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where. Still slavery grew. We knew that the
spirit of the age, the world's collected will, the
voice of Christianity, and the fiat of Jehovah, om-
nipotent over all, had. decreed the extinction of
slavery. Yet it flourished and was strong. We
believed that the evil was to be conquered by light
and truth ; and we poured upon it, without stint or
pause, all the artillery which they could supply.
Slavery shook our weapons from its brazen hide,
and was only made more raging and rampant. We
hoped that, after decades and centuries of this moral
aggression, the Gospel would finally subdue slavery,
and expel it from the land. Slavery laughed at our
predictions, and declared itself to be the child of
the Gospel, destined to share with it a joint heritage
of life and power.

But God, wiser than we, was preparing for this
invulnerable foe another kind of logic " the logic
of events." We meant to kill it by argument. God
meant to kill it with the sword. We purposed to
melt it away by the soft breath of Christian influ-


ence. God purposed to blow it out of the universe
with Parrott guns. We thought to see it gently de-
cline, and, like other old sinners, repent at the last,
ask pardon of the world, and depart in peace. God
intended that its exit should be amid the rocking of
the earthquake, the commotion and carnage of bat-
tle, the fall of cities, and the rout of armies amid
demonstrations of such awful vengeance, as should
make its death a warning to ungodly nations for-
evermore. We expected it to die by the verdict of
a jury, with benefit of clergy, and with all the pa-
rade and honors of a public execution. God deter-
mined that it should die by suicide, and lie unburied
at the cross- ways, with a stake thrust through its
body, a mockery and a horror to all the ages.

Hence, by that all-governing energy which causes
even the wickedness of man to subserve His pur-
poses, He chose the very, madness which slavery
begets in its votaries, as the instrument of its de-
struction. In their insane attachment to it, the
States of the South rushed into treason and civil
war, with the design of extending and perpetuating
its supremacy. But this enormous crime, inaugu-
rated for the preservation of their idol, proved to be
the signal of its fall. The free North was com-
pelled, by the stern necessities of the crisis, to
gather up its might, and repel the assault aimed at
the nation's life. We thought only of defending the


Government, and maintaining the Union. But God
had other and broader views. He refused to go
forth with our armies. He inflicted calamities
upon us. He led us deeper and deeper into the
conflict. He made the darkness thicker, and the
woe heavier. He sent us failure in the work which
we sought to do ; and all the while pointed, with
the finger of His Providence, to the work which He
meant us to do. At length, we saw that slavery
must die, that the nation might live. Then, high
above the tumult and the wailing, rung out the im-
mortal words of our martyred President, proclaim-
ing the emancipation of the bondmen throughout
the rebel domain. This was the first step in the
right path, and it changed at once the aspect of the
strife. Still it was but the beginning. The proc-
lamation of freedom could take effect only so far as
the victorious forces of the Union carried with them
its fulfilment. It was a dead letter wherever the
rebellion continued to hold sway. And even after
the rebellion was suppressed, and the banner of the
Eepublic waved once more over all the land, there
was yet enough of life in the prostrate form of
slavery to compass, by assassin hands, the murder
of the Moses who had guided us across the desert of
the strife to the border of recovered peace and uni-
ty. Slavery was dying. Slavery was in appear-
ance dead. But what seemed death might prove


only a fainting fit, out of which it would hereafter
rise in renovated vigor. The Supreme Court might
bring it back to life by annulling the decree of
emancipation. Or the States in which it had ruled,
when rehabilitated and clothed anew with their for-
feited authority, might themselves restore it, in es-
sence, if not in name. To give the finishing blow
to the monster, there was needed that greatest event
of the past year, and of all the years of our coun-
try's history the ratification of the Constitutional
Amendment. That killed slavery beyond the pow-
er of resurrection. It is now forever prohibited, by
organic law, in all the States and Territories of the
Union, and can never pollute our soil again, until
three-fourths of the States shall vote to repeal the
glorious interdict a contingency as unlikely as
that the sun should set in the east, or the Missis-
sippi flow toward the frozen zone.

