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theless compelled to be our bankers. We feed their
starving millions ; and they, in turn, are forced to
send us the sinews of war, by which the Govern-
ment will overwhelm the Eebellion, and confound
the enemies of Libepty throughout the world.

As a consequence of this state of things, thus
brought about by Divine interference, t!i3 entire


North, with only here and there an exception, is en-
joying a high degree of prosperity. Enterprise is
active. Business thrives. Labor is in demand, and
well rewarded. Our railways and canals are gorged
with freight. In all branches of employment, in all
classes of production, there beats the pulse of a vig-
orous life. And these benefits are showered on us
in a time of war. We are struggling to subdue the
most formidable insurrection which human wicked-
ness ever fomented. For this purpose, we have fur-
nished hundreds of millions of treasure, and half a
million of mefl. But we miss them not. Not a
rood of ground lies idle for want of hands to till it.
Not a bench or a tool is silent, because the fingers
that gave them voice are now pulling the trigger
against the cruel and insolent foe. Amidst the up-
roar of a great civil conflict, and the distracting
anxieties which it awakens, all the common avoca-
tions of life go on as quietly, and with as little dis-
turbance, as if the whole land were at rest under the
sheltering wing of peace.

And while this is in a measure true of all parts of
the loyal States, it is pre-eminently true of the
favored spot in which our lot is cast. Never was
our city so prosperous as now. Never were our
streets so thronged, and all classes of our people so
busy and so successful. What know we of the pri-
vations and sacrifices of war? Who, in looking at


the smiling faces of our citizens, or watching the
steady flow of our industrial pursuits, would dream
that the country was staggering under the blows of a
mighty Rebellion ? The scene of combat is far re-
moved from us. We hear not the noise of the bat-
tle, the shouts of the victors, the groans of the dy-
ing. We see not the rush, the collision, the smoke,
the carnage. These are to us distant things, of
which we read with interest, but which come not
within the circle of our personal experience. There
are homes here and there among us few, much
fewer than they should be in whfch may be seen
the vacant seats of husbands, sons and brothers,
who have gone to the tented field ; and this is all
we feel of the miseries of war ! Compare our con-
dition with that of the friends of the Union living in
the regions where Treason and Secession are ram-
pant. Think of the sufferings endured by the loyal
inhabitants of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and
Virginia, compelled as they are to witness the de-
struction of their property, the burning and sacking
of then* dwellings, the violation and murder of their
families ; and to wander famishing and shelterless
over their once happy domains, which rebellion has
made a desert. Oh ! must we not acknowledge that
the God in whom we live has distinguished us by
His special protection and blessing? In view, then,
of the striking manner in which He has been pleased


to mitigate to the North, and so largely to ourselves,
the burdens and calamities of war, shall we not lift
up to Him the voice of reverent praise, and say with
the inspired singer of old, " Though war should rise
against me, in -this will I be confident" thankful,
rejoicing ?

We have reason for trust and gratitude, in- view
of the great and salutary lessons which the war is
teaching us. God is the Instructor of nations. * He
appoints the bounds of their habitation, ordains the
part which they are to perform in the world's histo-
ry, and by His dealings toward them so shapes their
training as best to subserve His high and beneficent
designs. That vast and far-reaching purposes, bear-
ing on the progress of liberty and civilization
throughout the earth, are connected with the desti-
nies of this Republic, no thoughtful man can doubt,
who studies the Hand of God in our Past, or reads
aright its beckonings in our Future. For this our
fathers were borne across the stormy sea, to found,
on the bleak New England shore, "a church with-
out a Bishop, and a State without a King." For this
their infant colonies were fostered and strengthened
up to manhood. For this their independence and
autonomy were achieved. For this, under Divine
superintendence, a government was established for
them, the freest and the best which the human race has
ever seen. For this has been our wonderful cxpaii-


sion, our rapid increase in population and territory,
our onward strides in national greatness, ever faster
and stronger, up to the level of the chief Powers of
the earth. Our history, our institutions, our geo-
graphical position, our complex nationality blending
the elements of many lands, all proclaim that this
country has a grand work to do for humanity and
for God.

