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let the young men off. Why should a great and generous government with all its powers be pursuing the young men who thus murdered Mr. Merrick while attempting to prevent a robbery at his house? Why should the officers of the government be “ lapping their tongues in the blood of the innocent ?” Suppose this view as to the duty of a government were universally entertained, what would be the result? How long would your government last? How long would you hold a dollar of property? How long would the safety of your daughters be secure? How long would the life of your sons who stand in resistance to lust and rapine be safe? I have never heard such shocking sentiments uttered in relation to the duty of government from any human lips, or from any writer on the face of the earth. We have been told here that our government has nothing of divinity that hedges it about; that it is only the government of man's making. The Bible tells us that all government is of God; that the powers that be are ordained of God; and I can tell you, gentlemen, if such are the sentiments of this country that there is no divinity and no power of God that hedges about this government, its days are numbered, its condemnation is already written, and it will lie in the dust before many years have rolled by. No government that is not of God will last. It will soon come to naught. No other government ever did long exist. No other government can exist. Every government which is a government of the people is of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God. When you come together to the polls, and you elect as the ruler of this great nation a President, he is made so by the sanction of your votes, and in that act the voice of the people becomes the voice of God. I repeat, a government which is thus instituted is ordained of God, and it is as much hedged about as that of any King that ever reigned on England's throne. Is it possible that our countrymen will say that the government which we thus have made, which our fathers established, and which we are thus cherishing, has nothing of divinity hedging it about?
Does it rest alone upon human whim, without having anything sacred about it, and without any protection of the Almighty over it? If so, let me again repeat, its days are numbered; it will soon pass away. Once there was an empire in Rome. It was an empire which was in its day the greatest that the human mind had ever reared; but it did not believe, or rather ceased to believe, that there was a God who ruled; that government was of God; and they ceased to punish great crimes, such as treason, rapine, and murder, and it happened a very short time after they ceased to inflict punishment for such crimes-ceased to exercise the powers which belonged to government-that the Roman empire tumbled into ruins. It was trampled down by the barbarian, and now not a son of the Cæsars lives on the face of the earth, and not a descendant of a Roman matron exists anywhere in this wide universe. The empire perished, and crumbled into dust; nothing but its ashes remain. And thus will it ever be whenever a people cease to obey God, and cease to think that government is of God. Let us see what the Bible says on this subject; what views were entertained in the Old Testament, and what in the New.
Mr. PIERREPONT then read from 1 Samuel, chapter XV, as follows:
Samuel also said unto Saul, the Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel ; now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.
And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
And Saul said unto the Kenites, go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, Jest I destroy you with them; for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites.
And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
And he took Agag, the king of the Amalekites, alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.
Then came the word of the Lord unto Samuel, saying, It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king; for he is turned back from following me, and bath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel, and he cried unto the Lord all night.
And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.
And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said unto him, blessed be thou of the Lord ; I have performed the commandment of the Lord..
And Samuel said, what meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?
And Saul said, they have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.
Then Samuel said unto Saul, stay, and I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, say on.
And Samuel said, when thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel?
And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, go, and utterly destroy the sinners of the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord ?
And Saul said unto Samuel, yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag, the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things, which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.
And Samuel said, hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken, than the fat of rams
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words; because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Now, therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.
And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee; for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
And Samuel said unto him, the Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, • and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou.
And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent.
Then he said, I have sinned; yet honor me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord thy God.
So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the Lord.
Then said Samuel, bring ye hither to me Agag, the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, surely the bitterness of death is past.
And Samuel said, as thy sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.
Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death ; nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul; and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
Mr. PIERPONT then read from the eighteenth chapter of St. Matthew as fol
Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.
