PREACHED, MAY 8, 1768,


ST. LUKE, iii. 14.

And the Soldiers likewise demanded of Him, saying-Master!

and what shall we do? He said unto them-Do Violence to no Man, neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your Wages.

HAVING, in my three foregoing sermons from this text, treated fully of the Christian Soldier's Duty; and the lawfulness and dignity of his office, considering him in a threefold view," as the servant of his God; the servant of his King; and a citizen, equally interested with his fellow citizens, in all the Good or Evil that can befall his country.”-I proceed now to what I proposed as a conclusion, namely

« An affectionate and fervent address to Soldiers generally, whether in higher or lower stations; in order to enforce those virtues, which being directly opposite to the vices most prevalent in military life, may, therefore, tend more effectually to check and destroy them.

Those vices are generally comprehended by St. John in the text, and rebuked by him as productive of the most dreadful consequences; having their chief



origin in “ Violence, Contentions, Quarrellings, false “ Accusations, want of Veracity, Discontents, Mur“ murings, Slothfulness, Disobedience, want of Eco

nomy, Idleness, Intemperance, Drinking, Swear. “ing, Gaming, Cowardice, Desertion, and the like.” Or as St. Paul* better enunierates them, as common to all men, and incident to the “ Flesh, which lusteth against the Spirit.”—Now, says he, the works of the Flesh are manifest, which are these" Adultery, Fornication, Uncleanness, Lasciviousness, Idolatry, Witchcraft, Hatred, Variance, Emulations, Wrath, Strife, Seditions, Heresies, Envyings, Murders, Drunkenness, Revellings and the like;”-intimating that, by the prevalence of the opposite Virtues, which are the Fruits of the Spirit, (namely—“Love, Joy, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, Temperance”)—the Flesh, with all its evil Affections and Lusts, will be crucified through Christ, and its works destroyed, or rooted out.

As to the first of those vices forbid by St. John, as applicable to the Soldiery, namely, “ acts of Violence”-which some visionary men have affected to understand as a “ Prohibition generally of all Wars and Fightings whatsoever.” This explanation is proved in the firstt sermon upon our text, to be neither warranted by Scripture nor Reason; nay the very reverse is evident from the text itself, because St. John does not forbid the Soldiers to continue in their calling, (which he certainly would have done, if it had been unlawful in the sight of God) but, on the

[merged small][ocr errors]

contrary, exhorts them to be faithful in it, and “content with their Wages;” which he would not have done, if he had considered their wages, like Balaam's “ as the Wages of unrighteousness*".

If to support Justice; to maintain the everlasting truths of God; to defend the Goods of Providence, wherewith our honest Industry has been crowned; to resist, even unto Death, the wild fury of lawless Invaders, and by main force, if possible, to extirpate Oppression, Wickedness, and tyrannic Domination, from the face of the Earth-if this be accounted a Violation of the Rights of Man, then we know of no rights which Man can have! Then were Moses, Gideon, David, and all the illustrious heroes that fought the battles of the Lord himself, public robbers and oppressors and violaters of the rights of Man. kind; all permitted by a righteous God to act in His Name, with signs and wonders, and open testimonies of His approbation on their side; while yet He absolutely disapproved and forbid Wars of every kind, by His inspired writers. Then also were the noble efforts of the first Christian heroes to defend the blessed Truths of the Gospel, against the attacks of surrounding infidel nations, nothing but Violence and Oppression. Then, lastly, was that great banner of our salvation, the Cross of Christ itself, displayed to testify a Lie, by that illustrious Romant Emperor, who

• 2 Pet. chap. ii. 15.

+Eusebius testifies that this Emperor, CONSTANTINE, wearied with the absurdity of Polytheism, and the little dependence that could be had upon Prayers to a multiplicity of gods for success in war, or prosperity even in common affairs; resolved to Pray to the only one God, as his Father had done, and was prosperous ; That while employed in praying thus, our Saviour ap:

triumphed under that sign, and made the religion of Christ, the religion of his country.

The Violence, therefore, which is forbidden to the Soldier, is not that of resisting and subduing the enemies of his King and Country; but that which he may commit against his fellow citizens in the society to which he belongs; of whatever grade. If it be against his Officer, in the corps wherein he serves, it is called Mutiny-a crime of the most atrocious nature, which is seldom to be expiated but by the death of the offender. But your own articles of war are so full in respect to all offences of this kind, that a Preacher need not dwell long upon them.

As for magistrates and those vested with civil authority, independent of the military, you must not . think that your obedience to the latter, will absolve you

from obedience to the former; for the laws of the land must be paramount to all other laws. Our Sovereign on his throne, neither is, nor desires to be, placed above the Laws; and it is your duty, when in quarters, to respect the Civil Authority; for all disputes with it are hurtful to the public service, and render a people less respectful to the military, and less anxious to make their stay comfortable and happy.


peared to him in a vision of the night, with the cross in his hand; commanding him to make a royal standard, with 'This Sign, to be continually carried before him in his Wars, as an ensign both of Victory and Safety; promising him that “ Under This Sign," he should be prosperous [in boc Signo vinces ;] that early next morning, trusting in the Vision, he employed the most exquisite workmen, and sat by them till they finished the Standard accurding to his model. In the engagement that followed, though bloody, he was triumphant, and overthrew Maxentius, &c. Eusebius says, he had the account of this Vision from the Emperor himself, ratified with an oath; else it would have been incredible to him,

It is, in general, but a short time that it falls to the share of any corps to be quartered long in the same place; and it is most delightful to cultivate such a good understanding during that period, as will leave their names respectable; which I have the pleasure to think will undoubtedly be the case, as it has hitherto so happily been among the people of this province, respecting your corps.

The failings which would naturally lead to an interruption of that harmony which should prevail between the Soldiery, and their fellow citizens, are those immoralities and vices, which I would strive to guard you from. There are many vices and failings of this kind; but the text mentions one “ the accusing any man falsely,” which is the cause of much trouble and confusion. Veracity, or speaking the truth, is so much the Soldier's character, and so much affects his honour, that a lie ought never to be known or heard of among the profession. The temptations to this may be, that of excusing a Fault, or obtaining Preferment, by Circumventing, Misrepresenting, and bearing down, the character of others. But it is far more worthy of a man, who has committed a fault, to confess it ingenuously; than toʻscreen himself, by the additional Sin of a Falshood. And what man can ever expect to get the blessing of God, on that Promotion, which is obtained by ruining the character, and misrepresenting the conduct, of a fellow soldier. In short, want of Veracity, strikes at the root of all Faith and Peace and Bonds of union, among men; for, where Truth is disregarded, no man will ever be certain how to act, or what to de

« VorigeDoorgaan »