Martial Wisdom Recommended.
Wisdom is better than Weapons of War.
_THO' it is the want of Wisdom, in the divine sense of it, that hath introduced Arms, or weapons of War into the world, for there are no wars where wisdom shines and reigns in perfection; and there had been no Wars in these lower Regions, where all things were created in beau|tiful Order and Harmony, had not Man unhappily re|volted from his Allegiance to his Maker, and lost the knowledge of Him who is the fountain and Centre of all Righteousness, peace and blessedness; —yet not|withstanding, in the present state of things, and the Condition to which Man is now subjected, Arms are very needful and very consistent with Wisdom in the strictest Sense, and they are mutually subservient.
If Men must be divested of Wisdom, which is their greatest Excellency, in order to their becoming warri|ours, or if handling weapons of War were inconsistent with wisdom, they would surely ill become the Christian, and as ill, the Ministers of CHRIST to say any thing in their behalf; for Wisdom should be justified of all her Children.
Page 2When the wise Man (as in the Text) compares Wis|dom with weapons of War, and gives the former the preference, it is not with design to disparage them, (for he honours them in the very comparison) but his design is to commend Wisdom; and it would be but a slender Commendation, if the thing to which it is compared were not good, or of but little worth and significancy.
This Aphorism of Solomon is grounded on his obser|vation and Experience, from the notable Instance he mentions, v. 13,—15. This wisdom have I seen under the Sun, and it seem'd great unto me: There was a little City, and few Men in it; and there came a great King against it and besieged it, and built great Bulwarks against it; now there was found in it a poor wise Man, and he by his wisdom delivered the City. — This has been thought by some, a Parable, but it seems more proba|ble to have been a Case in fact, in some Neighbouring Country, of a poor Man who by some wise Counsel was the happy means of saving a City when besieged by a numerous Army of a potent King, (like the Woman of Abel, 2 Sam. 20.16.)—
Page 3—The words are a distinct Proposition, and need not to be cast into any other form of Doctrine, or if you will please to have them rather, thus,
Doct. That tho' weapons of War are good and useful unto Men, yet Wisdom is more useful and excellent.
In the handling of them, I propose to consider,
I. That weapons of War are good and serviceable unto Men, in the present State of things.
II. — The preference or superiour excellency of Wisdom.
I. To Consider, something of the usefulness and benefit of weapons of War.— And by them I understand any regular Military Force, Arms, Forts, Castles or other warlike preparations.
When I assert the usefulness and benefit of weapons of War, the lawfulness of them is implied; and this may also be very justly asserted: Notwithstanding it has been (I am well aware) disputed and denied by Socinus and his Followers, and is, at this Day, by some Enthusiasts, who have drank in this, with a confused medley of other Errors; thro' a misunderstanding or perversion of some passages of Scripture.
None indeed can deny but that Wars and Fightings came from the Lusts of Men. (Jam. 4.1.) And that if Adam had retained the Rectitude of his primitive State, in which he had the beautiful Image of God his Maker instamp'd upon him, in Knowledge, Righteousness and Holiness, with an establish'd Rule and Dominion, given him by his munificent Creator, over all Creatures in this lower world; there would have been no occa|sion for Armies and Battles. As the Creatures would have continued in their subjection to their Lord, so Mankind being just and holy, must needs have con|tinued in perfect amity; there would have been no Jars nor discords in the natural or moral world. But alas! Page 4 How soon do we read of the unhappy fruit of that fatal Revolt? Brother against Brother! proud and discon|tented Cain shedding the blood of righteous Abel! And how has this world been ever since, almost a Theatre of tragical Scenes, of Wars, Desolations and Destructions, thro' the wickedness of them that dwell therein? And we have little reason to expect but that it will generally be so, 'till the glorious day, (which the Lord hasten!) when the Prince of peace, whose Sceptre is a Sceptre of Righteousness, shall take unto Himself his great Power and Reign, and tread down his Enemies, who will not that He should reign over them, and make the glorious Principles of his holy Religion so known and receiv'd, that the Kings and Judges of the Earth, shall kiss the Son, and yield subjection unto Him; and they shall beat their Swords into plough-shares, and their Spears into pruning-hooks, nation shall not lift up Sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. According to that Prophecy, Isa. 2.4.— But until this happy time comes on, and the Principles and Rules of the Gospel are not yet so entertained, but that a Christian State is expos'd to the Incursions and Ravages of proud, am|bitious or covetous Men; it is needful, that they shou'd take care for their own Security and Defence. God can indeed, make those who are disposed to be their Ene|mies, to be at peace with them. And it is the highest interest of any People to labour to be in good terms with the great Ruler and Governour of the world; and to put their trust in Him, as their defence. Yet since, accord|ing to the ordinary Course of Providence, his own Peo|ple have seldom enjoyed lasting peace, but have been expos'd to Invasions and Incroachments of unreasonable Men, therefore it is needful and prudent for them to be upon their Guard and Defence, and be able to repel force by force. Otherwise their Civil and Sacred Liber|ties, their Lives and Properties, and all that is dear unto them, may be in the utmost hazard. So that by Page 5 the principles, which the God who hath made us, hath implanted in us, it is plain that Christians need Armour of Defence against their Enemies, that they may not be made a Prey unto Devourers.
