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If then it be true of Nations in general, that it is their duty to act with the greatest caution as to the introduction of radical changes into their respective forms of government; and more especially never to resort to their latent right of introducing them against the consent of the existing Legislatures, except in those great emergences when the public safety and happiness most obviously depend on the national interference; it is an observation which may with peculiar force be applied to Great Britain. For we are not only in poffeffion of a Constitution under which all ranks of subjects have long enjoyed the blessings of liberty
and security, of public and private happiness, to an extent rarely if ever experienced in any other country; but of a Constitution which has provided the means of making essential alterations even in the form of government itself, if ever the Nation should be seriously and permanently convinced of their being neceffary.
II. We are now to consider those general duties of Englishmen, which, though they result from the ties by which subjects of the same empire are bound to their lawful Governors and to each other, are either altogether or to a considerable degree incapable of being ascertained by positive statutes. From this peculiarity in their nature, the extent in which they are respectively incumbent on each individual, and the manner in which they may best be performed by him, are points left to be determined by his own private judgement.
Those duties may be comprehended under the single term, Patriotism; by which term is meant a peculiar affection for our Countrymen, at
tended with an active zeal to promote their welfare.
That patriotism is a moral duty, is generally confeffed by persons of every party and of every creed. Even those who are remarkable for unfeeling felfishness in their private intercourse with their fellow-citizens individually, are usually loud in their professions of unbounded attachment to the community. In every seminary of education patriotisın is fet before the youthful scholar as the ruling principle of the nations in whose history he is initiated; as the parent of every heroic action, of every generous enterprise, which throws a lustre over classic ages. It is represented as one of the first suggestions of untutored reason; one of the most imperious dictates of enlightened philosophy. Reason and philosophy are employed to a very beneficial purpose, when they illustrate the true nature and enforce the obligation of patriotism. But they are not the only foundations on which the duty of patriotism rests ; nor the only sources from which its true nature may be collected.
It is not unusual with those who in modern times assume the character of philosophers, to conceive that they aim at the Christian religion a thrust which cannot be parried, when they affirm that it does not inculcate patriot
its followers. To this affertion sincere believers in Christianity have sometimes given countenance, erroneously conceiving patriotism to imply either an exclusive love for our countrymen repugnant to that universal benevolence which the Gospel requires ; or at least such a degree of partial regard to them, as in practice would almost inevitably produce injustice and unkindness towards (q) foreigners. The following facts and observations may posfibly contribute to throw some light upon the subject.
(9) That patriotism founded on Christian principles is likely to produce the opposite effect, might have been difcerned from a parallel instance occurring every day. Is not peculiar warmth of affection in the various relations of domestic life enjoined by Christianity? And does this affection tend to render men devoid of equity and benevolence towards persons not of their own family ? On the contrary, is it not undeniable, that they who feel it in the greatest degree are usually no less remarkable for general philanthropy?
The nations who at the time of the promulgation of Christianity formed almost the whole of the civilized world, were the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans. They were the nations to whom the new religion was first preached by its Founder and by his Apoftles. Of these nations, the Romans eyed all others as their destined vaflals; the Greeks despised them as barbarians: the Jews detested them as accursed. To look upon all foreigners with unbridled ambition, with arrogant disdain, and with intolerant hatred, was their
patriotism. Their love of their own country was comprised in utter enmity to all the rest of mankind. Was it probable then, I would ask
any candid enquirer, that Christ and his Disciples, when addressing themselves to hearers filled with such extravagant and abominable prejudices, would deal largely in exhortations to patriotism? Was it probable that they would deliver even a single express exhortation? Would not a teacher, supposing him poffefsed only of human wisdom, who had experienced the obstinate (r) reluctance with
(r) To be convinced of the very striking degree in which