"Blotted out!

All within and all about,
Shall a fresher life begin,

Freer breathe the universe,

As it rolls its heavy curse
On the dead and buried sin."

Yes, slavery is dead dead and cannot be re-
suscitated. In all the broad land which God has
given us for our heritage, there is not a slave ; and
while the heavens are over the earth there never can


be again. As I stand here, and say this, and think
what a stupendous fact the statement involves, I can
hardly believe what my lips declare. When I
recall the former greatness of the Slave-Power, its
endless ramifications, its all-pervading and all-con-
trolling influence ; when I consider how trade and
commerce pandered to it, how wealth and fashion
worshipped it, how society caressed it, how Litera-
ture and Art flattered it, how the Press and the Pul-
pit obeyed its behests, how statesmen trembled at
its frown, how the mightiest fell before it, how the
whole nation lay prostrate under its feet ; and then
look at its huge corpse, rotting in the sight of a re-
joicing world, my faith can scarcely grasp what my
eyes behold ; and I find it difficult to suppress the
fear that the demon-curse may start up again, and
rule and ravage as before. But, no ! thank God,
no ! Slavery is dead ! My heart swells and grows
exultant at the thought of all which such a consum-
mation bears in its bosom for us and for our chil-
dren, for humanity and for Christ. We can now
stand up before the nations, and, with honest pride,
point to our country as having purged the foul blot
from her escutcheon by a baptism such as no other
people could undergo and live ; as having broken
every shackle at a cost such as no other people has
ever paid ; a country as great in justice as in power,
as merciful in victory as invincible in battle; a


country that has proved itself the grandest on the
face of the earth grandest in intelligence, grand-
est in resources, grandest in military strength,
grandest in its freedom, grandest in the glory of its
present, grandest in the promise of its future.
And, what is infinitely more important, we can now
" lift up our face without spot unto God," and sup-
plicate His blessing on the land we love, and on the
world for whose salvation we labor, unchilled by
the thought that the dread guilt of the nation stands
between us and the nation's weal between us and
the darkling myriads we would reach and redeem.
This fatal barrier broken down, this prolific foun-
tain of corruption dried up, this blaring scandal put
away, there lie before the American people a new
era and a new career an era of peace, union, and
equal rights for all a career of material, social,
and moral progress at home, of influence and author-
ity abroad, more benign,, wide-stretching and majes-
tic than earth's annals have ever recorded.

True, the clouds are not all gone from our sky.
The question of reconstruction in the subjugated
States is attended with many and great difficulties.
Nor does the condition of the millions so suddenly
emerging from the ignorance and helplessness of
bondage, present a problem less momentous. In
the mighty transition through which we are passing,
something of disorder and confusion is inevitable.


But there remain no obstacles in our path which
Christian statesmanship and Christian benevolence,
following the beckoiiings of the Divine Hand, may
not easily overcome. In the case of the States
lately in rebellion, we have only to insist that,
before they are received back into the Union, they
shall so shape their constitutions and domestic poli-
cy, as to insure permanent fidelity to the Govern-
ment, and justice and the rights of citizens to the
victims of their former oppression. Thus guarded,
their rehabilitation will be safe. With respect to
the emancipated slaves, our work, though more ar-
duous, and requiring a longer time for its comple-
tion, is equally plain and simple. They are the na-
tion's wards ; and it is alike our interest and our
obligation to protect them in their freedom, to re-
move from them all legal disabilities, and to prepare
them, by education and the Gospel, for industry,
self-help, and usefulness. These conditions ful-
filled, our course will be onward and upward.
Capital and labor will soon adjust themselves to the
new order of things. All friction and disturbance
will cease. The South itself, freed from the incu-
bus that has so long paralyzed her energies, will ex-
perience, in the increased production of her great
staples, a prosperity which she never knew in the
palmiest days of the whip and chain. Side by side
with her advancement, the whole country will press


forward in the march of civilization ; and the happy
auguries which the vanished year has left us as its
memorial, will be realized in a political horizon
without a speck to break its clearness, and in a na-
tional growth and a national greatness unexampled
through all the centuries that have swept over the

The occurrences which we have reviewed are full
of important and varied lessons lessons bearing
on all our relations to God, our country, and the
world. But we can now only indicate a few of
them, which may be regarded as most comprehen-
sive and suggestive.