Self-preservation is a fundamental Law of humane Nature, and Christianity does not overthrow any such Laws but establish them.— This is intimated to us, by that of our Lord to his Disciples, Luk. 22.35, 36.—He said unto them, when I sent you without purse and scrip and shoes, lacked ye any thing? and they said nothing. Then said He unto them, But now he that hath a purse let him take it,— and he that hath no Sword let him sell his Garment and buy one: Signifying,
The lawfulness of weapons of War, and the benefit of well appointed Arms, disciplined and skilful Soldiers, has been well shew'd from this Desk,—Let it suffice therefore, now to suggest,
That the LORD himself hath this Title given Him as his great Honour: particularly in that Song of Tri|umph after the miraculous Destruction of his People's Enemies, Exod. 15. Jehovah is a Man of War—. And how often is he call'd, The Lord of Hosts?—The Lord strong and mighty: — the Lord mighty in Battle!— This at least, intimates that a warlike Genius, dextrous Skill and undaunted Courage, are honourable qualifications among Men.
The devout Psalmist, who was also the valiant Leader of Israel, and by whose martial and brave Genius and Conduct, God subdued the Nations, the Enemies of his People, pays his acknowledgments to God, as the Giver of All his Dexterity and Skill, in handling his weapons of War, (Psal. 44.1.) Blessed be the Lord my strength, who teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight.— It is also recorded as part of his honorary Character, (2 Sam. 1.18.) That he bade them teach the Children of Israel the use of the Bow.
And long before, in the Story of Abraham, we find that he had more than Three Hundred Servants, Train'd Soldiers of his House, expert and ready for the business, at an Hour's warning, (Gen. 14.14.) And what re|markable Service did they, under his Skill and Con|duct?
Page 7If we consider the whole History of the People of God in former Ages, we may observe it has been the Care of the wisest and best of Rulers, to cultivate and cherish the Art of War, from a just and generous regard to the Safety and Prosperity of their Country.
Our holy Religion does not at all encourage People, in an idle and slothful dependence upon God, without the use of proper means. It would be sinful presump|tion for Men to expect the miraculous Interposition of Divine Providence, to defend them from Death and Ruin, while they neglect proper endeavours for their own Safety; — for Soldiers to lay down their Arms and expect
The more War is to be deprecated, the more good Warriours are to be desired'.
How much does the Honour, Strength and Safety of Government and Civil Rulers, depend upon Military Page 8 Weapens and Force? How would turbulent and factious Men be suppress'd, Thieves and Riotous Persons, and Disturbers of the publick Peace, if there were not such means of awe and restraint?
II. I now pass to Consider, The preference or Supe|riour Excellency of Wisdom. Wisdom is better than Weapons of War. — Here it cannot be expected, that I should enter into the Consideration of Wisdom, in the large and various Signification of the Word, in the Sacred Oracles; nor is it to be suppos'd that the wise Man here intends it, in all that Latitude. Nor shall I stay to name the several acceptations of it.— But shall consider in in these two respects,
1. As it refers to weapons of War, and the right use of them.
2. As it relates to the Christian, or spiritual and divine Wisdom.
1. To consider it, as it relates to the use and im|provement of weapons of War; —or martial Wisdom. For as there is the Wisdom of the Handicrafts-Man in working in Gold and Silver, in Brass, Weaving and Em|broidery, Cutting and Setting of precious Stones, Carving of Timber, &c. which God gave to Bezaleel and Abo|liab*, and the Apostle compares himself to a wise Master-builder†, and of the Husbandman it is said, ‖ his God instructeth him to Discretion; so there is Wisdom in the Art of War. As there is Sagacity and cunning artifice in the forming of weapons of War, and several are the Inventions of latter Ages, and Men are arriving at greater Perfection and Improvements; so there is Wisdom in the ordering of these, and in all Military Preparations and Exercises, that they may answer the good Intentions of them. And in waging War, there Page 9 is (as one observes) the greatest Improvement of Hu|mane Wisdom, Application and Industry.
Whether this be the Wisdom intended by Solomon in the Sentence before us, I will not dispute; for whether it was by any subtle Stratagem of War, now seasonably devised, or wise Treaty with this powerful King, that occasion'd his Raising the Siege; or whether it was by his Piety, Faith and Prayers,—we are left at uncer|tainty. But that this poor wise Deliverer of the City, was a good Man, and in this Sense wise, seems intima|ted by the last clause in the Verse, where he stands op|pos'd to a Sinner,— But one Sinner destroyeth much good.— Therefore I may without any just exception, I think, take in the Consideration of these two Senses of the Word.
And as to this first, tho' a Lecture upon it might seem more natural from a Field-Officer, or Military Man, accomplish'd to lay down the Rules of Prudence for himself and Fellow-Officers and Soldiers, and altho' this may be termed Humane Prudence, — yet it is not so aliene to the Sacred Oracles, as that a Minister of Christ should be wholly a Stranger to it; seeing that the Cap|tain of our Salvation, who has travelled in the greatness of his Strength, through a Field of Blood, who is now at the Head of his Church Militant, has been pleased to leave in his Word such Instructions as are adapted to give Prudence and Wisdom to Men in all Capacities and Conditions, not only to Men in the Sacred Order, but also Civil and Military, from the King on the Throne to the lowest Officer and Centinel; and it being the Duty of his Ambassadors, as they are call'd, to make application of particular Rules to Men in their several Capacities, and to endeavour to give to every one their portion, in Season;— Therefore I hope the following hints will be well accepted on this Occasion.
1. Martial Wisdom will teach Men to fix upon right Ends in their Military Exercises and Enterprizes. Sol|diers Page 10 must act as becomes reasonable Beings, who are capable "to act for some End, and should have that in their Eye as the measure of their Actions". And as of all other things, so of this, the supream End must be the Honour of God, and next to this, the Safety of the Commonwealth. The Good of warlike Weapons, is to be considered as relative to this, that a People may enjoy Peace and Safety. This is the End to be aimed at in all Martial Preparations. And when War is actually engaged in, or before it is undertaken, we find that God would have Peace first offered.—Deut. 20.10.
