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against him by the thoughtless and impatient, by the men of ardent temperament and of limited views, for not advancing more rapidly, for not giving more speedy effect to a supposed popular sentiment, for not adopting what is called a more decisive policy, for being content not to lead the people, but to wait for their progress. These men have desired him to anticipate public opinion, and in doing so they have failed to consider how slow, even in times like these, is the maturing of popular conviction, and how liable to be checked by over-hasty action. The vicissitudes of war produce a frame of mind in which the feelings of the masses of men are likely to oversway their reason, and in which, consequently, there is a constant danger of the rise of reactionary opinions and measures. Political action based on the feeling of a moment is liable to speedy reversal. A policy that is to be lasting must rest on solid and well-formed convictions. The art and the duty of a true statesman in a republic is not to act on what the people ought to wish and to think, but to adopt the best course practicable in accordance with what they actually do wish and think. It is not to attempt to exercise a despotic leadership, but to divine and to give force to the right will of the nation.
Above all, in such circumstances as those in which the American nation has been placed by the Rebellion, it is of infinite importance that it should learn to conduct its own affairs, trusting to no one man to deliver it from peril, and yielding to no temptation to give up its own power into the hands of any, even the wisest dictator. A Cromwell, if a Cromwell had been possible, would have been an unspeakable calamity to the nation during the past four years. A free and intelligent people has no place for, and no need of, a Cromwell. It must be its own ruler and its own leader. This war has been a war of the people for the people; and in order to reach a successful conclusion, — the only conclusion worthy of a self-sustained and self-governed nation, a conclusion which should be a final settlement of the quarrel, it must be fought out by themselves. They are to save themselves, not to look to any man for their salvation. The nation is already lost when it seeks relief from its own duties by shifting them on to the shoulders of a leader. And in this view Abraham Lincoln has well fulfilled the duty imposed
on him, not seeking to control opinion any more than to control events, but seeking to make use of both in accordance with the laws by which they are governed, so as to secure the working out of the great problem of national salvation. "I have understood well," said he, "that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people."
The powers granted by the people to the President are limited, not unlimited and arbitrary. He has no right to compel the nation against its will. He has no right to lead where they are averse to follow. In the use of these limited powers, there is indeed large room for individual judgment.. The President, by virtue of his position and office, may exercise a direct and most powerful influence on the formation of public opinion. He is bound, as the chief executive officer of the nation, to make the best use of this influence, as of every means which the people place in his hands, for the execution of its will. And we believe, with General Sherman, that Mr. Lincoln has done the best he could.
In the estimate and enumeration of the grounds of confidence in the President, it is not enough to consider his political principles and the acts of his administration, but we must also take into view the predominant qualities of his moral na
Some of those qualities have been incidentally touched upon in what precedes. There is no need to insist on the commonplace, that a strong and virtuous moral character is the only absolute foundation of reliance on a man, whatever be his position. But there is need of considering that a special class of moral virtues is requisite in a statesman, and that, without them, the highest intellectual qualities may be exercised merely to the danger of the state. It was one of the curious features of the late political campaign, that a very wide confusion on this matter seemed to prevail among the supporters of General McClellan. They dwelt upon his moral excellence, apparently unmindful that general moral excellence is no indication of a man's fitness for administrative, judicial, or executive office, but that that fitness depends upon a combination of special moral qualities with special intellectual faculties.
To draw the portrait of the ideal statesman is no easy task. Nor is it needed here. But among his prime virtues would be
reckoned integrity of purpose, firmness of will, patience, fidelity, humanity, and a deep sense of accountability for his conduct, not only to his nation, but to God. These virtues Mr. Lincoln has displayed. From the beginning, his integrity of purpose has been plain to men not blinded by prejudice or passion. He has never lost sight, in selfish objects or pursuits, of the duty which had been laid upon him, "a duty which," as he said, in words of grave prescience, to his fellow-citizens of Springfield, on taking leave of them," a duty which is perhaps greater than has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. . . . . I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support."
