« PreviousContinue »
His ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. The good and noble and intelligent of the earth are ever working with God, for the triumph of liberty and righteousness, according to the best of their ability. But suddenly, to their utter amazement, instruments which seemed to be so necessary for the accomplishment of these ends are removed, and others substituted to finish the work. Such
Such sudden turns of Providence bewilder our minds for a moment. At first, the thought of irretrievable disaster flashes upon us.
But a little reflection upon the ways of God, and the promises of his word, and that the throne of the universe is occupied by the Lord Jesus Christ, whose whole business is to raise the poor and the downtrodden, and to break the rod of the oppressor, as it exists, and is wielded in the first place by the Devil himself, and then by his countless agents of high and low degree on earth; as we reflect upon the fact, that our Almighty and infinitely benevolent Saviour is the Lord of all, and that no event, whether accomplished by good or evil instruments, is independent of his wise and holy will, – we begin to understand that He who doeth all things well, and who sees the end from the beginning, is only accomplishing the same grand and holy purpose, for which his people have been laboring and praying so long, in a more thorough manner than they had designed. For while every Christian and loyal heart abhors the foul deed which has been committed, and while their eyes help swell the river of tears which this day flows through the land, yet, to the man of faith, the glorious cause of Christ and humanity is not injured, — no, is not injured, nor is delayed
, for a single day, by the destruction of even such a life as that of Abraham Lincoln. For all things must work together for good to the cause of God, to the cause of right, to the cause of justice; and all these, as far as they were contained in national and political events in our land, and indeed throughout the world, were
chiefly centred in him. For these holy causes are greatly involved, not only in the revolutions, but even in the politics, of the present day. It has no doubt often been true, that politics, when concerned simply with questions of tariff and commerce and such like things, were fairly open questions for honest Christian differences; and often indeed it was no easy thing to decide strictly as to duty. But every intelligent and unprejudiced man, (but, alas! how much mischief has mere prejudice and partisanship wrought in the world!) if he make himself sufficiently acquainted with current events to understand them in their great moral significancy, could not fail to see, that, for several years past, a disunion (not yet by any means perfect, but progressing), that a division, like that of the future sheep and goats, has been going on. Righteousness or iniquity, which should prevail? has been the real question, though not in just so bald a form. Truth or error, liberty or oppression, Christ or Satan, — these are the real and simple issues in the great political, moral questions of the present day. The lines are becoming each year more clearly marked. The friends of Christ and of mankind are each year coming more closely together. There are, indeed, many of the true friends of Christ, by some sad mistake, by want of reflection or understanding, by family connections sometimes, or by want of prayer for divine direction, who are yet, alas! mingled with the friends of Satan. It seems impossible to understand, how, sometimes, men of intelligence and unquestioned piety can take such a false or even neutral position. And it is just as true, alas! that many, who, by unregeneracy of heart, are the friends of Satan, are found in these great political divisions with the friends of Christ. But these political divisions will each year become more clearly defined. Babylon, in prophetic language, is a name which describes the whole policy and organization of the cause of iniquity; and to those who should find themselves inhabitants of that wicked place, that is, the unconscious or unwilling allies of evil, to them God speaks in kindness and in love (Rev. xviii. 14), e Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” It is addressed to those especially who lived at the time of, and since, the Reformation, and who might, by some perchance, find themselves in the company of those beasts described in that book, or, in other words, in league with ecclesiastical or civil oppression, and consequent error, in any of its plagues of development. And it is because the Church of Christ in general understands these events, that the Christian can lift up his head, under apparently the most adverse circumstances, and rejoice; believing, yea, knowing, that the cause he loves so well, not for its own sake merely, but chiefly because of its connection with the great and glorious work of Christ, - hence it is, I say, that the Christian, when the standard
I bearers of liberty are for a moment stricken down, can yet exclaim, " He doeth all things well.” For what the prophet says of Christ, and therefore of his people, must be fulfilled: " He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set justice in the earth.” For the cause of right, of liberty, of God, whether considered in its more strictly religious, or in its more external and national aspect, must conquer. It is not dependent upon the life of one man. It is not dependent upon the lives of even a million of the best and most virtuous men now alive. They might all be destroyed, and such a cause would only take heart from their destruction, and go on with greater success. The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church. How often did the despots of Europe, civil and ecclesiastical, put to death the friends of God, and the defenders of human liberty! But did they kill the cause? Oh, no! The cause of truth can never die. Disciples arose in their places more numerous than the slain, until the thoughts of those martyrs of God and of Liberty crystallized into
our glorious Constitution. And now that so great an effort as the slaveholders' rebellion, entirely satanic in its origin and nature, has been made at its very life, and which has been so greedily seconded by the aristocrats and tyrants of Europe, yet could it kill this noble life, containing as it does the cause of both God and man? Impossible! We see already the rebellion in its deaththroes. We see the glorious dawn of peace. Hallelujahs are
. ascending from our hearts. And now that the representative man of freedom in the West (as the Czar of Russia has so unexpectedly become in the East) has been foully murdered, does injure the noble old cause against which the dragon has already launched so many blows? Not in the least. It will prove, as the end no doubt will show, a great blessing to the cause. die; Satan may let loose his agents upon them: but the cause still lives. It is as immortal as our Elder Brother on the throne.
Universal freedom and brotherhood will only be the more surely, and perhaps the more rapidly, accomplished. The gospel shall more speedily have free course, and be glorified. The wrath of man shall praise Him; and the remainder He will restrain.
It is a sad event, indeed, which has happened, - a disgraceful event; probably actuated by nothing higher than the plotted revenge of a few individuals, at the failure of their bad cause. But it is the fool who says, that revenge is sweet. God has said, that sin is a bitter thing. The deluded murderer, as well as his instigators and accomplices, will, no doubt, soon be in the hands of justice, and then in the hands of an angry God. David would not kill Saul, when he had him in his power, though Saul was a wicked man, and God had specially promised the throne to David. But he in his piety declared, "I will not lift up my hand against the Lord's anointed.” Saul was God's vicegerent on earth, as a king, to administer justice among men, though wicked and unworthy. But here was one, who was likewise God's vicegerent to administer justice and truth, who was literally, what every ruler ought to be, no respecter of persons; who had stricken off the shackles from the slave; and yet, alas! by the hands of a poor deluded man, who could not raise his mind to grasp the glory of the great evolving problems of humanity, because he himself was a slave of Satan, — by such a man is the noble President, the Great Emancipator, basely murdered. Slanders and calumnies the good ever expect to bear; and these, though innumerable, he deemed never worthy a moment's attention. But who would have believed (the good President could not) that one who called himself an American citizen could have been so fiendish as this? But Satan ever overshoots the mark. Even the plans of wicked men are under the control of the Lord Jesus Christ, the friend of the sinful and the captive. Long have the friends of liberty prayed that he would turn the counsel of the wicked into foolishness. . We have seen how he has done this, by permitting the slaveholders to rebel, and who have thus destroyed their cherished institution, and put themselves completely in the power of those whom they call their enemies, but, in fact, who were only the enemies of their wickedness. And now, by this last most abominable of deeds, they have only sunk their cause still lower, and injured it more irremediably. The departed President's fault, if such it might be called, was his extreme leniency, his kindness of heart. For look at the terms, which he no doubt approved of, if he did not suggest, which General Grant has offered to General Lee. The country was surprised at them. And this is but one illustration of his whole career. Indeed, many good men feared that he might yet endanger the Republic by excessive clemency; that the great cause of liberty was in peril from very kindness to its foes. But they have murdered this kind-hearted and good man,