It is bloody and barbarous Cruelty to aim at, and delight in butchering our Fellow-Men. The great De|sign and Exercise of moral Prudence as it relates to Society, is that they may enjoy Peace and Safety, and so, as by the most natural Nurse, Plenty, Civility and good Order, Arts and Religion may grow and flou|rish.—
It is beneath the Character of Men of Martial Wis|dom to aim at meer Bravery and Show, or Pomp and Appearance, or to make only a Diversion of their Ex|ercises,— but that they may be qualified to stand in a Day of Battle and War, and to speak with the Enemy in the Gate. Therefore,
2. They must make it their Endeavour to be well furnish'd with Military Science and Skill. These are the first and necessary Lessons of Martial Wisdom, that they understand the Military Words of Command, their various Facings and Motions, that they commit no Errors or Blunders, and that they well and throughly understand the Exercise of their Arms, and are expert and ready in every Posture, at the Word of the Com|mander.
As this Order and ready Dexterity and Skill in an Army or particular Company, is a beautiful thing, so it will give a vast advantage to those who attain and observe it, over those who are but Adeptists in these Page 11 Things. It is the Encomium of the Soldiers of Zebulun, 1 Chron. 12.33. That they were expert in War, with all Instruments of War, who could keep Rank.— Skill in the Military Art is necessary in order to answer the main End propounded relating to a People, and with|out endeavouring after this, a Soldier doth not act as a Cause by Counsel, or becoming the powers of Reason. And how unsafe will they be, and all others who de|pend upon them, who when they come to use their Armour against the Enemy, they have not prov'd it, and scarce know their right Hand from their left. Martial Skill has not a little contributed to the Grandeur and Wealth of Nations. Numerous Armies have been put to the rout by a few well-disciplin'd Troops. Here|by Alexander push'd on his Conquests to such pro|digious Success: and hereby the Romans gain'd such universal Empire.
3. Another part of Martial Wisdom lies in the Choice of the fittest weapons or warlike preparations, for the several Ends or Purposes in view. It is well understood that different warlike Preparations are requir'd to en|gage an Enemy at Sea, from those by Land; and that such Batteries or Bulwarks as may be a Defence against Small Arms, will not be so against Cannon. And that such, may be prepar'd and accomplish'd Men, to en|gage with an Enemy in an open and well-formed Camp, who are not fit to follow an Enemy in the Thickets and Lurking places of a howling Wilderness.— We read sometimes of chosen Men of Israel. Every one is not fit to be a Soldier. Men should be selected and chosen according to the several Services to which they are de|sign'd; And their Martial Weapons, Provisions and Preparations should be accordingly. In this, Wisdom is profitable to direct. It was the great Strength and Prudence of the Ruebenites and Gadites that they were furnish'd with all manner of Instruments of War for the Battle. (1 Chron. 12.37.)
Page 12Soldiers in general, should be able to endure hard|ness. (2 Tim. 2.3.) But some are much more capable to endure Hunger and Thirst, and Travel and Cold, and lying in the Deserts than others. As a Scythian Commander said to Philip of Macedon,
It was certainly Prudence in Rehoboam, however he fail'd in his Policy, in hearkening to his young Coun|sellors, that afterwards he made him fenced Cities, and put therein Provisions, Officers and warlike Stores,—as 2 Chron. 11.5,—12. See also what is recorded, as an instance of the Wisdom of pious King Hezekiah, on a threatning Invasion, 2 Chron. 32.2,—6.
4. —In placing the greatest Trust in Men of the best Prudence, Discretion and Courage. This refers espe|cially to the Care of Superiour Rulers, whose business it is to put their Sons into places of Trust and Com|mand.— But then as to the Persons themselves be-trusted in any Military Post, they will surely think it their Wisdom and Honour, to understand well and observe the Duties of their Station, and every one do their own Business.— One wise Commander may be better than many fighting Men.
King Saul strengthned himself in his War against the Philistines, as it is said of him, (1 Sam. 14.52.) That when he saw any strong or valiant Man, he took him to himself.
It was David's Wisdom to confer the chief Com|mand on Joab, who was a Man of such singular Courage and Valour. And as it was his great Honour to up|hold and greatly to promote and encourage the Worship Page 13 of God; so it was not a little owing (under God) to his Prudence in seeking out and bestowing Places of Com|mand on Men of great Spirits and Martial Prowess, that he had such Victories and Successes; that the Na|tions round about were brought into a State of Subjection or Tribute or Alliance; that in the Days of his Son and immediate Successor, there was no Adversary nor evil occurrent.
5. —In observing the best Seasons for any Enterprizes or Treaties. This requires a good degree of natural Sagacity, together with Prudence gain'd by Observa|tion and Experience; to avoid Rashness and Precipi|tancy on the one hand, and Dilatoriness and Sluggish|ness on the other. Success has often depended on the actual timing of Engagements or Treaties; or vigilant Improvement of the Tempers, Dispositions and Man|ners of Enemies. Through neglect or want of Po|licy or Counsel great advantage may be given to the Enemy, and the benefit of former Victories may be lost:
6. —In the good Government of Commanders, and the strict subjection of Soldiers unto them. It is highly ne|cessary that Officers and Soldiers be Loyal to their King, true and faithful to their Country. It is the Duty of Christians in common, to submit to the King as Su|pream, and unto Governours as those that are sent by him. (1 Pet. 2.13, 14.) and it is peculiarly expected of Men under a Military Consideration, as they receive their several Posts, Commissions and Orders from them.