But prosperity is as trying an ordeal to communi-
ties as it is to individuals. In our astonishing ad-
vancement, we were in danger of becoming so cor-
rupt and emasculated as to be unfit for the noble
sphere which Providence had assigned us. Greed
and Selfishness were fast gaining an uncontrolled as-
cendency over all ranks and classes. Love of coun-
try, love of freedom, the fear of God, respect for His
laws, honor, integrity, benevolence, every public,
every private virtue, were overborne and stifled
by one all-absorbing passion the accursed thirst
for gold. Materialism, like some monstrous fungus,
was rapidly spreading its abnormal growth over the
whole body of the nation, poisoning its heart, eating
out its vitality, and presaging its sure decay.
Money, money the successful pursuit of wealth,
material development this was the Moloch at whose
shrine everything precious and sacred was to be of-
fered up. On rolled the iron car of our national
Juggernaut on over the Bible, the Sabbath, and


the Sanctuary on over Eternal Eight and Justice
on over the crushed limbs of the weak, and the body
and soul of the slave. A little longer, and we should
have been the scorn of the civilized world, and the
abomination of Heaven.

From this peril of self-destruction, the same over-
ruling Power, that has been our Guide and Protector
in all the eventful epochs of our former history, has
mercifully interposed to save us. It is not against
foreign invasion, not against alien hosts seeking to
conquer and enclave us, but against ourselves,
against the consequences of our own suicidal folly,
that this watchful guardianship is now put forth.
And the discipline which He has seen fit to employ
for this purpose, though severe, is eminently suited
to the case, and indispensable. Nothing less potent
could have startled us from our ignoble ease, and
called back the manhood of earlier days. So
debased had the nation become in its worship of
Mammon, so deadened in all its moral perceptions
by the influence of Slavery, that only some tremen-
dous convulsion, like that which now shakes the
continent, could dissolve the spell, and restore the
public mind to health and vigor. It is with such a
view that God has permitted the whirlwind of
domestic strife to break loose, and rage in all our
borders. As the commotions of Nature, the tem-
pests and hurricanes which she breeds in her long


periods of calm, refresh while they desolate, and, in
purifying the air from noxious ingredients, more
than compensate for the ravages they inflict ; so the
fierce civic storm that is beating upon us is intended
to be less our ruin than our redemption ; less the
waster than the restorer of the land. It is just the
shock that was needed to break up the fatal slug-
gishness in which all but present gain was forgotten ;
and to clear the national atmosphere of the deadly
malaria with which politics and Slavery had infected
the national life. The timorous and faint-hearted
may fear lest the nation should die under a remedy
so harsh ; but the wise see clearly that the nation
must have died had the remedy been withheld. No,
no, the war will not kill us. But a few more years
of deceitful peace, purchased by the surrender of
every principle dear to freedom and humanity, would
have killed us, and left us to rot in the sight of the
nations, a warning and a stench through all time.

In the great teachings of the hour, and in the rich
fruit which those teachings are beginning to bear,
we are more than repaid for all which the war has
cost us. God is speaking to us speaking to us
out of the thick darkness, and in tones so clear and
awful, that none can mistake His meaning, or scorn
His counsels. By placing us in circumstances which
require the furnishing of vast means to sustain the
Government, He rebukes our avarice ; and by bring-


ing us into the death-grapple, not for national
aggrandizement, but for national existence, He is
teaching us that there are things more valuable
than material prosperity ; that courage, manliness,
unblenchiug devotion to the welfare of our country,
the willingness to give treasure and blood in its
defence, are more precious than all the sordid
triumphs of inglorious peace. He is waking up the
dormant patriotism that had long slumbered under
the pressure of business, or been smothered in the
mire of political corruption ; and is kindling in the
young men of to-day the same noble fire that ani-
mated their fathers in the struggle for Independence.
Oh ! it is a glorious manifestation which is now
gladdening our eyes ! I thank God that I have lived
to see it. The Pilgrim stock has not degenerated.
"There is sap in the old tree yet." The sons of
Massachusetts dishonor not their pedigree. Those
who fought and fell at Ball's Bluff are worthy to
have their names inscribed on the same immortal
roll with those whose blood consecrated the fields of
Bunker Hill and Lexington. And God is teaching
us this this grand spirit of self-sacrifice in a grand
and righteous cause.

