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worthy for whom thou shouldst do this, for he loves eth our nation, and hath built us a synagogue."
As he had, for some time, dwelt in Judea, had embraced the religion of the country, and probably intended here to spend the rest of his days, he might now consider this as his own country. His love to the nation, with which he was connected, the elders urged as an evidence of his personal worth, and as a reason why they hoped Jesus would grant the favour requested. Jesus accordingly went and healed the servant. And, not only on account of the centurion's love to the nation, but also in regard to that benevolence which he expressed for a servant, the humility with which he made his appli-, cation, the strength of his faith, and the just reasoning by which he supported it, Jesus in the presence of the people, gave him this high commendation; "I have not found so great faith ; no, not in Israel.”
The encomiums bestowed on this centurion, may lead us to consider the nature, and fruits of love to our country.
This is the same thing as love to our neighbour, with only such circumstantial differences, as arise from the different relations of the object.
Love to our neighbour the apostle has explained, “Owe no man any thing," says he, “but to love one another; for he who loveth another, hath fulfill. ed the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit a. dultery ; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal ; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet: And, if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, as thyself. Love worketh' no ill to his neighbour ; therefore love is tlic fulfilling of the law."
Love to our country is this love to our neighbour, extended on the national scale, and applied to the
national interest. It is a desire of the general hapo piness, and a disposition to promote it according to our rank and station in society.
This love, however, will not stop at the bounds of our country ; it will pass over, and extend its good wishes to the whole human race. It would rejoice to see, not one country only, but the world of mankind, in a state of prosperity and happiness.
As every man is charged with the immediate care of himself and his family, so he naturally feels more sensibly for himself and them, than for mankind at large. But while selflove prompts him to seek his own interest, and natural affection excites him to consult the interest of his particular friends, benevolence, operating in a just degree, will restrain him from pursuing his own interest, or that of bisi friends, in ways injurious to the rights of oth
A regard to our country is strengthened by our conriection with it. “For our brethren and companions' sake, we say, Peace be within her.” Selflove and benevolence are here combined. They cooperate and assist each other. But if we regard our country only for our own sake, this is mere selfishness, a principle which will excite us to seek our country's good, or hurt, according as we ima. gine, the one, or the other will best promote our own separate and personal interest.
Though we are not required to love another more than ourselves; yet we are required so to love all men, as to injure none for the sake of ourselves; but even to sacrifice our particular interest for the greater good of a number; not seeking our own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved.
He who loves another with a pure heart, wishes all men happy. As he will not seek his own interest at the expense of his neighbours; or the interest
of his friends at the expense of his country ; so neither will he attempt or desire to raise the glory, or extend the bounds of his country by oppressing or exterminating other nations, who have the same right, with himself, to existence, liberty and happiness,
War is always unlawful except in cases of necessary selfdefence. Whenever its object is merely wealth, or glory, or the extension of territory, it is the most horrid of all crimes; for every crime is involved in it, and every calamity produced by it.
If a nation, already possessed of more territory than they can occupy, should wantonly attempt to dispossess other nations, by spreading among them promiscuous destruction, whatever pretensions they may make of love to their own country, they are but the robbers and murderers of their follow creatures; and humanity will weep at their success. The boasted patriotism of the ancient Romans was only pride, ambition and avarice; and their love to their country, was cruelty to the human race.
These remarks may be sufficient to illustrate the general principle. We will now attend to its operations.
1. If we love our country, we shall be affected with her dangers and calamities.
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem," says the Psalmist ; “ let my right hand forget her cunning: IfI do not remember thee; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.” As all publick calamities are the consequences of prevailing wickedness, love to our country will lament, not only the calamities themselves, but especially the vices, which operate to the introduction of them. “ If ye will not hear,' says the prophet to the impenitent Jews,“ my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes shall run down with tears."
2. This principle will restrain us from injuring, and prompt us to serve our country, “Love works
By love we serve one another." All vice and immorality tend to the common misery. In proportion as iniquity abounds, the publick prosperity is endangered. Consequently every vicious manis bringing evil on his country. if his vices do not affect the general happiness immediately, yet they may do it remotely, by corrupting the manners of others. No man is so inconsiderable, but that, by an evil example, he may de stroy much good. The friend of his country will, on a principle of love, abstain from every species of vice and impiety.
And on the other hand, he will practise every social virtue.
If he is called to a publick station, he will be faithful there, remembering, that he is exalted, not for himself, but for others; that his country has a demand upon him, which he is bound to pay; that she is not a servant to him, but he is a servant to her; that he is vested with authority, not to be ministered unto, but to minister.
If he acts in a private station, he will be careful to fill his humble sphere. He will live in all godliness and honesty ; cheerfully bear his part of public burdens; contribute to the support of reasonable government ; yield obedience to just and good-laws; give his voice for the promotion of such men as he believes are qualified, by their virtues and abilities, to lead in society; and will use his influence for the general encouragement of religion.
As piety is the foundation of social virtue, he will
pay due reverence to those sacred institutions, which are the means of bringing men to the knowledge of God and preserving a sense of his supreme government. In this view, he will honor the sabbath, and the ordinarices of divine worship, know
ing them to be the instituted means of piety toward God, and of righteousness and benevolence to men. This leads me to observe,
3, A lover of his country has an affection for the church of God, and a concern to promote its credit and interest.
The centurion shewed his love to the nation by building a synagogue. It cannot be doubted, that he attended at the synagogue too. He was a friend to religion, thus he shewed himself a friend to the nation. David says, “ Because of the house of the Lord, I will seek thy good.” He regarded his own country above all others, because the church of God was there. In this appeared Moses's patriotism. “He chose rather to suffer affliction with the
people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” He esteemed the reproach of Christ, greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.”
Christ is head over all things for the church. He has promised to preserve her against all the assaults of her enemies. He orders the dispensations of his providence in reference to her good; for her reformation, when she is corrupt ; for her security, when she reforms. " As many as I love,” says he, “I rebuke and chasten : Be zealous therefore and repent.” A people so far degenerated, as to despise the means of reformation, soon lose their spiritual privileges, and, with them, their national security.
The church of God among a people, as long as she maintains her purity, is their strongest bulwark.
Beautiful for situation is mount Zion, the joy of the whole earth. God is known in her palaces for a refuge.” But when she so far conforms to the manners of the world, as to cease to be a church of God, she falls under that awful threatening, “ You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.". VOL. II.