have nourished;-and to lend to the general welfare, every thing which has constituted their own. Even that sex, whose first honour is in the tenderness of their nature, are now called to forget or to disavow it. They are called to hide every tear, and stifle every apprehension ;-to assume that sedate and matron firmness which becomes the wives and daughters of freemen; and by their voice (ever so powerful to the brave) to invigorate the spirit of national defence, and anticipate the hour of national glory.

Such, my brethren, are the hardships to which they are exposed, who are yet at the greatest distance from the actual scene of war; and such the sacrifices which this eventful season demands of all of us, from the throne to the cottage. Yet, ere the awful hour of conflict begins,-while the winds of winter are ushering in that mightier storm which is to convulse or remedy mankind,-let us, in this day of meditation, look to the end of these things. Let us weigh well what may be those designs of Providence, of which we are now called to be the agents and instruments; let us consider what it is that our patience of evil is now to defend or preserve; and what are the motives which summon us, in the midst of peril and alarm, to have the "firm possession of our souls."

1. We are summoned, in the first place, to the defence of our country, to preserve the land which has given us birth, and which contains every thing

for which we live. Whatever may be the evils or sufferings of war, they have yet this fortunate effect, that they rekindle that love of our country, which the safety of prosperity, and the habits of private pursuit, are so apt to relax or to impair. But, my brethren, if this appeal has its influence even over the savage and the slave,-in no hour in the history of social life,-in no nation which has ever risen among mankind,-did that name ever summon before man, so many dread obligations as it now does before us, in this hour, and in this country. We have to defend a land, unhabituated to shame, and hitherto unknown to conquest ;-we have to defend the honours of ancient days, and the splendour of present greatness;-we have to defend the opulence which the industry of our fathers has gained, and the freedom which their blood has purchased;—we have to defend that constitution which has poured the prosperities of nature over a barren land, and given to our northern isle a splendour unknown to the regions of the sun. We have to defend that faith in which our infancy was baptized, and in which we pray our dying hours may close; which was the "strength of our "fathers, and of the old time before them," and which has conducted the wise and the virtuous who have preceded us, to glories beyond the limits of mortality.

2. We are summoned, in the next place, my brethren, even to a nobler duty; and, in the mighty

designs of Providence, the same valour which is called to defend our land, is the great means by which we can relieve the sufferings of the world around us. Amid that wreck which we have witnessed of social welfare-amid the dethronement of kings, and the subjugation of kingdoms,—amid the trembling neutrality of some, and the silent servility of others,-this country alone hath remained independent and undismayed,—and it is upon the valour of our arms, that Europe now reposes its last hope of returning liberty, and restored honour. Among the nations which surround us, whom either the force of the enemy has subdued, or their power intimidated, there is not one virtuous bosom that does not throb for our success, -the prayers of millions will follow our banners into the field, and the arm of the soldier will be blessed by innumerable voices, which can never reach his ear. If we fail,-if the ancient prowess and intrepidity of our people is gone,-there is then a long close to all the hopes and all the honours of humanity; over the fairest portion of the civilized earth, the tide of military despotism will roll, and bury, in its sanguinary flood, alike the monuments of former greatness, and the promises of future glory. But, if we prevail; if the hearts of our people are exalted to the sublimity of the contest; the mighty spell which has enthralled the world will be broken,-the spirit of nature and of liberty will rekindle ;-and the same blow which

prostrates the enemy of our land, will burst the fetters of nations, and set free the energies of an injured world.

The historian of future times, when he meditates on the affairs of men, will select for his fairest theme the record of our country; and he will say, Such is the glory of nations, when it is founded on virtue; when they scorn the vulgar “devices of "the human heart," and follow only the "counsel "of the Lord;" when they act from the high ambition of being the ministers of that "Ancient of "Days," whose "judgment is set" in nature, and before whom the "books of the Universe are open."

8. There is yet, my brethren, in such hours, a greater consideration. If there be something inexpressibly animating in seeing our country as the instrument of Heaven in the restoration of happiness to mankind; if to us be given the sublime charge, of at once defending our own land, and guiding the destinies of human nature,there is something also equally solemn in the remembrance of the duties which so high a commission involves. And there is an instinct which must teach us all, that of our conduct in these trying hours we are finally to render an account. It is this exalted prospect which ought ever to be present to us, in the seasons of difficulty and alarm. It is now, in the midst of wars, and the desolation of nations, that we ought to fortify our hearts at the shrine of religion. It is now that

we are to weigh the duties which are demanded of us by Heaven and earth; and to consider whether, in that last day, we are to appear as cowards to our country and our faith, and as purchasing an inglorious safety, by the sacrifice of every duty, and every honour of man,-or as the friends of order, of liberty, and of religion, and allied to those glorious spirits who have been the servants of God, and the benefactors of mankind. Over the conflict which is to ensue, let it never be forgotten, that greater eyes than those of man will be present; and let every man that draws the sword of defence remember, that he is not only defending the liberties of his country, but the lays of his God.

Let, then, the young and the brave of our people go forth, with hearts inaccessible to fear, and undoubting of their cause. Let them look back into time, and see the shades of their ancestors rising before them, and exhorting them to the combat. Let them look around them and see a subjugated world the witnesses of their contest, and the partners in their success. Let them look forward into futurity, and see posterity prostrated before them, and all the honours and happiness of man dependent upon the firmness of their hearts, and the vigour of their arms. Yes! let them go forth, and pour around our isle a living barrier to injustice and ambition; and, when that tide of anarchy which has overflowed the world rolls its

« VorigeDoorgaan »