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Discontents, Murmurs, Mutinies, and Rebellions, were the first crimes, that brought a blot and disgrace on this fair Creation. The angels, that kept not their first estate, withdrew their obedience from the Lord of Heaven, and were plunged into deepest perdition.
Korah, Dathan and Abiram, for setting themselves up against Moses and Aaron, whom the Lord had appointed over them, were swallowed up alive for the punishment of their offence, together with all their mutinous followers.
Legal and just authority is derived from God, and approved by Him, for the well-being of his crea, tures; and if ever there was reason to believe this in any government on earth, it is in our own government; where every thing valuable to us, as Men and Christians, is secured by wise Laws, and gracious and merciful Rulers; where all the Servants of the public are rewarded for their labours, and where the most faithful discharge of duty is an indispensible obligation on all.
O learn to venerate this happy constitution, and never think that you can do enough for it, in return for the liberal provision you enjoy under it; and the happiness which you may partake from the privileges it gives you-Privileges far superior to what can be boasted of by any other nation or people upon earth. .
I have many more things to lay before you in the course of these Sermons, but the time warns me to conclude for the present-praying God to enable you to think on what has been said, &c.
"THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER'S DUTY, &c.
PREACHED, MAY 8, 1768,
TO THE XVIIIth, OR ROYAL REGIMENT OF IRELAND.
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 VOL. II.
origin in “ Violence, Contentions, Quarrellings, false
Accusations, want of Veracity, Discontents, Murmurings, Slothfulness, Disobedience, want of Economy, 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 Vio
" lence”—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
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 Mankind; 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 triumphed under that sign, and made the religion of Christ, the religion of his country.
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;
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 according 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.