Page images
PDF
EPUB

one which does not occur once in a thousand years. Its formation and actual establishment, is one of the greatest events in the history of mankind. Such an achievement was an epoch in the annals of the world. To compare temporal things with spiritual, it bears the same relation to the political prospects of the race, which the establishment of the nation of Israel in the Holy Land did to the religious regeneration of mankind. The bond of their union and their national existence, was fidelity to their constitution, the fundamental article of which was the worship of the one true God. He who forsook him, and undertook to set up any other altar, was not only an apostate in religion, but a traitor to his country. He was doing what he could to extinguish the only light of true religion in the world. And how was he to be treated ? Let us read. "If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying: Let us go and serve other gods which thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers," " thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him. But thou shalt kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And

thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die, because he has thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear and fear, and do no more any such wickedness as this is, among you." And why this awful severity against the traitor to the Jewish constitution ? Because the world had a stake in it. Because apostasy from the true religion went just so far to destroy the only hope of the religious regeneration of the world.

If all is true which I have said of the constitution of our government, and its importance to the world, scarcely less is his guilt who whispers such a thought as the dissolution of the union of these states, even to the wife of his bosom. He is taking the first step to overthrow the ultimate hope of man. “Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him.” He is doing what he can to make abortive the centuries of suffering through which the human race has passed, and to plunge in anarchy and blood a nation which, through the good provi. dence of God, has escaped from the bondage of Egypt. He says to the loyal subjects of our glorious constitution: Go, serve other gods, which neither we nor our fathers have known. Go, try new experiments in government, which have never been known, or, if known, tried only to be execrated and abandoned.

And yet God's people were at length divided. Ten tribes did abandon the religion and the institutions of their fathers, they did forsake Jerusalem and its temple, and build for themselves other altars, in Bethel and in Dan. They set up a golden calf in opposition to the God of Israel. And what was the consequence ? Disorder, anarchy, vice, misery, ruin, captivity, utter annihilation; so that their very name has perished from among men. Such would be their fate, I religiously believe, who should attempt to build any other altar, or raise any other standard than that which has floated, for more than half a century, over this land of the free, and borne our name and our honor to the remotest nations of the globe. The sin of the man who should undertake to do this, would stand out in the history of the world with the same prominence of atrocity as the sin of Jeroboam in the history of God's chosen people, who introduced DIVISION into the sacred tribes, led ten of them away to idolatry and destruction, and therefore his name is consigned to perpetual reproach.

A DISCOURSE

ON THE DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN SOLDIER.*

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers ; for there is no

power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God, and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power ? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also ; for they are God's minsters attending continually upon this very thing."-Romans xiii, 1–6.

I HAVE chosen this passage of Scripture this morning, for the theme of my discourse, in order to explain, as far as I am able, the position, the duties, and responsibilities of the citizen soldier. The soldier in the house of God

• Delivered before the Maryland Cadets and the Boston City Greys, on Sunday, July 21, 1844, immediately after the riots in Philadelphia.

is thought to be out of place, as if Christianity was inconsistent with bearing arms under any circumstances, and as if it were true that the moment a man is clothed in military array, that moment he renounces bis allegiance to Christ. And I doubt not there are many before me, at the present time, who feel an embarrassment as to their duties as citizens and soldiers, as if the moment they armed themselves, even in the best of causes, they put themselves in the wrong. I have sometimes feared that it is the want of clear ideas upon this subject which has produced an indecision in the civil authorities, destructive to social order, and finally fatal to all free government.

This reluctance to resort to force, this unwillingness to take the life of a fellow being, is on the whole a good indication, an evidence of the moral advancement of the age. It shows that the mild and gentle spirit of the religion of Christ is becoming more and more inwrought into the habits of thought and feeling of the Christian world. It shows that mankind, under the auspices of Christianity, has left far behind that barbarism in which their chief employment was rapine and war. The very fact that such a government as ours is practicable, shows a great improvement in the human condition, a government mainly of moral influence, instead of physical force, in which there is so very

« PreviousContinue »