Billeder på siden

we shall have the double gratification, of witnessing the amendment which we desired, and of knowing that we have contributed to an effect, which was almost like the removal of a vice from ourselves, or a virtue added to our own moral character *."

V. The dissolution of friendship involves the discharge of certain duties. Should it cease in any particular case before death, we are bound, even when we have discovered the worthlessness of the object to which we had given our esteem and affection, to remain faithful to whatever trust was reposed in us while our friendship lasted. Nor is there any dispensation from this obligation, unless it be when our character is attacked by the person whose secret we keep, and when in our own defence and vindication we are forced to make a disclosure.

Should our friendship be dissolved by death, there are still duties which devolve upon us who survive. Our friend is removed from us; but his removal makes it our duty to cherish his memory, and to hope for a renewal of our friendship, where there is no more sorrow, nor pain, nor separation, nor death. "The name of our friends," as an eloquent French writer remarks, "their family, have still claims on our affection, which it would be guilt not to feel. They should live still in our heart, by the emotions which subsist there, on our memory, by our frequent remembrance of them,-in our voice, by our eulogiums,in our conduct, by our imitation of their virtues.'

Mutual confidence is never for a moment to be interrupted between friends, whether in jest or in earnest; for nothing can heal the wounds which are made

• Brown's Lectures, vol. iv. p. 341

by deceit. A friend must never be forsaken in adversity; nor for any infirmity in human nature, excepting only invincible depravity.



THE love of his country, and of its institutions, is as natural to man, as is the love of those who are endeared to him by his earliest, his most pleasing, and most permanent, associations. He impresses something of himself, of his joys and sorrows, his hopes and fears, on the objects, whether animate or inanimate, which surround his youth, or with which he holds intercourse in maturer years. Nor is it possible for him, at a more advanced period of life, to behold the house, the glen, the rocks, the woods, that “met his earliest view," without experiencing the freshness of new existence, from the vivid reflection of the images of his former self*.

It has been alleged by unbelievers, as a defect in the morality of the gospel, that it neglects to inculcate patriotism and friendship. In regard to the first of these, it seems a sufficient reply, that though an attachment to our country as such, is not expressly enjoined in the New Testament, the duties which result from the relation in which Christians stand to their rulers, are prescribed with great perspicuity, and enforced by very solemn sanctions; and if the reciprocal duties of princes and magistrates are not enjoined with equal explicitness (as could not be expected in writings where they are not addressed) the design of their appointment is defined in such a manner, as leaves them at no loss to perceive what it is they owe to the community. But where these duties are faithfully discharged by each party, the benefits derived from the social compact are so justly appreciated, and so deeply felt, that the love of country is less liable to defect than to excess. In all well-ordered polities, if we may judge from the experience of past ages, the attachment of men to their country is in danger of becoming an absorbing principle, inducing not merely a forget

The house of our earlier years, the field over which we walked with a friend, the mountain's brow which we have climbed with those we love, the tree whose branches shaded us from the sun, the spot on which we heard a parent pronounce his parting blessing,— are objects which can never afterwards be witnessed without emotion. It is to the influence which, in consequence of the principle of association, such objects and scenes have on the human mind, that I chiefly ascribe the desire which all who have been called away to other climes, feel sometime to revisit their native land.

In all my wand'rings round this world of care,
In all my griefs, and God has given my share,-
I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
Amidst these humble bowers to lay me down;—
And as a hare whom hounds and horns pursue,
Pants to the place from whence at first he flew,—
I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
Here to return,-and die at home at last.

We are also sensibly affected by scenes that have been distinguished by the residence of persons whose fulness of private interest, but of the immutable claims of humanity and justice. In the most virtuous times of the Roman republic, their country was the idol, at whose shrine her greatest patriots were at all times prepared to offer whole hecatombs of human victims: the interest of other nations were no further regarded, than as they could be rendered subservient to the gratification of her ambition; and mankind at large were considered as possessing no rights, but such as might with the utmost propriety be merged in that devouring vortex. With all their talents and their grandeur, they were unprincipled oppressors, leagued in a determined conspiracy against the liberty and independence of mankind. In the eyes of an enlightened philanthropist, patriotism, pampered to such an excess, loses the name of virtue; it is the bond and cement of a guilty confederation. It was worthy of the wisdom of our great legislator to decline the express inculcation of a principle so liable to degenerate into excess, and to content himself with prescribing the virtues which are sure to develop it, as far as is consistent with the dictates of universal benevolence. (A Sermon occasioned by the death of the Rev. John Ryland, D.D., by Robert Hall, M.A.)

memory we love and admire. "Movemur enim, nescio quo pacto, locis ipsis, in quibus eorum, quos diligimus, aut admiramur adsunt vestigia.” "The scenes themselves may be little beautiful; but the delight with which we recollect the traces of their lives, blends itself insensibly with the emotions which the scenery excites; and the admiration which these recollections afford, seems to give a kind of sanctity to the place where they dwelt, and converts every thing into beauty which appears to have been connected with them."

From such principles of human nature arises the love of our native land, its inhabitants and institutions; and when this love is pure and fervent, and exercised in consistency with a due respect to the rights of all mankind, it is the virtue of patriotism. If, as has been shewn, it be the will of God, that our benevolence should first and chiefly be expressed to those in our vicinity, to those who are connected with us in a family relation, and by the ties of kindred, neighbourhood, and union of interest, as living under the same government, the duty of patriotism is clearly established. We can cherish this regard to our country compatibly with the claims of all men to our sympathy and benevolence; and we are giving the best proofs of our sincerity in praying for the temporal and eternal happiness of the whole human race, by zealously discharging the duties connected with the sphere in which we move.

It cannot be alleged that christianity does not give direct countenance both by example and by precept to the virtue of patriotism. Did not its Divine Founder exemplify this virtue, by coming first to his own; in the meekness and patience with which, notwith

standing their contempt and opposition, he persevered in going about to do them good; in the grief with which he wept over the impending destruction of Jerusalem; and in the commission which he gave his apostles to make the first offer of salvation to the inhabitants of that devoted city.

The influence and genius of christianity are directly productive of public spirit and social virtue. If it lead all who sincerely embrace it to the practice of a pure and elevated morality in private, there can be no doubt of its tendency to cherish the kindlier feelings of the heart, and of its inclining them to do good unto all men, as they have opportunity. The astonishing facts on which it is founded, cannot be credited without producing in the mind a lively sympathy with the condition of others; and they bring to operate upon us so many and such powerful motives, not merely to do the things that are just, but to do the things that are generous, as can only be resisted by those who harden themselves against their authority and influence. How numerous are the arguments

employed by the writers of the New Testament to induce us to be kind and tender-hearted towards all men, to contribute to the relief of their necessities, to sympathize with them in their afflictions, and to take a friendly interest in their prosperity! How fully did they illustrate their exhortations in the disinterestedness of their own conduct, in their submission to labour and peril, and in that relinquishment of ease and life, which has constituted them the benefactors of distant ages and generations!

It were, indeed, singular, if a religion which is

« ForrigeFortsæt »