網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

shippers of stocks and stones ? No; “ if I “ forget thee, O Jerusalem," and the desolations brought upon thee by these cruel oppressors, " let my right-hand forget her cunning: if I “ do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” . May I from that moment be deprived of my sweetest delight! May my tongue lose all its powers of melody, and my right-hand be unable to touch the harp with its accustoined skill! May this and much more befal me, if ever I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy; if the love of thee, my country, ever ceases to be the ruling passion of my soul.

From the words of the text thus opened and introduced, I shall make some short remarks upon the love of our country; a subject to which our attention is naturally called, both from our present situation, and from a view of those horrors and calamities of a neighbouring kingdom, by which religion, royalty, public and private order have fallen a sacrifice to desperate anarchy and lawless fury. To love our country, a duty here so strongly recommended by this poor Jew, is a fixed disposition to promote the safety, welfare and honour of the community in which we were born, and the constitution under which we are protected : and, therefore, such a love is a necessary consequence of our loving our best VOL. II.

friends,

friends, our parents, children, and even our

selves; since neither they nor we can be safe . and happy, but under a safe and happy government. Indeed the love of our country, like self-love, may be said to be a sort of native instinct; something which is interwoven and congenial with the first principles of our very nature; so that what the great Roman orator says of the law of self-defence against unjust violence, may justly be applied to the love of our country : “ That it is not a written law,

“ but one which was born with us : that it is ..“ not derived from tradition, books, or instruc

« tion, or from any other source than that of “ nature itself; and that it is coeval with our “ very being *.” And, therefore, it can be no matter of wonder that this passion is the growth of every climate. Thus those who dwell amidst continual frosts and snow, and those who enjoy the warm and cheering sunshine; the inhabitants of the barren desert, and the occupants of fruitful fields; the sons of liberty, and the slaves of arbitrary power, do all alike agree in an unalterable affection to their native country, and in preferring it to every other in the world. Nay, there are various instances recorded of those, who, after being rescued from the vilest debasement and barbarity of which human nature is

* Cicero pro Milone.

capable, capable, and having been instructed in the arts and manners of humanity, and tasted the sweets and comforts of civilized life, have yet with the greatest eagerness seized the first opportunity of quitting them, and returning to the filth and brutishness in which they were born and educated

But then, though the love of their country be a passion thus common to all men, yet it exerts itself in a very different manner in men of different characters and situations. In those of liberal minds, and who have lived under a free and happy constitution, it is displayed in acts of the brightest zeal, the clearest courage, and the most disinterested affection; in one word, in every genuine exertion of greatness of soul and goodness of heart. But in others. it is nothing more than a blind and senseless passion, making no distinction betwixt trifles and things of the utmost importance, and breaking out into such excesses as neither reason nor humanity will warrant.--A multitude of examples to confirm the truth of what has been now asserted, may be produced from both ancient and modern history: for there we may meet with repeated instances of men, who have continued their best services to the public even under the hardest and most ungrateful treatinent; and E 2

again

again of others who have sacrificed all the comforts of life, and even life itself, to the good of their country, and whose .expiring breath has been spent in the most fervent wishes for its safety and prosperity. But I chuse to insist on such instances only of this heroic virtue as are to be met with in the historical parts of the Old, and New Testament. In the former, we read of Moses - the great lawgiver of the Jews, who had such a tender affection for his people, that when by their sins they had provoked God's heavy wrath against them, he begs of the Lord that he would rather cut him off by an untimely death, than suffer him to survive and behold the destruction of his nation. . '.. ;

Of Eli, the high priest, it is recorded, that, upon hearing that the ark of God was taken by the enemy, he fell down suddenly and died, unable to survive the departure of the glory from Israel.

i

There is a passage in the second book of Kings, which, as an excellent critic has well observed, wants only a place in some polite author of Greece or Rome to have been universally ad mired and celebrated. It is this. ---Hazael being sent by his master, the king of Syria, on a mes: sage to the prophet Elisha, it is said, that as soon

as

as he came into the presence of the prophet, " Elisha settled his countenance stedfastly upon “ him, until he was ashamed;" till Hazael was in some confusion; whilst, at the same time, the tears were hastily dropping from the eyes of Elisha. And Hazael, astonished at so unexpected a sight, said, “Why weepeth my lord ?” The prophet answered, in language which we have seen realized in a neighbouring nation, “ Because I know the evil that thou wilt do " unto the children of Israel : their strong holds " wilt thou set on fire, and their young men 66 wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash " their children, and rip up their women with " child. --And Hazael said, But what, is thy “ servant a dog that he should do this great " thing?"-- How shall a mean and despicable creature, such as thy servant, who is no better than a dog, have the power to do all these things ?—The prophet answered, “Thou art now 66 indeed mean, and the subject and servant of " a king; but the Lord hath shewed me that “ thou thyself shalt be a king over Syria.”

Not much unlike this is what we meet with in the behaviour of Nehemiah, who was one of the captive Jews in Babylon; and who, notwithstanding the riches and honours he there enjoyed, and the high favour in which he stood E 3

with

« 上一頁繼續 »