And other lessons, equally important and timely,
He is reading out to us in the mighty eloquence of
passing events. He is showing us that collective
bodies of men cannot, any more than individuals,



violate His laws, and trample His authority under
foot, without bringing down the bolt of His ven-
geance ; and that if we would be delivered from the
awful chastisement which we now suffer, we must
repent of the sins which have provoked Him, put
away our infidelity, our irreligion, our worldliness,
and return to the paths of faith and obedience. But,
most solemnly, most emphatically of all, is He
impressing on us the truth, that a great social
iniquity, incorporated into a system of government,
defended, cherished, perpetuated with blind obsti-
nacy, against all the claims of justice and all the
pleadings of philanthropy, must, at last, work the
destruction of that government. As surely as pow-
der, touched by the kindling spark, will burst the
rock that incloses it ; so surely will a mighty wrong,
embosomed in a Commonwealth, explode, and shiver
it into fragments.

Such has been the experience of this country with
slavery. Always a source of weakness and peril,
always a smouldering fire threatening to break out
into a conflagration, it has, at length, defied all con-
trol, and wrapped the whole fabric of the Union,
from corner-stone to pinnacle, in one broad sheet of
flame. To this cause all our present troubles are to
be ascribed. From the fatal admission of slavery
into the Constitution by its framers, and the yet
more fatal spread and strengthening of the institu-


tion by their descendants, have sprung the wreck
and ruin which we now see.

When the ship of the Republic first came from the
stocks, she was a sight beautiful to behold, the won-
der and the joy of the world . Her model was perfect,
her workmanship skilful and thorough, her fastenings
stanch, her rigging complete ; and, thus furnished
and equipped, she spread her canvas on the broad
ocean of the Future, cheered by happy auspices, and
hailed by the god-speed of the admiring nations.
But ah ! there was one rotten plank in her hull ;
and that plank was slavery. Her builders knew it
was there, for they put it there. But they trusted
that the defect would not prove serious ; and that
the sound timbers, when they had been long enough
in the water, would swell and crowd out the rotten
one. And so the proud ship went on her way over
placid seas, wafted by favoring breezes, with a merry
crew on board, and streamers flying from peak and
mizzen. But, hark ! what fearful sound breaks in
upon their mirth, and is passed by pale lips along
the deck? The ship has sprung a leak! Yes, the
rotten plank begins to do its work. The officers and
crew make frantic efforts to stop the leak. They
stuff into it the old rags of Compromise. They
plaster it up with the tar of Concession, and the
pitch of "Dred Scott Decisions." And then, finding
all such attempts futile, they resolve to ignore it.


They turn their backs upon it. They strive to forget
it in the engrossments of work or of pleasure. They
will not believe there is any leak. They pronounce
it to be only bilge water. They declare the ship
safe, and call its rottenness its strength, its danger
its security. But then* labors and their sophistries,
their mending and their letting alone, are alike vain.
From watch to watch, the cry goes forth, The leak
is gaining on us! From watch to watch, the breach
grows wider, and the intruding tide more strong
and furious. And now the end has come. The
ship's side is burst in, and the mad flood of Rebellion
rushes through the opening. Oh ! the ship must go
down, or slavery must go out ! We must take her
back into dock. We must cast forth the treacher-
ous plank, destroy it with axe and fire, and close
up the crevice with solid oak. Then may the good
ship, sound from truck to keelson, and freighted
with the happiness of unborn generations, shape her
course in safety, victorious over the storm and the