In the memories of the year there is a lesson of
Hope. How fitted are they to inspire us with con-
fidence in the future of our country, under the same
sheltering Arm that has so signally defended it in
the past! Who can believe that the Almighty,
after the wonderful deliverance which He has
wrought for this nation, will suffer it to perish?
Would He have led us out from the Egypt of
Slavery, through the Red Sea of Civil War, if He
did not mean to go with us in the journeying be-
yond, to guide us in the true course, and conduct
us to the Canaan of established harmony and re-
pose? He corrected and scourged us while we
clung to the sin which He had determined to extir-
pate ; yet His goodness and mercy were over us


still. And now, that, taught by His discipline, we
have put that sin forever away, will He abandon us
to anarchy and ruin ? No, no ! In all that He has
done for us there is the assurance, not of wrath, but
of favor, not of decay, but of stability ; the indica-
tions of a Providence purposing, not to destroy, but
to build up and bless. The manifestations of His
kindness in the year that is past are a prophecy and
a pledge of similar manifestations in the years that
are to come ; and we gather from them the firmest
grounds for trust in God, and trust, through Him,
in the destinies of our glorious land.

The events which we have contemplated should
invigorate our faith in the strength and permanence
of Republican institutions. It has been the favorite
dogma of the advocates of monarchy and absolut-
ism, that free commonwealths were deficient in that
energy and concentration which result from the su-
premacy of a single mind ; and that when danger
assailed them from without or from within, there
was no central authority of sufficient force to call
out and wield the resources of the nation. And we
ourselves were sometimes disposed to admit the
truth of this assertion in reference to our own gov-
ernment, and to regard its excellence in peaceful
times as hardly compensating for its anticipated
weakness in the hour of a great emergency. But
the experience of the last four years has shown the


falsehood of the despot's prediction, and the ground-
lessness of our own fears. The facts of our terrible
struggle have disappointed and amazed both the
friends and the enemies of freedom throughout the
world. We have done what no arbitrary govern-
ment on earth could have ventured to attempt. At
the voice of no king or emperor could such armies
have been summoned into being, or such boundless
means called forth for their support and efficiency.
So vast a demand made on its subjects by an abso-
lute Power would be instantly followed by revolu-
tion, the fall of dynasties, and the crash of thrones.
Or, if this did not happen, the mighty host evoked
would be a greater terror to the land than the dan-
ger it was created to repel. We have encountered
no perils like these. During the war, more than
two millions of our citizens have gone forth to de-
fend the government, because it was their own gov-
ernment, the government which they had aided to
establish; and the whole nation poured out its
wealth after them in a ceaseless tide, whose fulness
and amplitude confounded every onlooker. And
when these heroic men had finished their work, the
million that survived came quietly back to the occu-
pations which they had left, and were reabsorbed in
the industries of the country. This magnificent
spectacle, the sublimest which history shows, viewed
in connection with the spirit of self-sacrifice, the


patriotic zeal, the exhaustless forces, which the
crisis developed, has settled forever the question of
the stability of free institutions, and demonstrated
to the world that a representative government is not
only the strongest and most effective of all govern-
ments, but the most enduring and indestructible.

The memories of the year are richly fraught with
occasions for gratitude. Is there among us a mind
so grovelling, a heart so dead, as not to feel,/ at a
moment like this, some emotion of thankfulness to
the Dispenser of such unparalleled benefits ? One
glance at the perils and sacrifices in which He has
upheld us, one glance at the redemption which He
has accomplished for us, one glance at the bright
Future which He has opened to us, is enough to in-
spire our souls with love and our lips with praise.
Our soldiers have done nobly. Cherished be the
living ; sacred the memory of the fallen. Our com-
manders have been brave, and wise, and skilful.
Let the nation reward and honor them. Our mur-
dered Chief piloted the ship of state well and surely
amid the storm. Let his name and his deeds be a
hallowed legacy to the generations that are to come
after us. But our Deliverer was the God of Hosts.
He prepared all, superintended all, achieved all.
To Him, then, let our worship and our thanks be
rendered evermore.


