Robert H. (Robert Hunter) Williams.

God's chosen ruler : A sermon, delivered on a day of national humiliation and prayer, in the Presbyterian church of Frederick city, Md. online

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Online LibraryRobert H. (Robert Hunter) WilliamsGod's chosen ruler : A sermon, delivered on a day of national humiliation and prayer, in the Presbyterian church of Frederick city, Md. → online text (page 1 of 2)
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FREDERICK, June 67H, 1865.

Dear Sir, — The undersigned, thinking that the circulation of the sermon de-
livered by yon on the day of National humiliation and mourning, would be use-
ful, request a copy ior publication.



FREDERICK, Jdnb 8th, 1865.
0*tUkMen,^l am consciouB, that the following discourse is not worthy of the
oocaeion which called us together. I defer to your judgement and give a copy
for publication.
To 6. Bich«lberger, and others. With respect, I am yours,


^'For itioas his from the Lord:'— 1st Kings, 2, 16.

These are tlie words of Adoiiijah, who was at this tinia
plotting the overthrow of Solomon, for the purpose of occu-
pying the throne himself. Adonijah, after failing in soma
of hit plans, seeks to marry Abishag, thereby, gaining her
friends and relations to his side. But he could not get pos-
session of Abishag without the consent of Solomon. This
he thought he could get, through the interposition of Bath-
sheba, his mother, '^n his speech to her, Adonijah insinu-
ated that the kingdom was his by right of primogeniture,
and that he had been in possession of it by the consent of all
Israel." This however was false for it was Solomon's from
the Lord, and Solomon the people favored. But he meant
to induce Bathsheba to compassionate his case. To make a
merit with her of peaceably receding from his claim, and
that she might not suspect any ill design, he, at length, con-
ceded that it was Solomon's from the Lord. Although these
words were uttered by a man whose heart was full of deceit;
yet they were true words. Solomon's right to rule was from
the Lord. Solomon saw through the designs of Adonijah,
and was fully convinced that he was aiming to overthrow
him. ' 'He perceived him still restless, aspiring, and schem-
ing, ' ' To show the inefficacy therefore of every application in
his favor to convince Bathsheba of the impropriety of the re-
quest, and to declare the necessity of his death in order to se-
cure public peace, and the establishment of his authority, he
spoke with great earnestness and decision. He declared,
^'As the Lord liveth, who hath established me, and set me on
the throne of David, my father, and who hath made me a
house, as he hath promised, Adonijah shall be put to death
this day. And King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah,
the son of Tehoiada, and he fell upon him that he died."
Solomon felt that government cannot be secure, while they
who aim to subvert it remain unpunished, and such as hav^

'been convicted of treasonable designs are proper persons t©
be sacrificed for tlie public good^ and for an example to oth-
ers. ** Apparent severity to them may eventually be mercy
.sto thousands." As we come to contemplate the virtiies, and
mourn the death of Abraham Lincoln, let us remember that
vGod placed him in the Presidential chair. We caai say (but
not with the same spirit) as Adonijah said of Solomon, **It
tvas his from the Lord." We may all use this language to-
day in sincerity. And the traitor, who has been brought to
grief, and who now lies in the |>rison, whose name is not
worthy of mention, feels, whether lie acknowledges it or not,
tbat, our President's right to rule was from the Lord. When
we consider the complicated machinery of society we see many,
multitudes of agencies at work to bring about results. Men,
acts, words, thoughts, emotions, all work and inter work to
make history what it is.

If the secret emotions of a single conspirator had been dif-
feremt from what they have been, the whole dreadful plan,
which they had formed^ might have failed. If we remove
the most insignificant agency in a good enterprise, it may
fell altogether. It is apparent then, from what we have
feaid, thaA ^very man is acting a part in the great drama of
history. Every man helps to make history. All his labor,
;and conduct, and thoughts, and emotions, in some way, as-
sist in making the course of human events just what it is.
Whatever position we occupy, whether it be obscure or con-
spicuous, low or high, is a position which tue must occupy,
oi* some other, who will think, and act as we do to
make history what it is. God may have placed each one of
lis here to do one little act, or to speak a single word, at the
time when the act or word will tell most for His glory and
the interests of society. Some times men are a long time
in training, before they are fit to do what God intended they
should do. Then every pain they feel, every delay they expe-
riience, every lesson they learn, in short, every little circum-
stance and event in life, prepares them for their work. — This

