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sary to train and furnish them for their work in
the most effective manner, sustaining them in their
course of education, sympathizing with them in their
struggles, bearing them ever on her heart ani-
mated by the conviction that in thus aiming to pro-
vide a more numerous and a more able ministry,
she is meeting a most imperative want in the king-
dom of the Saviour.

In the Christian Body at large increased activity
and power are still more urgently demanded. It
is a fact as strange as it is mournful that the vast
majority of those who profess allegiance to the
Redeemer, do nothing directly to advance His
cause. They regard their connection with the church
solely in its bearing on their own comfort and sal-
vation, ignoring the grave truth that they have been
brought into the family of God, not only that they
may taste the sweetness of Christian hope, but
proffer that hope to others ; not only that they may
reach heaven themselves, but draw after them the
perishing multitudes of their fellow-men. Hav-
ing thus little sense of religious obligation, they are
content to enjoy the privileges of the Gospel, and
resign to others the richer privilege of extending
it. They are always receiving, never imparting.
Like the sands of the desert, like the salt waves of



312 BATTLE ECHOES.

the sea, they drink in the sweet rain of heaven, but
give back no products to feed a starving world.

In Ezekiel's vision of the emblematic waters
which, issuing from under the threshold of the Tem-
ple, flowed into the surrounding country, increas-
ing in volume as they flowed, till they grew to a
broad and deep river certain marshy places are de-
scribed, that received the waters, but instead of send-
ing them out again to fertilize the regions beyond,
absorbed them, and became, in consequence, stag-
nant pools, breeding disease and death. The trav-
eller in Italy may often see this imagery illustrated
in those districts where, from a scarcity of rain,
irrigation is extensively practised, and reduced to a
system. A mountain stream, gushing from its par-
ent lake high up among the Alps is conducted, by a
series of embankments and sluices, from terrace to
terrace, along the face of the hills, and down through
the valleys, wherever its refreshing tribute is needed.
The distribution and use of the water are regulated
by strict laws. While all have the right to turn it
in upon their fields, none are permitted to confine it
there ; but each one, as soon as his thirsty crops are
satisfied, must lift the gate and let the stream pass
to the terrace below ; the owner of which must, in
turn, send it down to the next ; and so on in suc-
cession, till the last terrace is reached. It some-
times happens, however, that the sluiceways get



OUR DAT AND ITS WORK. 313

stopped up by earthy deposits ; or that some selfish
cultivator, caring only for his own supply, heedless
of his neighbor's needs, neglects to open them.
In this case a double mischief is done. The fields
from which the water is kept back are parched and
withered ; and those in which it is shut up are con-
verted into swamps, where nothing can grow but
reptiles aud malaria. Alas ! how many of these
swamps are there in the church of Christ spots
flooded with privileges, drowned in mercies spots
on which the waters of the sanctuary fall in a con-
stant stream, and are seen no more, swallowed
up by spongy consciences and souls of mud ! God's
form lacks drainage. This mass of dead material,
lying cold, sluggish, inert, in the mire of sloth
and worldliness, must be broken by the ploughshare
of the Spirit, stirred, pulverized, thrown up to the
sun, warmed by love, quickened into activity, be-
fore that grand Harvest can come, which is to strew
the earth with salvation, and fill full the garners of
heaven. Too long has the relation of members to
the church been practically that of the parasite to
the tree living on its juices, but yielding it no
support. Too long and too largely have the troops
of Zioii been composed of non-combatants silken
soldiers, whose highest idea of warfare is going once
a week to the commissary's tent for rations, dressing
for parade, and mustering at reviews and anniversa-



314 BATTLE ECHOES.

ries, to show their feathers, and do the sham fight-
ing ; while the real fighting is left to a few pastors,
Sunday-school teachers and missionaries.

From the stern conflict of principles that is now-
going on from the stupendous issues that are soon
to be decided from the high vantage ground which
we have already reached there comes a summons
louder than the blast of a thousand trumpets, in-
voking every soldier of the King of kings to take
part in the struggle, and battle for the right.
There is room and work for all. Xone can do so
little, that they may be excused for not doing that
little. None can do so much, that they may be
excused from putting forth their whole strength.
There are vices to be extirpated, miseries to be
relieved, wrongs to be redressed, chains to be riven,
darkness to be dispelled, sinners to be saved, hu-
manity to be reclaimed to God and happiness. To
these noble ends every redeemed man and woman
may contribute. One can seek out a neglected child,
and place it under Chrstian teaching. Another can
scatter Bibles and tracts along the highways of
traffic, and in the abodes of Want and Guilt. One
can consecrate his fresh, young powers to a course
of study for the Gospel ministry. Another can give
him the needed aid. One can speak of Jesus in
the private circle, and in the social gathering. An-
other can proclaim him in the great congregation.