Deliberate in forming his opinions, feeling the vast burden of responsibility resting upon him, he has welcomed counsel and suggestion, listened to men of all parties, made up his judgment carefully, and then acted, and stood firm. Patient under circumstances that might well have provoked impatience, and with men who have baffled the best designs by wilfulness or incompetence, he has preferred to be charged with slowness, rather than by rashness to run the risk of doing injustice, or of endangering the real interests of the country. Faithful to his paramount duty to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic, he has acted under "a sense of responsibility more weighty and enduring than any which is merely official." A conscientious purpose to perform his duty he has declared to be the key to all the measures of administration which have been adopted; and we believe that it will be the key of the future, as it has been of the past.
The results of the policy pursued by Mr. Lincoln during his administration thus far are its own best justification. The verdict of the future is not to be foreshown. But there can be little doubt that history will record the name of Abraham Lincoln as that of a pure and disinterested patriot. She may find in his course many errors; she may point out in his character many defects; she will speak of him as a man who had to contend against the disadvantages of imperfect culture, of self-education, and of little intercourse with men of
high-breeding. But she will speak also of the virtues which the hard experience of early life had strengthened in him; of his homely sincerity and simplicity; of his manly frankness and self-respect; of his large, humane, and tender sympathies; of his self-control and good temper; of his truthfulness and sturdy honesty. She will represent him as actuated by an abiding sense of duty, as striving to be faithful in his service of God and of man, as possessed with deep moral earnestness, and as endowed with vigorous common-sense and faculty for dealing with affairs. She will tell of his confidence in the people, and she will recount with approval their confidence in him. And when she has told all this, may she conclude her record by saying that to Abraham Lincoln more than to any other man is due the success which crowned the efforts of the American people to maintain the Union and the institutions of their country, to widen and confirm the foundations of justice and liberty, on which those institutions rest, and to establish inviolable and eternal peace within the borders of their land.
ART. II.1. Christianity and Emancipation; or the Teachings and the Influence of the Bible against Slavery. By the REV. JOSEPH P. THOMPSON. New York. 1863. 8vo. pp. 86. 2. De P Abolition de l'Esclavage Ancien au Moyen Âge, et de sa Transformation en Servitude de la Glèbe. Par J. YANOSKI. Paris. 1860. 8vo. pp. 154.
We have thought that the attention of our readers might perhaps be not unprofitably bestowed upon a brief review of the relations between the early Christian Church and slavery. These relations have been strangely misrepresented. It is true that materials are wanting to supply all the details of the subject; but enough has been preserved to enable any honest and impartial writer to arrive at correct conclusions as to the manner in which the fathers of the first five centuries
treated a matter, wisely to deal with which was almost as delicate and dangerous a task then as now.
That our Saviour rejected, as incompatible with his great mission, all direct interference with the existing organization of society, is too evident to require demonstration. He preached non-resistance and subordination to the powers that be. To specially attack, therefore, the abuses which prevailed, and to excite an insurrection like that of Spartacus, or a revolt such as led to the destruction of Jerusalem, would have been totally inconsistent with the principles which vivify his teachings. His object was, not to found a sect like Islam, which should go forth to conquer the infidel, the sword in one hand and the Gospel in the other, but to regenerate human nature, so that, in the long succession of centuries, man should be purified, and evil should suffer a gradual but a permanent overthrow.
When Christ proclaimed the principle of the Golden Rule; when Saint Paul bade Philemon to take back his fugitive slave Onesimus, not as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved; when he ordered masters to grant justice and equality to slaves, for the sake of the Master of all, the rules of life were laid down which, conscientiously followed, must render slavery finally impossible among Christians.
The world into which Christianity was thus introduced recognized slavery everywhere. Practised by all races from time immemorial, tolerated by all religions, regulated by all codes, it was apparently an institution as inseparable from society as the relationship between parent and child. What were the restrictions laid upon it by Moses, or the customs respecting it among the Greeks, are foreign from our present purpose; but it is worth while to cast a rapid glance at its legal condition in Rome, for her laws were dominant, and were destined to supersede all others throughout the regions which eventually received and believed the truths of the Gospel.
Roman slavery was hard and unrelenting. The right of the master was supreme. The stern character of the race was shown in all its institutions, and principles once admitted were carried out to their logical results with the severity of a mathematical demonstration. From the primitive days of the Re