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PENN., JUNE 1, 1865;
BY REV. GEORGE JUNKIN, D.D.,
LATE PRESIDENT OF WASHINGTON COLLEGE, VA.
Jer. ix. I: “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might
weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
A NATION'S calamities, like an individual's, spring not up out (1 of the dust. They are not a spontaneity in any infidel sense of the word; not accidents, as the world of unthinking men talk. There are none such in the Government as God. They have their root in sin, and hence they spring up. Hath there been evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it? Physical evils are effects of moral delinquency. By the former, the Governor of the world expresses his abhorrence of the latter; and here we have the elementary idea of moral government. Destroy the connection between sin and suffering, and you shake the very foundations of social order; and, if these be destroyed, what can ever the righteous do? Where are there any guarantees for government? Hence the divine declaration, " Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished.” Social bodies, even those most in favor with God, cannot be exempt from this law. "You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore will I
punish you for all your iniquities.” Sooner or later, yet in this world, national sins must be punished. The Lord, who is the Governor among the nations, must and will vindicate in manifesting his justice. We have greatly offended, or we would not be as we are this day.
April 14, A.D., 1865, — what a day of joy and exultation! Twenty millions of people send forth the glad sounds of thanksgiving to the Lord; for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he cast into the sea.
April 15, A.D., 1865,— what a day of wailing, lamentation, and woe! Twenty-five millions of people fall down in the dust before the offended Majesty of heaven, and send forth the agonizing shriek, ee How long, Lord? Wilt thou be angry for ever? Why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture?” Oh, what a change was that! How sudden! how unexpected! how appalling! From the effulgent noon of a nation's glory and exultation, in view of union and peace, into a dark midnight of worse than Egyptian gloom and sorrow and wailing!
Now, whence comes all this, under the government of a kind and gracious sovereign? "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God; and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. lix. I, 2.) And the prophet proceeds to point out a variety of grievous offences against the divine law. Some of these are chargeable upon our people and nation.
ist. Our tendency to idolize our public men, or rather the offices which they hold, and to glory in their wisdom and prowess, and thus to forget Him who assures us, " The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Ps. ix.) We have not kept it before our mind, that our fathers " got not the land in
possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them. Thou art my king, O God!” (Ps. xliv. 3, 4.) Beyond doubt, we have sinned in this our confident boasting.
2d. We have insulted the Son of God, " by whom kings reign and princes decree justice; by whom princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” (Prov. viii. 15, 16.) We have said, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast their cord from us.” (Ps. ii. 3.) Virtually denying, that "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David.” (Isa. ix. 6, 7.) This divine Mediator and King we have offended in various ways.
ist. In the grand bond of our National Union. The Constitution of the United States contains no distinct acknowledgment of the being of a God. It is simply atheistical in the generic sense of the word. There is no God at all in it. And among the most aggravating points of this atheism is the fact, that many of the sovereign people, and not a few men professing piety, glory in this fact, and defend it. Under the delusion of the Devil's political maxim, “Religion has nothing to do with politics,” they profess to justify this atheism. Nor is this a simple ignoring of God. On this ground, many attempt to apologize for the omission. It is, say they, an inadvertence.* It does not amount to a denial or rejection of God. After all, the Convention meant no offence.
* This was the case with the date, “ in the year of our Lord;” a mere inadvertence, although the most like a recognition of any thing in it.
To this we reply, What they did must interpret their intention. They ejected God. He had been recognized four several times in the Declaration: viz., in the first paragraph; in the second paragraph; and twice in the last, the Declaration proper,— " appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world,” e with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” So the XIIIth Article of Confederation expressly recognizes the great Governor of the world,” and refers to his influence upon the hearts of the legislators, in their inclination to adopt the Articles. Moreover, the fathers in the Continental Congress provided for, and attended to, prayers at their daily deliberations. Not so the men who framed the Constitution: they had no prayers mixed up with their assembly. The contrary has been asserted, but erroneously. Franklin made a motion — rather a suggestion — to invite the clergy, and open the sessions with prayer, as the fathers had done. General Hamilton could not see its use; made some difficulty: an adjournment soon took place, and Madison tells us the matter was never again called up. Yes, God was not ignored all through the doings of the Continental Congress, and in the Declaration and Articles. But " Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked;" the nation forgot God, and ejected him. This was undoubtedly - though we cannot here stop to prove it— the effect of French infidelity, which was eating into the vitals of the body politic.
2d. Another and quite a recent insult has been offered to the Son of God, — the appointment to a chaplaincy in Congress of a person of a sect who, but week before last, in New York, declared their denial of Christ as Mediator, and in offensive terms deny that this is the true God and eternal life.” Thus the nation, by its representatives, voted to pull down Messiah's throne, and reject him as Governor among the nations. This offence is aggravated by the consideration that this more than semi-infidel sect is one of the smallest in the nation.
3d. Our theatrical exhibitions are a stench in the nostrils of high Heaven. These dens of pollution, these synagogues of Satan, collect in and around them the concentrated abomination of all immorality and crime. Into these vestibules of the abyss, thousands and tens of thousands of our youth of both sexes are enticed and inveigled by all the arts and wiles of the Adversary of souls, aided by all the embellishments of art and even of science. Places of amusement are planned and operated to occupy a middle region between the house of God, and the hold of demons, between the church and the theatre. The same building accommodates a religious meeting or a musical exhibition to-night, and the genuine orgies of the Evil One to-morrow night. Thus, the revulsion of the Christian heart, with which less than half a century ago all pious people turned away, is abated; and the public conscience, even of church-goers, is often kept in an equipoise between the church itself and the opera; between the choir with David's harp, and the full swell of the orchestra; between Jesus Christ and Shakspeare. Are there no professors of religion in this City of Love who prefer Romeo and Juliet to John's Gospel? or Booth and Forrest to Paul and Peter?
Now, a great aggravation of these sins is found in the general fact, that the theatres are liberally supported, and all places of amusement are crowded with fascinated listeners; and that, too, while half the people of the land are draped in the habiliments of mourning. How unseemly all this! If Nero must fiddle while Rome was burning, must we Christians dance while the nation bleeds ?
4th. Profanity, drunkenness, gambling, sabbath-breaking, and debauchery prevail over all the land; but, above all, in the army and navy. Many hundreds, indeed, have been dismissed the service for these crimes alone; but the expurgation has been only partial, and this by reason of the humiliating fact that some very