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LIBRARY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA
But as the nation mourns, let it ask anxiously,
Why has God done it?" It would be vain to try to shut our eyes to the fact that we are a different people to-day from what we were on the morning of yesterday. The almost slumbering sense of justice has been aroused, and one mighty yearning for vengeance has gone up to heaven from a sorely tried, long forbearing and much forgiving nation. The thought of the Christian heart of this land and its stern determination is that there shall henceforth be no more talk of that weak mercy which would call upon our rulers to override all the principles of eternal justice to save the lives of men who are a million times murderers. I do but read the thoughts of men everywhere when I say it.
But let the nation, while it stands by God's justice, beware of passion to-day, and, while this sad event is fixing in the depths of the heart, the truth, that by the principles of God's word, the forgiveness, by the national authorities, of those political leaders whose hands are so dyed in blood, would be a crime against the present and the future — against the living and the dead - against humanity and against God,— let every thing like personal enmity and vindictiveness be put away, while we go forward to the right in God's name. And if these tears do but nerve the nation to mingle a wise justice with a wise love it shall be found at the great day of final reckoning that they have not been in vain. But oh, above all, whatever
befall, let us believe that “the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!"
SERMON PREACHED IN THE UNITARIAN CHURCH.
BY REV. E. BUCKINGHAM.
The preacher is incapable of adequate speech, in the midst of the feelings with which the community is oppressed. He can do no more on such an occasion, than make the attempt to interpret our own thoughts to us, or rather to interpret to us the thoughts with which God is visiting us. Many common expressions of truth at once present themselves to our minds, as that “good is to come out of evil,” that “God's providence is over all,” that “our country is safe with God," that “we bow with submission before him.” Such sentiments are almost universal. Public proclamations and common conversations, the newspapers and the churches speak them; they are in the hearts of the people.
Yet they do not forbid the heaviness of the heart. They cannot prevent our amazement and terror, our wondering of mind and wandering of thought, our sense of bereavement and affliction. Our suffering is not national only, but personal as well. We shudder at the crime, its treachery and its violence; the hatred and malice of it; the contempt for the country and of its millions shown in it; the contempt for the voices of the wise and of the multitudes. We shudder at the dreadful impiety of it. The scene and circumstance add to the acuteness of the pain with which we are overwhelmed. In the midst of his family, in innocent festivities which he had attended only from kindly motives, out of regard for the wishes of his neighbors and fellow-citizens, in a moment, the President was taken out of life. No farewell was allowed to wife and children; no farewell to his countrymen; no opportunity was given for a last expression of his wishes and his love. It would have been awful had he been a hereditary ruler, imposed on the people,—if he had been a man of unhappy character, from whom the people were alienated. But he had the confidence of the nation; probably no ruler in the world ever enjoyed the confidence of his people in so great a degree. We trusted in his integrity, his calmness, his wisdom, his kindness. He was one of us; we all felt that he belonged to
It was not that he was born in a condition of life. from which the great majority derive their origin, or that he had tried poverty and labor with the humblest, and so might be disposed to understand the lot of the people, and know how to sympathize with them. It was his nature to be one with humanity, and the elevation of his office, the immensity of his responsibilities, and the laboriousness of his cares never at all diminished in his heart the sense of being one with the people. Their sorrows and their joys, their dangers and their security he felt as his own. He was to
them as a member of their families and as an individual friend.
Few persons in the world, comparatively, have ever shown in an equal degree this sense of the common humanity. Robert Burns, the poet of the poor, who sung their humble griefs, their humble virtues or happiness; John Wesley, the preacher of the poor, who went to find them and sought them out, and bore the gospel of salvation to them, were men of like disposition. And when we have called to mind a few such, as literature, religion, or statesmanship recount them to us, we find no more who can be said to resemble our President, till we reach the apostles, in their large and tender hearts, or ask if such sense of human sympathy was not the peculiar element in the loveliness of Jesus Christ. Where, in history beside, do we find among the great and exalted such simplicity, such naturalness, such fullness and tenderness of heart, as in the sublime speech of Mr. Lincoln at Gettysburg ? his personal letter to the centenarian voter at Sturbridge ? the letters which he wrote from his high position to the humble bereaved, whose afflictions were brought to his notice? and in his manners and expressions to the wounded, sick and suffering, when he chanced to meet them, or walked through the hospital to give his personal thanks and the thanks of the nation to them for the patriotism and fidelity which they had exhibited ?
We couple his name with that of Washington. None greater than Washington, it is the national belief, has appeared in the course of history; and the careful thinkers and patriot minds of other nations unite with us in our estimate. But exalted as was the personal character of Washington, we feel that our nation has been immeasurably blessed in the grandeur of two men, who stand equally among the greatest and best of the world. It is singular how deeply into society, the love for Mr. Lincoln penetrates. His name was dear in the family circle. Little children knew and loved it. A whole race of our fellow-men, under the Providence of God, owned him as their benefactor and father. He gave them life. He changed them to men. He gave them wives and husbands, parents and children. He gave them liberty to say “father” and “mother.” He consecrated marriage to them, and permitted them to speak of home. He gave them prospects and hopes, , and the enjoyment of blessed liberty. I do not ask, whether another in similar circumstances might not have done the same, or have done it at an earlier day, or in some more striking manner. Mr. Lincoln did it not as a statesman only, but as a man. He did it with his heart.
I shall not ask what his place was among the historical statesmen of the world, nor whether he was a great man, beyond his goodness, nor in what intellectual abilities or force of character especially he was great. Partly because the age is not ready for the discussion, as we must remove to some distance in order to estimáte magnitude; nor is it necessary in our admiration,