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Hiram C. Burger Collection - MS 142: Sermon
No. 25 Series 17
Hiram C. Burger
Theme: Our Country.
Text: Psalm 122:6
"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
Psalm 122:6 - "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem."
These are days when every one that loves his country the wide world over, is thinking about his country, if not actually fighting for it. The greatest war in the annals of history is being fought, almost the whole world is engaged in the struggle, and were it not for our faith that Almighty God ultimately fights on the side of right, we could not even now determine what the outcome is to be. There may be dark days be- fore us, full of death and bloodshed and sorrow and suffering: but ultimately the issue will be decided, right will triumph, and a new future and a more glorious future will be the portion of the whole world, and especially of our land that we love so well. We
need the help of God today to bring us the victory, and we need the help of God to direct us in the era of peace and development and world-wide influence upon which we shall soon enter...
It was while the Jews were in captivity in Babylon that they began to love their country with an intense devotion. Perhaps they loved their country more than we love ours, because it was so closely connected with their religion. Most of the wonderful promises and blessings of God were given in their own country. God had fought for them as they tried to conquer the Promised Land. God had made them a strong nation. In their capital, Jerusalem, was built the wonderful Temple of their God. That was the center of their religion for
in that Temple, in the Holy of Holies, God's glory was manifested as in his earthly dwelling-place, the man who leaves his country by choice, and goes to make his home in some other land will be Kindly disposed towards the land of his birth, but ought to swear loyalty to and Keep faith with, the land of his adoption. People who have the protection of the Stars and Stripes ought to be Americans through and through or go back to their native lands, and stay there. No country had prior claim to the country which one has willingly adopted. These Jews in Babylon loved their land when carried away from it better than loved it before they were made a captive people. There by the rivers of Babylon they sat and wept. They hung their harps upon the willows, and refused to sing the songs of Zion
in a strange land. They were disconsolate, because Jerusalem was far away, and their religious nature was to be satisfied only with their return to their land...By and by, there came the opportunity they prayed for and looked for, to return home. Their punishment had been sufficient. They were sincere lovers of home. And it is pictured how as the Jews returned, they halted on a hill and caught the first distant view of Jerusalem. How dear their city and their country had become to them, we can imagine when day after day as they prayed to God, they opened their windows and prayed with their faces towards Jerusalem. Looking for the first time upon their country from which they had been so long banished, they
burst into tears and wept, just as they had once wept by the rivers of Babylon. They had become patriots yonder in captivity with an ardent love for their native land. And today the Jew still loves that land. He has again been an exile from that land, trodden under foot by the nations of men, but we believe that he is yet to return to that land to a larger destiny than he has yet fulfilled. Wonderful events are in the process of development, and the promise of a new era is bright with hope, and full of joy.
We are not to confine our thoughts tonight to the old city of Jerusalem, which after many centuries of miss-rule, is again in Christian hands, never, we trust, to be surrendered. Jerusalem is the
natural world center of religion. The events that occurred in that land, the supreme events of the crucifixion and resurrection, make the land dear to us, tho' we may never look upon it in life. We love the great world-center of religion, Jerusalem. Jesus Christ loved it. He was a patriot, with an ardent love for his country. Listen to him as he cries "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered thee, as a Hen gathereth her brood under her wings, but ye would not." Jesus might have been a political King had he so chosen, but he came to be more than that, even a spiritual King. He might have thrown off the burden of the Roman, but he chose to throw off the burden of sin, and not for his nation
only, but for all the nations of men. Christ's love was for the world. His sacrifice was for the world. His religion is for the world, and his salvation is as wide as sin, reaching from the rising to the setting sun. It is not out of place for us to pray for that old-time city and its nation: scattered world-wide, when peace comes may they return unto the land of their fathers, and redeem the land and make it to rejoice and blossom as the rose; and so build up a spiritual Kingdom, that shall scatter the truth to all nations, until the earth shall be full of the Knowledge of God, as the waters that cover the sea.
It is always in place for us to think to about our own country, and how we can advance its interests. Men still
have ambition for world-wide power and world-wide rule. The earth has been drenched with blood many and many a time, because some man tried to reach out and secure world-sway. One by one the great Kingdoms of men have fallen. One by one the great conquerors have been broken. Alexander and Caesar and Napoleon all but succeeded but came to ruin or death, and their empires fell asunder. So of other great conquerors, so it will be once more, and we pray, forever. We do not want to rule the world, but we want the whole world to prosper, to make advancement, to come to better things. We desire the world's good, not its goods. We desire to help not to hinder; to lift up, not to hurl down; to preserve life, not to destroy it. In a
word, we want the whole world to enjoy what we enjoy, and ultimately come to equal knowledge and blessing. We are fighting for the sake of men everywhere. And we can well afford to add to our works our prayers to God to bless all lands and nations.
