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SERVICE AT THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
REV. MARVIN R. VINCENT, PASTOR.
A large audience assembled to participate in the service. Prayers were offered and hymns sung expressive of the all-pervading sorrow. Short addresses were made by the pastor and by members of the congregation. The principal address was the following:
BY MARTIN I. TOWNSEND, ESQ.
We are come together to-day, to consider one of the saddest events that ever befell a nation. Our Chief Magistrate, whom we loved as a father rather than reverenced as a ruler, has fallen by the hand of an assassin, and the nation is in tears. Yet I stand not here to mourn for Abraham Lincoln. He has been fortunate in a degree rarely attained by mortals. He has been spared to fill his full measure of usefulness, as well as his full measure of fame. He has seen his imperilled country come triumphant out of one of the most deadly struggles in which a nation was ever engaged. He has seen the embattled hosts which were set in hostile array against her, melt away before the serried ranks of his country's armies, and their vaunted leaders prisoners of war. In a word, he had seen that cause of which he had been called to be the leader - the cause of his country, the cause of humanity — crowned by the blessing of God, and had come to know that his toils and anxieties during four long and dreadful years of darkness and of conflict, were not in vain, but had preserved the liberties of his country, had secured to her a glorious and happy future, and had enrolled his name high upon the record of the benefactors of mankind. Mr. Lincoln was more fortunate in his death than in his life. He died in an instant, without sorrow or pain. He died in the maturity of his powers, and in the fullness of his fame, before a single mistake had fixed the slightest blot or blemish upon the fair shield of his wisdom and patriotism. He died at a moment when every people that loves our country was joining in the grand chorus of praise, rising to Heaven throughout our own broad land.
It is for our country that I weep. It is for humanity that I blush, when I think that any creature who has enjoyed the blessings of Americani liberty, and worn the human form, could be found base enough to imbrue his hands in the blood of one so loving and so beloved, in the blood of one whose heart beat so warmly for his fellow men. But this dispensation was doubtless designed to teach the American people a great and solemn lesson. We have been at school for the last four years. We have been studying as a lesson, the brutalizing influence of slavery, not upon oppressed black men, but upon the white—the governing race. We have seen what miseries have been heaped upon our poor, helpless, imprisoned, and suffering sons and brothers at the Libby prison, at Salisbury, and that living Hades, the pens of Andersonville ; and we have seen now, that the same fiendish spirit, born of slavery, can raise its dastard and assassin hand, and strike down our best beloved and most honored. The man who doubts to-day the wicked and debasing influence of slavery upon the white population of this country, has been blind to the events of the last four years, and would not believe, though “one rose from the dead.” Indeed, the period in which we live is big with lessons of solemn instruction. Although we have all admitted, in a general way, that God cares for the lowly and the humble as well as for men of high degree, we have lived to a great extent in a condition of practical doubt upon the subject. But to-day we can see that not a tear has fallen from the eye of a bereaved or suffering slave mother, through the length and breadth of all our land, that God has not treasured up for judgment. And the lesson we are to learn from it is, that if any nation wishes to prosper, even for the world that now is, that nation must free itself from oppression, though practised upon the least of God's little ones.
There is another lesson which we have been set to learn in these times. It is the lesson of God's sovereignty. I do not mean a sovereignty which excludes all agency of man. But I mean that God overrules the counsels and actions of men in such a manner, as to work out the greatest good for that race for whom the world was created and the Saviour died. What poor, short-sighted mortal was able to foresee that the first gun fired upon Fort Sumter sounded the knell of slavery? Who of us, on that gloomy day, when good men mourned over the sad defeat of the Union forces at Bull Run, could see any silver lining upon the dark cloud that enveloped this smitten land? Yet how clearly now can we see God's hand in that dispensation. How clearly now can we see that God had a great work to do; that he meant that the shackles of millions of slaves should be broken, that they should be broken by the strong hands and stalwart arms of the toiling freemen of the North, and that he suffered defeat to overtake our armies, that the loyal of the whole land should come forth from their farms and their workshops, and devote themselves soul and body to the accomplishment of his sacred work. And we have reason to be thankful this day, that we have been spared to see this work accomplished.
Our armies are everywhere triumphant; our nation is everywhere honored ; our land is purged of the dreadful plague-spot of slavery; and although God has smitten us in the person of our beloved President, we feel, as we never felt before, that he loves our land and our people, and means his chastisements only for our good. Let it be ours to profit by the solemn lessons which he is teaching us in these days.
The service in the Second Street Presbyterian Church, consisted of appropriate music, prayer and an address by the pastor, the Rev. Duncan Kennedy, D.D. The scene was one of deep interest, and the heavy and beautiful drapery of the building, served, if possible, to increase the solemnity. The address was, for the most part, an expression of deep sympathy in the universal sorrow. The speaker directed attention to the mystery that enshrouded the dread event, and enforced the duty of Christian submission to the inscrutable dispensation, and of unfailing trust in the superintending providence of God.
At St. Mary's (Roman Catholic) church, the service, under the direction of the pastor, the Rev. Peter Havermans, was solemn and impressive. The psalm Miserere was intoned from the altar and was taken up by the choir. The music was grand and effective. Suitable prayers were also read at the altar, and such remarks were made by the pastor as the occasion called for.
Services of a similar character were held in the North Baptist church, Rev. C. P. Sheldon, D.D., pastor; in the South Troy Methodist Episcopal church, Rev. D. T. Elliott, pastor; in the Second Presbyterian church, Rev. D. S. Gregory, D.D., pastor, and in other churches in the city, of which no account is preserved.