is true of us; but it is especially true of God's iustrumeuts
for great good. Joseph folt tliis, wlien in Egypt lie declar-
ed to his guilty brothers, ^'It was not you that sent me
hither, but God." When Moses had been forty years in
Midian, forty years after he thought he had been called to
the work of a deliverer^ then the Lord appeared unto him
and said_, ^^And now come I will send thee into Egypt." We
cannot tell what lessons he learned in his sojourn in Midian;
but no doubt, every day added to his preparation for the
work, which God had for him to do. In a wonderful man-
ner has G-od trained many men of this land for the work
which they have performed. Now he develops their powers
by pain, now by great labor, now by trial. Now in this
way and now in that. Look at Washington how his char-
acter is beautifully moulded by the efforts of a mother. By
this thing he is taught stability. By that thing he learns
to persevere. All the elements of a noble character are de-
veloped in him in the school to which God sent him.
And the Am^erican people saw them in him^ Avhen they
called him to be the Chief Magistrate of the Nation.
All the victories he achieved, and all the defeats he
met with, and all the anxiety he endured prepared him for
the work, which God had for him to do. And this is true
of the great man whose loss we mourn to-day. He was won-
derfully fitted by trial, for the great duties he was called on
to perform. God took him and trained him. He was training
him when some in our midst were ridiculing him, and when
they were using the vilest language concerning him. God
ihad a work for him to do, and he prepared him for it, by
want, by labor, by anxiety, by defeat. In the school of
poverty, in early life, he learned useful lessons. In the
-school of labor he obtained a good physical development,
which did much to sustain him in the arduous duties to
which he attended. He knew what was in the heart of tho
masses, for he had felt the same himself. He deeply sympa-
thized with them in their wants and distresses. He did not

"bend to circum.stances, Lut erect and firm he sto^d, while tlie
great billows of ckjst ruction rolled around him. He did not
fear to take^ and also, to defend a position. If he had been
less firm in the management of the national affairs, we, people
and ruler, would have gone down together. But he looked
out upon the storm, and with a steady and firm liand at the
helm of the Ship of State guided us into the quiet w^aters of
peace. He was deeply conscious of the great diflicultics
which environed him, as can be shown by his annual messa-
ges and all his proclamations. Listen to some of his words,
taken from his message for 18G5: "The occasion is piled
high wdth difficulties, and w^e must rise with the occa-
sion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and
act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall
save our country. We cannot escape history. We of this
Congress and this Administration wall be remembered in
spite of ourselves. No personal significance nor insignifi-
cance can spare one or anotlier of us. The fiery trial througli
which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the
latest generation." Noble words are these, showdng that he
was conscious of the part he was acting in the great events
which were transpiring. They show tod, that he did not
want his name to descend to posterity wdth a stain upon it.
Eight w-ell has he preserved it from the least tarnish, and
men will look upon it as one of the few immortal names, that
are never to be forgotten. The restoration of the National
authority stood all the years of the war before his mind.
Multitudes of evils appeared to him, as they did to others,
to be connected w^ith . the dismemberment of the Union.
With a firm reliance upon God, he undertook the difiicult
task of preventing the separation. And what a task he had?
Spies and enemies thronged the National capital. Every
department sw^armed with men of treasonable inclinations.
Throughout the North there were many traitors at heart.
Washington for a time w^as in the enemy's country, and all
communication from the North and West cut off. What days

