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painter has adorned it; so the fiery purgation to
which we are subjected will burn away from us the
smut of greed and selfishness, and bring out in
brighter and more indelible colors the lineaments of
justice, love of freedom, and love of country, which
the Divine Limner imprinted on the nation at its
birth, but which the foul touch of Slavery, and the
attrition of material interests, have since well-nigh
obliterated. Nothing but our weakness, our syco-
phancy, our subservience to wrong, will perish. All
that is strong, and firm, and noble, and vital in the
land, will come forth purer, grander, mightier for
the trial. Where the fire is hottest, where the an-
guish is keenest, there walks by our side the form
of Him who has decreed the ordeal, who determines
its process and its continuance, and who, when its
work is done, will lead us out to the cool waters and
halcyon airs of peace and prosperity.

But the guilty cause of all our woe the poison
tree that has borne such deadly fruit will be de-


stroyed, root and branch. JSTo efforts of its wor-
shippers, no forbearance toward it on our own part,
can save or even prolong its abhorred life. Its hour
has come. The death-fiat has been spoken; and
the only choice left us is, to help kill it, or die with
it. The same avenging law, and the same almighty
Hand, that wrought a clear path for the great eras
of former times, are revealed, in a manner yet more
impressive, for the rescue of suffering millions, and
the ushering in of the new age which shall bring
right and deliverance to all.

" A redder sea than Egypt's wave
Is piled and parted for the slave ;
A darker cloud moves on in light,
A fiercer fire is guide by night. "

And in the destruction of slavery will perish the
remorseless faction that has so long ruled the land,
and is now deluging it with fraternal blood. We
mean not that the people of the South will be
utterly swept away ; that all her sons will be slain
in her unholy battle ; though myriads will doubtless
fall, as myriads have fallen, dying bravely yet iii-
gloriously for the bad cause on which God has set
His curse. But the South as once we knew it
the slave-holding South, the arrogant, dominating
South, the soul-selling, woman-whipping South, the
world-scorning, hcavcn-darins: South will never


live again. Her insolent aristocracy, her fire-eating
lords of the plantation, will be gone, rotting hi
traitors' graves, or wandering landless and beg-
gared, as uupitied in their day of adversity as
they were pitiless hi their day of power. Let
them go. They are the enemies of God and man ;
and the Avorld will be the better when they are no
longer in it. Another race will stand hi their
places a race fitted to the new conditions that
will arise from the downfall of slavery ; and the
sunny regions, over which the tempest of civil war
now rages, freed from the scourge of bondage, and
sheltered once more under the banner of the Union,
will become the home of industry and happiness.
The old South, impenitent, incorrigible, will be
swallowed up by the billows of the bloody sea into
which she has cast herself. The new South, trans-
formed by the awful baptism, will emerge to a fresh
life and a magnificent destiny.

So conspicuous in our own land and day is the
operation of that principle of the Divine govern-
ment which we have reviewed. Demolition and
re-construction are now pre-eminently the work of
God "in the midst of the years." "The Breaker
has come up." He is hurling down obsolete or cor-
rupt systems of civilization, and building nobler
ones on firmer foundations, and with better ma-
terials ; laying low the mountains, and exalting


the valleys, in preparation for the final triumphs
of Righteousness and Peace. American Slavery
reared its huge bulk, frowning defiance, directly
in the track of the advancing chariot of Salva-
tion. Though warned by countless voices from
earth and heaven, we refused to take it away, but
sought, instead, to make it more impregnable by
the bulwarks of compromise, and the buttresses of
iniquitous legislation. The season of forbearance
and of admonition having passed, the Breaker lifts
His hammer, and the dark, towering barrier comes
toppling to the ground, dragging its defenders with
it, and spreading terror and havoc in its fall. The
world reels under the concussion.

Changes and revolutions less startling in their
aspects, but not less clear in their meaning, are
going forward over the whole face of this apostate
globe. Everywhere dissolution and re-adjustment
follow the steps of Providence. Everywhere the
All-Governor is extirpating ancient abuses ; modi-
fying laws, customs, institutions ; unbinding fetters,
lifting off burdens ; and thus inaugurating the era
of universal Equality and Justice, as the forerunner
of Time's last and greatest era, the era of universal
Evangelism. The crowning victories of the Gos-
pel must be won, the enthroned Mediator must be
King over all the earth, whatever political and
social upheavals the glorious consummation may in-


volve. Whore the indications of God's will are
recognized and obeyed, there the process will be
silent and peaceful. But wherever human organiza-
tions, whether civil or religious, are blind to His
purpose, and fail to mould themselves into harmony
with it, there the resistless hammer of the Breaker
will descend, crashing through all their defences,
and shivering them into fragments. If the nations
are in his way, He "will shake the nations, and
overturn, overturn, till He shall come whose right
it is."

