« ZurückWeiter »
But weighed the counsel of his friends, And looked above for light and grace.
Then Truth revealed her godlike form,
And Slavery fell, no more to rise,
Crushed by the fiat of the skies, Dying amid the battle storm.
Man, bound in gyves of grief and pain
For crime of color or of birth,
Rose from the common mother earth, Freed from the dark, inhuman stain.
Out from unnumbered voices poured
The anthem sweet of freedom's song,
Of right triumphant over wrong, From man redeemed to God adored.
Then one by one the strongholds fell
Where treason long had held her seat,
While he, so calm amid defeat,
Thus victory came to be our friend,
And hope inspired the longing view
With vision of a heavenly hueThe omen of a peaceful end.
Then sped that midnight message dread,
Borne madly on the electric wire,
Burning its way on wings of fire, That he who loved us all was dead.
On that black day that saw thee slain
Oh Christ! that sinful man might live,
That noble soul which thou did'st give Passed from a murdered body's pain !
On that white day, when to the sun
Again from Sumter's ruins rose
Our country's flag, by fiercest foes
Crowned with a never ending fame,
Encircled by a nation's love,
A martyr here, a saint above,
Oh God! a nation prostrate lies,
And supplicates Thy favoring care:
Make answer to its wrestling prayer,
Then shall these brooding clouds of night,
That cast their shadow o'er our way,
Dissolve before the brightening day,
SERMON PREACHED IN THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
• BY REV. MARVIN R. VINCENT.
Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?_2 SAMUEL, iii, 38.
The events of history are often like figures in relief. We see but one side of them, that which the artist chooses to represent. But this is not an universal truth. Some events have a dramatic interest inherent in them. They are independent of the artist. Though, like the sculptor who would hew Mount Athos into the figure of a recumbent giant, the historian may mould and drape and soften the lines, yet as the
mountain, spite of the sculptor's work, would have been a mountain still, so such events stand out from their age, bearing their own character and speaking for themselves under all the misrepresentations of history. They convey their own great lesson. They resolutely strip from themselves all palliations.
Concurrent events, moreover, have often much to do with the sharpness with which these historic eras or incidents are cut. Often the accumulated sentiment and action of a whole cycle concentrate and find expression in a single event which henceforth becomes typical of the cycle. Often the condensed power of a century is behind a word or a blow. Often, too, contemporary events are so disposed as to heighten to the utmost the effect of a single deed, and to form a background against which its lines come out with preternatural sharpness.
If these characteristics ever united in any event, they do so in that which brings us here to-day. Death is not a new event. Death in high places is not a strange thing, even to us who, twice before this, have been called to mourn over the nation's chief magistrate. Even death under such circumstances is not unheard of nor uncommon. Not to us alone attaches the stigma of a murdered ruler. But this event is nevertheless instinct with a horror and with a significance independent of our nearness to it, and our practical connection with it. It concentrates in itself the elements of one fearful phase of our national life. It is its natural offshoot, its pet child, its crowning development of horror, its grand expression before the civilized world. And, at the same time, concurrent circumstances are such as to define its lines more sharply. In many instances, as I have already said, even the assassination of a man in power does not impress us like this event. In so many instances the man owes his consequence only to his position. So much coloring is given to the deed by his tyranny or inefficiency. So many conflicting interests, whose claims history gives us no means of estimating, have been eddying round him, and the moral basis of the age has been so rotten and wavering, the moral sentiment of the age so perverted, that that event seems but in harmony with surrounding events. But here it is otherwise. The nation since its rise, and more rapidly within the last four years, has been developing a process of grouping. On one side of the line have been ranging themselves order, the government of reason and not of passion, fair and open discussion, patriotism, loyalty, devotion to the morals rather than to the politics of government. As an exponent of these principles, a man occupied the seat of power who could not, if he would, have been a tyrant, and who would not if he could; a man whose virtues commended themselves to the people, whose policy commanded their confidence and their endorsement. Breaking sharply off from such sentiments appeared another group, representing treason, disloyalty, impatience of control, passion, disregard of the principle of majority rule, oppression of the weak, deeper degradation of the degraded, its principles represented by factious demagogues who would rather “rule in hell than serve in heaven." No distinction was ever clearer. Ever diverging more and more, these two developments have gone on since the foundation of the republic, until at last the distinction has culminated. The one side has exhausted its venom in this crowning atrocity, and placed it in such startling relief against the virtues of the victim and the great order-loving, liberty-loving, rebellion-hating, humanity-cherishing sentiment of the nation, as henceforth to stamp the act and that of which it was the product with a character which no future historian will dare to palliate, and to insure to them a detestation the bitterness of which shall be intensified with every succeeding generation. God has forestalled the judgment of history, and on this act, at least, its decision shall be unanimous.
There then stands the fact in its terrific proportions. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, has been foully murdered by an assassin. Truly the murderer must have well studied the effect of contrasts. Had the deed been done when, as it is said, it was first contemplated, it might have harmonized somewhat better with the confusion which swayed the popular mind, with the anxiety respecting the still unfinished conflict, and the still menacing rebellion.