/if agony and su.s])cnsc wore tlioyol Tlieii a mighty [xjoplcj at^"
this man's call, rose to their I'cct, and from that day they
have heen growing more and more poAverful. The Na-
tion had a sort of intuitive knowledge that he wa»
the man for great undertakings. He rose more rapidly in
the confidence of a mighty people than any man of any age,
or any country. He soon acquired a knowledge of the work
that was to he done. He soon had a comprehensive percep-
tion of the duties which devolved upon him. He early de-
termined that every thing that stood in the way of the restor-
tion of the Union should he removed. One great hindrance
to his efforts, which stood up like a giant, and gave strength,
to the military power of the South, was Slavery. He de-
clared ^'I will save the Union if I can with Slavery; hut if
not, Slavery must perish, for the Union must he preserved."
Years ago it hecame the foundation of a political party. In
this party sprung up the great political heresy that primary
allegiance was due to the State, a secondary one only, to the-
United States. Then soon another theory, that Slavery was
a divine iuvstitution grew- up. And that power, controlled
by such doctrines, continued to domineer up to the time they
made war upon us. Abraham Lincoln saw that if the cor-
ner stone of this new power was removed, the building
would fall. But the country was not ready for his
proclamation of freedom, when he saw its necessity. But
he prepared the public mind for it, by his message in
March 1862, when he recommended a joint resolution^ 'Hhat
the United States ought to co-operate with any State, which
may adopt a gradual abolishment of Slavery, giving to such
State pecuniary aid" as a compensation for its loss. But
Btill the war went on. He still held to his former convic-
tions, and the people of the loyal North were gradually
prepared for a more decided utterance on the subject of free-
dom. So in January 1st 1863, he issued a proclamation
emancipating all Slaves within the insurgent States. Mr.
Lincoln looked upon it as a necessity and it shaped after re-

suits most wonderfLilly. It put one or two luuidreJ tliou-
sand brave and gallant troops into our army, and weakened
the South to the extent of upwards of a million. Mr. Lincoln
was raised up to act in such an emergency as this, and he'
felt that he was merely an instrument in the hands of God,
for after he had done it. he said, ^ 'The Nation's condition
God alone can claim." How much he had to discourage
him! The giant power of the enemy, a divided and troub-
led North, incompetent officers to command our armies, de-
feat on land, reverses on the sea, and a depleted treasury met
his gaze. On he went, however, to his work. He toiled',-
and prayed, and wished, and hoped, as no other man has
done duriug our troubles. He went forward, notwithstand-
ing, that even many churches withheld their encourage-
ment, and many ministers absolutely refused to pray for
him. He felt that he was raised up for a great and glori-
ous purpose, and that when it was accomplised his work
was done. For this great work every struggle, and pain,
and anxiety, and effort prepared him. To save our Coun-
try, arid to give it to us with but one flag waving over us
and one Constitution binding us together, was his great
work. Noble, heroic soul, pure-minded, large-hearted pa^
trio.t, how shall the nation rightly perpetuate the memory
of his honorable deeds? We mourn to-day that he ha»
been taken from us. But while we bend over his grave, we
are reminded that his work is done and well done. Cheered
by this thought, tJianJc God! loe cry^ thank God! loe shouty
that he gave him to us and spared him so long. Slavery went
down, we say, to save the Union. Down it went in accord-
ance with the wishes of multitudes. Down it went against
the wishes of many. The people of the South, themselves,
could not prevent this measure; but really accelerated it, even
before our armies had overrun the South, making the free^
dom of the slave certain, the Congress of the so-called Con-
federate States, by the consent and advice of Gen. Lee, made
as many free as entered their military service » Mr. Lincoln

Wcis raised up to be our ruler^ while all the great principles
of our Goverainent were put to the tetet* One of those princi-
ples which has been maintained and set in a new light, is the
principle of civil liberty. Wc have, ever since our existence
as a nation, declared that ''all men are born free and equal.**
But this was practically denied at the South, not because it
was not regarded as true; but because a system of Slavery
had been entailed upon them, which the wisest knew not
how to abolish. It is indeed quite a new view of the institu-
tion of Slavery when it is called divine. The people of the
South who have reaped the largest fruit from the institution
years ago, thought it should be limited, aud indeed abolish-
ed as soon as possible. Gen. Oglctlirope wrote as follows in
1733: ''My friends and I settled the colony of Georgia and
by charter were esi^ablished trustees to make laws. We de-
termined not to suffer Slavery there. We would not Buflfer
Slavery, which is against the Gospel, as well as the funda-
mental law of England^ to be authorized under our authori-
ty." But we are told that the Slave merchants got the ad-
vantage over them and secured the favor of the English gov-^
ernment. The Assembly of South Carolina in 1760, passed
an act forbidding the importation of Slaves. The act, how-
ever, was annulled by the royal veto. In 1772, the Virgin-
ia Assembly petitioned the king on the subject of the slkve
trade, in the following language: "We are encouraged to
look up to the throne and implore your majesty's paternal' acf-
sistance in averting a calamity of a most alarming nature.
The importation of slaves into the colonies from thle coast of
Africa, hath long been considered as a trade of great inhtj-
manity, and under its present encouragement, we have too
much reason to fear will endanger the very existence of your
majesty's American dominions. Every one familiar with
the history of the Declaration of Independence knows what
language was used by Jefferson in its first draft. He called
it piratical warfare. When he first took his seat in the first
legislature of Virginia, under the new Constitution^ he intro-


