they are called for.
But 'tis not every pretended regard for our country, or zeal for the public welfare, that deserves the name of
public-spirit. There are hypocrites and impostors, wild enthusiasts and frantic zealots in patriotism and politics, as well as in
religion. Too often the restless spirit of disaffection and discontent, the wild zeal of ambition
and faction, to the
ungovernable fury of sedition, treason and rebellion, assume the mask of patriotism, artfully mimic the air of public-spirit, and
endeavour to obtrude themselves upon the world for a disinterested regard for the common happiness.
But 'tis not difficult for a discerning eye to detect the imposture, and unmask the cheat. Men of this cast and complexion, under all these specious
disguises, have some selfish scheme at bottom, which a little attention will serve to lay open and expose. True public spirit has
its source in benevolence and kindness to our fellow-men. 'Tis near kin to that heavenly wisdom described by the apostle
[James 3. 17.], "which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good
fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy;" or rather like its sister virtue, charity, [I Cor. 13. 4, 5.]
"it suffers long and is kind, envieth not, vaunteth not it self, is not puffed up, doth not behave it self unseemly, seeketh
not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil."
'Tis a prudent zeal for the public, chastised by reflection, calm steady and dispassionate in its operation,
in its influence most beneficent and kind. Whenever therefore, under pretence of concern for the public, men appear sour
and morose; forward, bold, and assuming, cruel, fierce, angry, and vindictive, or loud and boisterous in pursuit of any favorite scheme;
and seem to aim their resentments, rather against the persons, than the vices of those they oppose; there is great reason
to suspect their honesty; 'tis almost certain some foul design lurks beneath this fair outside, and that they are really cheats and
imposters at heart.
Men of this sort, are ever ready to clamour, and find fault, with the conduct of all public measures in which they have no hand:
Expecially, if crossed in any favourite purpose, they at once set up a cry; "the country is in danger; the public is ruined;" when probably, all
the business is, that themselves are out of power, or they meet with opposition in prosecuting some private scheme, or party
project, injurious to the country, or destructive of the public happiness. But to argue against the being and excellence of
public-spirit, from these pernicious arts of ill-designing men, is just as illogical and absurd as to conclude, that because there
are hypocrites and pretenders in religion, therefore religion has no existence, and virtue no real charms.
On the contrary, 'tis a convincing argument in its favour: 'Tis a clear evidence that there is indeed something truly excellent in the substance,
when even the shadow is captivating: The reality needs must be valuable, since the bare appearance is thus capable to conceal
the deformity of vice, and render even wickedness respectable. As counterfeit coin, speaks an intrinsic value in the true;
so this mock-patriotism, by which ill-designing men impose upon the world, loudly proclaims the excellency of
true public-spirit, and abundantly proves its innate sterling worth.
The Benefits of Patriotism
And truly with the highest reason. For this virtue is no less beneficial in its consequences, than truly amiable in its nature
and properties. Wherever it prevails among 2 people, it has a kind and salutary influence, and is ever productive of the
happiest effects. Next to the blessing of Heaven upon a country, 'tis the firmest foundation of social happiness, the most sure
and unfailing spring of the public safety, prosperity and glory. Did it universally govern, universal tranquility would be the
consequence: In proportion to its influence in a community, the public felicity is secure. To trace it in all its happy
consequences, and enumerate the many advantages resulting from it to a people among whom it generally prevails, requires more time
than is at present allowed me, were I equal to the task. Suffice it to say, that the liberties of a people will be safe; their
lives, persons, and properties secure; the important interest of learning promoted; and virtue and true religion
encouraged, in proportion to the prevalence of patriot-principles and public-spirit among them.
Liberty is the glory of a community, the most firm and unshaken basis of public happiness. "This gives an
inexpressible charm to all our enjoyments; It imparts a relish to the most indifferent pleasures, and renders the highest
gratifications doubly delightful. It smooths the rugged brow of adversity, and endears and enhances every acquisition."
The want of this will abate the value of all the comforts of life.
The embittering circumstance of precarious property:
The grating reflection, that life and all its enjoyments, lie at the mercy of a tyrant, and are liable, every moment, to be
ravished by the lawless hand of violence; mars the relish of every gratification, and throws a melancholy gloom upon all
temporal enjoyments. But wherever public-spirit prevails; liberty is secure. There men may freely think for themselves,
and publish their sentiments on religion or government, without molestation or fear. For as liberty is the source of so much
public-happiness; he who is a patriot, and wishes well to his country, must needs be a fast friend to it, a warm and strenuous
advocate for it, whatever rank in the community he sustains.