OUR DAT AND ITS WOEK. 315

One can go with the message of Life to heathen
climes. Another can furnish the means to sustain
and cheer him in his exile. One can devote his
personal labor to the uplifting of the millions from
whose limbs the war has rent the fetters of servitude,
but whose minds are still shrouded in ignorance
and debasement. Another can help on the god-like
work by his contributions and his prayers.

All can do something, and that something, be it
little, be it much, is equally necessary to the final re-
sult. The rain-drops are necessary to fill the brooks,
the brooks to fill the rivers, the rivers to fill the
ocean, the ocean to bear wealth and gladness to its
furthest shores. So, in the chain of agencies by
which our race is to be lifted out of its ruin, there
is the same system of connections and dependencies.
And it is only when every link of this chain is in its
place, prepared for its portion of the strain, and the
Church along the whole line of her membership,
cries "All ready !" that God will put his hand to the
spokes, and the great wheel of His power go round,
and this sunk planet be drawn up from the abyss,
and hung to its Redeemer's throne.

The great interests of the hour give special em-
phasis to the duty of following Providence in our
work. As the Shekinah led the Chosen Tribes in
the wilderness, so "God in History" guides the
march of His Church. His agency pervades all the



316 BATTLE ECHOES.

movements of men and nations, and makes them
the exponents of His will. Events are our teach-
ers. They are the beckonings of an all-ruling
Hand, showing us what to do, and where to do it.
And this, which has everywhere and always been
true, is peculiarly true in our own land and day.
The present posture of public affairs indicates, with
unmistakable clearness and authority, the direction
which our efforts should take. The Rebellion of the
Southern oligarchs has been conquered by the mili-
tary strength of the Government; and in its fall
Slavery, the foul mother that gave it birth, has per-
ished. War's dread mission is ended. To other
weapons the task that remains must now be com-
mitted. Moral influences alone are competent to
effect the social regeneration of the lately insurgent
States, remove the evils entailed on them by centu-
ries of bondage, and spread over their wasted do-
mains the blessings of order, industry and peace.
Free labor, education, Christianity must take up
and perfect the transformation which the sword has
begun.

Here, then, is a broad field distinctively marked
out by Providence as the scene of our most energet-
ic endeavors. In this field there are four millions
of emancipated slaves, who have been rendered
helpless and abject by long years of vassalage, and
who have hitherto been purposely excluded from



OUR DAT AND ITS WORK. 317

the light of knowledge, and the inspirations of hope.
By a display of His power as unexpected as it was
awful, Jehovah has struck the fetters from their
limbs ; and has thus opened the way for us to strike
from their souls the heavier fetters of darkness and
degradation. And has not this in itself all the force
and significance of a command ? Can we fail to read
in it the purpose of Heaven ? Does it not speak to
us in tones imperative and solemn as if uttered from
the eternal Throne, calling us to go to the help of
these spoiled and trampled ones, raise them up
from the barbarism in which they have been held,
and educate them for the new life to which the Di-
vine hand is conducting them? They are strug-
gling to lift themselves out of their depression
struggling to stand forth, free and self-reliant, on
the high ground of equal rights for all. Their past
wrongs and their present privations appeal to us for
sympathy and succor, and urge us, truinpet-tongued,
to put forth our utmost exertions to aid them in this
momentous crisis of their destiny. And as we lis-
ten to their prayer, there comes mingling with it the
cry of eight millions of white men, like them, suffer-
ers from slavery ; but not, like them, guiltless suf-
ferers. They have upheld and cherished the insti-
tution which has been their ruin. They have sinned
f or it fought for it for its sake have committed
treason, rebellion, murder, and drenched the land



