« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
that doeth evil.' (Rom. xiii. 4.) Hence it appears, that the king is entrusted with the sword, and that if he do not use it, to execute wrath upon criminals, he bears the sword in vain, and defeats one of the capital ends of his coronation : For · Governors are sent by God for the punishment of evil-doers.” (1 Pet. ii. 14.)
6. Some people rejoice, that we have watchmen to guard our streets, constables to apprehend house-breakers, jailors to confine highwaymen, and executioners to put them to death. And yet they blame the use of an army. Is not their conduct, in this respect, highly unreasonable ? For, after all, what are soldiers but royal watchmen, royal constables, royal jailors ; and, if need be, royal executioners ? If it be lawful to place watchmen in long white coats, at the corners of our streets, for public security ; why should it be unlawful to place there watchmen in red coats, for the same purpose ? If it be right to send an unarmed constable, with a Justice's warrant, against an unarmed outlaw, or a defenceless debtor; can it be wrong to send thirty thousand armed constables, with the sovereign's warrant, to disarm a countless multitude of lawless men, who assume the supreme power of the sword, with as much propriety as the Pope does the power of the keys of heaven and hell ? Again, if it be not contrary to Christianity, to put under a jailor's care, a number of dangerous men, who have already disturbed the public peace, and who seem bent upon doing it again ; why should it be deemed contrary to Christ's religion, to check, by a military guard, a dangerous city or province which has forfeited its former liberty, by adding the guilt of felonious and treasonable practices, to that of daring licentiousness ? Once more : If the king, by signing a death-warrant, can justly commission a sheriff, and an executioner, to take away the life of an housebreaker, or a man who has presented a pistol to you, on the highway ; why can he not, by the advice of his council and parliament, give to his generals and soldiers a commission to shoot lawless men, who have broken into a ship, to destroy the property of his men, that committed this crime ; and who, instead o. presenting a pistol to an individual, to rob him of a fer shillings, have brought large trains of artillery into the field, to kill the embodied officers of justice, who bear the ruler's sword, and to rob the king himself of some of the brightest jewels of his crown ? If you attend to these hints, you will not find fault with our sovereign for shewing that he does not bear the sword in vain : And you will praise him if you consider, that the first com. mission, which he has given to the commanders of his forces, is a commission to offer gracious terms of peace to those very men, who by wantonly shedding the blood of his loyal subjects, and by repeatedly pouring floods of contempt upon his sacred person, have forfeited all just pretensions to his royal favour.
7. Soldiers, like watchmen, jailors and executioners, are a needful burden upon the public. I heartily wish we were virtuous enough to do without them : But as this is not the case, they are a strong, bitter, and costly remedy, which is absolutely necessary to prevent or cure our licentiousness. So long as human bodies shall want to be preserved by the amputation of painful, mortifying limbs, we shall want surgeons: And so long as political bodies shall be in danger of being destroyed by the moral corruption of their members, we shall want soldiers to do bloody operations. May the Lord grant us a constant succession of wise, conscientious, mild, and yet steady rulers, who may never bear the sword in vain ; and who may never use it but with the same tenderness with which a surgeon uses his knife, when he cuts a mortified limb from the body of a beloved child.' His heart bleeds, while the dreadful operation is per. formed ; and yet his judicious, parental affection makes him consent to sacrifice a part of his son's body, in order to prevent the destruction of the whole. As punish. ing is God's strange work, so should it be that of governors, who are his political representatives. Woe to the man, who, to shew that he has power to use a knife, wan. tonly cuts his own flesh! And woe to the ruler, who, to make appear that he bears the sword, butchers his loyal
subjects, and wantonly cuts off the sound limbs of the political body, of which he is the head ! A crime, which no candid person can lay to the charge of our mild sovereign.
To conclude:- If Christianity had prohibited fighting for the execution of justice, the continuance of peace, and the support of good government ; when penitent sol. diers asked John the Baptist, “What shall we do?' he would undoubtedly have intimated, that they should renounce their bloody profession, as soon as they could. But, instead of doing it, he charged them to do violence (or injustice] to no man, and to be content with their wages ;'
a direction which amounted to bidding them to continue to serve their country, by helping the ruler not to bear the sword in vain.' Nor was our Lord of a different mind from his forerunner; for he praised a centurion, or captain in the Roman army, declaring he had not found such faith in Israel,' as he discovered in that Gentile ; and he parted from him, as Peter afterwards did from Cornelius and his devout soldiers, without giving him the least hint, that his profession was unlawful. From the whole I infer, that if Christianity allow a man to be a soldier, it allows him to fight for the maintenance of order. And, if it be lawful to fight for this purpose, it must be lawful, nay, it is highly necessary, to fast and pray' before an engagement. For the greater the temptation of soldiers to indulge uncharitable tempers, the more earnestly ought they to pray, that they may fight in the same spirit of love in which Christ was, when he uttered his last woe against rebellious Jerusalem. "He beheld they obstinate city, wept over it,' and pronounced its awful doom: "Thine enemies shall lay thee even with the ground, and shall not leave in thee one stone upon another.'
Nor should soldiers fast and pray alone. We ought to bear a part in the solemn duty ; because our sins have helped to fill up the measure of the national guilt, which has provoked God to permit the Colonists to rise against army. Whilst they lift up the sword, which lingering justice has reluctantly drawn; whilst they stand between us and the desperate men, who break into our ships, set fire to their own houses, tar, feather, goog, & and scalp their captives ; whip, cut, and torture their slaves; and whilst they expose their lives, by sea and land, for our protection, or (which comes to the same thing) for the defence of the government that protects us ; it is our bounden duty to feel for them, and to bear them on our hearts. Nay, we shall be guilty of inconsideration, uncharitableness, and base ingratitude, if we do not hold up their hands, by lifting up our own to the Lord of hosts in their behalf, and by asking, that neither profaneness, lewdness, intemperance, nor cruelty, may stain their laurels ; and that they may all be endued with every virtue, which can draw the love of their enemies, and fit them to live or die as faithful soldiers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Nor should we fast only with an eye to ourselves, and those who fight our battles. We ought also to do it out of regard to our American brethren. If they act, at this time, the part of enemies, does not our Lord say, “Love your enemies, and pray for them that despitefully use you ?' Should we not remember, that British blood flows in their veins--that they are not all guilty-that many of them have been deceived by the plausible and lying speeches of some of their leaders—that the epi. demical fever of wild patriotism seized multitudes before they were aware of its dreadful consequences -and that numbers of them already repent of their rashness, earnestly wishing for an opportunity of returning with safety to their former allegiance ?
If you consider these favourable circumstances, you will be glad to have an opportunity of solemnly ap. proaching the throne of grace in behalf of your unhappy brethren : You will intercede for them with hearts full of forgiving love, and Christian sympathy. You will ardently pray, that God would open the eyes and turn
A kind of American torture, which consists in wrenching a man's eyes out of their sockets.
the hearts of the Congress-men, and their military adherents; that he would fill the breast of the King, and of all who are in authority under him, with every virtue, which can render his steady and mild government acceptable to the most discontented of his subjects; and that, on both sides of the Atlantic, all persons in power may cheerfully use all their influence to promote the speedy reconciliation and lasting union we wish for.
Should piety, loyalty, and charity thus animate your prayers; our day of fasting and humiliation will infal. libly usher in a day of praise and general thanksgiving ; and the eloquent senator, who, in the house of commons, lately condemned the religious appointment which I vindicate, will himself partake of the universal joy, and be sorry to have declaimed against a royal proclamation, which so justly deserves his assent, concurrence, and praises.
My dear Fellow-subjects,