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Having passed his twenty-first birthday, he began in 1831 to labor for himself. He aided to build a flatboat, and then went in it to New Orleans, and so satisfactorily cared for boat and cargo, that his employer took him into his store at New Salem, twenty miles below Springfield. Here for a twelvemonth he became more familiar with arithmetic; and here he so dealt with his customers, and so conducted himself in all the relations of life, that he began to be known as "Honest Abe," -- an honorable title which will never be taken away; for he never forfeited it.
Athletic and active, young Lincoln could not fail to engage in the usual out-door sports of young men in that place, and was usually the acknowledged judge of the games, whose integrity or good judgment was unquestiopable,
It cannot be said that the culture of Abraham Lincoln was that which would make him shine in polite society. His uncouth, awkward form and homely visage, his unpolished dress and address, were to be expected from his pioneer life; but his soul was robed in beauty which the angels could discern, and which all high souls, to whom he was known on earth, sooner or later perceived. His culture was such as many a man of humble birth and lowly home may share, and it brought him into sympathy with the people over whom he was to be placed, and clothed him with true humility when he stood on the pinnacle of power and fame. It was a culture which produced simplicity, that child-like charm which won all appreciative hearts to the Martyr-President. Simplicity adapts itself artlessly to others, because it is full of charity, and therefore desires to make others happy. Its words are the overflow of genial thought and kindly affection; and all hearts that hold aught in common with it open and
expand before its influences, as plants start at the touch of spring. ... There is no affectation, no straining for effect, in simplicity. All is natural and genuine with it. Its wit is never forced, its wisdom is never stilted; nor is either ever dragged in for mere display.”
This rare simplicity was a special result of the culture which President Lincoln received; and, while the hand of God is plainly to be observed in all his history, nowhere is it more prominently seen than in the circumstances and influences which helped to make Lincoln what he was, a man whose culture was not scientific or literary mainly, but just such as would make a man of the people fit to govern the people in righteousness and love.
*“Elements of Character," by Mrs. Mary G. Ware.
PREPARATION FOR HIS WORK.
"Walk Boldly and wisely in that light thou hast: There is a hand above will help thee on."
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” -ST. PAUL (Eph. vi. 14-17).
VEIL the truth as we may, if indisposed to see it, yet, nevertheless, there will come shining through the mighty fact that God had a work for Abraham Lincoln to perform, and that he prepared him for it, not by giving him wealthy friends, inherited honors, splendid position, but by permitting him to be inured to toil and hardship and bereavement, and thus to
“Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong."
Day by day, amid the peculiar circumstances of his early days and opening manhood, was he putting on the armor which should be needed in the hours of stern conflict that were approaching. Well has one * said, “ Lap of luxury and home of ease send not forth the arms that move the world. He who is driven aloft by the force of circumstances becomes the noblest soul and the mightiest power. Call we a humble home, a scanty board, and threadbare coat, but a blight or curse? Ah!
* Rev. Augustine Caldwell.
and those humble ones who have struggled upward with nothing but a stern will and a consciousness of right to uphold them have proved the world's richest friends."
The Lord Jesus teaches, in his pertinent question concerning the falling sparrow and the numbered hairs, that God exercises a constant watchfulness over all men, and continually guides them in the affairs of life. The his. tory of our late President's career, and of the times in which he lived, everywhere shows the guiding hand of a divine providence.
Many are willing to acknowledge a general providence, who do not believe in a universal or particular one. But there cannot be a general providence without a particular one. That would be utterly impossible; for all generals are made up of particulars. Could a man cultivate a farm in general, without ploughing any particular field, or casting into the earth any particular seeds? Could a watchmaker make watches in general, without making any particular wheels and springs, and giving to every wheel its special form and size and place, finishing the minutest parts in the nicest manner? Could a merchant sell things in general, and nothing in particular, having no particular store, or particular goods, or special price? Or if we look at the material creation, where we can see the divine method of working, does the Lord make a tree in general, without any particular branches, twigs, leaves, bark, fibre, and cells? No: on the contrary, the whole tree is built up by the action of the pores and cells in their least parts. This is the universal method of the divine
operations. . . . It is impossible that there can be a general providence without a special one.
If there is a general providence, it is the result of a universal or particular one.” *
The great work of Abraham Lincoln was to guide the American Ship of State during the storm of rebellion, and, as an indissoluble duty, to emancipate the oppressed millions in our land, whose unrighteous bondage made our glorious banner too long a “flaunting lie," and our "Independent days” ostentatious cheats. We have seen how his childhood and early manhood were the precursors of a useful maturity; and still may we trace the guiding hand of God in his further steps, preparing him for the Presidency of the United States, and to be Commander-in-Chief of the Union Army.
Before the death of his mother, the future director of the greatest army the world ever saw was taught the use of fire-arms; and it is worthy of note that the mother of Lincoln — brave pioneer woman that she was ! - her. self loaded the rifle with which he then shot his first game,- a large wild turkey. He became very expert in the use of the rifle; and, as has been already intimated, was able thus to add to the family larder, and also to procure furs, which were then in great demand.
One of his biographers says, “ There is no doubt that the culture he received by the use of the rifle had its influence in developing his physical energies, as he was ever distinguished for his strength and powers of endurance; and that it indirectly served to inspire his heart with courage, promptness, and decision, for which his whole life has been eminent." +
The same biographer relates a circumstance which happened during the time when Abraham attended Mr.
* Rev. Chauncy Giles.
+ “Pioneer Boy," p. 11.