It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
He also cited the first four verses of the 13th chapter of Romans, as follows:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the powers that be aro ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power ? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he beareth not the sword in vain : for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Such was the order in the times of this Book. All government is of God. The powers that be
are ordained of God. Now, from whom come these words ? Not from the Old Testament, but they come from the week and lowly Jesus, the Saviour of the world, who died for you, for me, for all. It is true, as the counsel have said, that God is a God of mercy; but He says: “Though I am a God of mercy, I will by no means clear the guilty." Now, the counsel who has addressed you, you will remember, said in his speech, with great earnest
“We have blood enough; let us have peace.” The question before you, gentlemen, is not about blood; the question before you is not about peace. The question before you is whether you have not had murder enough, and assassination enough, and crime enough, to enable us to have at least once before a civil tribunal in this land a trial and a verdict. Not a single one of all those engaged in the conspiracy has been tried before a civil tribunal; and the question now is, have you not had enough of this murder, and enough of this assassination, to have at least one jury of the country say so, and to say that we will stop it? You and I have nothing to do with the consequences. All we have to do is to do our duty, and ascertain whether the man is 'guilty. You do not punish the man; I do not punish the man. I have not a feeling toward him of punishment, and
you have no such feeling. The duty does not lie with you, nor with me. We have nothing to do with that. The question for us is to see whether this man is guilty of this violation of the law of the land as charged; and if so, to so declare; and then if, for any cause, the Executive sees fit to show leniency, he will show it. If he does not, he will not do it. It is not for you or for me to say what the leniency should be. It is not for you or for me to have anything to say upon that question. Our duty is, and the duty of the court is, to find out the truth, and to have you pronounce your verdict, under your oath, according to the facts as you find them.
There are one or two other things that I must notice before I come to the main question. One of these is in regard to the attacks which were made by counsel yesterday upon the learned district attorney. Have you seen anything in the conduct of the district attorney in this case that was improper? Have you seen anything but an earnest desire to discharge his duty ? If I understood the counsel aright yesterday, he said that if he should stand in that place and should have done as the district attorney had, he would expect the women, as they passed him, to gather their skirts and pull them aside, lest they be contaminated by the touch. I did not at that time know why there was so much bitterness of feeling thus expressed, but I have been shown since last night this record called the "Rebellion Record," and I find in it that on the fifth of January, 1861, Edward C. Carrington, now district attorney, issued to the public a stirring letter calling out the militia of this District for the purpose of aiding in the protection of the government of the United States; calling upon them to rally; and they did rally at his call. The fact of this native-born citizen of Virginia, one of your own number and living in your midst, having thus early and patriotically taken the side in favor of his government, when even his own State had deserted him, of course would be likely to call down the greatest bitterness and hatred against this loyal and noble citizen on the part of a certain class. We have been told, gentlemen, by the counsel upon the other side, that the Judge Advocate General had done a great many wrong things in his life. We
have been told that the military commission which Mr. Johnson had established, and he alone, had done wrong things in their prosecution ; and we have been told, likewise, that the Supreme Court of the United States had decided that this commission was illegal. Now, you would hardly expect an eminent lawyer to make such a statement unless he believed it. The counsel must have believed it, or he would not have made it. But he is wholly mistaken. No court in the United States has declared this commission to have been illegal. There is no such decision on record-pot any.
Some of those very persons are now in confinement, and if the Supreme Court of the United States had declared the commission that tried them illegal, why should they now, in a time of profound peace, be kept in prison? If such were the case would not an application have been immediately made by the learned counsel for a writ of habeas corpus to release them? But nothing of the kind is done. And why? Because no such decision has ever been pronounced. No court has, and in my judgment no court will, pronounce this commission thus formed by the President of the United States to have been illegal.
Gentlemen, my belief in this case being that you honestly desire to get at the truth, and that you have no other desire, I propose to dismiss all these outside considerations and pass to the subject which is fairly before you. I have said but little compared with what has been said, and I propose hereafter to say even much less. I wish to lay aside all this rubbish and to pass to the solemn business of investigating the truth of the charge contained in the indictment. You will see whether I do it fairly or not. I shall not deceive you. I could not if I would. I do not know you as the other counsel know you. They tell you they know you. My learned friend the district attorney, in his speech, told one of the counsel that he knew him, and that he was an actor, and that his acting in the course of this trial would have done great credit if, indeed, it would not have surpassed that of Edwin Forrest. Well, I do not know anything about that, but I thought some of you looked as though you knew whether there was any truth in that remark or not. I do not know, but I think you will be able to determine between what is mere acting and what is stern reality; between a drama played upon the stage, and a truthful drama played in real life. I think you knew when witnesses came upon that stand, and you looked at them, who told the truth and who lied. You are men of business, and you are accustomed to see your fellow-men; to look into their faces; to deal with them, and to know their manner. There is a kind of instinct that goes out from the living witness who stands before you, and which leads you to understand whether he is telling the truth or not. You are not as accustomed to this thing as a lawyer, perhaps, but still you are accustomed to it in your daily transactions with men, and can tell from the appearance of the man whether he is telling the truth, or is not. I quite agree with the learned counsel when he speaks of the great advantages of having witnesses before you. I think you knew whether Dr. Bissell told the truth or not. I think you knew whether Cameron told the truth. I think
witness that you listened to here told the truth; and I must say you did listen most carefully. You have conducted yourselves here like men who felt that they had a solemn obligation resting upon them, who felt that they had some responsibility as connected with this government; whu felt that they had the peace and good order of society committed to their hands, and that this was a grave and serious business which they were called upon to discharge. I have wondered at the patience with which you have listened, and at the endurance which you have shown in this long and exhausting trial; and to me it does seem to foretell that when this case is over, truth will prevail and justice will be done.