Almost without exception, we think of Jerusalem either as the old-time city of David, or as the personification of the church. Today, I want to think of it as applying to our nation. The very language of the text is full of patriotism, and without any far-fetched deduction, we think today of our own land, and how to make it all that we desire it to be. If we are to exert in the year to come a good influence throughout the whole world, then we want to think about the public welfare, how to get rid of e-
vils that are among us, how to give largest opportunity to our people, how to enhance the welfare of the whole nation. There are at least four things That ought to be dwelt upon At this time, as essential to the public welfare, and the largest influence of our nation throughout the world.
I. The first requisite of a nation for happiness is liberty. Far back in the past, some man of physical might reached out and took power to rule over men; it must have been the rule of the strongest that was riveted upon nations, until the system was established from which we are trying to break away today. We are living in an age of democracy, when people are enjoying larger liberties than
at any other period in history. A century ago the spirit of Liberty was abroad in the countries of South America, and while those countries received a measure of independence, they needed a fuller Knowledge to their development and their lack of knowledge hampered them in their development. Nearly all the nations of men today have a large measure of liberty and the absolute rule of a monarch is rare indeed; and while some of our nations have clung to the trapping of royalty, they have put power into the hands of the people, who are practically self governing. Yet our governments can not give absolute liberty to their people. There are restrictions and safeguards thrown around them. He who had absolute
liberty has absolute power and only one man in a whole nation can exercise that, and all other men are slaves to his will. There may be a group of men, as in Germany, have divided among themselves certain powers, and all the people must bow to their sway...Just at present, Russia shows us the other extreme, where all seek equal authority and where there is inevitable chaos, with no strong central government. We are hoping that the German people will get out from under the Prussian system, and have a voice in their own government, and that Russia will by and by establish a government, all the people giving up some of their liberty that all may have safeguards to their rights
and privileges. On the Meadows of Runnymede the English nobles secured the Magna Carta from King John, and received the first Concession from their absolute Monarch, out of which has Come the constitution of England, safeguarded by laws; Englishmen have liberty under certain well-defined restrictions. So have Americans. Desert tribes are a law unto themselves, so long as they do not form settled communities; but when they come in touch with others, they must give up some former rules and privileges for the mutual good of all. We conceive it to be better to give up some rights so that we can enjoy the rest; and we put ourselves under the rule of law, willingly and gladly, that we may have the protection we desire.
The world has struggled too long And too much blood has been Shed, for us to go back to absolutely monarchy, or practicaal slavery. The nation that is given a constitution, safeguarded and protected, gives the largest liberty to her citizens and affords them the largest happiness. The war is being fought to make the world safe for democracy; so that little countries and big countries will never again need to fight an inter-national bully, who has no regard for right. Nations have a right to self-Government, and to the largest Liberties consistent with the public good. Half a century ago our Boys in Blue made the slave a freeman. Today our Boys are fighting to protect our own liberties, and
the liberties of all men. The world must not take a backward step-the world must move on to the largest possible liberty for the race, and we believe it will.
There are elements in our Nation that must be taught the difference between licence and liberty. Even in the Kingdom of God, we have the highest prosperity and the largest happiness when we put ourselves under the rule of the Master. There are classes in our nation That must be made to see this, That wealth has no right over Poverty, that the rights of the masses must not be destroyed by class legislation, that capital and labor must each enjoy their rights, that men must not cater to the appetites and passions of men, - these and other elements must
be watched, and repressed and destroyed, so that all our people shall have the largest opportunities and advantages consistent with the opportunities and advantages of others.
II. Another requisite of a nation, so that its people shall be happy, is wealth. I do not mean that people must have wealth to be happy- I mean that the nation must have the means of furnishing employment and good remuneration, so that the workers and toilers shall have plenty and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Life used to be far more simple than it is today. Once the needs of our people were easily supplied I question whether we will ever get back to the times when we can easily supply
our needs, but I hope we will be wise enough to live less luxuriously than many of us lived in the past. There is enough wealth in our nation to carry on great manufactories in almost all lines, there is wealth enough to carry on the commerce of the world, there is employment in normal times, for every toiler, in some activity of the times. Men do not put their money in government bonds, and let it lie idle. They put it in shipyards, and railroads and manufactories and commerce and mining and agriculture, multiplied thousands eat their bread in the sweat of their faces, and are happy. Individually, we do not need much
wealth to be happy, but only as wealth makes possible plenty of work and plenty of pay will we have a contented and happy people..We have been enjoying not only the necessary but the delicate and refined pleasures of life. And we shall again. In these days of war we put aside the fastidious and fancy for the sake of the common weal. We may give up food and drink that we have learned to prize. We forego danity clothing, and thing that please the eye, and the ear, and the esthetic nature. They are not necessary to life, but they do enhance the pleasures of life add to the joy of living. To secure these things, there must be more work on the farm, in the mine, the manufactory, in
commerce and in the merchandising of the product. Labor alone cannot produce these things bring dainty food to our tables, clothing for our bodies, or rings for my lady's fingers. It does not even demand wealth to secure and possess and enjoy the delicate and dainty and finer enjoyments of life. But side by side, in the production of these things go labor and the wealth without which they could not be produced. Greater opportunities than ever lie before us. We have wealth as a nation, we have labor that wealth can employ and direct, and there is no reason to believe that our nation will not be prosperous and happy.
