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continue our more careful consideration of it. I have drawn a text from the disappointment experienced by the veneration, the love and tenderness of the disciples, at the death of Jesus Christ. Not that a comparison could be suggested with the Divine Master. The great hopes which are before us, and the pleasure we should have enjoyed in arriving at the fulfillment of them with him for our leader who has been our leader through the depths of our anxieties, call to mind peculiarly the sad disappointment of great hopes expressed in the language of the text.
The minds of the people cannot fail to be long and deeply affected. From so lofty a position, such a sudden removal! So great responsibilities, so suddenly laid down! Prospects so bright, to human view so suddenly darkened! The great dependence of the nation, so suddenly transferred to another, who had never expected to bear it! An event so sudden in private life, or to a man respected only for superior powers of mind, would have been fearfully impressive. If the President had been no more to us than a common statesman, or one only in the common line of the chief-magistracy, or if he had died wearied out with his great labors, after long sickness at the executive mansion, the community would have been religiously impressed. How much more are we likely to be so, under the existing circumstances, and for such a man!
I do not mean to speak additional words of eulogy. But few men in public station have ever inspired so much confidence and secured so much attachment and love. We cast about in our minds, to study into the feelings with which he has affected us. Prominent among the influences with which his exalted life and character have wrought upon us, seems this:- in his justice, he made integrity seem more true. If, in the rivalships of the world, its covetousness, its overreachings, its other various transgressions, we have ever indulged the common sentiment, that honesty was rare, or that it was feebly lived, or have felt that, perhaps, because it was rare, it had less intrinsic worth than nature or religion seemed to assign to it, we felt, on the other hand, that Mr. Lincoln was a living example of the value of it. Through him, it seemed to be gaining a new life for the world. The life of it, which he lived, outweighed in our minds the example of millions on the other side. In this way, he, with the broad bulwark of his personal character, helped to sustain the general morality. Temptation has less power, honesty arrives at more honor, integrity holds a more substantial life.
There circulates, we have found, through the public prints, some mention of professions or acknowledgments made by him, corresponding to the usual professions in the church, of religious faith or religious experience. Of the full truth of such accounts, or whether only partially or in some sense true, we have to-day and here no means of determining. But this
may be known by all. A spirit of religion, not a conventional religiousness, not one artificial or imitative, but a simple, natural appeal to God, to his presence and his law, we find underflowing through all his conduct, and making its appearance in all his public writings. And such has been the impressiveness of his simplicity, and such is the confidence reposed in his truth, that thousands will become reverential and obedient through the influence of his public religiousness.
In the homeliness of his conversation, the playfulness of his talk has endeared him to people's hearts. Much as his jests have been questioned about, they have had a great value. They have showed to us that he was at home with himself, not acting a part. For though laughter is sometimes affected, yet it is among the sincerest of all things; and when it is not assumed for show, to secure applause, or made use of for ridicule or bitterness and when it it is used for such purposes, its character is easily seen through), it is like sunrise on the brook, which proves that the ripples are not frozen, or flowers of the forest, that prove the richness of the soil. It cannot indeed be financially reckoned, or arithmetically, nor can the sweep of the swallow, or the chattering on the trees, which tell the beauty of the year and announce the summer. So in the nature of man, the overabundance of power in the ease of his work shows itself, at last, in playful
When a friend smiles upon us, we know that he loves us. The playful jests of the social circle reveal character. Formality and hypocrisy, art and concealment, they show to be at an end. They put people in natural relations; they unite them in cordial intimacies. And the homely conversation of our late President has enabled the people to see him as a man of truth, not a mask; not an abstraction, but a human being; not an official magistrate, not an incarnation of diplomatic intrigue, or a state machine, but à man; an honest man; and a friend.
The suddenness of the death of one so distinguished quickens our sense of the unsubstantial condition of earthly things; it makes many highest earthly hopes seem of little importance. How many persons have paused, in the midst of daily occupations, this last week, in worldly ambitions and in household cares, seeming to think for a moment, 'all is worthless.' His death has cheapened many things. How many affectations it has rebuked! how many false desires it has unmasked! how much of the love of power it has shaken! how it has appeased the fever of the world! How it has renewedly taught us, impressing the common thought, gain what you will, wealth, position, applause or opportunity, all will end. Your house you shall leave behind you; your wealth, another shall spend; your power you shall lay down in the grave; you shall breathe out your last breath, and never breathe more.
Is life a breath ? Is nothing abiding ? “We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” Yes; though substantial man seems to fade as doth a leaf, or like a cloud exhale, we rest, and we cannot fail to rest in the sense that there are realities. And though we do not find them where we thought to, yet to our feelings, never were the realities of existence more sure, more trusted in, more dear than now.
Personal vices, moral corruption, the infidelity of the heart, the spirit of selfishness, these have gained no new power. But a good life, a pure character, a loving spirit, appear more valuable, in the great account we make of the estimate of existence. Patriotism is real; sincerity is real; goodness and love never seemed more real than now. The infinite distinction between right and wrong does not pass into the order of the insubstantialities. Crime never was more abhorrent; vice never was more repulsive. We love our kindred and our friends to-day, with a tenderer, truer love; for true life and human souls appear possessed of a reality we never so clearly saw in them before. Our own soul's existence, our immortal being, our sense of responsibility to the eternal Law, all that God has taught us of life and of Himself, these show themselves real now. We gaze, in spirit, through the opening, by which the departed rises to eternity, and worship before the revelation of the throne of God. The music of angels breaks upon our ear. We return to daily