■clnced a bill aimed at SIj^Vo the iiaJcj and the impoj iatidry
<[\f .slaves into Virginia, From the dawn of their existence
WEi1/il their separation from the motlier country, did the
American colonies mai^itain an im wearied, though unavail-
ing, struggle with the crown on the question of S]aver3^
^Tom tlie the time they took tbeir stand as one independent
government up to within a few years, have tli^y been oppo-
sed to the wjiole system. The best men of VirgiMa have
reasoned that ' 'Slavery was inconsistent witTi • Chri^ianity,
was in conflict with the rights of man; tbat it w»s a slow
poison, daily contaminating the minds and morals of their
;pcople, that by reducing a part of their own species to abject
inferiority they lost the idea of the dignit}^ of man, which the
hand of God had implanted iu tliem for great and useful
j)urposes." Such was the opinion of men in other days ir&
the South, but they were unable to effect a change. The
war has resolved the difficulty, the great difficulty, and Mr„
Lincoln has declared to the world that the slave is free.
The subject of Slavery will no more disturb our National
council«. 'Tis true, the requisite number of States has not
voted that Slavery shall be abolished. They may do it soon,
or they may not do it at all. Their votes, as it seems to us,
will effect the general result, but little. The nation has
heard the wish of our murdered President and will not act
contrary to it. If he had lived we would have followed his
counsels; but much more now, when he has offered up his
life for the sake ot the principles he cherished. If the blood
of thousands of soldiers who have fallen in this great war
was not sufficient to secure civil liberty to all the inhabitants;
we all feel that Mr. Lincoln at least, must be the price of
freedona, ,,When the negro is spoken of hq will be called the
fxeedraan and not the slave as heretofore.

Great results will now follow the establishment of our
Union and the abolition of Slavery. Our halls of Legisla-
ture will bo cleansed from much pollution. Men who have
trampled on the rights of human nature, who have enfeebled


a'nd entiia-ginlslied every lil)ei-al sciitinieiii In their own bcarfM,
alien wlio huve been pctt^'- tyrants, lording it over their lol-
^.ows will not, for years at least, bo found enacting our laws.
A new class of men and as w^e trust, a purer, nobler set will.-
now take the charge of our affairs. We expect for years to
come, men like diose of '76, pure, high-minded men, wlio
will lead us on from one step to anotlier^ in vsafety and honor^
Already has God shown to us who are to be his instruments
for good to this land. A ncAV set of men seem to have been
brought to the surflxco* This mav bo said of our Legislative
Halls, and of the comm^inders of our armies. Some men,
who have been great among us, have given place to others,
who, before the war, were living in obscurity. God has
brought them forward, and we boast of many who have made
themselves a name within the last four years. When
we turn to the South we find many of their great men rapid-
ly passing into obscurity, and falling into dishonered graves,
and none coming up through their troubles, into promi-
nence. That fact of itself shows that God's hand was against
them, and is in contrast with the North. The maintainauce
of great sins cannot make great men, and the South shows it
to-day. No longer will the two principles, State sovereign-
ty and American Nationality be in conflict. Just before the
war broke upon us in all its fury, we found our treasury
emptied, our credit destroyed, our army demoralized, and
our navy dispersed over the world. State after State in
quick succession, charmed with the heresy of State sovereign-
ty declared itself separated from the Federal Union. Then
feebly, timidly w^ere uttered these words by the Nation's
representative, *'The States have no right to secede; but no-
body has any right to prevent them." Between the election
of Mr. Lincoln and his inauguration, the months seemed
long and dreary. Then such questions as the followmg .forced
themselves upon our attention, as the cloud grew thicker,
and the angry elements threatened destrucion: Is our N«a-
tiouai life a mere bubble? Are all our hopes and the hopes


