23 SEPTEMBER (PREACHED 22 SEPTEMBER 1782)
A claim on our gratitude
‘Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.’ Judges 5:18
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: 2 Corinthians 1:3–11
As it respects us, who under God owe our safety to the exertions of those who make jeopardy of their lives for us, I address your sensibility—perhaps you will allow me to say, your gratitude. Perhaps what is entreated of you as a favour might be justly claimed as a debt. In a state of war, at home we enjoy hitherto the same—the security, the blessings—as in a time of profound peace. We read indeed of abounding desolations and calamities which have overwhelmed multitudes of our fellow creatures, but we only hear of them, and therefore, alas, are too little affected by them, and therefore perhaps too faintly consider how much we are indebted to the bravery and the sufferings of those who hazard their lives for us.
Of the hardships and dangers peculiar to what we call the military line, I am no competent judge; of those to which our seamen in the King’s service are exposed, I know something more than I could have learnt merely from description. Both the one and the other are called to wake when we sleep, to hunger and thirst while we live in plenty, are separated from their families, relatives and homes, many of them to return no more. They endure hardships of which few of us can properly conceive, from the changes of climates and seasons, and such like; for us they receive wounds not to be healed without much pain and length of time, and often wounds which admit no cure. When a war is ended, how many do we see deeply scarred or grievously marred, and see them perhaps reduced to beg their bread, being disabled from procuring it by honest industry. But a large number never return to tell their mournful tale. We only hear of the event from the cries and distresses of their widows and orphans. Have not those who thus venture for us, a claim upon our sensibility and gratitude? All I ask for them is that they may be furnished.
While Joshua led the armed bands
The armed bands had quickly failed,
Of Israel forth to war;
And perished in the fight;
Moses apart with lifted hands
If Moses’ prayer had not prevailed
Engaged in humble prayer.
To put the foes to flight.
SERMON: JUDGES 5:18 [2/4] [FOR THE BIBLE SOCIETY AT ALDGATE]