For the same reason our lives, persons, and properties will be secure, in proportion as this generous principle prevails.
The safety of these is inseparably connected with civil liberty, which, as we have heard, is a genuine consequence of public-spirit.
They never can be wrested, from us but by cruelty and oppression, vices which can have no existence in a patriot-state.
In possession of these blessings we are therefore secure, unless, by our crimes, we make a forfeiture of them to the public:
But this we never shall do, if we ourselves act under the influence of this virtue.
Learning is another great and inestimable blessing to society, a shining ornament to a country, and productive of the
happiest consequences. Imagination can scarce paint the superior condition of that state, where learning, science, and the liberal
arts flourish; to that of a rude and unpolished people, over-run with barbarism and ignorance. But learning is both the nurse
and off-spring of public-spirit, in different views. 'Tis impossible therefore that it should be discouraged, or its important
interests neglected, where this noble principle governs. 'Tis the character, the genuine tendency of public-spirit, to promote
social happiness in all possible ways. As learning, therefore, has such a kind and salutary influence on the good of society;
it must needs be the object of the true patriot's kindest regard: what he will most tenderly promote and cherish, and
ever show himself a warm friend and patron to its important interests.
On the same principles, religion and virtue must ever be the object of the patriot's care, and every thing done to encourage
and promote it, where public-spirit prevails. The genuine principles of christianity; that spirit and temper which the
gospel inspires all its true votaries with, has the kindest influence upon public happiness, both in a natural and moral respect.
It's direct tendency is, to reform the vices, and correct those corrupt dispositions of the human heart, which, in their operation,
are ever inimical to society, and subversive of all the important interests of mankind. In the room of these it implants
and cultivates the virtues of justice, truth, loyalty, faithfulness and charity, so friendly to social-happiness, and certainly
productive of public peace. And besides all this, true religion and public virtue, recommend a people to the divine protection,
and engage the smiles of heaven for their safety and prosperity.
This interest, therefore, will necessarily engage the attention of the true patriot. In proportion as he loves his country, he
will regard religion, and labour to promote it. He will carefully attend its sacred institutions himself, and generously
contribute to support its worship and ministry. "If he loves his nation, he will build it a synagogue," and promote
its religious interests to the utmost of his power, because he knows the public happiness, which ever lies near his heart, is
necessarily dependent upon, and inseparably connected with, this great and important concern.
In fine: The prevalence of this principle would have a most
happy influence upon the religious, the literary, civil, military, and commercial interests of a people. It would be one of the
most powerful checks upon those vices in particular, which strike at the very being of society, and directly threaten its run; while
it animated all ranks and orders in the state, to acquire and cultivate those virtues, which are most conducive to its happiness.
Did the civil rulers of a people, for instance, thoroughly imbibe this generous spirit, how happy would the community
be under their administration? This would be a sure preservation against pride and unbounded ambition: It would prevent
perculation, lawless power, and undue stretch of prerogative;
and be an effectual curb upon oppression, tyranny and arbitrary rule. On the contrary, it would induce them to consider
and conduct themselves, as the fathers of the people, as the faithful guardians of their liberties, properties, and lives;
as raised, by divine providence, to their elevated stations, not for their own grandeur and ease; but for the health and happiness
of the community. In this view king David considered his elevation to the throne of Israel. "He perceived that the Lord had
established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel's sake." [Sam, V. 12.]
This principle would animate gospel-ministers to a faithful discharge of the important duties of their office. Love to
their country would extinguish the hateful spirit of bigotry, superstition, and thirst of dominion; and inspire the amiable virtues of
humility and meekness, candor, catholicism, and true christian love. It would be a powerful spur to industry, would make them studious
and laborious in their great work, diligent and zealous in propagating the benevolent principles of christianity, and especially
careful to enforce the great duties of charity, and loyalty, the true gospel-patriotism, so frequently taught and so
forcibly recommended by the precepts and example of their divine master.
