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Battle echoes : or, Lessons from the war online

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of the world, the subject of general education is en-
listing the sympathies of governments, of statesmen,
and of philanthropists. The change which has thus
been wrought is as wonderful as it is cheering. By
means of public and Sabbath schools, the multipli-
cation of books in a cheap form, and the teeming
issues of the Periodical Press, there is now educed,
from myriads of minds hitherto neglected, an
amount of intellectual and moral energy, that must
be fraught with vast influence on the destinies of


coming ages. We rejoice in this diffusion of intel-
ligence, and long, for the day when its light shall
reach every darkling inhabitant of our earth. At
the same time, it must be remembered that knowl-
edge, divorced from religion, may become only an
engine of mischief and destruction. How impor-
tant, then, is it that we should cast into these grow-
ing streams of secular learning that element of Wis-
dom from above, which alone can render them
healthful and salutary !

Our day is characterized by an ardent spirit of
reform. Christianity, acting in concert with ex-
panding knowledge, and giving impulse and direc-
tion to it, is now developing its benign influence on
human welfare with unprecedented power. The
wrongs of centuries have been redressed. Abuses,
hoary with age, and fenced round by interest and
prejudice, have been partially or wholly swept
away. Without pausing to mention other specific
instances, let me refer you to the progress which
has been made in the cause of human freedom. By
freedom, we mean not that wild anarchy which has
sometimes been invested with its sacred name, but
that well organized, rational liberty, which is the
friend of order and of law, and which, while it
teaches men to respect the rights of others, impels
them to assert and maintain their own. And this
a blessing of inestimable price is growing


apace with the spread of intelligence and religion.
Indeed, wherever true Christianity and Knowledge
combine, Freedom must always spring from the
union. They are allied to each other by the indis-
soluble relation of cause and effect; and any at-
tempt to sunder them would be as futile as that of
the ancient despot to still the winds with his breath,
and bind the Hellespont in his chains.

In the administration of civil governments, a
great advance has been made on the theory and the
practice of former times. The truth has been dem-
onstrated, and is rapidly extending, that govern-
ments were ordained, not for the aggrandizement of
the few, but for the good of the many ; that the
subject is not a mere machine, to serve the caprice
or ambition of irresponsible lords, and bound to
obey their arbitraiy will, but a being endued with
the sacred attributes of humanity, possessing ina-
lienable rights, entitled to share in the enactment of
the laws and in the choice of the rulers under which
he shall live, and claiming to stand forth in the un-
shackled dignity of his nature, beneath the broad
protection of universal Equality and Justice. This
is, of itself, a noble triumph, and is fraught with the
promise of triumphs yet more noble. Such a prin-
ciple, once fixed in the minds of men, cannot remain
inert and unproductive. Like a buried seed, it will
swell and expand, till it bursts through all impedi-


ments, and flowers forth into a new and better civ-
ilization. On the progress and development of this
social revolution the example of our own country
has exerted a most powerful influence. The suc-
cess of free institutions here has kindled in the op-
pressed masses of other climes an intense longing
for similar immunities a longing which has been
immensely deepened and emphasized by the recent
terrible ordeal through which those institutions have
passed. In conquering the rebellion of the oligarchs
a rebellion inaugurated for the overthrow of lib-
erty a rebellion so vast in its proportions that to
all but ourselves its subjugation appeared impossi-
ble we have demonstrated the strength and sta-
bility of popular government ; and have shown, in
the sight of the nations, that such a form of govern-
ment is not only the most beneficent, but the most
invulnerable and deathless. The nations will not
forget the lesson. Henceforth Freedom will walk
the earth \vith a bolder step and a loftier brow.
And we cannot but believe that she has now reached
a position, where her uplifted banner shall no longer
stream against the wind, or hang downward in a
sluggish and leaden atmosphere, but float gladly
and victoriously before the favoring breeze, till its
starry folds shall wave over an emancipated world.
While so much has been done to ameliorate the
civil condition of men at large, the case of one iso-


