Page images

who had done them no wrong; who had fairly been elected, by a vast majority of the people, a second time; who, by his severe labors to save the nation, and to maintain and extend the cause of human liberty, was, in very fact, spending himself for their benefit, and the benefit of their posterity, though, in their blindness and wickedness, they could not see it. They have murdered this man, who would only have been too good to them with their restoration to the Union. And now a man of iron sternness succeeds him, whose mercy towards the leaders, at least, will surely be far less; from whom they may expect justice rather than mercy. God saw this to be necessary in finishing up this great rebellion. He saw that that good and kind-hearted man would not be the one for this work; and he has taken him away. And, though the first sad news shocked every faithful heart, yet it is only in order to secure the triumph, more utterly to destroy the evil course. It is only to forward, by other and sterner instrumentalities which he had at hand, the great struggle in which Christ and his people are engaged. The gospel can never have free course, until the tyrants and oppressors of men are destroyed. Liberty is the forerunner of the gospel. The gospel, after it had been planted by the apostles, begat liberty, as her strong and sturdy son, — the man-child who, ultimately, should go before her, to prepare her way. The gospel, pure and true, after occasional great triumphs, yet could only, in general, live in secret, till her own offspring grew to strength (especially exemplified in our nation), and who, by his strong and herculean arms, should strike down the opponents, and say to the heralds of the gospel, " Enter in: the way is prepared: proclaim ye the accept

e able year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.” And now a man of iron sternness holds the reins which are to secure the cause of liberty and God, and who is to draw the rebels back to their proper place in the Union (which they shall not destroy), or who will mete out to them, if they persevere in their wickedness, the just deserts of their crimes.

The part which Providence designed our lamented President to play, he had completed. Little did he or any one think, that his work was so near done. But he had fulfilled well his part. His name will ever stand by the side of that of Washington. He has completed virtually the work which Washington begun. We have only, as yet, passed through the introductory chapter of our nation's history, during the last few years of which, the noble cause has been purged of the dross which necessarily, and to their mortification, adhered to it as it came from the hands of the fathers. It has passed through the furnace heated seven-fold, and 'must come out purified and refined. No longer will the theories and the facts of our government conflict; but, henceforth, all who tread the soil of our country will be free men: and thus only. will our Republic be prepared to take part consistently in the

yet future conflict upon the remaining oppressors of mankind in other lands. For God undoubtedly intends to use us in this

. pouring-out of some of the latter vials of wrath upon his enemies. Not only has our war purged us of our chief sin, but has drilled us for the greater, not only national but international, conflict, and liberty's universal victory.

And here it may not be amiss to allude to the religious character of our beloved and respected Chief Magistrate. President Lincoln is well known to have been a praying man. When he left his village home to go to Washington, more than four years ago, and his fellow-citizens bade him farewell, as he stood on the rear platform of the train, his last words to them were, " Pray for me.” And did ever man need a nation's prayers more? On the morning of his first inauguration, he rose early, and retired to a secret place, and prayed that God would enable him to do his duty in the great task laid upon him. And yet, perhaps, all this

[ocr errors]

time, he was not a Christian. All his proclamations, however, seem to be redolent with piety, and far superior, in this respect, to most, if not all, his predecessors, till we come to Washington. But, less than a year ago, a man from a Western State had business with the President, and, after it had been transacted, told him that he had a question to ask him, at the solicitation of some Christian friends. The question was, " Do you love Jesus?The President burst into tears, and buried his face in his handkerchief, and, for a time, could not speak. But, oh! how precious to us that we have this record of his religious experience! He at length said, " When I left Springfield, I said to my fellow-citizens, ' Pray for me;' but I was not then a Christian. When my child died, soon after I entered upon my office, my heart was still rebellious against God. I was not then a Christian. But, when I walked the battle-field of Gettysburg, and saw the wounded and the dying, and felt, that, by that victory, our cause was saved, I then and there resolved, and gave my heart to Jesus. I do love Jesus.” This is the testimony of his own lips upon his religious life; and is it not sufficient? Millions of loyal hearts and of freedmen have often prayed that God would bless that man with his grace. Often have I prayed in private, and in my family, as well as in public, that the faith of Christ might not be lacking to him. And could it be, it might well be asked, that so many prayers, especially from the thousands of slaves whose freedom will ever be associated with his name, — could it be that all their prayers could have been unanswered? This testimony, from the President's own lips, proves that they were answered: "On that blood-stained field, I gave my heart to God. I do love Jesus.”

We mourn for the man. We hide our faces in shame at the awful crime which deprived him of his life. But we will still rejoice, as we remember that the cause of God and of liberty can never die. Men may die; but it is said of Christ," And He shall

[ocr errors]

live” (Ps. lxxii.); and this is necessarily true also of the cause which he represents. The wrath of man shall only hasten in the triumph of the cause of truth, and the complete destruction of the powers of iniquity. But, in view of this solemn providence, the practical question is, which let each man ask himself sincerely, as in the sight of God, and as he will answer it at the last great day, — let each man ask himself, whether, hitherto, in his politics on these great moral questions, he has been the servant of Christ or of the Devil? For there is no middle ground. .

Somerset Unionist, Somerville, N.7., May 18, 1865.






Psalm 1xxv. 7: “But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”

John xiii. 7: “ What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.”


the administration of the affairs of this world, God is ever doing and permitting things to be done, the reasons for which cannot be seen by short-sighted mortals. Such is God's method of proceeding, that we are continually compelled to take many things on trust. Faith in him is the great lesson which he is ever teaching mankind. He has drawn an impenetrable veil before our eyes, shutting out the future from our view. "Ye know not what shall be on the morrow," or "what a day may bring forth.”

How impressively these scriptural declarations, and those of my text, are illustrated by events which have recently transpired on the other side of the globe! All the loyal people of that great country, stretching from the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf to the Lakes, were preparing for such a day of thanksgiving and jubilee, as never had been witnessed on the Western Continent. The national

« PreviousContinue »