Convulsions will yet rend the Old World as fear-
ful as that which now rocks the New. Opportune
reforms and ameliorations may place some of its
peoples beyond the line of the Avenger's march.
Russia, autocratic as she is, in her sympathy with
progress, in the liberation of her thirty millions of
serfs, and in the bestowal of equal franchises upon
all classes of her population, gives evidence that
she comprehends the hour which the clock of history
is striking, and is putting herself in a posture to
meet its demands. And Austria even, long the
very centre and stronghold of Absolutism, mani-
fests a similar movement in the direction of coming
events, and similar auguries of immunity from the
visit of the Destroyer. But England, Constitu-
tional England, Christian, Protestant England, is
mantled with foresh ado wings of another hue. Of


the same blood, the source from which we drew
our nationality, her crimes resemble our own. The
Mother is as wicked as the Daughter, and may ex-
pect as severe a chastisement. We, while chanting
paeans to Liberty, boasting a pure Gospel, and send-
ing out troops of missionaries to preach it to the
heathen, doomed the children of our own soil to a
servitude more cruel and debasing than the worst
form of paganism ever knew. In this guilt she has
been our pattern and leader. She first brought
slavery here, and entailed the evil upon us. And
though in later years she emancipated the slaves of
other people in her colonies, she has never emanci-
pated her more than slaves at home. To this day
she tramples her toiling masses in the dust, loads
them with civil disabilities, and keeps them in a
state of ignorance and helplessness that differs in
nothing but the name from the lowest vassalage.
Her domestic and her foreign record is character-
ized by oppression, insolence, selfishness, perfidy.
She acknowledges no law but interest, no honor but
profit, no Bible but the ledger, no creed but wealth,
no conscience but fear. A bully and a coward, she
insults the weak, and truckles to the strong. What
inconsistencies glare out in her protean policy ! Her
churches christianize barbarians, her merchants sell
them idols, her armies slaughter them. Hypocrite
of the nations, how piously she lectured us a little


while ago on the sinfulness of Slavery ! And now,
when we are fighting to destroy it, how infamously
she ignores her past teachings, aids the slave-power,
supplies it with the means of carrying on the war,
covers the sea with pirate ships to ravage our com-
merce, and does all that she dare do to establish the
vile Confederacy whose corner-stone is human bond-
age ! With what a sanctimonious air she preaches
to us on the magnanimity of mercy to rebels and
traitors, while blowing sepoys from the muzzles of
her guns in India, and hanging and shooting thou-
sands of unarmed negroes for a trifling riot in Ja-
maica ! In all the broad earth, there exists not a
government so false, so treacherous, so shameless
in wrong, so dead to the very perception of jus-
tice, as the government of England. And shall
such a government draw down no bolt from
heaven? When .our sins are so fearfully pun-
ished, shall her greater transgressions go without
rebuke? If she take warning from our example,
and repent in time, repair the injuries which she
has inflicted, cease the aggressions of her greed and
her ambition, and lift the iron hand of caste and
prescription from her groaning millions, she may
escape the wrath which is preparing for her. But
unless she does this, and does it soon, then, as
surely as a righteous God reigns above, her doom


and its lesson will be the most awful which the
world has ever seen, or ever will see again.

In the great crisis through which we are passing,
and in the yet wider and vaster commotions which
the near future is bringing to the nations, there is
no reason to tremble for the issue. The cause of
Humanity will assuredly triumph in the end. It
will triumph with us ; and it will triumph wherever
its battle is fought. The conflict must be terrific.
It may be protracted, fluctuating, and to mortal
view long barren of any definite result. The down-
treaders of men will summon all their strength to
hold them in subjection. The blows of Truth, and
the shocks of Providential dealing, may appear to
make little impression on the solid front of crys-
tallized Wrong. Decades, centuries, may roll away
before the conquest is complete. "The mills of
God grind slow ; " but they never stop, and their
work never fails. Victory will come at last. Every
shackle shall be broken. Arbitrary rule, priestly
usurpations, despotism in all its manifold shapes,
the fetters that bind the limbs, the degradation that
imprisons the soul, shall be scattered and annihi-
lated by the breath of the Omnipotent. Free labor,
free thought, free speech, free government, shall be
the heritage of the human race. In the process of
the material creation, when the uproar of primeval
Chaos had ceased, the expanse of waters lay still