luted class, peculiar in its degradation and misery,
has not been forgotten. Christian benevolence is
putting forth a great and glorious effort in behalf of
the bondmen of all races and in all lands. Xearly
all civilized nations have united to brand as piracy
the accursed traffic in human flesh on the shores of
Africa. England has abolished slavery throughout
her dominions. France and Holland have done the
same. Even Russia, despotic, autocratic Russia,
has proclaimed that over all her broad steppes serf-
dom shall cease. And now redeemed America
stands by their side, purified like them from the
stain of bondage. By a wondrous intervention of
Divine Providence, she, too, rejoices in the removal
of the fearful scourge which has so long blighted
her prosperity. Here, however, the emancipation,
though equally benign in its results, has been wide-
ly different in its method. Not by slow and silent
changes not by the calm force of moral opinion
has the chain of servitude been broken. The
hand of an avenging God has rent it suddenly and
violently asunder. From the shock of battle, from
the crash and din of internecine strife, has sprung
the deliverance of the slave. The devotees of bar-
barism, the buyers and sellers of men, madly op-
posed themselves to the power of the advancing age.
Luxurious taskmasters, fattening on the sweat and
blood of their thralls, vented their rage against the


Jubilee that was drawing nigh, and lifted their puny
hands to push it back. Venal rhetoricians defamed
as mere " glittering generalities " the great words
which Liberty had graven on her charter ; and po-
litical aspirants, and mercenary placemen, and Traf-
fic's minions, and scared conservatives, peeping out
from holes and corners, cried, "Halt," to the mill-
ions rushing on with the shout of " Free Soil for
Free Men." The propagandists of slavery, in their
insane struggles to uphold it, " played such fantastic
tricks," as to make them the scorn of earth, and the
abomination of Heaven. But their resistance was
vain. The decree of the Omnipotent had gone
forth, that slavery must die. The voice of Chris-
tianity, the voice of the world, the voice of the
world's Kuler proclaimed that slavery must die.
Then came the death-grapple. To perpetuate and
extend the institution, the South rushed into treason
and civil war, and marshalled all its resources and
all its hate for the destruction of the Government
and the Union. Long and fierce was the conflict.
The land was convulsed by the uproar of encounter-
ing legions, desolated by their fury, and red with
slaughter. And when victory crowned the right at
last, and the smoke of battle rolled away, lo !
slavery lay dead amid the hecatombs of the slain >
smitten down in the gory combat which its champi-
ons had provoked..


In the work of general enfranchisement thus be-
gun a work which is destined never to cease,
until men shall recognize in their fellow-man of
every race and complexion a brother and an equal
we behold a movement to whose moral grandeur
history affords no parallel. Whether we contem-
plate the stupendous agencies which energize and
guide it, or the magnificent issues to which it leads,
we are alike impressed by its greatness and its be-
neficence. If this be the spirit of the time and
can any one doubt it ? who must not long for its
continuance and increase, and for the going out of
its redeeming influence to all the nations of the
earth? May He, whose sovereign purposes have
calle^l it forth, so consecrate and direct it, that it
shall wander into no wild excess, but move on,
steady, uniform, unsullied, till Humanity shall
everywhere be disenthralled, and the world pre-
sent one glorious scene of Freedom and Peace.

But the grandest feature of our day yet remains
to be considered. It is pre-eminently the Era of
Evangelism. All its aspects, all its tendencies,
denote that such is its place in history. It is dis-
tinguished beyond all former tunes for the oppor-
tunities which it affords for the spread of the
Gospel, and for the success which the Gospel is
achieving. The proclamation, in all lands, of the
Sacrifice offered on Calvary, is the great agency


which God has ordained for the spiritual improve-
ment and salvation of men. To this all the ages
have looked forward as their chief scope and end.
Whatever their position along the stream of Time
whether in the gray mists that veil its earlier
course, or amid the light of its later scenes each
has gazed ever with steadfast face toward that shin-
ing point hi the flowing centuries, when the Angel
of the Apocalyptic Vision should " fly through the
midst of heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to
preach to all that dwell on the earth."

