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The character of Jonathan a model for imitation.
2 SAMUEL, Chap. 1, VER. 23.
“Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they were not divided.”
THESE words are part of that beautiful elegy which the psalmist of Israel composed upon the occasion of the death of his beloved friend and companion, Jonathan. Let us, my brethren, engage in the profitable and pleasant contemplation of some of the most striking features in the character of this
young prince, which is one of the most finished and perfect that occurs in the annals of the world. What was recorded in the historical parts of the Old Testament, was written for our instruction : and every character in sacred writ exhibits either a pattern for us to imitate, or an example of what we ought to avoid.
First, then, we behold in Jonathan, the brave warriour and the generous hero. True courage is not an animal principle, dependent. on mere bodily strength, but is the offspring of reasoning and reflection. It is inseparable from virtue, which alone can render a man superiour to the fear of death, and enable him to brave danger without dismay. It is intimately connected with a belief of the divine superintendence, and a trust in the goodness of him who guardeth his servants as the apple of his
eye, who preserveth them in the day of battle, so that “ though a thousand fall by “ their side, and ten thousand at their right “ hand, it doth not once come nigh unto " them.” Such was the bravery of that youthful prince whom David thus extols : “ beauty of Israel is slain upon the high pla
ces : how are the mighty fallen ! From the 66 blood of the slain, from the feet of the
mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not " back, and the sword of Saul returned not “ empty. They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.”
The valour of Jonathan is that feature in his character with which we are first made acquainted. For when the hosts of the Philis.
tines were gathered against Israel ; when many, even of the Hebrews, bad deserted to them; when the rest had fled for fear, and only six hundred men remained with his father Saul, Jonathan, fired with a love of glory, and accompanied only with his armourbearer, boldly dared to attack the enemy's camp.
Nor was this the effect of rashness or despair, but of a firm trust in the goodness of his cause, and in the support of the Lord of Hosts. “For Jonathan said to the young man that “ bare his armour, Come, and let us go over “ to the garrison of these uncircumcised : it may
be that the Lord will work for us : for “ there is no restraint to the Lord, to save by
many or by few.” Accordingly, the Philistines fell before Jonathan, they were dismayed and discomfited ; and the multitude
There is no quality which so much commands our esteem, admiration and love as that of courage, especially when accompanied with that humanity and generosity which are inseparable from true valour. It wins the heart of all who behold it. Soldiers will obey with cheerfulness, and follow with alacrity, the general whom they love ; and they cannot
fail to love him who fears not to expose his own person to danger; who, though sparing of the blood of his people, is prodigal of his
This was strikingly exemplified on the very day on which the Philistines-were defeated. For when the king drew the people together, in order to discover who had made them to sin by tasting food, contrary to his express charge, they, at first, refused to reveal the
person who had committed the crime, and when it was found out by lot, that, Jonathan had unwittingly transgressed his father's commandment, and was sentenced to die, the people interposed and said unto Saul, “shall
Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great “ salvation in Israel? God forbid : as the Lord
liveth, there shall not one hair of his head “ fall to the ground : for he hath wrought “ with God this day. So the people rescued
Jonathan, that he died not.”
But, farther, we behold in Jonathan the disinterested patriot. Patriotism, among
theancient moralists, was reckoned the first of virtues. The maxim was deeply engraven on the minds of the old, and endeavoured to be impressed on the young that“ it is pleasant and honour“ able to die for one's country.” Under the christian dispensation this principle, as well as that of private friendship, though not entirely forgotten, seems, in a great measure, to be superseded by that more exalted one of love to God, or absorbed in that more enlarged and comprehensive precept of universal love to mankind, whether friends or foes, countrymen or foreigners. Compared with this new commandment, the love of one's country is a narrow and contracted principle. In the ancient world, it served, for the most part, as a cloak to ambition and a love of conquest: it inspired a hatred and contempt of all other nations; and, it too often usurped the place of that love which we owe to the Supreme Being. I do not mean, however, to disparage this virtue. Decent and honourable and glorious it certainly is, to sacrifice our peculiar interest, our happiness and our life for the good of the whole, in a proper cause.
This principle has been the parent of many a noble and virtuous deed. It has strengthened the warriour's arm in the day of battle ; it has lightened the labours of the legislator; it has roused the statesman in the hour of danger, and awakened the slothful from the lap of repose to listen to the call of honour and of glory.