Now, gentlemen, I come to some facts in this case about which there is no dispute. I propose to begin with the facts conceded on either side. I will
, therefore, tread upon no debatable ground here, and at this point allow me to make one general observation. In the arrangements of Divine Providence in
this world, things are so ordered that one truth is in perfect harmony with every other truth. It is always so. From that there is no variation. God is a God of truth, and all the sin and woe on earth comes from a divergence from that line of truth that proceeds from His heavenly throne. If everything was truth there would be no crime. If all was truth there would be no wrong. All wrong comes from a violation of that great principle. When you violate the truth everything is out of joint, every truth being in harmony with every other truth. Every falsehood that is interposed dislocates and breeds mischief and injury to the community. It is so in the physical life. It is so in nature in every form. It is so in the moral world. Men are slow to believe this, but a little observation will show you how true it is. Even the clergy do not teach it as much as they should. You cannot violate a law of God without receiving punishment even on this earth. No man ever did do it; no man ever went to his grave, having violated a law of God, without having been punished for it, and no man ever will.
You all see that in the ordinary affairs of life. Mr. Alexander (a juror) gives a note to Mr. Bohrer, (also a juror,) and when it falls due he fails to pay it. Bohrer knows he can pay it, but will not; therefore, Mr. Bohrer resolves never to lend him any more money, and not only so, but remarks upon the bad faith of Mr. Alexander about town. In that way other people get to mistrust him and it is not long before Mr. Alexander discovers that he has no credit. That is the punishment Mr. Alexander gets for not paying his note after having promised to do so. He turned from a truth to a lie, and he is having his punishment meted out to him in the loss of his credit and position. This is a plain and simple illustration that we can all understand and appreciate. Again : You place your hand in the fire, and of course it is burned. You thus suffer the punishment of violating a law of nature. Then, again, you may take a poison. It may be a slow one, and therefore you may not at first perceive any effect from it, but the effect will come eventually.
The froth from the mouth of the maddog may touch a broken spot upon you skin, but it may be twenty years ere you die from the effects of that touch. It does not necessarily follow that the effect will always be immediate, but you may rest assured the effect in the way of punishment at some time or other will follow violated law. That is the reason punishment comes. If the law of nature had not been violated it would not have come. The effect, in some instances, as I said, comes slowly ; in others it follows swiftly. In the case of a man's failing to keep his word, he loses his credit. In the case of his cheating his neighbor he loses his credit. But there are more secret things than that. You
cheat your neighbor according to law, and you may be successful if prosecution is had. You may cover it up so that the charge cannot be distinctly made; but you may mark this as a certain truth, that if you are a bad man, and you are doing wrong to your neighbor, you know it, and some how or other you communicate that knowledge to a great many of your fellow citizens who did not before know it. They feel, somehow or other, that they have no confidence in you, and in that way you are often punished for your secret crime. When you go before
fellowmen and look them squarely in the face your guilty eye tells it. I need not pursue this topic further. At some future time, when you think this over, I will warrant that the more you think of it the more you will believe it. You will find it is true, from the greatest to the minutest thing in this entire universe.
Now let us come to a truth which we have here fixed in the case. - There is one fixed truth in it, and I say every other truth in the universe is in harmony with that truth. Here it is :
John Harrison entered his name in his own handwriting on the 18th day of April, 1865, in the register at St. Lawrence Hall
. The man, the prisoner at the bar. As I said, we all agree upon this fact. Now let us start from this point, and with the principle I have slated acknowledged, that every other truth is in