Such are some of the lessons which God is teach-
ing us by this Rebellion. They are momentous les-
sons, involving our highest welfare. And though
we are but slow scholars, we are beginning to learn
them. Their influence on the tone of public thought
and feeling is already visible. We are nobler men
to-day than we were a year ago. We stand more


erect. We are more patriotic. We love our coun-
try better, and are more willing to make sacrifices
for it. We have broken away from the trammels
of party. We have done with upholding slavery.
We have done with compromises and half measures.
We see our foe, and are prepared to wrestle with
him to the death. And it is my firm hope and
belief that this improvement in our character will
go on, under the same tuition that began it, until
the nation shall be redeemed, and Slavery and Trea-
son are expelled from all its borders. Then shall
our country be indeed free. Then over all its wide
territories shall float the Banner beneath whose folds
no bondman shall cower the Banner of universal
Liberty. And then, rising to a higher type of civil-
ization than history has yet known, we shall fulfil
our glorious mission in holding forth an unblemished
example of self-government to all the down-trod-
den races of the earth. What thanks do we not
owe to our all-wise Instructor for teachings so full
of present good, and so pregnant with benign results
yet to be developed ! . >

We have grounds for grateful confidence in the
issue of the conflict in which we are now engaged.
I am not insensible to its difficulty, nor to its mag-
nitude. I underrate not the strength and resources
of the foe. I know his vast preparations, his mul-
titudinous levies, his terrible earnestness. I know


that we have to contend with an antagonist fertile in
expedients, treacherous, cruel, who will shrink from
no artifice, however base, that may further his im-
pious ends. I know that the Catilines of the South,
conscious that if they fail in their atrocious purpose,
infamy and death await them, will cling to it with
the energy of desperate men, and strive to drag
down in their fall the country which they can no
longer rule. The struggle must be severe, it may
be long. But we cannot for a moment doubt what
the final result will be. Strong as the rebels are,
they are unprovided for a protracted contest. They
have exhausted themselves by their first effort.
They have done then* utmost at the beginning. In
all the necessary means of carrying on the war, in
food, clothing, money, credit, they are fatally defi-
cient. And when the power of the Federal Gov-
ernment, with its unlimited supply of men and
treasure, is once hurled upon them in its full strength,
and in downright earnest, they must be swept before
it like chaff before the whirlwind.

But apart from the assurance of success founded
on our superiority in numbers and resources, we
have another yet stronger, in the wickedness of
their cause, and in the rectitude of our own. The
annals of human guilt furnish no instance of a crime
so enormous as that with which the Southern con-
spirators stand charged before earth and Heaven.


It admits of no justification or even excuse ; and
the conspirators themselves do not pretend any.
Not a right has been assailed ; not a privilege in-
fringed. They have suffered no wrong, no oppres-
sion. All the guarantees and engagements of the
Constitution have been scrupulously observed toward
them, grievous as some of these were to the North-
ern conscience. They have had their bond, even to
the pound of flesh. So far from having been dam-
aged by the Union, they have been the chief sharers
in its benefits. For more than half a century, the
administration of the Government has been in their
hands, or has been controlled by their influence ;
and they have uniformly wielded it in the interest of
slavery. Their will has dictated every law of Con-
gress, and shaped every public measure. Theirs
have been the highest offices, the fattest emoluments ;
theirs the most potential voice in the Senate and on
the Bench. And while thus favored and caressed
by the Government, with its bounty in their pockets,
and the oath of fealty to it on their lips, they have
all the while been plotting its overthrow ; threaten-
ing and intriguing to dissolve the Union, whenever
any check has been offered to their insolence or their

During all these years of their pride and power,
they have heaped insult and wrong on the free
North. They have claimed to be our masters;