The memories of the year inculcate a lesson of
duty. Never were the Christians of this land
placed in circumstances so favorable as the pres-
ent for the extension of true religion, and for bring-
ing its benign influences to bear upon all classes of
our population. The impassable wall of slavery,
which has hitherto shut in the whole South, and
rendered it impervious to a pure Gospel, and to all
the humanizing and elevating agencies which that
Gospel carries with it, is thrown down and scat-
tered to the winds ; and we may now go where we
will, bearing the light of knowledge and the mes-
sage of salvation. There is no hindrance, no ob-
struction. All places, all conditions, are open to
our efforts. The same enlarged scope is given to
our philanthropy in its endeavors to uplift the de-
graded of all climes and peoples. The one dark
stain on our national character, which excluded us
from the sympathies of the world, and made our
benevolence a mockery, and our Christianity a re-
proach, is removed forever ; and we can toil for
humanity with all the moral advantage resulting
from the fiery ordeal which we have undergone in
its cause. The old prejudice against us has passed
away ; the old barrier between us and our race has
been levelled ; and a higher path and a wider sphere
await our entrance.


Men of the New Era ! I greet you. It is your
privilege to labor for God and man in a new civil-
ization, under new auspices, and with new facilities.
Be true to your grand position. Recognize the ob-
ligations which it involves. And study to show
yourselves as unselfish and beneficent in peace as
you were patriotic in war.

From the memories of the year we may draw a
lesson of admonition. We read in them a solemn
revelation of God's wrath against iniquity. They
proclaim to us, in words of fire, and with tongues
of thunder, that great public wrongs cannot be
committed without calling down the vengeance of
Heaven ; and that, in the day of their doom, their
supporters and champions will be overthrown with
them. The South clung to its fatal sin, defended
it, cherished it, adored it ; accounted it more sacred
than God and His law, more precious than Christ
and His Gospel. Jehovah's right hand smote the
foul Dagon to the dust, and with it the whole tem-
ple which the South had built for its worship. The
desolation that has swept over the rebel States, the
havoc that has wasted and impoverished them, the
blood that has drenched them, the graves that make
their sunny plains one vast sepulchre, are all the
legitimate consequences of their adherence to slav-
ery. But the same God, who so fearfully punished


them, will as surely punish us, if we break His
law, and refuse to repent. He is the Sovereign of
individuals as well as of communities ; and His au-
thority can no more be despised with impunity by
the one than by the other. He commands us to
love Him, to obey Him, to forsake our transgres-
sions against Him, and to rely for pardon and ac-
ceptance on the merits of His only-begotten Sou.
If we set at nought His behests, then as certainly
as His vengeance overtook the South, so certainly
will it overtake us. It may not be now it may
not be here for while nations are judged in this
world, individuals are judged in the next. But the
punishment will come, inexorable and endless. The
South, if faithful to the Government to which she
has now submitted, and just to the freedmen whom
she so long oppressed, may rise up from her ruins,
and be again prosperous and happy. But if once
the retributions of eternity become our portion,
there will be for us no recovery. In the delusions
of sin we may flatter ourselves that the Holy One
will never reckon with us for our disobedience ;
that He will always be to us as forbearing and mer-
ciful as He is now. So thought the devotees of
slavery. They were sure that God was on their
side, and would ultimately crown their cause with
triumph. Nevertheless, their destruction came.


Oh ! let the memories and the lessons of the year
now ended lead us to repentance, lead us to faith in
Jesus, lead us to reconciliation with God, and holy
activity in His service. So shall our future years
on earth be bright with Hope, and our eternal years
blessed in its fruition.




