« السابقةمتابعة »
be often the ruin of both; and that the paternal care of Heaven cannot be more mercifully shewn in either case, than in applying those medicines and correctives which may restore the soundness of their moral constitution. The corrections of God, when applied to Nations, to which the solemnity of this day directs us to confine our attention, may be productive of the highest advantage in two views,— as they tend to produce Patriotism and Religion. To these considerations, I propose first to lead your thoughts, and shall then enter into such farther reflections as the occasion of our present meeting naturally suggests.
First, then, circumstances of distress and difficulty have a tendency to produce Patriotism in a nation. When everything prospers; when councils at home and wars abroad are fully successful; when Commerce pours in her trea
sures, and men may enjoy their riches in repose, without the apprehension of foreign violence and rapine;—when a nation is in this condition, how often does it happen, that the internal ties which unite it are on the point of being dissolved; that individuals become occupied
solely with the increase of their selfish gratifications; and that the name of their Country becomes a vain and empty sound! It is then that Governors too often pursue the dictates of private ambition, without regard to the happiness of the people, and that the People are apt to forget the principles of their allegiance and their duty, amid enterprises of licentiousness and delusion.
Now, in this situation, should circumstances of imminent peril arise, the necessity for cordial love and harmony,' throughout the whole political system, will immediately be apparent. The Gover
nors will feel, that, if they are the heads, the People are the hands. The people will become satisfied that counsel and prudence are necessary for their direction, and distrusting ignorant and factious leaders, they will look up with reverence to the constituted authorities of the state, and submit with confidence to the wisdom of their regulations. A general spirit of union will begin to prevail,-private interests will ap→ pear inconsiderable, and every man will be animated with the desire of lending his share of assistance to the public cause. All will come to perceive what is the true nature of human society,that distinctions must ever subsist,but, that there is a common good in which the meanest individual participates, and which it is of infinitely greater moment for him to secure, than to attain the proudest pre-eminence of rank or fortune. The
civil rights to which he has been born, the sacred charities of Home,-the innumerable ties and advantages of social life;-such are the stakes which every man has in the preservation of his country, but which few feel as they ought, till their country is in danger.
And in that sacred hour of peril, feelings, too, which, at other times, might appear romantic, acquire the steadiness and consistency of principle and truth, and animate the hearts of all with the determined purpose to give up everything that is dearest to them as men, for the preservation of their land and liberties. They then look with apprehension even on the tombs of their Fathers; they fear lest the dust of the Dead should be disturbed; and they even imagine that unconscious Nature itself demands protection from the spoiler. What, at other times, might pass for reason and Philosophy, is, on these occa
sions, looked upon with disdain, and every generous breast burns with a zeal and fervour, which it feels to be virtue, without inquiring why it is so.
Such, then, is the fire of patriotism, which circumstances of imminent hazard kindle in the souls of a people who are not utterly lost to a sense of duty. I proceed, secondly, to shew that the Religion of a nation is greatly promoted and improved by the same means. Religion, it is to be feared, is not often hearty and sincere in individuals; it still less frequently forms the characteristic of a nation. The perversions of religion are indeed common. Some nations are superstitious, others fanatical and enthusias tic, dividing themselves into sects about unimportant questions, and carrying all the pitiful rancour of human passions into the hallowed ground of Divine truth. But it is not often that we meet