We must settle some things in the relation of Employer and Employee; we must watch the
proper distribution of our food products; we must prevent hoarding and destruction in order to get larger profits, we must secure proper housing conditions, and settle other questions of this nature; and we have the assurance of happiness as it comes through the supplying of our needs.
III. A third requisite of happiness is national security, and a willingness to fight in defence of our national rights and to preserve the national safety. There is no security today for any nation, save a willingness of her citizens to fight in her defense. We have had dreamers inveigh against preparedness for war on the part of our nation. We were told it was utterly contrary to the teaching of Jesus
Christ to prepare for war, and we were practically without any means of defense against invasion, had some enemy been able to reach us either by sea or land. Today, after we have been offically at war for over eight months, the government has not proper equipment, and our solders are awaiting their equipment. We are full of sympathy for the small nations that could not possibly save themselves from the assaults of their strong neighbors. We are full of contempt for big nations who make no provisions for self defense, and the protection of their citizens. Were Christ to get his place in governments as in individual lives differences between nations would not lead to war, neither would nations transgress the rights
of others. Under the system that prevails today treaties between nations were made to keep only so long as there was no occasion to break them. And no nation will be safe tomorrow, unless it can defend itself, or claim protection from some friendly nation. Until wars are amply provided against, by the acceptance of Christianity, or by a league to enforce peace, our nation and every nation must be ready to defeat foes, and protect the lives and property of our citizens. I am not fearful of the future. We are on the side of right, the side of victory. Within the breasts of native and foreign born citizens alike, there are hearts full of love and devotion to our country, who would sacrifice life itself to the welfare of the state.
Here and there may be some soul who prefers some other country to his own, but the nation can be made secure, and I trust will be made secure, so that we never need fear the horrors of Belgium, its cruelty, and lust, and ruthless destruction. America is waking up at last to the need of national defense, and we pray that it is not too late. IV. A last requisite for national happiness is a high national character. No country has had higher ideal than the nation of Israel; and no nation has had more to do with the high ideals of today. The Bible still rings true to fact when it tells us that righteousness exalteth a nation, while sin is a reproach to any people, Lawgivers and philosophers and moralists
are all agreed that public virtue is the source of public happiness, and a lack of public virtue the source of misery and wretchedness. The prosperity and stability of governments depend on the morality of the people. All nations that have risen to greatness came to their greatness through virtue, and temperance, and industry and justice, and since the advent of Christ, by serious regard of religious things...Vice and depravity pave the way to ruin. When mighty Rome became dissolute and vile, the hardy barbarians from the North found it an easy prey. Drunk with ambition, the enemy of human liberty today is involving the world in war, and bringing his nation to ruin. By and by the man of sin
will stand revealed; and the morning after will be far different from the riot of warfare. We need to keep our national ideals high. We need to teach morality, and sobriety, and honesty, and the cardinal virtues which make a nation great and keep it strong. We need to keep sight of the best things that make nations happy. And we need to emphasize today more than ever before the fact that faith and trust in God are not outworn or outgrown or misplaced. The nation that trusts in the God of Hosts, revealed to us in the Bible, and in Jesus Christ our Savior, is under the care and protection of Almighty God, and he will lead her armies to victory, and crown them with peace. The nations
that have reached the highest attainments are nations which followed in part at least the teachings of the Bible. They had had ideals, and sought to reach them. No nation has had higher ideals than our own. No nation has higher ideals than ours today. Let us keep them high, and not suffer them to be lowered either during the war or the period of reconstruction. We need to destroy the drink traffic, and root out some forms of commercialized vice and insist on sterling integrity, honesty, virtue, justice, truth, and then trusting in God do our duty as God helps us to see that duty, bringing happiness to our people through the wonderful blessings of Almighty God.
Our Country - Ps. 122,6
Men thinking and fighting for Country
I. Captivity and Love of Country
- Religion an element of the love.
- The first views of Jerusalem.
II. Jerusalem in Christian hands
- Jesus Christ a patriot.
- Salvation and Spiritual Kingdom.
III. World Wide Ambition
Ours is to help and uplift and save.
IV. Jerusalem now the Nation, not Church
- Liberty for happiness and peace.
- Men assumed power.
- Absolutism almost gone.
Group of men - Russia.
Runnymede - desert tribe.
- No return to absolutism.
- Elements - liberty vs license.
- National Wealth
- Employment for toiler.
- Manufactories, shipyards, commerce, mining, agriculture.
- Little to be happy, individually.
- Labor and wealth and happiness.
- National Security - self defense
- Rights of small nations.
- High National Character.
- Public virtue - public happiness.
- Rome - the man of sin.
- Faith and trust in God not outworn
Written December 21, 1917
Prairie Depot May 19/18 Good - Fair Audience
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