The whole world now teems with tokens that this
glorious epoch is close at hand. The facilities for
the universal diffusion of Divine Truth are such as
no other days have seen. Until recently, restric-
tions arising from hostile governments, prohibitory
laws, and various other causes, have, like mountain
barriers, shut out the Word of Life from a large
proportion of the human family. These restrictions
are now in all instances greatly diminished ; in most
entirely removed. In our own country, the curse
of bondage, which sealed up the Bible to four mill-
ions of immortal souls, and barred from them all
means of instruction, has been extirpated forever ;
and a free path opened for the light of education
and of a pure Gospel to reach and penetrate this
mass of darkened humanity. In the far climes of
Heathenism a similar preparation is in progress.


Everywhere obstructions are disappearing; every-
where hills of difficulty are falling; everywhere
the strong bulwarks of caste and prejudice are giv-
ing way. The Church of the Eedeemer enjoys rest
from external conflict. No longer is she required
to expend all her resources in merely providing ref-
uge for her harassed and scattered flocks ; nor are
her Apostles and Evangelists condemned to the si-
lence of prison walls, or the deeper silence of the
martyr's grave. With no hindrances but such as
spring from her own want of faith and zeal, she
may go forth wherever she will on her sublime mis-
sion of subduing the world to Christ. And for this
work all the modern discoveries and improvements
in science and the arts contribute to equip her.
Geography, Navigation, Commerce not limited
as of old to the narrow waters and shores of the
Mediterranean or the Euxine, but embracing every
ocean and every continent the Printing Press,
Steam, the Telegraph all these are her ministers
and auxiliaries, enabling her to multiply her points
of attack and her means of victory almost to an
indefinite extent. The modes of communication
between nation and nation are easy and rapid.
From the mercantile and other relations which
connect the different parts of the globe, ready
avenues are provided for conveying the message
of salvation to the most distant abodes of the hu-


man race. There is no spot on earth so remote or
secluded, no island so hidden amid the wastes of
unexplored seas, that Christian intelligence has not
heard of it, that Christian sympathy does not go
out to it, that Christian effort cannot reach it.

The whole world is accessible to the Gospel.
Aye, more the whole world is waiting for the
Gospel. A spirit of inquiry, of hope, is abroad
among the nations, pointing them to the Star of
Bethlehem, to the Sun of Righteousness, just rising
on their awakened vision. Myriads have renounced
their superstitions, and welcomed the truth as it is
in Jesus ; and myriads more need only to be taught
that truth, to receive it with joy. And while Chris-
tianity is thus growing stronger, and is making con-
stant inroads upon false religions, those false reli-
gions themselves, through all their motley systems,
show marks of decrepitude, paralyzation, decay.
Nor are the people of God altogether insensible to
the obligations which these facts involve. Though
but half awake to their duty, they are awake to it
as never were the people of God before. Never
before were the wants of the world so fully under-
stood and felt. Never before was labor for the
world so thoroughly recognized as the rule of Chris-
tian life. Never before were offerings for the world
so large and free. Never before was prayer for the
world so universal and so fervent. Never before


was the conversion of the world, the entire world,
so deliberately, solemnly, unblenchingly proposed
as the one great purpose of the Church of Christ.
The harvest of the earth is ripe. The harvest of
the earth is begun. Go where you will on the face
of the peopled globe the reapers are there before
you. And already, in places not few God in-
crease them a thousand-fold ! the golden sheaves
stand thick over all the field.

Such are some of the bright indications of the
day in which we live. And do they not more than
compensate for those that are dark and ominous?
Can we study them without perceiving that they are
rich with auguries of the approaching triumphs of
the Gospel ? We should do violence to Eeason and
Religion alike, did we not recognize in them the
Voice of Providence, crying in the Wilderness of
this outcast world, " prepare ye the way of the
Lord ; make straight in the desert a highway for
oui' God." And as that way is now being pre-
pared, we seem to hear, mingling with the sounds
of the pioneer's axe, the trencher's spade, and the
builder's hammer, the distant roll of His chariot
wheels, as He comes onward, onward, " conquering
and to conquer."

