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Possibly, the interests of the nation may be safer in the hands of a less forgiving man. Possibly we need the sternness of another mind, which will less readily believe in the possibility of conciliating the perjured and malignant, a man who will entertain a juster fear of the demoniacal spirit which the rebel leaders have shown, and will decide, and help us to decide, that, while we would not hurt a hair of the head of one of them, we yet can never allow them to live in the same land with us, nor, while necessarily remaining, even step on to its soil except under military guard. We have now seen the spirit of the slaveholder in this last outbreak of malignity and wickedness; it is well for us to know the infinitely broad distinction between liberty and slavery, and provide for an eternal separation between them.
Had I chosen a text, as the introduction of my discourse, I should have reminded you how, like Moses, our president has seen the promised land, and overlooked it far and wide, the inheritance of the people, and has not himself been permitted to enter into enjoyment of it. I should have told you how, like the aged Simeon, he might say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation”- or how, also, like the dying Stephen, he would have said, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." But texts of written record are unnecessary: Providence speaks directly to our hearts.
And let us not suffer this season of our deep and agonized feeling to pass without impressing upon our hearts its appropriate lessons, and taking to ourselves most earnest resolutions. The great necessity is, that we should consecrate ourselves with more thoroughness to humanity. The grief of the hour is wideextended; millions feel it. We feel more deeply than ever, how much our own personal interests are complicated with those of all the world beside. In the face of every man we see a brother. The tears which others shed, are for our loss as well as theirs. And the affliction which has now come upon us all alike, inspires us to feel more truly the private sorrows of those, who, in the events of the war, have consecrated to their country in death the beloved members of their own households. It teaches us more clearly the liability of man to suffer; and calls us to survey with more lively sympathy the sorrows of the race. And long as the dispensation of sorrow shall be an ordinance of God's wise and merciful government, so long must our hearts take to themselves the lesson of sympathy with man.
Especially, in this connection, must we impress our hearts with a sense of justice to the colored race. For their sakes, on account of the position which we, as a nation, have assumed and held in regard to them, we have passed through the terrors of our long-continued war, as we passed for the same reason through long-continued anxieties and miseries that preceded it. We have suffered, terribly suffered, for the course which we have pursued. Do we now intend justice ? Do we longer think to save and advance our national welfare by despising and oppressing, or by neglecting the colored race? Have we still no faith in justice? shall we still think, by some indirections, to save ourselves, while we hide from the commandments of God ? Have not the judgments of the Almighty been severe, and plain? Let us do our duties ; let us with all our hearts and with all faithfulness give liberty and equality to the oppressed, and not tempt judgments more bitter, more dreadful than those which we sustain.
Let us purify our politics. We cannot but call to mind, in the hour of national anguish, how much of baseness and iniquity have characterised the intrigues of politicians; on what worldliness, what earthly expediency, what distrust and denial of everlasting principles of right great parties have based themselves, in their attempts to attain the government of the nation. We do no good with base men. We have no need of them. They mean no good to us. We follow them but to destruction. We corrupt the vital sources of morality in our own hearts, and the sources of national life, while we yield to their influence and follow the guidance of their principles.
Lastly. Now, in the hour, when wickedness has wrought so signal a triumph, has laid the hope of the nation low, and filled the eyes and hearts of all with tears and anguish, - let us consider the final truth,
that all sin is of the same character. Whatsoever its manifestations, howsoever dreadful its violence or light its appearance, in elementary principle it is all the same. To justify a degree of it in our own hearts, is to justify the worst degree of it in another's. To demand impunity for any sin of our own, whatsoever the apparent reason for indulgence of it, is to give leave for others to riot in demoniacal wickedness. We see in this last enormity of maliciousness, which has laid low a great beloved man, the horrible character, not alone of one man's wickedness, but of sin itself. In every good man's life, in the life and temper of Jesus Christ, we see the beauty and loveliness of that principle which is the opposite of sin. Which do we choose? Whose side, in the universe, do we assume ? Now, while our hearts are tenderly affected, deeply impressed, let us renew our vows of consecration to the spirit of holiness and good ; let us choose the right, the absolute, eternal right; let us labor with the good and God, for its progress and prevalence over all the world.*
Extemporaneous addresses or remarks having reference to the sad event, were made from almost every other pulpit in the city. Full reports of these have not been preserved, but an abstract of some of them follows.
* This sermon was preached from a brief, and has been written out since it was delivered.
At the First Baptist Church, the pastor, the Rev. Dr. George C. Baldwin read the eighty-ninth psalm, and selected for his text the first fifteen verses of the psalm, in one of which occurs the words, “ The north and the south thou hast created them.” He spoke of the present affliction as viewed by the light of holy writ and especially of the psalm he had read, wherein the Almighty is praised as the keeper of His covenants with His people, and lauded for the manifestations of His wonderful power. He pictured the effects of rebellion and slavery, paid a faithful tribute to the memory of the late President, and exhorted all, especially the young, to imitate his example in their character and life. Here, as in other churches, the scene was impressive, and sobs of emotion were often audible among the congregation.
The pastor of the North Baptist Church, the Rev. Dr. C. P. Sheldon, read for the morning lesson, a portion of the third chapter of the second book of Samuel, in which the death of Abner is narrated, and in which David laments the loss of his friend in these words, “Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters: as a man falleth before wicked men, so fellest thou.” The speaker referred to some of the proofs of the barbarism of slavery, noting especially the assault on Sumner, the firing on the troops of Massachusetts in Baltimore, and finally the tragedy just enacted. He expressed his thankfulness for the constitutional provision determining at once his suc