Nor would the good effects of this principle, upon subjects and the body of the people in general, be less visible and
happy. Idleness, prodigality, and intemperance, so pernicious to society, would disappear; and a spirit of industry,
frugality and good economy take place, in proportion as patriot-virtue gained ground. Fraud and knavery in dealing,
a spirit of contention and litigation, deceit, cheating and lying, smuggling and illicit trade, will vanish; and
truth, justice and equity, good-faith, probity and honour, in all civil contracts and social commerce among men,
will abound and flourish in a patriot-state. To add no more: Public-spirit will
totally extirpate the malignant seeds of
disaffection and disobedience to authority, crush the spirit of sedition and rebellion, and cultivate and cherish the true
principles of loyalty, submission and peace; virtues most friendly to society, and eminently conducive to the public
safety and prosperity.
Thus have I attempted to exhibit a portrait of this amiable and salutary virtue, in its general nature and consequences.
Were the design executed to the life, it would command universal respect: Did the picture answer to the original, it
must needs charm every beholder, and conciliate
the esteem and veneration of every rational intelligence.
What then remains, but to urge and press it upon all ranks and orders in the state, to acquire and cultivate this
generous principle? Ever to act under the influence of it themselves, and labour to encourage and promote it in others?
Thus to do, is the indispensable duty of every member of society, as such, and what their own personal interest and
safety demands. The relation we all stand in to the public, renders such a conduct highly reasonable and becoming:
And as our own particular happiness is dependent upon, and inseparably connected with, the safety and prosperity of the whole;
a suitable regard to that must certainly induce us to wish well to our country, and labour to promote its welfare
by all lawful means.
Do we need examples to fire us with ambition, and urge us on this glorious pursuit? Both sacred and profane history
abound with many shining instances of this heroic virtue, in the celebrated names of antiquity there
recorded. I have mentioned the example of the blessed JESUS, who was eminent for this and every other virtue.
Moses, the illustrious leader of Israel, and Paul, the great doctor of the Gentiles, were both inspired with this laudable
principle in a very exalted degree. The Jewish law-giver, nobly prefers death, to the ruin of his nation; and rather than
survive the public calamity, begs that his name might be blotted out of the book of GOD, the public register in
which the living were
enrolled note 2.
The christian apostle, highly as he valued his gospel privileged, and with a regular standing in the church of CHRIST;
could even "with himself accursed from CHRIST," anathematized, or cast out of the communion of the faithful, and scourged
with all those corporal punishments, which usually attended excommunication in that
age note 3,
might it subserve the best interest of his nation, and be productive of their restoration to the favour of God.
Exod. XXXII. 32. "It is well known the Hebrews kept registers or catalogues of the names of their people that were alive,
and when they died their names were erased or blotted out. In allusion to this Moses's wish is to be understood;
q.d. Either be thou pleased to slay me and them together, or spare them and me together."
Stackhouse Hist. Bib. in loco.
Rom. IX. 3. I am not certain I have hit upon the true interpretation of these words. Some expositors read them in a parenthesis, thus,
("I did wish myself accursed from Christ.") i.e. before my conversion I was willing to be separated from him, as my brethren,
the Jews now are, and therefore I know how to pity them, as I was once in their circumstances. Dr. Doddridge reads
the words thus. "I could even with myself accursed after the example of Christ." i.e. to suffer crucifixion, the death which he
submitted to, commonly called an accursed death, might it serve to promote the conversion of my brethren the Jews.
But as the word, "anathema," here used, was the common term by which excommunication was expressed in the Jewish church,
I rather think the apostle uses it in that sense, to denote his willingness of being cut off from the communion of the faithful,
as above explained.
In what warm and pathetic strains does the sweet singer of Israel breathe forth his patriot-ardor, and express his cordial
wishes for his country's good [Psal. CXXXVII. 5, 6.]?
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem! let my right hand forget her cunning: If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth:
If I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy."
"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of
Gideon, of Barak
and of Samson; of Jeptha, of
David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets," [Heb. XI. 32.] who were no less remarkable
for love to their country, than for a firm faith in divine providence, and an unshaken trust and confidence
in the living God.
Greatly famed also, for love to their country, were the celebrated republics of ancient Greece and
Rome. Their philosophers, poets, orators, legislators, heroes, in short, their very peasants and mechanics, gloried in the
name of patriots: And while this spirit continued to operate among them, tho' very deficient compared with true gospel patriotism,
they rivaled, in point of secular grandeur and public happiness, the most celebrated nations upon earth.
Praising the English Patriot-Kings
But we need not ransack the records of antiquity, or range among the monuments of Athens, Sparta, and Rome, to find
a patriot character worthy of imitation. Britain too, can boast her heroes, nay more, she can glory in her patriot-kings.