under the wings of the brooding Spirit, and the
new-born world, calm and silent, waited the om-
nific word of the world's Maker, "Let there be
light." So, in the moral creation, repose and ex-
pectancy will succeed to the turmoil of change and
the heavings of struggle. Then, on the hushed and
prepared earth the energies of the all-quickening
Paraclete will descend, pervading it with life from
heaven. Then, over its whole circumference the
Gospel will go forth without bar or pause, dispers-
ing its darkness, restoring its beauty, and blessing
it with universal holiness and joy. And then the
Almighty Designer and Worker, looking back upon
the long train of His purposes from their beginning
to their fulfilment, will proclaim, IT is DONE ! the
march of the Eras is ended ; the grand, crowning
Epoch, to which all the Past has pointed, and for
which all the Past has been, is CONSUMMATED FOR-



the preceding part of this chapter the solemn
decree is announced, that the Jewish people, in
consequence of their flagrant and persevering
rebellion, were to be abandoned to national ob-
duracy. And when the prophet inquired of the
Lord, how long this general impenitence and disre-
gard of the Divine threatenings would continue, he
received the startling answer, " Until the cities be
wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without
man, and the land be utterly desolate " national
corruption thus bringing forth its legitimate fruit,
national calamity. But across these portentous
clouds of degeneracy and ruin there shone one beam
of hope lone and solitary, it is true, amid the en-
compassing gloom, yet clear, full, and bright with
the promise of returning prosperity. It is found in
the expressive and cheering words with which the
prediction closes. "As a teil tree, and as an oak,
whose substance is in them when they cast their



leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance
thereof." Or, to adopt a more correct and lucid
version, "As the linden, or the terebinth, though
cut down, hath its stock remaining in the earth ; so
the holy seed shall be the stock of the nation." The
figure here employed is one of great force as well as
poetic beauty. In it the Hebrew people, scourged
by their own wickedness, and brought almost to
extinction by the righteous judgments of Heaven,
are represented by a tree, stripped of its proud foli-
age, its spreading branches rent away, and even its
lofty shaft levelled by the avenging axe. Still the
living root remains, and, endowed by nature with
the power of reproduction, will start up, under ge-
nial suns and showers, into its former glory. Thus
the Jewish nation, though wasted and prostrate, and
apparently given over to hopeless decay, should
have in it " the substance," the undying germ of
subsequent renewal, and of restoration to the Divine
favor. And this indestructible element, so fraught
with the principle of future life and vigor, was to be
found in " the holy seed " connected with it. By
"the holy seed" we are unquestionably to under-
stand pious men men who, amidst the prevailing
apostasy, feared God, and were faithful to His laws.
We are, therefore, taught that on this class alone
all the hopes of Israel rested. By them, and for
their sake, the utter ruin of the nation was to be


prevented. From Jehovah's kindness to them its
renovation would proceed. In the period of over-
flowing wrath, they were to be the sure depositaries
of its interests. And through them, when the storm
had passed by, were to spring forth recovered
strength and happiness.

It is not, however, with the bearing of this proph-
ecy on the particular instance before us, that I would
now occupy your attention. In addition to this, it
inculcates a grand moral lesson, fitted to all seasons
and countries, and which no lapse of time can ren-
der obsolete. The government which God exercises
over the world is regulated by immutable laws.
The forms of its manifestation may vary. It may
appear in sterner or in milder aspects. The springs
and wheels which guide its movements may be now
disclosed, and now hidden ; and one part after an-
other of its vast circle may come into view, and be
withdrawn. But its nature and its great controlling
principles are ever unchanged ; and God acts toward
the nations of the present day on precisely the same
general rules as those which marked His dealings
with the chosen Tribes three thousand years ago.
We may, therefore, announce, as the teaching of
our text, the broad and comprehensive truth, that
PIOUS MEN evangelical Christians are the most
efficient preservers and restorers of national pros-


To illustrate this principle, and to exhibit some
of the obligations which grow out of it, will be my
present endeavor.

Pious men are the best conservators of national
welfare, because for them is exerted that upholding
Providence, without which nations as well as indi-
viduals cannot exist.

In nothing, perhaps, is the spirit of practical infi-
delity more manifest, than in the views which are
generally entertained respecting the connection of
God with human governments. By many the very
idea of any such connection, involving as it does the
fact of His immediate control over them, and conse-
quently of their public and absolute accountability
to Him, is derided as the offspring of fanaticism or
of folly. Multitudes, who acknowledge the exist-
ence of a great First Cause, the Maker and Up-
holder of the universe, virtually repudiate the
truth that He superintends the affairs of nations,
setting up one and putting down another, and dis-
pensing to all their appointed destinies. Even
those who admit the personal responsibility under
Avhich He has placed them, and recognize His law
as the rule by which they are now to live, and by
which they are hereafter to be judged, seem, in nu-
merous instances, to forget that He exercises * the
same sovereign authority over man in his collective
capacity, as in his individual condition and character.