Order is the Beauty of the Universe, the Strength and Glory of all Societies. And this in an Army or any Page 14 Military Company, consists, in every one's observing the Duties of their respective places.
It highly concerns Officers to consider this, that Sol|diers in their State of Discipline may be trained up and prepared for Service, by a ready Obedience, that they may not upon Emergencies and Dangers run out of their Line, Mutiny and Desert, to the Shame of those that lead them, and Ruin of the People that trust in them.— This, I apprehend to be one great end of the Training Days, that Soldiers may be taught good Order and ready Obedience to their Commanders and in their several Places; and this is exceeding servicea|ble and necessary. It must needs be lookt upon as the Wisdom of a State to enact good Laws for the uphold|ing of Martial Government and Order, and severe Penalties in case of Disobedience, or according as the Crimes may deserve:— Yet it is greatly to be de|sired and is the most certain expedient that Officers by their Wisdom, Courage, Integrity, Clemency and shin|ing Examples do gain and command their Hearts. It is the Character of a good Officer, 'that he loves and is beloved by his Soldiers';— and of a good Soldier, that it is his Care to please him who has chosen him to be a Soldier. (2 Tim. 2.4.) It is the great Commendation both of the Centurion and of his Soldiers, (Mat. 8.9.) I also am a Man under Authority, and I say unto one go, and he goeth, and to another come, and he cometh; and to my Servant do this, and he doeth it.
How lovely and beautiful is Order in all Societies? The lovers of it, are pleas'd to see it in the Artillery Exercises. And most strictly it should be observ'd in real Engagements. Every one must keep Rank, do the Duty and keep the Place assign'd him. Personal Danger will not excuse the breach of Order, other|wise their Weapons may be pointed to one another's Destruction.
Page 15It is a sad Omen to a Country, to the Military and Civil Concerns of it, when an ungovernable mutinous Spirit prevails. Such a Spirit in an Army threatens the utmost Confusion and Ruin; and it is not much less dan|gerous in the State.
7. Martial Wisdom consists not a little, in avoiding such things as will disqualify and unfit Men for the Busi|ness to which they are designed. Whatsoever tends to unfit a Commander or Soldier for real Service, and so to frustrate the good end which they should aim at, Prudence obliges them to avoid. As,
Idleness and Sloth, Carelessness and Inactivity. A Military Life requires Spirit and Action. The dull unactive Person is very unlikely to be prepar'd for Service, and such as have a Spirit of Indifferency and care for none of these things. Sloth benumbs the powers of the Soul, which should be roused and engaged: such will be averse to undertake any Martial Enterprizes, and especially to undergo Fatigues and Hardships.
So Luxury and Intemperance, are Vices very disho|nourable in their Nature, and very disqualifying to them.—These weaken and enfeeble the Body and de|prave the Mind, and indispose a Person for any noble, brave and heroick Actions.—Avarice and inordinate worldly Cares and selfish Vices are not only contrary to the Christian Institution, but to that Martial Wisdom which is the Glory of a Soldier. No Man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this Life. (2 Tim. 2.4.) For hereby the Mind becomes narrow and con|tracted, contrary to that publick Spirit and generous Love to his Fellow-Creatures, which should warm his Breast, and engage him to expose himself for the De|fence of his Country.— Wisdom teaches and obliges the Soldier to watch against these, as also Security, Fraud and Falshood, Violence and Injustice,—and all other VicesPage 16 which Man's own Reason, Observation and Experience have taught them are prejudicial to their own Good, and the laudable Design of their Institution. And also to watch against all such Temptations as are common to Men, or peculiar to their Employment or Profession; whereby their Constancy, Courage and Fidelity are threaten'd and endanger'd.— When the Host goeth forth against thine Enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing. Deut. 23.9.
8. —That they actually engage in War, only in a just Cause. Not to gratify Pride, Avarice and Ambition, to increase and enlarge our Possessions by the Ruins of those who might dwell securely by us. But for the vindication of our own just Rights and Properties, when incroach'd upon and invaded or threatned by the un|reasonable and injurious, and this after Terms of Peace and Accommodation are rejected by them. Tho' every good Soldier is not fit to be a Casuist, and Causes of War may be sometimes so complicated and perplexed, as that they may not have ability to dive thereinto; yet it seems reasonable, that as it is expected, they should play the Men for the Cities of their God, they should be some way convinced and satisfied of the justice of the Cause; that they are so injur'd or threat|ned by Men as that they may appeal to God, as the Avenger of wrong, the Righteous Judge of the World. What a noble Confidence will this produce, when they can refer to him as the great Arbiter of all Disputes? as Psal. 17.1, 2. Hear the right, O Lord, let my Sentence come forth from thy presence. And like that bold and prudent General, Judg. 11.27. I have not sinned against thee; but thou durst me wrong to war against me: The Lord, the Judge, be judge this Day, between the Children of Israel and the Children of Ammon.
9. Martial Wisdom hath Courage, Resolution and Fortitude accompanying it: and this, the before-mentioned apprehension of the Justice of the Cause, not a Page 17 little contributes unto: This tends much to invigorate the Mind and Spirits: Herein lies the Foundation of their acting from a generous and publick Spirit. The more free and deliberate Men are, the more likely they are to act with Steadiness and Resolution when call'd to Service. Temerity and Cowardice is a mean Spirit, un|worthy of a Soldier.— We find it as a Direction of Divine Wisdom to Moses, the Leader of Israel, and which was to be a standing Rule to the People, Deut. 20.5, — 9. That such as were feeble and faint-hearted were to be dismiss'd.
