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religion. The patriotism that has no regard to this cause, and no aim at its promotion, is spurious ; because the real and permanent well-being of mankind is essentially connected with it. It must have religion for its basis, its rule, and its great and ultimate end.
Here I cannot but remark, that the philosophic scepticism of modern times is far more barren of disinterested and public virtue, and more fruitful of the vices that are hostile to social happiness, than any form of false religion, or than all the forms of false religion combined. Paganism presented some standard of right and wrong, however' defective and vicious; if it did not discover to man the immortality that awaits him, it made no effort to remove the apprehensions of a future state of retribution; but infidelity, after attempting to prove that there is no God, and that we are accountable to no higher powers than those which are visible, aims at shrouding in everlasting night all that lies beyond the grave. What is there in this to check the selfishness of the human heart, or that can lead to the achievement of any thing great, and generous, and heroic? What would be the state of that society in which such a system became generally prevalent ?
No man is deserving of the entire confidence of his country, who does not appear to be influenced by the fear of God; because there is the greatest probability that his real motives are far different from those which are avowed; and because he will employ whatever power he may obtain in the encouragement of selfish, ambitious, or profligate persons. A professed regard to the interests of religion and virtue is the least we can demand from any man, in whatever rank or station he may be placed, who expresses a concern for the weal of the community, and who assumes the character of a reformer or benefactor. He may declaim loudly against abuses, and suggest what he may call improvements, but his patriotism is not pure, nor to be relied on, if he shews no disposition to make the measures which he would adopt subserve the advancement of undefiled religion. He may, without such dispositions, be made the instrument of signal good to his country, by Him who can overrule all things for the promotion of his own beneficent designs; but this does not divest him of the character of a mere selfish politician, destitute of true benevolence and patriotism.
To these remarks I have only to add,
V. That every man who aims sincerely at promoting the good of his country and of mankind has ample ground of encouragement to persevere in his labours. He may, as has been noticed, meet with opposition and calumny from the timid, the selfish, the seditious, and unprincipled ; but he may, notwithstanding, by his patriotic exertions, be the instrument of incalculable good to his country. If he be justly reckoned a benefactor to his nation, who opens new markets to the products of its industry, and who increases the sources of its wealth, has not he an equal claim to the same character, whose disinterested and upright example is the source of virtue to all around him, and who, by a single improvement in the laws, or the institutions, civil, religious, or literary, of his native land, enlarges the happiness of his people to distant generations? If the amendment of a single legislative enactment, if the redress of a single politi
may, in its ultimate effects, be the producer of all which we admire in the thousand acts of individual patriotism,—the opener of fields of industry,—the diffuser of commerce,—the embellisher of a land,—the enlightener and blesser of those who inhabit it,”—what encouragement has every man whom Providence has placed in influential situations to be steadfast and unmoveable in his exertions for the public good. We may with propriety address to them the language of the Apostle,
“ Be not weary in well doing ; for in due time reap,
Every true patriot will find encouragement from the review of past ages. He will remark that a single individual has often been the instrument, even when surrounded by false friends, and active and inveterate enemies, of saving his country from impending ruin. He will learn from the annals of almost every nation what one pure patriot may effect; and especially may he learn from the annals of our own, what every christian patriot may, by the blessing of Heaven, hope to attain. It may not be appropriate, perhaps, to allude to Howard, because a nation presented too narrow a sphere for his philanthropy; he devoted himself to the alleviation of human sufferings over the globe. But I may refer to President Forbes, who, when the liberties and the religion of his country were in danger, succeeded, almost unaided and alone, by his talents and his fortune, in their preservation; and who afterwards, with a humanity worthy of his principles, exerted the influence of his office and repu
tation, in mitigating the punishment of the misguided men who had opposed themselves to the authority of the government.
ON DILIGENCE IN OUR PROPER CALLING.
This duty may be placed either under the head of justice or of benevolence, according to the particular light in which we view it. It is enjoined in relation to both by the Apostle Paul. In the following passage he connects it with justice, or that regard which is due from us to the rights of others; “ We beseech you, brethren, that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you: that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing*.” He elsewhere enforces the prac
* tice of the same duty from a principle of benevolence : “ Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth t.”
I shall have occasion, in a subsequent part of this work, to notice the evils of idleness. In the mean time, I remark, that christian benevolence, or a true regard to the happiness of others, will lead us to practice the duty of being quiet, and of diligently attending to our proper business. So true is this
+ Ephes. iv. 28.
# 1 Thess. iii. 11.
observation, and so important a part of that character which is formed by the influences of the christian religion, is industry in our proper calling, that wherever it has been enjoyed unmingled with superstition, there have been growing improvement and prosperity.
I am aware that industry, like any other active principle, consists chiefly in habit; and that where this habit has not been formed in early life, it may not be easy to attain it afterwards. It was probably for this reason that the Apostle began his exhortation to diligence in business with the word, Study: imply. ing, doubtless, a reluctance to be overcome in steadily practising the duty enjoined. Does not the same remark, however, hold true in regard to many other virtues which we are commanded to cherish? It is not without difficulty that the intemperate man becomes sober, the fretful patient, the proud humble, and the implacable kind and merciful; yet we know that our religion disowns for its disciples the intemperate, the proud, and the implacable; and that it assures us that such persons cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
If the habit of diligence in business were not, in some cases, of more difficult attainment than the contrary, there would, in such cases, be nothing virtuous in industry; but so much stress does the New Testament lay on the active fulfilment of the duties of our vocation, that it refers the authority which enjoins it to the will of God. Its precepts on this head are applicable, I conceive, to us all, whether employed in manual or in mental labour; and we are acting not less against the spirit than the explicit declarations of