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and they should find no place for mercy, though they seek it carefully and with tears. The blood of our murdered President is
Even if they were not cognizant of the plan of assassination, they should be held accountable for the crime as the legitimate issue of the wicked cause for which they are contending. The guilt of a hundred thousand murders is upon them. They are guilty of all the blood that has been shed in the course of this war, and of all the evil which it has brought upon the land; and it would be a sin against humanity, and against high Heaven, to remit one jot or tittle of the penalty they deserve. The blood of our murdered President, and of tens of thousands of our sons and brothers who have fallen on the field of battle, cries to Heaven for justice upon the guilty. We cannot disregard the cry, without making ourselves guilty before God. I encourage no spirit of revenge, no feeling of hatred toward our enemies.
I simply urge the claims of justice. I believe it is one of the lessons which this event should impress upon us, that they should have justice without mercy who have shown no mercy.
We look to the future, my friends, with anxiety. Our trusted leader is gone, and we are not sure that his successor possesses the qualities required for the discharge of such responsible duties. Let us put our trust in God. He will not suffer the cause of righteousness and truth to fail. He will give the needed guidance to our rulers, if we humbly ask it for them. His hand will guide us through the perils that are now before us, and yet bless our bleeding land with prosperity and peace. In the midst of our sorrow for the murdered President, let us not forget to pray for him upon whom the duties of the Government now devolve. He takes his great responsibility, he says, trusting in God. May the mantle of the departed Lincoln fall upon him! May he have the wisdom, firmness, and moderation, which are needed to guide the Ship of State through its dangers into the haven of peace! And may the whole nation, taught by this awful event the frailty of human hopes, put its trust in the God of Israel, and look to him as the source of national strength and prosperity!
PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S DEATH:
A SERMON DELIVERED IN THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, NATCHEZ, MISS.,
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 1865;
BY REV. JOS. B. STRATTON, D.D.,
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH.
PSALMs, xi. 3: “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do ?”
GLANCE at the structure of the Psalm will show that
David in this passage is quoting the language of some party, supposed to be in conference with him, - a tempter, we may call him, who is seeking by his suggestions to shake his fortitude, and corrupt his fidelity, as a servant of God. His opening remark, "In the Lord put I my trust,” is his answer to these suggestions. "Why try to overthrow my faith,” he seems to say, " by revealing to me the perils and calamities by which I am menaced? Why try to drive me into unbelieving despondency by arraying before me the machinations or the triumphs of human and satanic malice? Why tell me that the wicked are bending their bows, and making ready their arrows upon the string, that they may privily shoot at the upright in heart? Why remind me, that the foundations are destroyed; that lawlessness and iniquity abound; that social order is broken up; that justice is driven from her tribunals, and even the majesty of Govern
ment profaned in its sanctuary, and then ask me, what can the righteous do, and counsel me as a helpless and abandoned thing to flee like a bird to the mountain? My answer to all this is, In the Lord put I my trust!”
The drift of the query in the text, by taking it thus in connection with the preceding part of the Psalm, may easily be discovered. It is, in fact, no query at all, but rather a statement, allegation. It means to declare, that, in the case proposed, - in such a conjecture of alarming and depressing circumstances as had been set forth, — there was absolutely nothing for the right
— eous man to do. And with his interlocutor in this conclusion, the Psalmist joins issue. He maintains that there is something for the righteous man to do, even when the foundations are destroyed; and he assumes that flight, retreat, a resort to silence and seclusion, are criminal derelictions from his duty,
an inexcusable failure to bear his testimony, and act his part, as a righteous man. The idea which seems to be enunciated in this answer is, that the righteous man or Christian, as such, has a special work to do, or function to exercise, at every period and in every position in which he may find himself placed. The idea is an important one, and I wish to set it before you this morning, with all the emphasis that I can give to it. The righteous man or Christian has that character to exemplify under all possible circumstances. He can never drop it, or suspend it, or compromise it. It must appear in his thinking, his judging, his feeling, his speaking, and his doing. As the Lord's servant, his work is simply and exclusively to fulfil his Lord's will; to be the man whom his Lord would have him be. Should "the foundations be destroyed;” should his own mind be driven from its balance by the onset of natural passion; should the community with which he is identified, like a ship torn from its moorings by the rush of the hurricane, be swept wildly hither and thither
by convulsive excitements, — he must maintain his principle, hold
fast by his rule, and, like the compass on that ship's deck, tranquilly fulfilling its , office amidst the tumult of the storm, remain true to himself and God, though every thing else seems surrendered to turbulence and disorganization. He must show himself the righteous man, the Christian, though a thousand impetuous forces within him and around him are impelling him to the assumption of a different character. The religion, as I have a hundred times taught you, which does not keep you abiding in Christ, and Christ abiding in you, is no religion in the judgment of the gospel. The religion which does not keep the spiritual branch steadily and permanently united to its stock; which does not evidence itself, steadily and permanently, by phenomena in the life of the soul, identical with those which appear in the life of its divine Head, - is not the religion which the Saviour gave to his disciples. That religion contemplates difficulties in the practice of it; nay, is required to establish its genuineness in any case, by its readiness and ability to sustain itself under difficulties. What else do those two great features in it, so broadly delineated in the Scriptures, - the obligation to selfdenial, and the obligation to unlikeness to the world, - mean? If you are not prepared and accustomed to deny self, to repress the passions and mortify the affections of the flesh, when these are at variance with the law of Christ; if you are not prepared and accustomed to differ from the world, when, through sympathy and complicity with it, you are liable to be wrought into tempers and urged into acts in conflict with the law of Christ, — you cannot, and do not, possess the true spirit of his followers. That allows no deviation, and no lapses in its loyalty. It acknowledges him as absolute and as perpetual master. It makes him master, just as truly when it is hard to do so, as when it is easy to do so. It demands that the individual who possesses it, should be uniformly