'A Soldier should chuse an honourable Death, rather than save his Life by a cowardly Flight'. Fear, Das|tardliness and despondency of Mind under apprehended Difficulties and Dangers, are great failings and disqua|lifications in a Soldier. These will make them desert a good Cause, and their Fellow-Soldiers, when there is most need of their Assistance.
Tho' Men should not expose themselves to needless Dangers; this is not a wise Bravery; nor throw away Life where the Case is plainly desperate: But Magnani|mity and Fortitude is an excellent Qualification of the Men of Arms, as fitting them for great Attempts, and preparing the Mind to bear up against Hardships and Difficulties, and to hazard their Lives in the Cause of God and his People. What a brave and animating Expression was that, and how becoming a General of Israel? (2 Sam. 10.12.) Be of good Courage, and let us play the Men for our People, and for the Cities of our God; and the Lord do what seemeth him good!
10. Lastly, Martial Wisdom requires, that while preparing for War, or when engaged in it, they be in strict Amity, Union and Harmony amongst themselves.
Obey them that have the Rule over you; is a Prin|ciple and Law of Reason and of Christianity. As there should be a due regard to Authority in the ready Obe|dience, Respect and Duty of Soldiers to their Officers, so Page 18 there should be a Brotherly Union and Harmony among themselves, in all Ranks and Degrees of their Officers or others, as Persons joined in the same Cause, pursuing the same common Good. Mutinies or Discords in an Army, in the same Company, or between one Company or Regiment and another, are certainly very hazardous to the Safety and Good of the whole. The least ap|pearances that way are therefore generally animadver|ted on, by wise and observing Commanders, as a thing of dangerous Consequence. It is in like manner so, for any to hold a Treacherous Correspondence with Enemies. Thus, one Sinner may destroy much good. This may prove like a Leak in a Ship; or like a Spark in a Barrel of Gunpowder, suddenly blowing up all before it.
A House or Kingdom divided against it self cannot stand. This is our Saviour's wise Aphorism, (Mark 3.34.) and we find, that the Psalmist when he pray'd for the Destruction of his Enemies, desires their Dissention as the ready means of it, Psal. 55.9. Destroy O Lord, divide their Tongues. Jerusalem when besieged by the Romans, was much sooner prepar'd for Ruin, by the unhappy Divisions and Dissentions among themselves: which was also an awful Judgment of God upon them. As it is the Health and Security of the Body natural, when every part performs its proper Office; so it is of Bodies politick, Civil, Ecclesiastical or Military; when every one understands and keeps within the Limits of his own Sphere and Station. When a Spirit of Love and good agreement runs through the whole: this is the Bond of perfectness in all Societies; the contrary, Envy|ing and Strife, brings on Confusion and every evil Work.
Now when these several parts of Martial Wisdom are considered, will it not be readily acknowledged, that this Wisdom hath the preference to weapons of War themselves?— For to what purpose are they, Page 19 if not under a good Direction?— Yea they are evil and mischievous, if the End to which they are improved be evil and unrighteous, sinful and unwarrantable. Or if they are taken up on a good Design, and with lauda|ble Views, if they are not understood and skilfully han|dled, of how little benefit?—or if Martial Men and Arms are not wisely chosen and adapted to particular Occasions and Emergencies, or according to the Quali|ties and Circumstances of the Enemies engaged against? —or if Martial Government, Discipline and Order be not prudently asserted and maintained, or but little regarded by those under Authority, is there any thing great or good likely to be effected? If Arms are not supported by Justice and Right, if they are not pursued with Sedateness, Courage and Magnanimity, certainly Disap|pointment, Losses and Sorrows are to be expected, in|stead of Victory and Success. And so, if such Vices are indulged in Men of that Order, as not only fully their Character, but have a natural tendency to weaken their Hands and Hearts.
Or if Discord and Mutiny, Falshood and Treachery should arise, instead of the happy Bonds of Love, bro|therly Agreement and Harmony, how will Arms ever so strong and well-appointed, be rendred fruitless and insignificant? Parva sunt foris Arma, nisi est Concilium Domi. Cicero.
2. I am to consider the preference and excellency of Wisdom, under a religious or divine Character. Here I may not discourse as the Subject would admit, but briefly.
This Wisdom consists in the Knowledge of God in Jesus Christ, or as he hath revealed himself to us in the Gospe; in such a Knowledge of his Will and his glorious and attractive Excellencies as prevails on the Will, and accordingly governs the choice and affections of the Soul. Such as have this Wisdom tho' they have the most valuable Knowledge, yet they have not always the Page 20 largest natural Understanding, nor the greatest Stock of Ideas treasur'd up in their Minds. They may be very destitute of civil Policy, and be deficient in many points of humane Prudence. But they have such apprehensi|ons of the Divine Perfections, of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ, as that they unfeignedly em|brace Him as their Portion and everlasting Happiness. They devote themselves to Him, and make it their prin|cipal Care to obey and please Him, as most worthy of the highest Honour from all the principles of Justice, Love and Gratitude. And it is their prevailing Con|cern and Desire, as their highest good, that they may have such a clear Knowledge of God as shall perfect their Natures and make them conformable to his moral Excellencies, that they may be for ever with Christ and behold his Glory!
This is the beginning of Wisdom, (the chiefest Wis|dom) when Men know and fear God and give Glory unto Him. This Knowledge of the Holy is their Under|standing. This is the Wisdom of the highest Intelligen|cies, and this is their Glory;— the Glory of the highest Seraphs, that they know and reverence and love the most perfect Being, the Author of their Beings, and of all Good.
This is the superiour Wisdom and Excellency of Man, in every Character and Station, and gives the precedency to them that have it. It gives an Ornament of Grace to their Head, and a Crown of Glory doth it deliver them.
