« AnteriorContinuar »
for us that he should go away. He was caught up into the Eternal Presence just when he seemed to us more holy, pure, and great, than ever in his life before. There is a moment when the fever turns; there is a day when languages begin to lose their purity of form; and there are times in life when great men stand upon the topmost peaks of possible achievement, and to proceed another step is to go downward on the other side. Better a thousand times ascend from hence, at once, into the courts of memory and fame. Better to crystallize, ere yet the subtile processes have carried them one step beyond their highest point of influence and power. And so the hand which murdered Abraham Lincoln insured his earthly immortality. They tell, that, on the eyeballs of the slain, the murderer leaves a picture of his face. It is a hard fancy. But it is beautiful to think that he impresses on our hearts the memory of him at whom he strikes. So it is with us now. Did you never think, when looking at the sunset clouds, Oh that they might linger there against the west, just at their perfectest, until the painter painted them for you, and for his own perpetual joy”? And see! upon the background of this crime, so terrible, the sundered life stands out in all its red and purple glory, — stands fixed for ever at its best; and all the world can seek to emulate the sweep and majesty of its proportions. Indeed, we have not lost him!
Would you have me speak of the poor fool, who thought that he should strike at freedom when he struck at freedom's tried and faithful friend? It would not profit you. Arrest him, if you can. Punish him as you may. And what of that? You cannot punish him according to the measure of his crime.
“ There is a peak of guilt so high,
That those who reach it stand above
The trail of passion and of love.
The clouds that dim the lower heaven
Touch not the mountain's hoary crown;
God's lightning only strikes them down.”
You cannot visit him with deeper condemnation than that which he adjudges to himself. When you have done your worst upon him, then God will deal with him. Such crimes would have to go unpunished, were it not for Him. Our pains and penalties are light indeed for such transgression. But there are infinite resources.' The bar of heaven is not a rhetorician's fancy.
It was no single man that murdered him whose loss we mourn to-day. It was an institution, stained already with the life-blood of a million saints. It was an institution; the same that murdered Lovejoy and John Brown; the same that struck at Sumner from behind his back; and lit the fires of this rebellion, that it might burn up the hope of freedom and democracy. It was not to be. The flying sparks kindled the North into a fiercer flame, which has well-nigh destroyed the godless institution. I dare to say, that it was God's intention, when he permitted this last act of damning infamy, that it should be as fuel to that flame which burned so hot already. Its meaning is not vengeance upon any man, or class of men. It is that, if heretofore we have been hacking at the trunk of slavery, we shall now resolve that we will tear the very roots of this vile cancer from the bosom of the land. It is that, with your hands upon your hearts, you shall devote yourselves with solemn vows to the utter and complete eradication of this social curse. Let it breed no longer strife and murder and conspiracy.
So shall it come to pass, that he who died upon the day when Christ himself was crucified afresh in tearful memory shall rise again, as Christ himself arose in the new life of such as
loved him, and obeyed his word. We would not have him rise in any other way. We could not find it in our hearts to tear him from the rapt embraces of the everlasting peace.
“ His voice is silent in your council hall
For eyer; and, whatever tempests lower,
Who never sold the truth, to serve the hour,
And he is gone, who seemed so great!
Christian Inquirer, May 4.
A DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT MILLSTONE, N.J., ON SUNDAY MORNING,
APRIL 16, 1865;
BY REV. E. T. CORWIN.
Prov. xxi. 30: “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord.”
THE astounding intelligence reached us yesterday, that the
1 President of the United States had been shot; and this awful fact, with some hasty reflections upon it, is the only theme upon which we can fix our minds to-day.
The first thought is, that it cannot be that our nation has been so disgraced. In the times of the old Roman emperors, it was a rare thing indeed for one of them to die a natural death. And the reason of this was to be found, not only in the ambition of others, but in the judgment of God, and the just hatred of the people whom they had enslaved and oppressed. They were monsters of iniquity and despotism, and aptly described in prophecy as beasts, because they were the destroyers and enemies of mankind, the despisers of the rights of men. In striking contrast, our Chief Magistrate was not the enslaver, but the freedom-giver to men. He was a man whose name will be linked, to the end of time, with the great and glorious. Not theories, but facts, of accomplished emancipation; looked upon, and truly, as
the man raised up by Providence to conduct the nation to a higher, a nobler, a truer position before the world. For we stood as a Christian nation, the great representative of Freedom, though portions of our land had long been disgraced with the sin of slavery. But it was at length almost utterly, yea, virtually, abolished. But just at this time, the one whom we thought raised up to carry on this glorious renovation, to consummate the great truth contained in the first sentence of our Declaration of Independence, " that all men are born free and equal,” — such a one, not the tyrant, but the friend of the oppressed, and the freedomgiver to the slave, has fallen by the hand of the base assassin. The land may well go in mourning for the loss of such a one, and for grief at such a disgraceful deed. Peace was just dawning upon our desolated country. Only the day before, the orders had gone forth, that no more men were needed for the war. The bright bow of promise was seen spanning the skies. Thanksgivings from innumerable hearts were ascending to God. The nation was saved from the blood-stained hand of the slaveholders rebellion. It was purged of its great crime. In the words of the departed, "Perhaps for every drop of blood drawn by the lash, another had been drawn by the sword.” And he whose heart was foremost in the great work which God was accomplishing for man; he whose mind had been racked with many a sleepless night because of a nation's burdens laid upon it, who had a task of difficulty and responsibility and world-wide interest, such as perhaps no other man ever had, and who was at length thanking God for a nation's triumph, yea, the triumph of human liberty, and of slow justice through the land, - in the very midst of his joy is stricken down by the hand of the foul assassin. Oh, how mysterious are the ways of Providence!
“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform.”