have declared it their birthright to rule, and ours
to serve ; and, in the frenzy of their arrogance, have
commanded us to bow down and do homage to their
hideous idol, and surrender speech and thought,
principle and conscience, into the keeping of the
lords of the plantation. To appease these bloated
chattel-drivers, what has the North not done? It
has cringed and bent ; it has truckled and fawned ;
it has grovelled, aye, crawled in the very dirt. But
no amount of subserviency has been able to satisfy
them. Conciliation has but led to bolder demands,
and to humiliations more disgraceful. Believing
from former experience, that the North would yield
everything to their menaces and their bluster, they
have, at length, set up the monstrous claim that the
Constitution should be so changed or so interpreted,
as to make slavery national, a universal right, to be
held sacred wherever the flag of the Union may
float. And because the North has been compelled
to resist this claim, or submit to be itself enslaved,
they are now in open revolt against the Govern-
ment, and laboring with might and main to break it
up. Such is the grievance which they put forth in
defence of their treason. It is, however, only a
pretext. The real purpose, underlying all their
movements, and reaching back of all irritating an-
tagonisms, is to destroy the heritage of Freedom
which our fathers left us, and erect, in its place, a


vast Slave Despotism, the vilest and most abom-
inable that ever cursed mankind. For this they
have struck at the pillars of social order, and
plunged the nation into all the woes of intestine

And shall such transcendent villany succeed?
Shall this " throne of iniquity " be established ?
Will a righteous God permit it? Will He ally
Himself with a scheme so at war with human hap-
piness, so abhorrent to His justice and benevolence?
Will He suffer the blood-stained miscreants that
now rule the South to cut short our national career,
and disappoint the oppressed of all lands who have
looked to our shores as the refuge of persecuted
Liberty? No, no, we cannot believe it. Every
attribute of God, every unfolding of His will in
His word and in His providence, assures us that He
is on our side in this awful exigency, and will bring
to our aid the succors of His omnipotence. The
wheels of His chariot may tarry. He may try us
by delay. He may humble us by temporary defeats
and reverses, in order to deepen our feeling of de-
pendence upon Him, and to render us more obedi-
ent to the leadings of His hand. But He will not
forsake us. Our cause is His cause, the cause of
Civilization, the cause of Humanity, the cause of
true Eeligion and must triumph. His arm is
bared against the oppressors, and their doom is


certain. He will make their own horrid sin, and
the insane fury with which they cling to it, the
means of their punishment. Into the pit which
they have dug for the Union, the Eebellion shall go
down, and Slavery with it. The besom of destruc-
tion, which they have made ready for the North,
shall sweep their own fields from the Potomac to
the Gulf. On the gibbet which they have reared
for Liberty, they themselves shall hang, and with
them the broken fetters of the last bondman. Such
is the awful retribution prepared for slavery and the

No, no God will not let the foul tyrants of the
South prevail. He will not permit them to sunder
this glorious Republic, and plant a Slave Confed-
eracy on its rums. Not long will He allow the
banner of Secession, the vile emblem of the whip
and chain, to flout our American sky. He made
us one nation, and He means us to continue one
through all time. The form of the Continent, the
encircling of the oceans, the course of the rivers,
the trend of the mountains, all proclaim that He
has ordained for us one Country, one People, one
Government, from the St. Lawrence to the Eio
Grande, from the rocky headlands of Maine to the
golden shores of the Pacific. Yes, the Eebellion
will be put down, and with it Slavery and the Slave
Power ; and we shall come forth from the present


appalling crisis a stronger and a better people, pre-
pared to take a higher stand and to do a nobler
work on the platform of history, than have ever
yet been allotted to a nation. "In this may we be

Such are some of the reasons which we have for
reliance and thankfulness, even amidst the public
perils that encompass us. Let them awaken trust
in God, courage, hope. And remember that what-
ever may be the state of national affairs, whatever
events may occur on the broad theatre of the world,
you have private blessings, without number, and
beyond price. You have life, food, raiment, homes,
friends, the means of intellectual and spiritual cul-
ture. Your cup of personal mercy overflows. And,
crowning all, infinitely more precious than all, you
have redemption by the blood of Christ, and the
offer of immortal blessedness. Oh ! give thanks
unto the Lord, for He is good. Thank Him in His
house, thank Him at your firesides, thank Him in
your hearts, thank Him by a penitent faith, and
with holy deeds. Then, when your pilgrimage is
done, your ransomed souls shall soar far above these
scenes of war and tumult, to the regions where grat-
itude and joy are perfect, and peace is eternal.




/HIS whole psalm is throughout a magnificent

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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 3 of 19)