But here I shall a little apply it to Men as under a Military Character, and shew the Advantages of it to them: For the Business and Life of a Soldier should not be thought inconsistent with this Wisdom, no more than any other lawful Employment and Business of Life. The better Christians Men are, or the more they are acquainted and enrich'd with this divine Wisdom (other things being equal) the better they are in every CallingPage 21 and Employment of Life: the better furnished to a due deportment in all Capacities, Relations and Conditions. And particularly, it is the best Qualification and the greatest Honour of Men in Military Life. "They are the only fit Men to be Commanders who have learnt to obey their God.
This Wisdom will direct and fix their Views; that the supream End of their Preparations and Military Labours and Atchievements, be what ought to be the Christians governing Design in all the weighty Concerns of Life, the Glory of God, and the good of their Fellow-Christians, as concerned herein; the Defence and Se|curity of their Religion, Liberties and Estates.—In the Name of the Lord they will set up their Banners. (Psal. 20.5.) This Wisdom gives them the best Rules of their Actions, and will guard them against all Irre|gularities and Vices, innumerable Mischiefs and Dangers. This will direct their dependence, where they may trust and not be afraid: even in the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies. While some trust in Horses and some in Chariots, they will remember the Name of the Lord their God.—Thus they are led to the Captain of our Salvation, whose Name is, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
What Courage, Fortitude and presence of Mind will this give his Followers, his Soldiers, when engag'd in his Cause, and assur'd of his Presence, who alone can win the Field in the despite of all Opposition? or who can save by few as well as by many; who can make one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, as in the Instance of Jonathan and his Armour-bearer.
This Wisdom will give them the best Support under present Exigencies and greatest Difficulties. The Name of the Lord is a strong Tower, whereunto they may run and be safe, (Prov. 18.10.) (or be set aloft) They who are wise, know his Name and will put their trust in Him. They are the Men who are prepar'd for the most difficult Page 22 Encounters, and to run the greatest hazards, who have secur'd their greatest Interest, and being so wise as to become interested in the mighty Saviour, who hath over|come Death, and whose Love, neither Life nor Death nor any Creature, can seperate them from: who can by Faith, according to his Word, look beyond Death to a glorious Inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, reserved in the Heavens for them.
Use. 1. I might have infer'd, that to acquire Military Skill and Wisdom, will require sedate Thoughts and ap|plication of Mind.—
2. That the good Christian (coeteris paribus) will make the best Soldier,—the true Hero.
3. That this Wisdom, Persons should humbly seek to God for, who is the Fountain of all Knowledge and Wisdom, natural, moral or Divine.—But I shall insist only on this, and apply it to the Purposes before me, viz.
That Martial Skill and Wisdom should be endea|vour'd after by a People expos'd to Wars, and assisted and encouraged by All, who are concern'd for their Defence and Safety.
Page 23This Land has always from the beginning of our Settlement, among a barbarous Heathen, been expos'd to Wars. We have rarely long together had rest from it. Very great hath been the Expence of Blood and Trea|sure by it: and how many, the Losses, Distresses and Sorrows, the miserable Captivities and Deaths, that have been suffer'd by it? especially by such as dwelt in our expos'd Frontiers! in the remembrance of which, our Souls should still be humbled in us!
Tho' now, through the Smiles of Divine Providence upon the wise Counsels of the British Government, a general War among the Nations of Europe, which we had the threatning Prospect of, hath been prevented,— and through the same Mercy of the most High, the Lord of Hosts powerfully spiriting and succeeding the Courage, Hardiness and never-to-be-forgotten Bravery of some of our Martial Men, Travailing and Jeopard|ing their Lives in the howling Wilderness, to the An|noyance and Destruction of many of the Enemy: and by the Care of the Government since, in their prudent Treaties and Negociations with our late troublesome Neighbours, we enjoy at this Day (in the midst of other Afflictions) a happy Tranquility.— Yet we have little Reason to be secure, so long as the expected Peace so slowly comes to a Conclusion: But especially so long as the Iniquities of the Land are so many, and greatly increasing! And as God left of the Nations of Canaan to prove Israel; who were often as Thorns in their Sides and pricks in their Eyes, so has he dealt with us. The Canaanites are still in the Land, and little Prospect alas! of the Conversion of them to the Faith and Obedience of the Gospel. Notwithstanding some Endeavours have been us'd, which if it might be hap|pily effected, would be our best Security as to them. And therefore I humbly conceive, is by all means, greatly to be endeavoured and more thoroughly pur|sued, from a Regard to our own Interests, as well as Page 24Charity to their Souls. Thanks be to God for any Success in this good Work in our Western Borders*, and may the Lord greatly prosper it in Mercy to them, and to his People.
But according to the present State of things, it must certainly be lookt upon a point of Wisdom in this Peo|ple to cherish and cultivate a Martial Spirit and Genius, and from a wise precaution to make all suitable Prepa|rations, if a dark Day of War should come on.
And since I have the Opportunity to speak in the Presence of His Excellency our Commander in Chief, and many of our Civil Rulers,— I would, with humble Deference, intreat them to take into Consideration the defenceless State of this Country, and that it will be very impolitick in us to be like the Men of Laish unconcern'd and secure, when as liable to unexpected Destruction, and much further from our Zidon, whence we might expect some Relief.
