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founded on mercy, which breathes good-will to man, and which was at first promulgated by persons who devoted themselves to the good of mankind, had not been productive of a greater measure of public and social virtue than has ever existed where its influence and authority are unknown. It has often had its patriots, who endeavoured to exalt their country, not on the subjugation and distresses of neighbouring nations, but by promoting the happiness of their own; and who submitted to all the privations and sufferings that tyranny could inflict, that they might enjoy and transmit to their offspring the choicest privilege of freedom,—the privilege of worshipping God with an unfettered conscience. Even Mr. Hume allows that to certain individuals who were deeply imbued with the spirit of christianity, and who were animated by views, large, generous, and noble, the nation owes its liberty; perhaps its learning, its industry, commerce, and naval power.
There are deeds of patriotism connected with the modern history of our own country, which are standing memorials of the effect of christian benevolence on public virtue and happiness. There is an act of legislative justice to injured Africa, in abolishing the infamous traffic in human beings, which I hesitate not to ascribe to the growing influence of this principle in directing public opinion. The flow of beneficence proceeding from this divine source has scarcely left any means untried for meliorating the condition of the poor; it has erected asylums for almost every form of human misery, and for all the children of the needy ; it has extended itself to the abodes of guilt
and crime, and has attempted to put within the reach of the prisoner, all the comforts that are compatible with the claims of justice; and it has even reached the inferior animals, by procuring for them gentler treatment, and constituting them objects of legal protection. When I consider that this benevolence has been exercised in the midst of great luxury on the one hand, and under the pressure of extraordinary public burdens on the other; and that it receives in its embrace all whom it has the power of benefitting, without distinction of nation or of colour, I am forcibly impressed with the belief of the profitableness of christianity for “the life that now is, as well as for that which is to come.”
It has often been observed, that even among the civilized nations of antiquity, where luxury had erected her most costly edifices, and where we might have supposed the refinements of taste and of science would have improved the condition of the more helpless branches of the community, there is no evidence that there existed one charitable institution. There was nothing in heathenism that could suggest to the mind the model of pure and elevated patriotism, far less that could cherish the kindly and generous affections of human nature ; and with deities subject to all the vices which a polluted imagination might ascribe to them, and uninformed as to the future destinies of man, how could they be otherwise than depraved in themselves, and unconcerned with regard to the happiness or sufferings of others ? While all above and beyond them was hid in darkness, they had no scale to measure the distance that intervened between themselves and the beasts that perish ; they had no surer guides than the lights of reason to point out to them that immortality which raises to a sublime importance the meanest individual of the species; they wanted all the powerful motives to beneficence which are combined with the redemption of the cross; and being left to the feebleness of their own efforts, they have illustrated, on an extended scale, the hardness and selfishness of the human heart, when unsanctified by the influences of revelation. In their patriotism, accordingly, they had little regard to the rights and happiness of any other nation but their own.
The patriotic spirit ought to be the spirit of all; and it may be as pure and as fervid in the breast of a peasant, as in that of a prince. To love his country with a generous, disinterested affection is the duty of man, whatever be his rank or station in society. In reference to this, no man should feel at liberty to live to himself, or to die to himself. The duty, however, which he owes to his country, will vary with the circumstances in which he is placed, and the times in which he lives. But in every case a patriot is distinguished by a generous disinterestedness,-incorruptible integrity,—undaunted firmness,--and a zealous concern for the advancement of the cause of virtue, learning, and religion.
I. He is characterized by a generous disinterestedness. His benevolence is pure and enlarged: he attaches a due value to his own interests; but he regards them as subordinate to those of his country and of the public. He can sacrifice, and when duty calls, does sacrifice, his honour, emolument, ease, and repu:
tation, for the purpose of benefitting his native land, and of securing, or of gaining blessings to his country
There have been patriots in the British parliament, who have receded from their own undoubted rights, who have forborne to urge any particular claims of their own, at a time when they were suffering for conscience' sake, that they might secure the peace and prosperity of their country. Such unequivocal disinterestedness confers dignity on human nature, and claims our admiration. It is only in proportion as it influences our public conduct, in our attempts to promote the good of our country, that we are in truth patriots.
II. A patriot is distinguished by incorruptible integrity. Without this his affected zeal for the public good is but base hypocrisy: it is only the artful
pursuit of place and power, without the principle and the character by which they are merited. But possessing integrity, he will seek the noblest ends by the best means; and will neither do evil himself, nor counte. nance the doing of it in others, even though it should appear to be conducive to the prosperity of his country By no power, by no interest, by no temptation will he be awed or allured into a compliance with measures of iniquity ; but will bear his testimony against them by his voice, by his influence, and by his conduct. Acting in obedience to the authority of conscience and of God, he will not shrink from any duty of this nature, when called to its performance; and however painful to himself, he will risk the offending of persons of the highest rank, and the most powerful
connexions, rather than connive at the infliction of an injury on his country. III. A patriot is characterized by undaunted firm
This qualification is necessary to him who would confer any great good on others. It has rarely, perhaps never, happened that undoubted patriots had not to struggle with much opposition and discouragement, and sometimes with danger. They have had to contend against the indolence and indifference of some, and the selfish and interested views of others; and could they be deterred by contempt and ridicule, or by any personal fears, they would, in the great majority of cases, have soon relinquished their efforts for the good of their country. But it is the tendency of disinterested and enlarged benevolence to raise the mind above considerations of personal inconvenience and hazard; and to stimulate to steadfast and unmoveable exertions in advancing the interests of the community. Fearless in the midst of perils, undaunted, though surrounded by the worldly-minded and the unprincipled, he is not “terrified even into a momentary dereliction of his purpose, nor into a transient coldness in the pursuit of his object.”
His is the firmness of principle, of self-denial, of a willingness to submit to privations, and to endure hardships, to ensure the safety, the honour, and the prosperity of his native land. It is the firmness of virtue, sustained by trust in God, and a mind conscious of its own rectitude.
IV. The patriot is distinguished by a zealous concern for advancing the cause of learning, virtue, and