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by his death, and asking, almost faithlessly, "Who can fill his place?” And yet the whole life of Abraham Lincoln is a rebuke to such doubts and fears. Perhaps his strongest trait was a childlike faith in the guidance of Almighty wisdom. From that bleeding corpse in the Presidential Mansion comes a voice more solemn than any of its living words, a voice full of encouragement and reproof, "Fear not; for am I in the place of God?”
The nation has leaned upon him, it scarcely knew how much, and looked to him to steer us safely among the perilous rocks of reconstruction. And now that we have lost our faithful helmsman, we are warned afresh to put our trust where he put his, — in a.God of justice and mercy. The bullet of the assassin cannot reach to the Almighty's thronę. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth for ever. No: great and good as he was, honored, trusted, and loved as he was, Abraham Lincoln is not “in the place of God.” Though our perils are imminent and manifold, it is weakness to be dismayed, and treason to despair. The cause of our country is the cause of God; for he loves justice, mercy, and righteousness better than we, and will raise up men to carry out his .holy designs. Did he not summon him whom we mourn, out of obscurity and humble station, to be the Moses of our deliverance, and to guide his chosen people through a Red Sea of blood? And, though our leader has fallen before we have reached the Promised Land of peace, shall we not trust God to raise us up a Joshua? We dishonor our cause and our country, our own souls, and their Creator, if we give way to the cowardly fears which assail us. The very fact, that God has given us a Lincoln in the past, and a Grant in the present, is a pledge that the line of our heroes and saviours shall not fail in the future. Our fear must pass away with the first shock of this tremendous crime: we must come to ourselves,” and repossess our souls. After the battle of Cannæ, which cost Rome seventy thousand of
her best troops, and brought her to the very brink of destruction, the Roman Senate voted public thanks to Æmilius Paulus, the commander of the defeated forces, " because he had not despaired of the Republic.” To-day, dear friends, when a great prop and support is stricken out from under us, and a danger more terrible than the loss of an army overhangs us, America calls upon her children not to "despair of the Republic,” not to lose faith in God. On him, and not on any human strength or wisdom, depends our ultimate salvation.
Abraham Lincoln was a providential man; and, because I most thoroughly believe this, I believe, also, that he lived to fulfil his mission. He lived to vindicate the insulted majesty of the nation, and to redeem the promises of his first Inaugural Address. He lived to enter Richmond in triumph, to behold the Stars and Stripes waving over the rebel capital, and to witness the destruction of the grand army of the rebellion. By his moral greatness, his patience, his forbearance, his practical wisdom and unselfish patriotism, he has earned a renown pure as that of Washington, and will stand side by side with him, through all coming time, on the same high pedestal. I would that his earthly remains might slumber in the same august tomb; and that Mount Vernon, doubly consecrated by the ashes of Washington, and by the ashes of him who alone, in the annals of historic time, stands forth his peer, might become the Mecca of the New World, the shrine where millions of pilgrims, through generations untold, and from nations yet unborn, shall kneel and pray, and rise up fired with the divinest inspirations of liberty. The toil of that great soul is ended.
Perhaps the day had come when Abraham Lincoln could no longer serve the Republic he so dearly loved; perhaps, by his exceeding kindness and mercy towards undeserving men, he was about to sacrifice the vital interests of his country; and perhaps
God suffered the long-threatened and long-averted blow to fall at last on that beloved head, just in season to prevent dire calamity to America, and a lasting eclipse to his own pure fame. Who shall fathom the purposes of the Unsearchable One? The great work of Abraham Lincoln is still incomplete; but his death by horrid hands may be the only way to complete it. Of one thing be sure, — God's plans are never balked. The souls of John Brown and Abraham Lincoln in solemn fellowship are marching on,” God himself at their head, and millions of tramping feet in their rear: the earth shakes with their mighty tread; and, beneath the millstone of that stupendous march, slavery, treason and rebellion shall be ground into impalpable dust.
But, friends, the lesson of renewed faith in God is not the only one forced in upon our minds by this heart-sickening crime. We need, and now we see our need written out in letters of blood, not only a passive faith in God, but an active obedience to his will. Murder is a stern tutor, and sternness is the burden of his tuition. The fiend of secession has at last torn off his mask, and, like the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, has revealed to the outraged light of heaven a visage hideous with all the ugliness of hell. Every misguided follower whose heart is honest, but whose head is weak, must shrink back in horror and affright. None but devils in human form will justify or palliate a deed like this; and to such our reply must be short and sharp. Not revenge, but self-defence; not vengeance through an irresponsible and lawless mob, but justice through courts of law. We must make it dangerous to dabble in treason; for we see its danger. The diabolism of secession is now patent to all; and, if we show it either mercy or pity, our blood shall be upon our own heads. In the exultation of victory, the nation betrayed marks of a good-natured weakness, of a criminal magnanimity; and God may have suffered this appalling blow to strike us, to
waken us to our duty, and startle us into obedience. Make sure work with treason, exterminate rebellion from the land; give no rebel the right to vote, until his contrition is transparent; and if the great ringleaders fall into our hands, as a solemn act of selfprotection, and as a warning to all futurity, mete out to them the extreme penalty of the law. Brand treason for all coming time with the infamy of the gallows. We have no right to trifle with our great responsibilities: we are trustees for posterity, and must transmit to them unimpaired the noble heritage of freedom. " Heal not the wound of the daughter of my people slightly.” The blood of our martyr calls us afresh, in no ambiguous language, to renewed self-consecration, courage, and fidelity. Mild and forgiving to repentant prodigals, we must be stern and uncompromising to conquered rebels. Leniency to traitors means death to loyal men. Alas for us, if we leave smouldering embers in our new temple of liberty!
These, then, are the lessons of the sad event which has filled our hearts with gloom and apprehension, — greater faith in God, greater faithfulness to freedom. Bitter as is our loss, that hallowed blood will not have flowed in vain, if we truly heed its silent eloquence. The sombre drapery of woe, which here, in the house of God, feebly typifies a grief too deep for words, is but a pompous hypocrisy, if we follow not his example for whom we grieve. He may not always have been the first to comprehend the great duty of the hour; but, once comprehended, he was always the first to do it. Pure and tender of heart, wise and firm in action, devout and childlike in spirit, - O Abraham Lincoln, thou hast died for us, and our souls are heavy for thee this day! Take the love which fills our hearts, and the tears which fill our eyes, as our sole return for thy sacrifice of life. We take up the task which drops from thy dying hand; and may a double portion of thy spirit rest upon us!
Dover, N. H., Enquirer, April 27, 1865.
A DISCOURSE DELIVERED AT THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH,
TAUNTON, MASS., ON SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 16, 1865 ;
BY REV. CHARLES H. BRIGHAM,
LAM. ii. 1: “How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger,
and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel!”
TT is a sad and solemn tinie for our assembly to-day. We I should have remembered, with anthem and rapture, the new birth of the spirit on the day of the Saviour's rising. We should have kept the double festival of the resurrection of the great Deliverer and the resurrection of this Christian nation. But how suddenly all our joy is changed into woe! How terribly thick darkness has come upon our exhilaration! How God has called in this solemn day his terrors round about us! In what bewilderment of soul, as men stunned and prostrate, we wait for the next tidings! So short an interval, and yet so great a change! Where are we now? and what shall become of us?
Our day of Fasting in the past week was changed to a day of Thanksgiving: we could not mourn when such hope was opened, when there was such brightness of promise, when the agony was over, and the land seemed redeemed and saved. Even the ancient Fast-time of the Christian Church, the memorial