It is observable, that the most polite Nations have encouraged the Military Art, and hereby have laid the Foundation for their Security, growing Wealth and Ho|nour. And it has been long since observ'd by a vene|rable Person†, on a like Occasion,
It is to the honour of this Government, that they early encourag'd a Martial Spirit and Military Exercises, and particularly in what relates to the Ancient and Honoura|ble Artillery Company, as also in the Laws which have been made relating to Military Affairs: and by Donations and Rewards lately, unto many Persons, or their Heirs and legal Representatives of such who have in this way serv'd their Country, some to the hazard, and others to the Loss of their Lives: But might not more be done, either by strengthening the Hands of Officers, or for the Page 25Encouragement of a Military Spirit* and Exercises? Not for the increase of Training-Days, but that they may be more seasonably and diligently attended and observed, to the attaining of the good Intention of them. And especially by preventing their degenerating into growing Intemperance, Licentiousness and Disorders, to the increase of the Guilt of this Land! too many in|dulging themselves in such Lusts, as war against the Soul!
Thro' the Favour of God, many of the Sons of New-England are capable of making good Soldiers, from their Ingenuity, Sprightliness, natural Courage, Strength and Activity, who by a good Government and Discipline might be form'd and accomplish'd for singular Service. And a good Soldiery to this Land of unwall'd-Villages, how necessary for our Defence? This would be more our Security than the Mines of Mexico and Peru. Mar|tial Skill and Valour discovers a brave manly Spirit, and when it is the Character of a People it reflects Honour upon them, recommends them to the Esteem of others, and bespeaks Alliance and Friendship with them; as well as gives dread to disaffected Neighbours.
It is the gracious Promise of God to his People, (Isa. 33.6.) Wisdom and Knowledge shall be the Stability of thy Times. Martial Wisdom is here to be reckon'd, as well as Civil, Commercial, &c.— This point of Wis|dom we might learn from a neighbouring Power to Great Britain and to us; in Times of Peace, to be pre|paring for War, by building and strengthning of Gar|risons, furnishing them with all manner of warlike Stores: that when the unhappy Scene comes on, they Page 26 may not have the Difficulty and Charge of these Things to grapple with, besides the standing Burden of their Alarms, Watchings, Marches and actual Engage|ments.
I crave leave to offer this one Thing, That since the laudable Projection of settling a Line of Towns on 〈◊〉 Frontiers, in as defensible a manner as may be, is so 〈◊〉 come into, as that a Number of Towns have been grant•• with this view;—that the same may not be left only to the Care and feeble Attempts of the Grantees, but may be directed and very much encouraged and assisted b• the Government; that in Case of a War with the French or Heathen Salvages, these may prove a Barrier and Defence to the scatter'd Plantations and Villages which lie expos'd to be an easy Prey to little Bands of merciless Robbers and Plunderers.
Our Captain General, who is at the Head of our Militia, under our rightful Sovereign King GEORGE, from his natural and paternal Concern for the Land of his Nativity, hath several Times recommended the re|pairing and strengthning the Forts and Garrisons of this Province. But how little hath been done, except of late in our principal Fortress?— We trust it is His Excellency's Care, from such a Spirit and Principle, to put the chief commanding Offices into the Hands of such as may fill and adorn their Station, as well as to recom|mend it to the Field-Officers (as I am well informed) to fill up the Posts under their Care, with known vertuous, sober, accomplish'd Men.— Such will have it to answer for, who may recommend Men out of private Interest, Favour or Affection, without a due regard to good Qualifications.
Now to apply this Inference to Men of the Military-Order.— It is much to be desired that the several Officers, according to the Trust repos'd in them, would labour to excel in Martial Accomplishments, and lay out themselves to communicate them to those under their Page 27 Care and Command, and to uphold good Order and Government, and to be exemplarily sober and vertuous, and as much as possible restrain and prevent all manner of Vices and Exorbitancies.
And may the Soldiers yield a ready Obedience and have a laudable Ambition to be furnished with such Skill and Discretion as may render them servicable, if •••ine Providence should call them to actual Engage|••nts; not neglecting, or thro' Sloth and Indifference eluding the Design of their publick Exercises. It is a Shame to see that some who for many Years have at|tended their Trainings, yet are so unknowing and inexpert, that when for the time they might have been Teachers of others, yet need to be taught the first Rudi|ments of this commendable Art.
It is an unhappy Disadvantage to a People, when Men a little above the ordinary Rank, as to Breeding or Estates, are disposed to flight the Military Skill and Exercises, when it becomes an unfashionable Thing to give their attendance on such Occasions; as if it were a dishonour to them to appear in the Field, or it were their Interest to pay their small Fines.— How may an expos'd Country, by the prevailing of this Temper, be depriv'd of the Service of some of the best natural Ca|pacity and Strength, when its greatest Exigencies call for them?
Indeed when Martial Weapons are neglected, it is an Evidence that a People are growing very secure, or mean and low spirited, servile and readily subject to those who may be dispos'd to invade or insult them: As it was with Israel, when they had forsaken the Lord and served other Gods. Among Forty Thousand of them there was not a Shield or Spear to be seen, 'till a Woman rose and judged them. (Judg. 5.8.)
Such then are to be commended and honoured, who from a generous Desire to serve the best Interests of their Country, apply themselves to attain Martial Skill Page 28 and Prudence, and voluntarily without being press'd into it, would take the Oath (Sacramentum militare) of the Roman Soldiers, pro aris & focis certare*.
It is therefore to be desired that this Spirit were cherish'd, and more appearing and acting in this leading Town, and so in all parts of the Land, that it may be|come fashionable and reputable. Ill Examples have prevail'd to give a sort of Reputation to some Evil Practices. It is pity that Vertue and some useful and laudable Exercises and Accomplishments, should not find as many Patrons, and of all Ranks of Men to encou|rage them.
Now to apply my self to the Gentlemen of the Honourable Artillery Company in this place.