We mean not indeed to say that all things are
now ready for the ushering in of Messiah's final
reign. Many and great changes mast take place


before that glad consummation can arrive. There
are mountains to be levelled, valleys to be raised,
gulfs to be bridged, ere the word of the Lord can
have free course, and be glorified over all the earth.
Even in the character and position of the Church
itself there is much that needs to be reformed. But
what then? Shall we do nothing because we cannot
at once do everything? Shall we abandon the work,
because our coadjutors in it are not all that they
ought to be, and all that they yet shall be? Oh !
no, no. Let us rather wait on, pray on, toil on,
till a mightier effusion of the Spirit from above
shall so renovate the Church, that the Church shall
renovate the world. The Host of God's Elect,
though but imperfectly organized, ill disciplined,
and broken into separate and o'ften belligerent
bands, is nevertheless passing through a course of
training that shall fit it for glorious deeds. And
soon, marshalled in one vast phalanx under the
great central Banner of " One Lord, One Faith,
one Baptism," marching shoulder to shoulder, and
keeping step to the music of the angel's Hymn,
"Glory to God in the Highest, on earth Peace,
Good will toward men," it shall be led forth by its
Omnipotent Captain to the conquest of the world.

We have thus finished our promised review of
the tune in which we live. It is emphatically a
time of transition, important and exciting, not only


for the grand events which are taking place in it,
but for the still grander ones of which they are the
forerunners. Regarded thus as a season of prep-
aration for the world's enfranchisement, the Sat-
urday evening that heralds the world's Sabbath,
it manifestly brings with it peculiar obligations, and
inculcates momentous lessons. With a distinct-
ness that cannot be mistaken, and an emphasis that
should thrill every heart, it summons the people of
God to be not merely indolent observers, but ear-
nest actors in the great scenes which are opening
before them.

"We are called upon to survey our work. To un-
derstand precisely what we have to do, is as neces-
sary as it is to discern the fitting season for its per-
formance. In the development of human affairs,
each generation of men has a specific part assigned
it, which, from the prominence it holds in the move-
ments of the period, may be denominated the work
of that generation. In physical progress this law
may be observed. The province of one age is Dis-
covery. Public enterprise is strongly bent in that
direction ; and wealth and talent and ambition find
their chief outlets in traversing unknown seas, and
giving new continents to the world. Another is
the age of Colonization, in which realms hitherto
uninhabited or barbarous are peopled with civilized
races. Then follows the age of Material Improve-


ment, clearing the forests, constructing highways,
founding cities, developing industry, creating com-
merce. The growth of Science is marked by the
same successive stages. One century thinks out
the philosophies on which it resits. Another invents
the instruments for giving practical effect to those
philosophies. Another perfects the instruments,
sets them at work, moves the wheel, plies the
spindle, drives the car along the track, speeds
the steamship over the deep, sends the harnessed
lightning round the globe.

There has been a similar order in the establish-
ment and spread of the Gospel. Since its first
promulgation by Christ and His Apostles, it has
passed through various conditions, and stood in dif-
ferent attitudes to society and the world, requiring
of its votaries corresponding lines of conduct. It
has had its eras of persecution, when suffering was
the testimony of the Church, and calm endurance
her highest duty. It has had its eras of doctrinal
discussion, in which the course of events sum-
moned its adherents to examine its foundations,
and strengthen its defences. But these eras are
not ours. The call on believers now is not to die
for the Truth, but to live for it ; not to discover the
Truth, but to publish it; not to surround the Truth
with iutrenchments, but to carry it out into open
combat with the powers of darkness and sin. The


army of the Lord is not now in garrison, and,
therefore, cannot meet the claims of its Divine
Leader by merely fortifying its position, and re-
pulsing the attacks of the foe. Not alone the
parade, the drill, but the onward march, the battle
array, the charge, are demanded of us. The great
business of Christians in our day is to hold forth
the Word of Life ; to confront with it every public
and every private vice, every system of wrong,
every form of falsehood and imposture ; to illumine
with it every home of ignorance, every den of crime,
every dwelling of sorrow ; to overthrow the empire
of Satan ; to liberate his captives ; to enlighten,
reclaim and save the whole family of man. This
is the work which the voice of Jehovah, emphasized
by the time, commands the work of the entire
Church of each individual member your work,
and mine. Survey it; measure its extent; weigh
its importance ; mark the authority which prescribes
it ; look out over the field which it covers ; listen to
the cry of the darkling nations and you cannot
but feel that the end of your calling, your life-mis-
sion, is to bear the message of redemption to a
perishing world.

