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THE NATION'S BEREAVEMENT:

A DISCOURSE

DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSALIST CHURCH, BUFFALO, N.Y.,

SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 16, 1865;

BY REV. J. HAZARD HARTZELL.

2 SAMUEL, xxii. 28: “And the afflicted people thou wilt save.”

THIS
HIS is the language of David in regard to the people of Is-

rael. They had passed through a terrible conflict with the Philistines. Israel had emerged from the shock and blood, the commotion and destruction, of war, mighty and victorious. But some of their great men had fallen, and bitter sorrow came upon Israel. Their kingdom had been delivered by the hand of the Almighty; and, whilst they rejoiced over this deliverance, they were called to mourn over the great men who had perished in the struggle.

David returned thanks to the Almighty for the victory over his enemies, and, with the voice of the sublimest confidence, declared that God would save his afflicted people. Oh! it is grand and inspiring to see this old king, amid the sorrow and desolation of the people, with the light of victory streaming all over his kingdom, which had been shaken by the tumult of war, looking up with a full heart, and thanking God for his timely intercession.

With these introductory remarks, we pass, with indescribable feelings, to speak this morning upon " The Nation's Bereavement.” Stunned by the terrific blow, and appalled by the unspeakable horror of a most wicked tragedy, we hardly know how to approach the subject. The President of the Republic is struck down by the red hand of the midnight assassin, in the hour of our national triumph; and a loving people are in tears. The Secretary of State lies in a critical condition, with blood oozing from the wounds inflicted by the relentless murderer; and rejoicing freemen are shocked and bewildered. The light of victory has given way to the darkness of death; and the angel of liberty hangs, with piteous look and sheltering wing, over the Republic. We find our feelings expressed in the language of Macduff, when he discovered Duncan lying bloody and dead in his chamber:

“ Confusion now hath made his masterpiece!
Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope
The Lord's anointed temple, and stole from thence
The Life of the building."

A loyal people are wrenched with agony, and overshadowed with desolation. Bells have tolled their melancholy music, and every city in the country is draped in the deepest mourning. Tears are the eloquent utterances of a mighty people, who have conquered a rebellion, the most bloody and wicked that ever darkened the earth, and redeemed a nation, the most free and just upon which the sun ever poured its light. But, beneath these tears, so profuse and bitter, there is a firm, deep, steady purpose to punish treason and murder; to re-instate the Republic upon the everlasting foundations of justice and righteousness; to advance with a giant tread, and meet the momentous issues of the hour; to usher in the luminous period of law and order, and let the nation travel, with triumphant banners, up the prophetic highway of a glorious destiny.

First treason, and then murder: how they follow in rapid succession, shocking the heart, and bewildering the brain! Wickedness finds culmination in the massacre of the President; and in the fiendish attack upon the Secretary, when suffering intense pain upon his narrow couch. It is the deep, dark, damning stain upon the escutcheon of American civilization, which will require the operation of centuries to obliterate. It will require the attrition of a thousand reforms, and the polish of long years of education and refinement, to give this escutcheon its former brilliancy. Long will it be before the American people will outgrow this foul, rank disgrace, which clings to them, at this moment, like a cold, withering shadow upon their land, which is richer to-day, thank God! with its golden sheaves and loyal hearts, than Europe is with its dusty thrones and burnished

crowns.

Not only has a good man fallen, but every citizen of the Republic has been struck. When the President fell by the cold hand of the assassin, every freeman in the country received the blotch of infamy upon his forehead. In the presence of law, Abraham Lincoln was not the President of this party, nor of that party, but of the people; and, as such, he fell. We say, with Mark Antony,

" Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I and you and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us."

And what a commentary it is upon the civilization of this country, when we reflect that the truth of the present, so full of horror and disgrace, is so forcibly expressed by the language of Mark Antony over the dead body of Cæsar, as it lay in the proud city of Rome, speaking, with a terrible eloquence, to the frenzied multitude, from many a wound. This shocking tragedy occurred under the ruling civilization of heathenism; but it is not more cruel. bloody, and wicked, than the one which has just been

Oh! my

performed in Washington, amid the spiritual forces of Christiani-
ty. Oh! respected freemen, it is a terrible misfortune to be
thrown, by the puny arm of one man, back three thousand years
into the cold and chilling atmosphere of barbarism.
afflicted countrymen, we have met with an awful calamity; and it
behooves us, in this hour of trial and sorrow, to rise above all the
prejudices of party and sectarianism, and awake to the important
duties of the hour.

" Awake!
Shake off this downy sleep, death's counterfeit,
And look on death itself! Up, up, and see
The great doom's image! Malcolm! Banquo !
As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,
To countenance this horror!”

This assassination of the President discloses a recklessness and a depravity, that must be humiliating to every American. It is the revealment of that contempt for law and order, which must lower the Government in the minds of Europeans. It is the development of that awful spirit of treason, which has been nurtured, for years, in malignant bosoms, under the diabolus of nullification. It is the same spirit which disgraced the halls of American Congress by its passion, despotism, and brutal violence; and that brought sorrow to the hearts, and pallor to the lips, of millions of freemen, by firing into the honored flag on Fort Sumter. It has now risen to the climax of perfidy; and the blood of our Chief Magistrate is crying to us, in melting tones, from the ground.

We hoped that we had passed from the period of violence and destruction, treason and murder. We had hoped that our greatest sorrow had been experienced, our heaviest calamities borne, our deepest darkness passed. But we were mistaken; for a shock of commotion, like a clap of thunder from a sky that looked beautiful and serene, has shaken the nation. We stood in the morning light of the new era which had commenced to break over the country, with flags of triumph waving, and bells of gladness ringing, when the President was stricken down. The foot of the nation was upon the neck of the rebellion, and it was passing through its last spasm, rolling and struggling in the dust, when this awful calamity fell upon us. With the light of peace and joy beaming upon the land, in consequence of the glorious triumph of the invincible army of the Republic, we should have rejoiced if the life of the President could have been spared. But the Almighty, for some wise purpose beyond our comprehension, has allowed him to be removed, from a sphere of unwearied effort and intense anxiety, to a sphere, we trust, of tranquil peace and heavenly rest, where dark clouds never lower, and the fire-storms never come.

We scarcely know where to find a parallel to this crime, which is at this moment weighing upon the heart of the nation. William the First, Prince of Orange, who gave freedom to the Dutch, and was venerated and honored for his humane disposition and sterling character, and who won the affection of his people by his kindness and uprightness, was murdered in the sixteenth century. The assassin was a young man from Burgundy, who fired a pistol, containing three balls, at the Prince, when he fell and died, with the words, Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu! Ayez pitie de moi et de ton pauvre peuple! But, taking both periods into consideration, this crime does not equal the one before which America stands appalled this morning. Since the assassination of William the First, we have had three centuries in which to advance government, civilization, and religion, with no little monarchies quarrelling and contending around us. Contrasting the periods and the countries, the assassination of the President of the United States is a crime which has scarcely a parallel in history.

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