Not to mention her HENRIES, EDWARDS, and a WILLIAM of blessed memory, the several princes of the house of BRUNSWICK,
who in a happy succession of half a century, have filled and adorned the British throne, are eminently deserving of
that character. Princes, who disdained to lay the foundation of their greatness, in an undue stretch of prerogative, but nobly
chose to reign in the affections of their subjects, and establish their dominion in the hearts of a free, a loyal, and
And behold the good effects! Never did Great-Britain enjoy such a series of domestic peace and tranquility,
as under their administration. Never was the national glory carried to so high a pitch, as in the last and present reign.
To the generous efforts of this principle, inspired by the great father of his subjects, assisted by the wise councils of a truly
patriot ministry, and happily diffused from the throne through the various orders in the state, we are indebted, (under God,)
for the many glorious victories and conquests, obtained in the last war. Victories that will astonish posterity: Conquests
that will add fresh lustre to our history, and adorn the British annals 'till time shall be no more. Victories and conquests,
which have curbed the overgrown power of France, bounded the ambition of the grand-monarch, humbled the haughty pride
of Spain, added a prodigious extent of territory to the British dominions, and finally terminated in a happy and glorious peace.
Addressing this Legislative Body
These bright examples of this generous virtue, and the happy consequences attending the practice of it, both
to the public and ourselves, are so many powerful incentives to fire our ambition, to warm us with a cordial and disinterested
love to our country, and inspire our breasts with true patriot zeal. Let us then lay aside all mean, selfish and party principles,
and nobly aspire to the glorious character of patriots and true friends to the public. This is a duty incumbent upon us
whatever rank in society we sustain. But 'tis eminently so upon rulers, upon those who are exalted to posts of honour, and places of
As therefore, his HONOUR'S command, has ordered me into the desk on the present occasion, this must
be my apology, while, with all proper deference, and yet with a freedom becoming the ministerial character, I address the
political fathers of my country, the legislative body of this colony in general court assembled.
WORTHY and much esteemed senators:
One very striking and instructive title given to rulers, in the sacred oracles, is that of "Gods." This, while it expresses
the dignity of their character, serves to remind them of the great and important duties of their post. They are gods by
office; and it highly concerns them to imitate the glorious fountain of power and goodness, in the god-like attribute
of benevolence and doing good to mankind. You are exalted, by divine providence, to distinguished honours and most
important betrustments in the state. Honours, the more shining
and elevated, as they flow from the spontaneous suffrages of your fellow-subjects: Betrusts the more sacred and inviolable,
as they carry in them the highest testimonies of the unfeigned respect and confidence of a free, grateful and loyal people.
In return for these marks of esteem and affection, your people challenge your patriot care. They expect, they justly
expect that you "love your country and build it a synagogue:" That you tenderly regard the public happiness, and faithfully
improve your opportunity and talents to promote its interest in church and state. A moderate share of political knowledge,
under the influence of this principle, will make a man a good ruler; while the greatest talents
without it, do but render him the more dangerous to society, and utterly unfit to be entrusted with the conduct of public affairs.
A selfish and contracted temper in any member of society is a great blemish: But in a ruler 'tis odious, 'tis shocking,
I had almost said, unpardonable. Your honours well know, that the great, the original end of civil government, is the good of society;
and to promote the safety and happiness of the public, its grand and ultime object. Your obligations, therefore to love
your country and seek its best interest, are proportionable to your elevated rank in life, and hold pace with your superior
opportunity and advantages for these benevolent purposes.
Opportunity, how precarious! Advantages, how uncertain! This day we behold a breach, a vacancy in your honourable board,
occasioned by the death, the justly lamented death of one note 4, who, for a course of years, had shared the honours of his country,
and faithfully discharged the truth reposed in him, in sundry very important offices of government. But he is now gone!
Death, inexorable death, deaf to the cries of his family, dead to his country's most ardent prayers and vows, has stripped him of his robes
of honour, discharged him from the obligations therewith connected, and laid him level with those that hold the lowest rank
in life. Rulers, tho' gods by office, scripture and experience attest "must die like men." How alarming the admonition!
How quickening the consideration to the utmost diligence and faithfulness is their great work!
esq: of Fairfield, for many years a judge of the probates, chief justice of the county court, and one of the members of
council, in the colony. He was taken ill while attending the assembly at New Haven, in October last, and died there soon after
the session ended.
