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You will remember, that, in our last Sunday's discourse, it was observed, that if any part of scripture can be conceived more particularly expressive of the Soldier's Duty, it must be our text, as being an express answer, delivered by divine inspiration, to a solemn Question of the Soldiers themselves; who, alarmed at the extraordinary appearance of John the Baptist, and their consciences awakened by his preaching and doctrine, flocked to him among the Publicans and other notorious sinners, to know how they might escape the alarming judgments which he threatened, and obtain the happy Salvation which he promised; perhaps all expecting, that he would absolve them from the duty they owed to their master Cæsar, and their fellow citizens; and command them to quit their temporal professions, as inconsistent with their spiritual high calling, in the service of the Living God.
But St. John is very far from encouraging such a spirit of disobedience to the laws, or breach of civil duty, in his answer. He considers these offices, of Publicans, Tax-gatherers, a Soldiery, &c. though often abused, by the corruption and iniquity of those who enjoy them, as nevertheless necessary in the state, and consistent with all the rules of Morality and Religion. He does not, therefore, command them to quit their stations; but boldly strikes at their Capital Vices, and exhorts them to amendment.
To the Publicans, he says, “exact no more than what is appointed you” by law; for how shall you begin to be good, until you cease to be unjust?
To the Soldiers, he replies, in the words of our text_“ Do Violence to no man; neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages”—which words were explained generally in our former Sermon, more especially as they concern a state of defensive War;—and the lawfulness and dignity of the military profession, when exercised by citizens of a Free State, in asserting their just rights, and maintaining the cause of true Religion and Liberty.
I now proceed to treat this subject more at large, and to detail the Christian Soldier's duty in a threefold view, by considering him
lst. As a Servant of his God:
3dly. As a member of Society; interested alike with his fellow citizens, in all that concerns the Peace, Order and Prosperity of his country.
Under these heads, I shall endeavour to shew the dreadful consequences, which spring from Violence, Contentions, Quarrellings, false Accusations, want of Veracity, Discontent, Murmurings, Disobedience, Sloth, Idleness, Intemperance, want of Economy, Drinking, Swearing, Gaming, Cowardice, Desertion and the like.
I propose, in the last place, to conclude with an affectionate and fervent address, to Soldiers generally, in high as well as lower stations, in order to enforce the Virtues, opposite to the Vices above enumerated; namely, Peaceableness, Obedience, Subordination, Economy, Cleanliness, Sobriety, Veracity, Diligence, Magnanimity, Courage, Heroism, Love of the public, a sovereign Regard to Justice, and the Laws of God and Man.
In handling those important and sacred subjects, I shall strive to deliver myself, in a plain and familiar style; and I trust, no Soldier, unless detained by the other necessary duty of his calling, will be found absent, during the course of these Sermons. By manifesting such a regard to Religion, and the due observance of the Sabbath, under the command of Officers otherwise so worthy of their rank and station, as those set over you, will (I am persuaded) contribute more and more, to increase that esteem, which, as a Royal Regiment or Corps, you have hitherto deserved among us; and place your names high in the regard of American citizens, among those British Soldiery, who have been sent hither for our protection and defence.
I am in the first place then to consider the Christian Soldier's dignity and duty, taken in a general view, and as “the Servant of his God.”
" As to the military profession, Brethren, like every profession, it is more or less honourable according to its degree of usefulness to the state, and the talents necessary to the sustaining it. Since this world is not a place of Perfection, and the Sovereign Wisdom often permits the Ambition of one nation to disturb the Peace of another, for the chastisement of their sins it must often be found necessary to resist violence, even unto blood. Nor is it any abatement of the dignity of the Soldier's profession, that its foundation is thus laid and made necessary from the ambition of mankind. The kingly, the priestly, the magisterial offices, all spring from the same lamentable source, and are founded in the vices of the
world. Were all men to obey the benevolent, the pure and righteous Laws of Christ; or were that golden age to come down upon earth, when Universal Love and Goodness should prevail, and Christ, in the power of his Gospel, to become all in all; then every other rule and authority might gloriously be put under His feet*. But, till that happy period arrive, the King, the civil Magistrate, the General and the private Soldier, wield the Sword of Justice upon the same noble principle" as a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well.” Upon the same principle also, to discourage vice, to exhort to righteousness, and to keep the world in some degree of goodness, that the Sword of Justice may be as little necessary as possible, are the Ministers of God employed; to denounce the Terrors of the Lord against -evil-doers, and publish his gracious promises to those that strive to do well.
But all this, though, blessed be God, it is hoped, is productive of much Good, or at least preventive of much Evil, is not absolutely effectual; and States must provide Force for their safety against external, as well as internal, Violence. And since the rules of Religion have at least this effect, that the whole force of a state is seldom at once necessary for its Preservation, Modern nations, generally, constitute only part of their Force for the standing protection of the community at large. Trusting to the magnanimity
Some sentiments, from the foregoing Sermon, which, (heing preached on a special occasion, and to be printed by itself, could only be handled briefly, and in a general way) are now necessarily repeated, when taken up here to be treated of in detail, and more at large.
of a well-disciplined militia, to support Domestic Order, and to repel Foreign Violence; in order that the rest of the people, may sit secure, and reap the fruit of their labours, every man" under his own Vine, and under his Fig-tree, none making him afraid.” And equally just it is, that every man, thus protected in his labours, should devote some part of their fruit to the support of the watchmen on the walls.
This is the foundation of the Soldier's profession. There is a contract between him and the rest of the people. There is a service to be done, and a recompense to be received. The obligations are mutual; and therefore the Soldier's profession, as thus founded in the Laws, is truly honourable. And, in this respect, a British Soldier is supremely distinguished, above all others; as well by the nature of his authority, as the dignity of the cause he is called to support.
In many other nations, the Soldiery are but the armed Slaves, or licensed robbers, employed by human monsters; led forth to wade in seas of blood, to glut the ambition of lawless tyrants; led forth, not to protect the Innocent and scourge the Guilty, but often to consign Innocent and Guilty alike to one common destruction!
But happy Britain fosters no such Lords, and no such armed Slaves. The doctrine that one man's grandeur is to be every man's misery, meets no reception there, nor in any clime where the noble spirit of Britons is inherited. Rulers among us, and all executing authority under Rulers, are to be the Ministers of God, for good to the People. The hearts of