« AnteriorContinuar »
the just penalty due to his sins. And that he must suffer, not by arbitrary infliction, but by a universal law of God. For all suffering in the spiritual world is the just consequence of the state of the sufferers' hearts; and their sufferings restrain them from descending into deeper evils, and are therefore mercies.
While, therefore, it is no injury to those who are guilty of crimes deserving capital punishment to inflict it, yet it greatly promotes the order, peace, and safety of society on earth to remove such persons to the spiritual world.
The work of these assassins has opened a new view of the rebellion's character, and brought it before us in a new aspect. It has aroused the people to new action, and prompted a new spirit of investigation; and all this was, no doubt, necessary, in order to know more of the qualities of men, that we might be the better prepared to properly settle the difficulties which are before us, so as to avoid future troubles.
The real weeping, then, which our text calls for, is for the depravity of the nation, and the dreadful crimes which many are committing, and have committed, and the awful consequences which follow.
True, we weep for the loss of Mr. Lincoln from among us in the flesh. His kind voice is heard no more, and there is apparently a great blank in the nation, and we weep with the afflicted family. All this is natural; and it is good for us to give vent to our natural sympathies, and "weep with those who weep.” But when, in the spiritual light of the Word, we rise above the sensational sphere of the natural man, into the sphere of the angels, we weep only over the depravity, the evils, and the consequent suffering, of fallen humanity; and we pray for a better state of things. It is for these evils that the angels weep and pray. And while we pity the hardened culprit, and would be glad to see him returning penitent to his God, yet for such conscience-seared
wretches there is but little hope of improvement; and it is our duty to bring them to justice, and put an end to their infernal career on earth.
Seeing, then, the condition of our country, and the work that is before us under the new state of things; feeling assured that the heavenly Father has not permitted our late beloved Chief Magistrate to be thus suddenly removed from this world but for some great end, - let us all look well to it that we may know and do our duty to our country, by leaning upon and following the leadings of divine Providence in detecting criminals, and punishing offenders who cannot be brought to repentance.
Thus let us labor and pray for the restoration of the Union, by a union of minds upon the great principles of justice and righteousness, universally extended to the protection and improvement of all the people; that the sentiments expressed in the glorious fag of our country may fill the heart of every citizen, and go forth in praises from every mouth.
It is meet and proper, on this occasion, thus to inquire what the event means, and why it has been permitted. And to this subject the vast mind of the nation is this day emphatically called. And may God in his infinite justice and mercy enable us as a people calmly to contemplate, and clearly to see, the duties that are before us, that we may be neither too severe nor too lax in the execution of the law; that justice and mercy may blend together, and righteousness and peace may become the eternal fruits of the tree of liberty!
Such are the thoughts which the occasion naturally suggests; and though we are in the solemnities of a funeral, at which the nation weeps, draped in the habiliments of sorrow, yet it is right to seek wisdom even in the midst of tears.
We can do the departed no good. His merciful and generous soul has gone behind the curtain of time, to the enjoyments and
uses of a higher life; while we are left behind, with solemn and important duties yet to do in this world. And the event calls upon us loudly to do them.
In him we have the example of noble patriotism, of self-sacrificing devotion to the Union, of tender sympathy for suffering humanity everywhere, and of impartial regard for the just rights of every individual. Yes, in him we have these heavenly qualities, worthy of all imitation. May we so follow them as to be able to meet him in the world to come!
A DISCOURSE DELIVERED IN ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, LOUISVILLE, KY.,
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 16, 1865;
IT was matter of the deepest regret, that the most solemn Fast 1 of the Church should have been a day of public rejoicing; and it is equally matter of regret, that now the most joyous Feast of the Church should be a day of public mourning.
The unvarying custom of the Church, the suggestions of the lessons, and, indeed, the entire spirit of the service for this day, require that the subject of our Lord's resurrection shall be the topic of discourse, and the subject of our meditations. But while the Church stands forth in her highest festival, sings her most exultant songs, and wears the badge of her highest rejoicing, an event transpires which seems to hush the pæan on her lips, and change her jubilate to her miserere.
A terrible calamity has befallen the nation; and the strongest heart stands still, appalled and stricken in the presence of this overwhelming visitation. The ordinary course of things will not satisfy. The theme, which else had possessed for your ears a charming interest, is now utterly powerless to excite your attention, or call off your thoughts from the all-engrossing subject. There is a weight on the public heart. There is that undefined feeling, which is half dread of the future, half regret for the past. Every man feels as if some terrible storin was gathering, some calamity impending; and no man knows what to do, or where to look for refuge and safety.
The telegraph brings the startling intelligence that the President is dead, dead ! and by the hands of an assassin; and the first officer of the Government lies stricken in his bed, weak and helpless from his recent wounds. Had they died, or had thrice the number of our great men died, by some visitation of God, it had not cast such a gloom over the land; but that the very Head of the nation, the man upon whom all eyes were turned, should perish as he has, at the time that he has, is something so awful to contemplate, that it is no marvel that men stand aghast in very impotence, stunned and shocked as if smitten by a thunderbolt from heaven. Just at this auspicious hour, when a vision of peace was haunting our troubled dreams; when, on war's horrid front, a white-winged angel uplifted his banner between contending hosts, and waved back with either wing the tide of death and slaughter, - oh, it is sad, that an assassin's arm should mar it, that all this blessed prospect should be dimmed and soiled with blood! - just when all eyes were turned to him, and the nation held its breath, waiting to hear from his lips, words which would be equivalent to all end of war and the dawn of peace; just when, North and South, all over the land, the cry of a devoted, stricken people, scourged, chastened and amicted, came pouring into his ears; just when he was bending to listen, — just then, alas! his ear can hear no more, his lips are mute, and can give no cheering answer.
In the presence of this fearful fact; with this stupor, chaining our thoughts and actions, upon us; overwhelmed with ultimate hope and fear and dread, — what are we to do? One thing we are to do, if nothing else: we are to lay our hands upon our