The necessary qualifications of magistracy, and the various duties of their high station, in their legislative, judicial and
executive capacities, your honours, I presume, are not unacquainted with. They have often been enumerated and urged
upon these occasions, and I need not repeat them. Suffer me, however, to mention one political evil, which, among many others,
seems loudly to call for a speedy redress. I mean the great multiplicity of needless disputes and contentions in the law.
This colony, perhaps, above any in his majesty's dominions, has been long famed for this litigious disposition. And it is so
far from being abated, that the number of law-suits, in the year past, is probably much greater than in any preceeding year.
Whether this temper and practice be owing to the free nature of our civil constitution, the genius of the people, or to what
other cause, is perhaps, difficult to say. Certain it is, however, that such a spirit is ruinous, in its operation, to individuals and
highly injurious to the public happiness.
There is little doubt, but the time and money, needlessly spent this way, would much
more than defray all the public expences of the colony. Besides the ill blood it tends to create, what a prod8igious drain must
this be to the government? How does "cat like a canker," prey upon the very blood and vitals of the community, and
loudly threaten its ruin, unless speedily checked? Whether increasing the costs of suit, and making it more expensive to
go to law, would have a tendency to discourage the practice; or whether any proper and effectual remedy can be applied in the
case, I will not presume to say. If the disease is not incurable, it loudly calls for the help of the political physican:
And, I trust, your honours, deeply sensible of the great importance of it, will leave no means unattempted, to speed a speedy
stop to the growing mischief. May the father of lights, the inexhaustible fountain of truth and goodness,
replenish your minds with wisdom, faithfulness, justice, fortitude, love to your country, and every ruling virtue.
May public-spirit be the predominant principle of your conduct, ever animate your debates, and direct your councils
and deliberations for the public happiness.
Under the governing influence of this, you will exert your authority, in your several stations and departments, to reform the morals
of the people under your government. To punish and suppress the awful prevalence of immorality, profaneness, intemperance,
uncleanness, sabbath-breaking, neglect of public worship, and every other vice. And promote and encourage virtue and piety,
by enacting new laws, if need be, for these salutary purposes, and faithfully executing those that are in
And while you show yourselves the noble patrons of christian liberty, the faithful guardians of the
of conscience, to the sober dissenters among us, of every denomination; we justly expect the continuance of your more
peculiar and distinguishing regard, to the constituted churches of this colony, as established by law. These, certainly,
demand your patronage. They justly claim the countenance, the encouragement and support of a christian magistracy, by
whose laws they are expressly established, and under whose protection they have so long flourished and increased.
Let the interest of learning also share your paternal regard. This is intimately connected with the public happiness, and the
care of it properly falls within the province of the civil magistrate. May our college and inferior schools, therefore,
constantly engage your attention, and still be the objects of your patriot-care. And may their important interests more
and more flourish under your wise administration. Thus will you answer the just expectations of your constituents, and
approve yourselves the true friends and fathers of your country.
The present generation will rise up and call you blessed, your memories will be embalmed to posterity, ages yet unborn
will honour and revere your names; and what is still infinitely more, if you are faithful to God and your country,
you will e'er long meet the final plaudit of your supreme judge, and share in those endless honours and divine joys
which, through Christ, are the promised rewards of distinguished virtue and goodness.
Addressing the Assembled Religious
I now turn to the ambassadors of Christ, the kind father of his people, and the great benefactor of the universe.
REVEREND fathers and brethren.
We too are concerned, intimately concerned in the interesting subject before us. Next to the glory of his father, a spirit of
disinterested benevolence, and the most generous love to mankind, was the governing principle in the life and actions of
our divine master, and it ought to be so in his disciples and servants, especially the officers of his household, the ministers
of his everlasting gospel. Our character is that of ambassadors of peace, and heralds of divine mercy and grace to a perishing
world. To publish the glad tidings of salvation; to win souls to Christ; to beseech sinners, in his name, to be
reconciled to God; to open up to mankind the unsearchable riches of divine grace, and explain and enforce the whole scheme of
gospel-duties and christian morals: Thus to subserve the best interest of society, and promote the eternal happiness of our
fellow-men, is the great end of our office, the honourable, the important business in which we are employed.
We are placed as sentinels upon the walls of Zion, to guard against sin, the worst enemy of our country, and sound the alarm in God's
holy mountain. "We watch for souls, as they that must give "account," [Heb. XIII. 17.] and woe be to us if we are unfaithful. "For as
they who turn many to righteousness, will shine" with distinguished lustre in the kingdom of glory; so they who are unfaithful in the
christian ministry, and do the work of the Lord deceitfully; contract aggravated guilt, and expose themselves
to a most awful and intolerable doom.
