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THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER'S DUTY, &e.
DELIVERED, MAY 1, 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.
IN my last Sermon from this text, I considered the Christian Soldier's character and duty, as professing Himself "the Servant of the living God;" baptized into the faith of Jesus Christ, and his blessed Gospel. I shall only add, on this Head, what has been partly noticed before; viz.-That, besides Religious Motives, the soldier of a Free Country, (whatever may be its form of government) has this further consideration, of a Temporal nature to stimulate and support him in the discharge of his duty, viz.-That he cannot be called forth to wade through seas of blood, to sate the ambition of tyrannical Rulers; but that the Call of our Soldiery is-the Call of Justice, the Call of Glory and Virtue; that they are armed by the Laws, and sent forth, not to oppress and overturn the Rights of Mankind, but to protect and defend them against lawless invaders, and self-licensed robbers; that the defence and support of the best government, and purest system of Religion and Liberty in the world, are the sublime and animating cause,
which only our Soldiery can be called to unsheath the Sword; and that, confiding in the long tried native magnanimity and valour of our fleets and armies, the Mechanic plies the tool of industry, and the Peasant smiles at his daily labour.
Thus protected and defended, seldom through a course of many Generations, have the most powerful of their neighbours dared to attack the country of our fathers, and never with impunity; so that a few islands, of inconsiderable extent, have been raised up, by the Providence of God, and the matchless Valour and Heroism of their own Natives, to be the glory of the world, the Arbiters of Nations, the avengers of Justice, the protectors of the Oppressed, and the scourge of Tyrants throughout the earth.
That your souls might glow with a divine ardour and enthusiasm, in this exalted cause of God and your country; in some of my former Sermons, I have called your thoughts back to those memorable scenes, in which a British Soldiery, in one well-fought foreign field, have gained an immortality of glory; and returning home, amidst the blessings of thousands, have thereby secured peace to their country, through many succeeding years.
I can scarcely figure to myself a more noble spectacle than a body of men, of undaunted resolution, and confessed valour, who (having thus Saved their country, in the hour of extremest danger) mix again with their fellow-citizens, in all the Duties and Charities of private life; regular and sober in their conversation and conduct; having the Fear of God, before their eyes, and not ashamed to testify it to the whole
world, by a serious, solemn, and conscientious attendance, on the stated occasions of public Worship, and Administration of the sacred Ordinance of Religion, according to Christ's holy appointment and commandment.
Great is the praise due to such a conduct as this; and it would be injustice, not to acknowledge before you, that you have received great praise from the inhabitants of this city; who have thought it a most delightful and edifying sight, to behold your decent and orderly manner of coming to the place of God's worship here; and your devout behaviour during the time of our being assembled together, in Prayer and Praise to our Almighty Creator. Oh! that it may be a means of establishing firmly in your hearts, that Love of God, and Dependence upon Him, which were the subjects of my last Sermon before you.
I come now more immediately to consider the Christian Soldier's duty, and the Dignity of his calling, as the enrolled "Servant of a King," who is the beloved Ruler of a Free and great People, in sundry kingdoms, and subordinate settlements, in various parts of the globe.
And let me observe first, "That there is a solemn and special Contract, between your King and you, There are, on your part, certain services to be done; and I have proved them to be honourable, and useful to your country. Likewise, on the part of your King, as Steward for the public, there are certain wages to be paid. Those wages are a decent support, and with frugality may be a comfortable one. The British government has mercy in its whole
nature, and all its appointments are liberal. The wages of a private soldier are almost equal to those of the inferior officers in many other countries. They are in general paid with much honour and regularity, and the text enjoins contentment therewith, and constant readiness to discharge the duties for which they are paid.
The nature of the Soldier's contract, and the terms of his enlistment, also imply a faithful application of his wages to the uses for which they are paid. They are not to be spent in riot and intemperance, which weaken the body and subject it to many diseases; which wholly renders a man unfit for the great calls of duty. And a soldier might as well be found a deserter from his post, as found in his ranks, or on watch, in a condition wherein he is incapable to act the man, or to perform the service assigned him. In short, every soldier is solemnly bound to give his health, strength and service to his king, for the wages he receives. To squander those wages then in destroying that very health and strength which they are given to support, is a most flagrant breach of all faith and honour. Nay desertion itself is scarce a greater crime, since, as has been observed, it makes no difference to the public, whether a man has deserted his post, or is found asleep on it, or in a condition wholly unfit for the duties of it. Besides all this, the loss of precious time, the offence given to God, the broils, quarrels, and punishments in which intemperance too commonly ends, are surely more than enough to alarm any thoughtful person
against ever suffering himself to be thus basely unmanned, and his reason dethroned by his vices.
He then is the true soldier, and faithful steward of his wages, who applies them to keep himself fit for the service he owes to his king. Who lays them out with frugality and care in preserving his body. healthful, neat and clean; and his mind upright, his conscience clear, and all his powers in full vigour. Such is worthy of all commendation, and will probably meet with reward and preferment in this world; but most certainly in that which is to come.
One golden rule, which ought to be written in capitals on the coat of every soldier is-never to run in Debt, and always to live rather within than above his Pay, especially in time of peace, and in stated quarters. For if every day, or week, is not able to clear itself, the next will be less and less able, till at last ruin and disgrace are the consequence. The prudent soldier will, on such occasions, save something for the accidents of sickness, for relief to his distressed Brethren, for works of piety and charity, within his regiment; such as the education of orphans, and many like purposes. He will also make some provision and saving for the expense of a March, or other extraordinary Services.
All these things, in the management of a soldier's Pay or Wages, come within the solemn duty he owes to his king; and for keeping his body in vigour, and his mind clear and always prepared for action.
The next thing to be mentioned is courage and magnanimity, in the day of trial; which point I shall handle fully, as nothing is more commonly mistaken,