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the nations round them, that their injustice, though monstrous, hath been always considered with indulgence, nay often admired as heroism. And the only people too severely censured on this head, hath been the Jewish : whose very law some have charged with teaching ill will to the rest of the world, though it hath more precepts of compassion and tenderness towards them, than perhaps any other. They were indeed commanded to set out with extirpating the Canaanites, and planting themselves in their land. But well might Heaven decree, after a forbearance of several ages, the destruction of these wretches, abandoned at once to the most unnatural lusts, and the most shocking barbarities ; and (which made their recovery hopeless) both of them practised, as acts of their religion. Nor could the Jews be more strongly warned against committing such enormities, than by being appointed to punish them; as God may certainly punish, either by his own hand, or by whom he will.
But with all mankind ever after, they were to live in peace : only avoiding intimacies likely to corrupt them, and extinguish that profession of faith in the one true God, which they were designed to preserve for the general benefit. Accordingly they were, when free, as good neighbours, and when conquered, as good subjects, as other men; till heathen persecu
; tion provoked them to hate even those heathens, who were no persecutors; and then it was time for our Saviour to teach them not the love of their country, (for of that, such as it was, they had too much) but the universal love of all men: a doctrine equally needful, though on different accounts, for the Romans also. Yet he, and his great Apostle St. Paul, were shining examples of most affectionate concern for their brethren of the house of Israel, even while they received the cruellest treatment from them. And, though the first disciples were chiefly private persons, under one absolute dominion, and that, of unbelieving magistrates, and consequently no other political injunctions, than those of dutiful obedience and uniformly moral behaviour, could with propriety be laid upon them: yet these are inculcated with such diligence, and grounded on such principles in the New Testament, that as ample a provision is made by them for the public welfare as then was feasible: and whoever will seriously consider the Gospel rules, will be far from asserting, with a late author *, that the love of his country is a virtue purely voluntary in a Christian.
If the love of all men be required by our religion, the love of those, whom we are most able to serve, must be understood as peculiarly required. If we are to feel for strangers and enemies, we cannot but feel more strongly for those, to whom acquaintance and neighbourhood, relation and friendship, common laws and common interests, unite us. It was never from the extensiveness of their benevolence, but the narrowness of it, that men have made the public suffer: and therefore the truer Christian any one is, the truer patriot he will ever be. And especially if the equity of the civil constitution under which he lives, remarkably secures whatever is valuable to men at present; and the purity of the doctrines publicly taught, leads them the safest way to eternal bliss hereafter; he will rejoice and be thankful from the bottom of his soul, that the lot is fallen unto him in so fair a ground + : where he can sing of mercy and judgment I, and go with the multitude to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise ş. * Lord Shaftesbury,
+ Psalm xvi. 6. Psalm ci, I.
9 Psalm xlii. 4.
But, though every pious person will always consider the happiness of his country, as a very interesting part of his own, yet the degree in which he will consider it so, must greatly depend on the relation to it, in which he stands. And therefore they who are distinguished by the more important relations, whose office and business consists in being the ministers of God for good *, to numbers, to nations of their fellow-creatures at once, they must have exalted satisfaction in seeing the pleasure of the Lord prosper in their hands f. Every instance of national felicity must warm their breasts with singular consolation : above all, when they are conscious of its arising from their own rightness of mind, and vigilance of conduct: when they know they have deserved from the people under them that excellent character of David : he fed them with a faithful and true heart, and ruled them prudently with all his power I.
II. The next thing to be learnt from the text is, that the happiness, accruing to good men from the flourishing state of their country, is greatly increased by the prospect, that their own posterity will continue to flourish with it.
The desire of exerting our tenderest affections, which are the conjugal and parental, and leaving representatives of ourselves behind us, to preserve our name, inherit our substance, and carry on the designs of Providence on earth, is deeply rooted in our frame: it hath always influenced the conduct of men, in proportion as they have lived agreeably to the simplicity of nature : and they who have thought the absolute restraint of this inclination the way to higher degrees of purity and spiritual perfection, have entertained a * Rom. xiii. 4. + Is. liii. 10.
Psalm lxxviii. 73.
notion as evidently wrong, as the divine constitution of things is right. But though such imaginations are groundless, preclude the exercise of many virtues, and weaken human society: yet the indulgence of irregular liberties, however favourably their own or common practice may induce persons to think of them, produces effects far more hurtful : overturns all good order, destroys the peace of families, introduces endless confusions and distresses, causes most afflicting breaches of faith, tempts to most execrable barbarities, effaces gradually all moral principles, and begets more crimes and sorrows, than almost any one sin besides. The sacred institution of marriage therefore is of the utmost importance to the innocence and the happiness of mankind. They who avoid it, as engaging them in cares and troubles, distrust the goodness of God, who hath made every article of proper behaviour, on the whole, our present interest : and they who discourage it, as many do grievously, though not professedly, by running into needless expences and refinements, pervert for the sake of vanities and follies, the plain way, which Heaven hath marked out for public strength and private comfort.
Marriage lays the ground-work of all those kindreds and affinities, which unite us together, by so many engaging ties; and from which proceed such numerous relative duties, equally beneficial and delightful. Marriage allots to the several members of the society, distinct parts of it for objects of their peculiar concern: and their affection to these animates their zeal for the welfare of the whole. Their country seems nearer akin to them, for having persons, whom they love as themselves, interested in what befalls it: they study its future prosperity from their attachment to
those whom they shall leave behind them; and triumph beforehand in the prospect of happiness to their descendants, when they shall be no more. Indolence and selfishness would incline men, still much more powerfully than they do, to behaviour of pernicious consequence on many occasions, were they influenced by personal considerations only: but regard to their posterity enlarges their views, gives them a sympathy with distant times, and excites them to prefer without hesitation and with pleasure, the lasting benefit of others, though remote, to the greatest and dearest of their own short-lived advantages and gratifications.
Now if a likelihood, merely that their offspring shall partake in the general felicity, is able to fill the minds of men with such emotions; what transporting reflections must they have, whose descendants appear destined by the stations of their parents to be authors of that felicity in their turn and degree! How strongly must such a hope induce them to secure by good example and instruction this highest honourand blessedness to such as are to inherit their dignities ! And how warm a return of most affectionate gratitude will they merit and receive from mankind, if virtue and liberty shall not only be supported by them in the present age, but transmitted to succeeding ones, by their pious care of forming their progeny to the knowledge and the love of public good! The prospect only of childrens' children would have little joy in it, without that of peace upon Israel: without a reasonable expectation of their contributing to the true glory of the family, from which they spring, and the true happiness of the nation, over which they are to preside. But when due provision is made for this,