of millions in otlier lands to be bhisted? Alter a tiaii.siiury
existence must free institutions fall into decay? Sliall tliiw
land, to which so many eyes are turned, become so corrupt,
and oppressed, and ruined that men shall flee from it as
though plague or pestilence were resting upon it? Those were
dark days through which we passed. Patriotism seemed to
be asleep, and for a time it seemed as though we would fall
to pieces by our own inaction and sloth. At length the
traitor arrangements were complete. At early morn of a
clear April day scarcely before it was light, the first shot
was fired at Fort Sumter. It went booming, and booming
and booming over the land. It seemed as though every man
in the giant North heard that shot. Then came the call of
the mighty dead. Then was seen the brave boy, stirred by
a noble emotion, hurrying home to gain a mother's consent
to go to sustain the Nation's honor. The big tears started,
and her heart was wrung with grief as she gave her consent.
**There was weeping upon the threshold of his old mother's
home as he started off. In one hand he held the bible, her
parting gift; and with his other, clasped around his dear
mother's neck; she breathed upon him her farewell prayei',
and sobbed the benediction of the saint upon his head. And
away he went to the field of strife." And the husband camo
home after hearing the news. He had a troubled look.
**What now?" his wife asks. ''The country is struggling
for its life,'' he says. ''The dear old flag has been fired up-
on and the Capital is in danger. The country wants men.
TThousands are responding 'we come, we come,' and I too
must go." Then he says, "Wife, can you spare me for a lit-
tle, for a few months only?" He takes up his little ones one
by one, and kissing their tender cheeks sets them down
again. He asked God, in an agony of prayer for direction.
**Husband," said his noble wife, "you know the path of du-
iy. If God bids you go Heaven will care for both you and
your loved ones here." All night he pleads with God for
hiB counsel. In the morning he read, "The Lord is my


^sliephcrd, I .sliall m>l wtint," uml Luwy fur tlic la.sL iinie
around the family altar, and gets strengih from (Jod. He
rises a noble, christian man, a patriot. ''Farewell!" he
said, and gave the last kisses and went forth to hold up his
country's flag. Thousands of such sights were witnessed,
because of the conflict which existed bctw^een some of the
States and the Federal Government. After years of strife
we have taught every rcbclliaus State, that they have no
right to secede, and that they owe paramount allegiance to
the Federal Government. After this we shall have more re-
iigion in our politics, and no doubt, more of what some false-
ly ^tyle politics in our religion. The Government and the
Church have grown nearer together during the war. Law
and religiow cannot be divorced. There is a sacrednesy
about our National emblems, which will permit them to be
Uisplayed in our most sacred places. The minister may
lift his voice boldly for his Country without fearing to be
called a stuznp orator or politician. The minister that ig-
nores his Country eitlier through fear of offending, or be-
cause of his own little love for her, will be invited to attend
to his duties in a more spiritual clime. He might do for a
people who need no civil law to control them, but certain
we are, the majority of right-thinking men are beginning to
feel, that they are not the men for these times and this
country. But I must hasten to close. Funeral eulogies U])-
on the character of our President have been pronounced in
every city and town in the loyal States. A sad and solemn
procession has moved from the National Capital to his form-
er home in Springfield, 111. Approach ye admirers of his
greatness and behold him now. IIow pale! How silent!
''No admiring throng weep and melt and tremble at his
words." A shroud, a coffin, a grave, are all that remain to
him here. But are these all he now possesses. No! There
is something beyond life which we trust he is now enjoy-
ing. He felt his dependence upon God and frequently ex-
pressed it. When he left his home for Washington, in a


public address, lie said, '4 hope you, my friends, will all
pray that I may receive that divine assistance without which
I cannot succeed; hut wdth which success is certain." Mr.
Gladstone, an eminent English Statesman, said to another,
^^Mr. Lincoln's recent address on his inauguration, showed
a moral elevation which commanded the respect of every
right feeling man. I was taken captive by so striking an


Online LibraryRobert H. (Robert Hunter) WilliamsGod's chosen ruler : A sermon, delivered on a day of national humiliation and prayer, in the Presbyterian church of Frederick city, Md. → online text (page 1 of 2)