318 BATTLE ECHOES.

with their own and their brothers' blood. By that
law of righteous compensation, which arms the in-
justice of the oppressor with a rod for his own pun-
ishment, the wrong which they have done to others
has recoiled upon themselves. In robbing the slave
of freedom, they have lost their own. In chatteliz-
ing him, they have imbruted their own nature. The
fell curse for whose continuance they have striven
so fiercely, has debased their civilization, corrupted
their morals, defiled their Christianity has eaten
out patriotism, paralyzed enterprize and thrift, and
nourished indolence and pride into an abnormal and
monstrous growth. The blight of slavery, and the
destructive war for slavery, have covered the whole
region in which they dwell with anarchy and deso-
lation. To reorganize the South, bring order out of
the confusion that now distracts it, recast its socie-
ty, and breathe into its dead form the new life of
intelligence, of compensated industry, of a religion
which inculcates justice to the lowly is the stu-
pendous undertaking to which the benevolence of
our time and country should be directed. "We say
not that this is our only work ; nor that, in order to
effect it, we should withdraw from all other depart-
ments of Christian labor. But we do say that here
lies the chief duty of the hour the grand arena of
toil and conflict to which the finger of God points
the moral heroism of the nation. And in all that



OUR DAT AND ITS WORK. 319

we attempt for His glory and the well-being of our
race, the more closely .we follow the intimations of
His Providence, the more signally will the Pillar of
His Presence go before us, and herald us on to
victory.

The nature of our work requires us to make the
Word of God the great instrument in its prosecu-
tion. This admonition derives peculiar fitness and
importance from the attitude which many, while
professing to seek earnestly the good of men, have
assumed toward the Revelation that has come down
from heaven as the sole restorer of an outcast world.
In instances not few, those who stand prominent in
the philanthropic movements of the day, manifest a
hatred of Divine Truth, and a contempt of its au-
thority, as criminal in themselves as they are fatal
to the cause with which they are allied. Setting
aside the Gospel as an effete superstition rejecting
its inspired verities as dogmas that have lost their
power they think to banish evil from the earth by
the mere force of unsanctified enlightenment and
culture. Such schemes can have no result but to
show the blindness and folly of their authors. They
always have failed, and they ever must fail, while
the moral character of our r,ce remains what it is.
They are as impotent against the outgoings of hu-
man depravity, against the surges of passion,
against the encroachments of selfishness and vio-



320 LATTLE ECHOES.

lence, as an embankment of reeds would be against
the overflowing of the ocean. The wisdom of the
All-Merciful has set forth the only agency that can
subdue the wickedness of men, and extinguish the
woes which it engenders. That agency is to be
found in the redemptive work of Christ. In the
sublime facts of His mission, in the propitiation
which He made, in the doctrines which He taught,
in the renewing energies of the Spirit which He
procured, there resides a power, and the only pow-
er, that can raise the fallen, and recover the lost.
All the ills which humanity suffers have been inflict-
ed on it by its alienation from God. The sinfulness
of man's heart is the poisoned fountain whose waters
have spread contagion and death over the world.
Thence flow the manifold disorders, the vice and ir-
rcligion, the crimes and outrages, the injustice, the
wrong-doing, the domination of the strong, the
down-treading of the weak, the darkness, pollution,
misery, that deluge the globe ; and thence they will
continue to flow with undiminished volume, till their
source is dried up. There is no hope for man, here
or hereafter, but in the purification of his spiritual
nature. And this the Gospel only can achieve.
The Gospel, and the gospel alone, has a remedy
adequate to his necessities. In its provisions and
influences are contained all the elements of social



OUR DAT AND ITS WORK. 321

and moral amelioration in this life, and of perfection
and blessedness in the life which is to come. Let
us, then, while devoting ourselves heart and soul to
the noble work of vindicating the oppressed, and
elevating the degraded, stand fast by the Bible.
Let us carry it with us into whatever field of re-
formatory labor we enter, and refuse to go where
we cannot carry it. While we welcome its teach-
ings as the rule of our own life, and the balm of our
own sorrows, let them be also the guide, the meas-
ure and the means of oar endeavors to do good to
others. So shall our plans and our efforts be in
harmony with the moral administration of God, and
the highest interests of mankind.