'N the current of the ages great conjunctures
often arise, analogous to those which marked
its earlier course, and giving fresh significance
to the Divine counsels and warnings which
were then enunciated. Human wickedness
stamps the same characters on all periods of the
world, and creates similar moral crises, which re-
quire to be met by the application of similar princi-
ples. Thus history repeats itself, and renders the
inspired teachings of the far Past ever appropriate
and timely.

Sacred narrative supplies an instance of civil re-
construction, closely resembling that which now
forms, in our own land, the chief interest of the
hour. It grew out of the political relations exist-



ing between the Hebrew nation and the adjacent
kingdom of Moab. The conquest of the latter
country by David, and its annexation to his do-
minions, was one of the many splendid successes
that attended his reign. Though permitted to re-
main nominally under its own rulers, it became, in
fact, a dependency of the Jewish crown, paying
tribute to it, and acknowledging its supremacy.
When, on the accession of Rehoboam, the Hebrew
territory was divided, the subject province followed
the fortunes of the Ten Tribes, and continued to
adhere to them, till the death of Ahab. The con-
nection was then sundered by rebellion. A strong
and wicked king having been succeeded by one who
was as weak as he was wicked, the people of
Moab took advantage of the imbecility and dis-
order which ensued, to set up ait independent gov-
ernment. Through many conflicts, and for nearly
two centuries, they maintained their autonomy.
But after the destruction of Israel by the invad-
ing hosts of Assyria, an effort appears to have been
made for the restoration of Moab to the kingdom
of Judah. This portion of the chosen race was
now prosperous and powerful under the wise rule
of Hezekiah ; while its neighbor had sunk into de-
cay. It is probable that Moab herself proposed the
alliance. Enfeebled as she had become by frequent
wars and protracted anarchy, diminished in popula-


tion and resources, and exposed more and more to
the encroachments of Nineveh, whose colossal might
was overshadowing the East, she would naturally
desire to strengthen her position by uniting with a
kindred people, and securing its aid against the
common danger.

It was while this measure was in contemplation,
that the prophet gave utterance to the message
which we have chosen as the theme of our present
remarks. He exhorts the inhabitants of Moab to
renew their fealty to the House of David, and to
evince their sincerity and good faith by sending the
ancient tribute to " the mount of the Daughter of
Zion." At the same time, he reminds them that
much more than this was necessary to establish a
safe and firm basis of reunion. During the long
and bitter strife which had raged between them and
the Hebrews, large numbers of the latter had fallen
into their hands, either as captives taken in battle,
or as exiles who had been driven by adversity to
seek an asylum among them. These homeless ones
they had plundered and enslaved, and had aggra-
vated their misfortunes by every cruelty which mal-
ice could invent. A wrong so flagrant must be re-
paired before there could be any solid and lasting
peace. Judah could never allow them to return
with their feet on the necks of her children ; and
even were it possible that she should so forget her


duty and her honor, the God of Judah would frown
on the unholy compact, and bring it to naught.

Hence the servant of Heaven, commissioned to
declare its will, admonishes them to abandon at
once a course of conduct so productive of present
alienation, and so certain to engender hostility and
disruption in the future. "Take counsel; execute
judgment." Ponder the outrages which you have
committed. Atone for them by doing justice to the
victims of your tyranny. "Make thy shadow as
the night in the midst of the noonday." As the
cool screen of darkness shields the traveller from
the heat of the blazing sky, so let your equity and
kindness shelter the lowly. "Hide the outcasts."
Be to them a refuge from oppression. "Bewray
not him that wandereth." Break not your pledge
to the exile ; cheat him not with a hollow perform-
ance. Let the robbed and down-trodden dwell with
you in the full enjoyment of every immunity which
you claim for yourselves. Accord to them equal
rights ; guard them from spoliation and violence.
Sully not with your old infamies the new national
life to which you aspire. In that life, "the extor-
tioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth," the tram-

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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 14 of 19)