But next to "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the holy Ghost;" a principle of true patriotism and public-spirit, a sincere regard
to the best good of society and a generous, disinterest benevolence to mankind, will be found the most animating spring
to industry, the noblest incentive to diligence and faithfulness in our great work. The gospel we preach, is a system of
benevolence and love, and all its doctrines and precepts promotive of social happiness. This virtue of patriotism, therefore, so
congenial to our profession, and so peculiarly ornamental and becoming the sacred character, it highly concerns us to acquire
and cultivate; ever to act under the influence of it ourselves, and, both by example and precept, labour to recommend it to
While, therefore, we study to show ourselves approved "unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly
dividing the word of truth:" [II Tim, II. 15.]
Let us together with the great gospel-doctrines of "repentance towards God, and faith towards "our Lord Jesus Christ,"
[Acts, XX. 21.] faithfully inculcate the relative duties of christianity, and urge upon our hearers the important
virtues of truth, justice, sobriety, charity, peace, loyalty and obedience, so peculiarly ornamental to the christian
character, and so eminently subservient to the public tranquility and happiness. In a word: Let us see to it that the genuine
principles of the gospel rule and govern in our hearts. This will make us faithful to our great master, faithful to the best interest
of our people, generous friends to our country, and warmly solicitous to promote its welfare and happiness.
To conclude: As public-spirit and love to our country is universally incumbent on every member of society, let all ranks
and orders of men from the highest to the lowest, be ambitious of this amiable character, and cordially unite their endeavours
to promote the public happiness. If we consider, my brethren, the very happy constitution we are under, both civil and
ecclesiastical, the mild and gentle form of our government, both in church and state, and the peculiar and distinguishing privileges
of a public nature we in this colony enjoy: As no people under heaven, have more reason to be satisfied and pleased with their situation;
so none can possibly be under stronger obligations to maintain public-spirit, and love to their country than we.
We are not enthralled by lawless tyranny, or oppressed with the galling yoke of despotic and arbitrary rule. We have no temptation
to wish for the wings of a dove, that we might quit our country, and fly away to some lonely desert and be at rest. To Gallic slavery,
to Roman persecution and spiritual bondage, (blessed be God,) we are utter strangers. Still we taste the
dear, the delightful sweets of liberty, in the free and unrestrained choice of our own rulers, as the return of this joyful anniversay,
once more happily attests.
For a long time we have sat under the sweet and refreshing shade of the mantling vine. Let us not then, by our sins and licentious conduct, provoke
almighty God, "by whom kings reign," to strip us of our dear privileges, and teach us, too late, the value of them, "by the briars and
thorns of the wilderness." On the contrary: let each one, deeply sensible of the worth of these inestimable privileges, see to it
that they testify a proper regard for them, by a faithful, thankful and religious improvement of them. This will be the most likely means, under
divine providence, of their continuance and perpetuation. Let us do all our faith endeavour
to reform those vices in ourselves, which are inimical to society, and destructive of public happiness, and then use our influence
in our several stations, to promote a general reformation.
To do this our gracious soverign, the father of his people, has
eternally exhorted us from the throne. His royal proclamation,
[Proclamation for the reformation of manners, published by his present Majesty in the first year of his reign.]
seconded by the chief authority of the colony, calls upon all
ranks and orders in the state, to unite their endeavours, and engage, heart and hand, in this truly laudable design. And how guilty, how
inexcusable will those in subordinate authority, will ministers of the gospel, and, in short, all the subjects be,
if we neglect to concur with this pious intention of our rulers, sad refuse to engage in the salutary work? How shall
we answer it to God or our own consciences, to the present age of posterity, if, by our criminal neglect or abuse of these
rich blessings, we make a forfeiture of them to God and the king?
To prevent this, let all be exhorted to "put on charity" which is the great band of society, and spring of public-happiness.
Let love to God, love to our country, and love to all mankind, ever reign in our hearts, and direct and govern all our actions.
In particular, let us, above all things, be solicitious to botain the saving blessings of the gospel of Christ, and
have the various graces and virtues of the christian character inwrought in our hearts and regulating our lives. "That so
speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body, fitly joined
together, and compacted, by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, make increase of the body
unto the edifying of itself in love." [Eph. IV. 15, 16.]