It is at your Request, Gentlemen, that I stand in this Desk at this Time, however unequal to the Service ex|pected from me. As I have (I trust) an honest intention to serve you, both in your Military and Christian Ca|pacity, I hope for your Candour and good Reception of what I have offered.— Your Calling you see, is warranted from the Word of God, and what are the generous and pious Views that must act and govern you in your Martial Exercises, that you may be accom|plish'd to serve God and your Country, if call'd there|unto in the hazardous Enterprizes of War.
I take it to be a part of the good Design of this Honourable Company, to set a good Example by their attendance on these Exercises, as not unworthy of Men of Estates or Character and Education, with this noble and generous View that they may be better capacitated to serve in the Defence of their Country, their Liber|ties, Estates, Lives, Religion, and all that is dear to them.— May this Honourable Company prove a happy and growing Seminary of good Soldiers, not only of this Town, but from all parts of this Land, and Page 29 by their Example revive the Military Skill and Ge|nius.— When you consider your ancient Charter (now entring, I think, into the Hundredth Year) and the prudent Design of our Forefathers, you will by a conscionable attendance on all proper means endeavour to be furnish'd with Military Skill and Wisdom, and excel therein.
It is Understanding and Wisdom that gives Man advantage over the Bruits, otherwise he would soon loose his Dominion. And Wisdom according to the De|grees of it gives Men advantage one over another, and particularly in Military Enterprizes.
And you will always remember that you are Christian Soldiers, and that not only the Principles of State-Policy and moral Prudence must be consulted, but especially the grand Principles of Christian Wisdom. Moral Prudence is always reckon'd among the Cardinal Ver|tues; but Christian Wisdom is the first excellency and shining Glory of a Man in every Capacity and Station. This will be profitable to direct you.— You are sensible who is the Source and Fountain of all Wisdom, and that you need Direction from the Sacred Scriptures, which are design'd to make Men wise. Your Sense of these Things is the Reason, we conclude, why you desire your Anniversary most publick Appearence, should be thus attended, that it may be sanctified by the Word of God and Prayer,— that you may be more furnish'd and dispos'd to approve your selves Christian Soldiers. And if this Wisdom enter into your Heart, and is pleasant to your Soul,—Discretion shall preserve you, Understanding shall keep you, (Prov. 2.10, 11.)—This will be on all Occasions, your Strength and Safety, your Ornament and Glory.—To see a Soldier clad in his goodly Attire and rich Habiliments, attracts the Eyes, and pleases the Imagination of Spectators. But surely this Wisdom is the goodlier Ornament, this is the Righteousness of the Saints. The Soldiers that follow Page 30 the Lamb should be cloath'd with this fine Linnen white and clean. Thus they will be also furnish'd from the Divine Armoury, for every Grace attends this Heavenly Wisdom. This is indeed a lovely Sight! The Holy Angels will be pleas'd to behold such, and will be ministring Spirits to such here on Earth, and gladly guard their Heaven-born Souls whether departing in War or Peace, and convey them through the Regions of the Prince of Darkness, unhurt, untouch'd: and will make you their Companions amongst the bright and Heavenly Hosts. And you shall come again with them in the Great Day, (which the Church-Triumphant as well as Militant waits for!) the Day of that Grand Master of all the Coelestial Armies, when the flaming Chariots of the Great King will be Ten Thousand times Ten Thou|sand.
O who will not wish themselves of that Glorious Army, under the Conduct and Protection of the Captain of our Salvation? when the Arch-Angel shall sound the Alarm to all the World, and his mighty Voice shall be heard in the silent Tombs and in the great Deeps, and the Dead shall come forth, the glorious Army of Mar|tyrs, and all that in Faith have laid down their Lives in the Cause of Christ, and who have resisted unto Blood, striving against Sin. And they shall be gloriously ar|rayed,—there they shall receive the (Corona triumphalis) the Crown of Glory, which the Righteous Judge hath laid up, not for that Christian Hero only, the great Apostle Paul, but for all who have fought the good Fight, and finished well their Course. (2 Tim. 4.7, 8.) It is surely the best Wisdom to make this your Choice, and to take the Course that leads to this Felicity.
To Conclude, This is what concerns us all as Christi|ans, who are, in the Sacred Oracles, frequently consi|der'd as Soldiers, who have our spiritual warfare to accomplish. There we are directed to put on the Ar|mour of Light, (Rom. 13.12.) i. e. to be well fur|nish'd Page 31 with the best of Knowledge and spiritual Wis|dom. This will be our Defence against Sin and Tempta|tion, as it will shew us the evil and mischief of Sin, the excellency and benefit of Obedience. This will help us to regulate our disorderly Passions, to subdue our Lusts and walk circumspectly (exactly) in every Relation and Condition; as it leads us to the spiritual Armoury, the Word of God, and especially as it leads us to Christ, and to derive Strength from Him who is stronger than the strong Man armed, and who has overcome the World, and bid us therefore not to fear. This will teach us to set his Example before us, and to keep in our View the strongest Motives and Arguments to all Duty,— the Glory and Honour of Him under whose Banner we are enlisted, and the blissful Rewards of perfect Knowledge and Holiness, and the fulness of Joys which are in his Presence for ever.
O let us then labour earnestly after this Wisdom, humbly seeking to the blessed Author of it in the diligent improvement of all appointed Means, and grow and increase therein; we may then expect the gracious Con|duct of the Glorious Head of the Church, the Leader and Commander of his People, and that we shall be car|ried through the Difficulties of our present warfare, and be more than Conquerers through Him who hath loved us,—and may depend upon that great and surprizing Promise of his, Rev. 3.21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit down with me on my Throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his Throne. Amen.