To prepare for our work, is another behest of the
time. No great undertaking can be accomplished
without adequate preparation. It is the law of all
human affairs, that a neglect to provide the means


requisite for success is sure to be followed by de-
feat. In secular enterprises this law is universally
recognized and acted on. How strikingly has its
operation been witnessed in the gigantic war which
has just closed ! What vast and manifold arrange-
ments were necessary to its prosecution ; what wis-
dom in the choice of commanders ; what labor in
raising, disciplining, replenishing the armies ; what
forethought and system in supplying the material
and apparatus of effective service. In the earlier
periods of the struggle, what terrible reverses we
suffered from deficiency in some or all of these par-
ticulars. And when, taught by disaster, we brought
to the conflict the most perfect equipment which the
resources of the country could furnish, how speedily
its aspect changed, and how magnificently it went
on to its triumphant end. In the mighty warfare
which " the sacramental host " is waging against the
powers of wickedness, there is need of the same
completeness in the appliances essential to its vig-
orous ongoing. The instrumentalities which God
has ordained for carrying forward His designs of
mercy in the earth, are the preaching of the Gos-
pel by the lips of living ministers whom He calls
and sets apart to this service ; and the bringing its
truths into personal contact with the minds of men
through the example and efforts of private Chris-


tians. Both of these departments require to be
greatly enlarged and energized.

The work before us calls for more and for better
qualified ministers. To proclaim the tidings of sal-
vation in all lands, and to all the diversified tribes
of our outcast race ; to meet the endlessly varying
phases of character which human nature presents ;
to lead on the armies of Zion in their assault upon
the strongholds of ungodliness, that bristle defiance
against Christ in every community and in every
clime men are wanted in vast numbers, and of
more ample endowments than the Church has seen
since her primitive confessors left the earth. In
this day of popular excitements, when society is
borne hither and thither in ceaseless agitation, and
greed and worldliness reign supreme, the messen-
gers of Heaven can make little impression, if they
lack the power to grapple with the crisis. None
can do this but men of ardent piety, thorough cul-
ture, ready skill, and earnest purpose. The Apos-
tle Paul exhorts his disciple Timothy to " make full
proof of his ministry ; " or, according to the literal
meaning of the Greek word, to "give it full meas-
ure " make it round and complete in all its func-
tions and capabilities. Such rounded ministers are
needed now. Of flat ministers there are enough.
Of square ministers, angular ministers, one-sided
ministers, there are enough, more than enough.


The demand of the time is for round ministers
ministers symmetrically developed in all the quali-
ties that pertain to their office robust in body,
vigorous in mind, mighty in faith and love. If in
any of these particulars defect exist, there will be
proportional weakness. Our age is a strong one
strong in impulse, strong in action and only strong
hands can guide it. Physical strength alone cannot
do it. Intellectual strength alone cannot do it.
Moral strength alone cannot do it. These must
unite, and form a ministry muscular, educated,
holy a ministry elastic with health, full of cour-
age and zeal, in sympathy with God and humanity.
Such are the men to "endure hardness," scale moun-
tains, cross oceans, traverse continents, laugh at fa-
tigue, brave cold and heat, "quench the violence of
fire, stop the mouths of lions, turn to flight the ar-
mies of the aliens," and carry the banner of salva-
tion in triumph round the world. And such are the
men whom the Church must raise up in hosts, if she
would be found ready for the solemn emergencies
that await her. Glancing over the fields ripe for
the sickle, and at the reapers few and feeble, she
must pray the Lord of the Harvest to send forth
more laborers ; to touch by His Spirit the hearts of
her most gifted young men, separate them from
their secular callings, and devote them to the minis-
try of reconciliation. And she must feel herself


sacredly bound to supply whatever may be neces-

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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 17 of 19)