The magnitude and arduousiiess of the work be-
fore us call for special dependence on the aid of the
Holy Spirit. Without Him, all else is vain. With-
out Him, the preaching of the Gospel, the dissemi-
nation of truth, and every attempt to succor the dis-
tressed, to gather in the wanderers, to purify and
save the world, will be ineffectual and powerless.
Without Him, the words of mercy which we speak
to the wretched around us, will be like music float-
ing over graves, unheard by the sleepers below.
Without Him, whatever improvement may be
wrought in the material and intellectual aspects of
society will be but as the flowers which affection



322 BATTLE ECHOES.

strews over a putrefying corpse, veiling its gliastli-
ness, yet leaving it a corpse still. "Not by might,
nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord."
The voice of the Redeemer in His Word and in His
Providence is now saying to each one of us, "Arise
and pray ! " Arise and pray for the promised com-
ing of the Paraclete, the second Pentecost, which is
to baptize the Church anew, and regenerate the na-
tions. "Awake, awake, O arm of the Lord, and
put on strength ! " Let this be our cry, and the cry
of God's people in all lands, and soon a redeeming
power will go forth over the whole face of this apos-
tate earth, expelling from it all unrighteousness, and
filling it with light, holiness and salvation.

Having thus seen what our work is and what it
demands, nothing remains but to do it. This is the
crown and consummation of all. To survey our
work is well. To prepare for our work is well.
To watch the bearings of Providence on our work
is well. To shape our work by the Bible is well.
To rely on the Spirit in our work is well aye,
more than well. But the real matter, the vital mat-
ter, is to do our work. To this point we have now
come. And as in the time of Ezra, when the Tem-
ple was rebuilt, let one say to another, "Arise, and
work; the Lord God of our fathers is with us;
Arise, and do it."



OUR DAT AX D ITS WORK. 323

Wait not for great opportunities and a conspicu-
ous theatre. If you love Jesus and the souls for
which He died, you will quickly discover an appro-
priate sphere, and good in it that you can accom-
plish. Begin with the first thing your hand finds,
the doing of which will honor God, and make a
fellow-creature better and happier. Begin with
that drunkard whom you saw to-day reeling by
your door. Begin with that den of infamy in the
next street. Begin with that pale widow who so
often passes your dwelling, gazing Oh, so sadly
at its cheerful home joys. This morning, as you
took your happy little ones for a walk, you met a
ragged orphan, dragging his bare feet wearily over
the rough stones, and looking into your face with
hopeless, beseeching eyes. Begin with that orphan.
Begin with that freedmau, just risen from the mire
of slavery, who, with his body scarred by the lash,
and his mind shrouded in the night of ignorance,
implores you to give to him and to his children
the rights of manhood, and the uplifting power of
knowledge. Begin with your unconverted family,
with your servants, your operatives, your neigh-
bors, your acquaintance. If you cannot influence
masses, influence individuals. If you cannot save
man in the lump, save him piecemeal. If you can-
not rear in the house of the Lord the ponderous



324 BATTLE ECHOES,

column or the lofty entablature, carry up a single
pebble, and with it fill some unsightly hole in a
corner.

" How speaks the present hour? Act !

Walk, upward glancing ;
So shall thy footsteps in glory be traced,

Slow, but -advancing.

Scorn not the smallness of daily endeavor,
Let the great meaning ennoble it ever ;
Droop not o'er efforts expended in vain ;
Work, as believing that labor is gain."

The claims of Christ and of the world are before
you. Would you not place one stone in the Living
Temple? Would you not pluck one brand from
the burning ? Would you not emancipate one cap-
tive from the prison house? Would you not set
one gem in the glittering crown which the Saviour
shall wear through eternal ages? The Hour the
Cause Time and Eternity God waiting to be
glorified Jesus waiting to see of the travail of
His soul the groaning earth waiting to be deliv-
ered, invoke you to action. Do your work do it
lovingly, do it earnestly, do it now, do it to the
end. And when that end shall come when the
Angel, with one foot on the land, and the other on
the sea, shall lift up his hand to heaven, and swear
by Him that liveth forever and ever, that time shall



OUR DAY AND ITS WORK. 325

be no longer when the last trumpet shall unlock
the sepulchres, and the Throne shall be set, and the
Books of Doom opened then your Master and
Judge, unfolding the record of your Time and its
Obligations your Day and its Work shall say
DONE WELL DONE !

"Workaway!

For the Father's eye is on us,
Never off us, still upon us,
Night and day !
"Work and pray !

Pray, and work will be completer ;
Work, and prayer will be the sweeter ;
Love, and prayer and work the fleeter
Will ascend upon their way."



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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 18 of 19)