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citizens, organizers, administrators, rulers; they could consolidate and keep, by statesmanship, what they had won by the sword.
There is another instance of an empire almost as vast, though far less famous, which has lasted, I suppose, almost twice as long as that of Rome, the Chinese Empire. Can any account be given of this longevity in states ? Is there any common factor in the constitution of the Roman and the Chinese people which will account for it? I believe there is. It is that which
by Moses to the Children of Israel as a remedy against decay in their commonwealth,—“that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, Honour thy father and thy mother."
Honour, obedience, discipline—this is the secret of the stability of the Roman Empire. To what an extent this principle was pushed, we may gather from the fact that a father had the power of putting his son to death, -a power seldom used, but there : that he was possessor, all his lifetime, of all the property that son might acquire : that he had power over the wife that son might marry, over the children that son might beget. It tremendous authority to wield; but, mark you, it was tolerated, nay, loyally yielded to by Roman sons for centuries : and the habit of mind it begot in the Roman citizen built the state up.
As men were in the family, loyal, obedient, trusting, to the father of that family, so they were in the army, loyal, trusting, obedient, to their commander, going at his command unswerving, with their face forward, to certain death. And this habit, I take it, of obedience, itself
fostered by the discipline of the army, itself constituting the power of that army, made the perennial greatness of the Roman Empire.
II. I turn to England. I see in many an English family, sons, aye boys of 12, their own masters; the father too selfish to take pains with them, exercising no discipline, but leaving them to themselves, to make or mar their own characters; the mother, poor soul, unsupported by the father, the slave, if not the butt of her own sons.
I look at society, and see are like grains of sand, each following his own individuality, too little regarding any but himself; I see those above with too little consideration for the interests of those below, and those below, not without envy and jealousy, eyeing those above. There is too little cohesion in our society, too little self-sacrifice for the good of the community, too little realization of the brotherhood of man; too little recognition, that though some be head and some feet, some eye and some hands, yet all Englishmen are parts of one people, subserving one common purpose for which God has called us into being, and placed us with our particular work to do, among the nations of the earth.
I look at the church; and see that one hundred and forty-two sects have registered themselves as separate from us, and from one another; and are thus in frigid isolation, or in avowed hostility to their neighbours, seeking to realize for themselves the Communion of Saints! While in the Church of England herself, I see there are men who are “not afraid to speak evil of the
dignities” whom God has set over them, or “to bring railing accusations” against members of their communion.
Old heathen Rome, having in its Paganism but one talent from God, the virtue of OBEDIENCE, and using that one talent to the full, is a crying witness against us, who enjoy five talents and use but one or two.
III. Brethren of the Volunteer Force of this country, let me try and place before you your mission. You are citizen-soldiers; not soldiers simply ; not citizens simply; but citizen soldiers. Regular soldiers, I suppose, a country like ours must have. But the Regular, though he has advantages as a soldier, has some disadvantages as a man: he is obliged to live an artificial life; generally, he cannot marry, and this enforced celibacy is the parent of many evils; he does not see anything of domestic life; neither does he mix in the ordinary affairs and trials of his fellow-men. But you have the full pulse of the citizen life of your country beating in you ; at home you play your part in local and general politics; you know the rise and fall of the markets, the test and gauge of your country's material well-being; you feel and are part of the social currents and movements of to-day. Thus, in you, the citizen is not dwarfed, far less is he annihilated. Moreover, when you come to your drill or shooting practice, it is not as to the routine of daily business, it is as to the recreation field, a recreation out of doors, and so most wholesome. Thus, I take it, you avoid those disadvantages of isolation from your fellow-countrymen in life and thought, which the professional soldier must endure. On the other hand, the benefit he gains from
- I am
associating with men engaged in a common pursuit with him, you gain also, sympathy, emulation, esprit de corps : and the social advantage of rubbing against men of different leanings and bringing up from one's self, this is yours; while the fact that you all live among one another, know each other at home, and will meet again on many a day, keeps up a high standard of honour, and of courteous behaviour between man and man.
But the text reminds me of one of the chief incidental benefits to society which your enrolment confers. a man under authority” says the centurion, the Roman captain. He knew what an education this had been to him ; he had learned to obey. He had learnt to submit his will promptly, patiently, without question, without knowing the full part such obedience of his was to play in the plan of the campaign. He could obey : and, therefore, he was fit to command and to be obeyed; “I have soldiers under me." To criticise, at least, to grumble, is the first step towards the ruin of discipline, and the loss of victory. From the colonel to the private there is no man among you who is not under authority; there is no man who has not to submit his personal will to commands he does not altogether understand, and this, for the good of the whole body, as himself only one small part of it.
This, I take it, is one of the lessons we English people need at this day; we have been so much given to think of I, and me, my judgment, and my opinion, my will, and my interest, that the grand duty of sinking the individual will, from time to time, by a wholesome obedience to others for the good of the whole, whether
in social, political, or religious matters, has not been much thought of or practised, before your Volunteer movement came up. You, however, by your discipline, have taught yourselves a lesson ; by your example, have gone some way towards teaching us.
ii. Then, again, that tendency to isolation between class and class which there is amongst us, is bridged over, to some extent, by your movement. The names on your roll are not from one class, but from many : and when you go out to camp,
a review, or, should it please God, you ever have actually to fight for your country, the same inconveniences, hardships, and dangers, are equally the lot of all.
iii. Need I say that “Volunteer" is a glorious title? You take to this occupation not as a last resort, when all other trades have failed ; on the contrary you sacrifice your ordinary business in order so far and for a few days to serve your country; all of you sacrifice time, most, I presume, money, in this patriotic work; and this you do loyally," with," as St. Paul says, “goodwill doing service ;” (may I add with him ?) as unto the Lord and not to men.”
iv. We read in Judges (xx. 16), a book describing, so to speak, the volunteer movement among the Israelites for the internal defence of their country, that in Benjamin “there were 700 chosen men left-handed : every one could sling stones at a hair's breadth and not miss.” In those days personal ability, activity, and prowess counted most in winning a battle. It is said that since gunpowder has been invented we have changed all that. I think your movement shows the contrary. The men whom I see