If we would know the extent to which this denial
of God as the Supreme Kuler actually prevails, we
have but to cast our eyes over Christendom, to per-
ceive everywhere the proofs of its mournful and
guilty predominance. On the lands so denominated
has shone the light of a dispensation that is full of
God, and which sets Him forth as the omniscient
Inspector and Judge of human conduct. In the
hands of their population is found that inspired Vol-
ume, in which the Almighty has declared His will,
and asserted His sovereignty ; and by many of
them Christianity, in a form more or less corrupt,
is vauntingly proclaimed as the religion of the State.
But. where shall we look for the evidence that its
power is felt and its precepts obeyed ? Where is
the government that is either founded or adminis-
tered on principles strictly Christian ? Of what na-
tion can we pronounce, that in its structure, its in-
stitutions, its legislation, its internal polity, its for-
eign relations, in a word, its whole official character,
it recognizes God as its Author and Defender, and
bows with holy fear to His supremacy ? There is
not, properly speaking, a Christian government on
earth. Whatever the profession they make, or the
name they bear, they are all deeply pervaded by an
impious disregard of the Divine authority and su-
perintendence. The whole world has revolted from
its rightful King ; and nations, no less than indivicl-


uals, have conspired to "break His bands asunder,
and cast His cords from them."

And yet Revelation most clearly teaches that Je-
hovah is the absolute Disposer of national welfare,
and the immediate Arbiter of national conduct.
" The Most High ruleth in the kingdoms of men."
"He is Governor among the nations." "He doeth
according to His will in the army of heaven, and
among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can
stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest
Thou ? " His supervision extends to the whole hu-
man family, alike in its separate members, and in
its aggregate bodies. "He hath determined their
times, and the bounds of their habitation." What-
ever of civil freedom, of social advantage, of public
security and happiness they enjoy, is all bestowed
and continued by Him. And when disaster and
ruin overtake them, it is His hand scourging them
for their sins, and vindicating His insulted majesty.
"When He giveth quietness, who then can make
trouble? And when He hideth His face, who then
can behold Him, whether it be done against a na-
tion, or a man only ? "

Now it is a great and solemn fact, that this gov-
ernment of God over the world is carried on solely
in behalf of His redeemed Church. From the birth
of time to the present hour, His Providence has
been the auxiliary of His Grace. All its dispensa-


tions, whether of mercy or of judgment, have been
conducted in subordination to that purpose of ever-
lasting Love, according to which He is gathering
His chosen ones from every kindred and tongue and
people. For this the world was made. For this it
is upheld. For this nations rise and flourish. For
this they fall and give place to others. For this the
sun shines on the good and on the evil ; and the
rain scatters its sparkling wealth on the fields of the
thankful and the unthankful. For this all bounte-
ous Nature unlocks her treasures, and pours from
her teeming lap supplies for every living thing.
The whole sphere in which we live is a vast spiritu-
al laboratory, where Redemption is working out its
high and glorious designs.

To give scope for the conversion, training, and
religious development of those whom Christ has
purchased with His blood, the civil compacts of
men were ordained. With this view, their exist-
ence is prolonged ; and, for the same reason, when
they no longer answer the end of their appoint-
ment, they are removed and superseded. What
can be more evident, from the light of all history,
both sacred and profane, than that God establishes,
preserves, and overthrows nations from a regard to
His people and His cause ? Had Sodom contained
but ten righteous men, its fearful and ever mem-
orable doom would have been averted. And even


though its impiety was almost universal, the bolt of
Divine vengeance could not descend, until the soli-
tary man whose arms of faith and prayer held it
back, had been removed from the devoted popula-
tion. To provide a home for His Elect, and to
furnish room for the operations of His mercy,
He led the descendants of Abraham into Canaan,
founded their Commonwealth, and sustained it
amidst multiplied provocations, until these pur-
poses were achieved. Often did their apostasy
call forth His displeasure. Yet, on account of
the "few faithful found among the faithless," He
forbore utterly to extirpate them, but commissioned
His servant to declare, "Thus saith the Lord, As
the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith,
Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it ; so will I do
for my servants' sake, that I may not destroy them

But when, on the other hand, nations have wholly
rejected His truth, or their connection with the ob-
jects of His grace has ceased, how rapidly have
they passed away ! No sooner had Judea com-
pleted the measure of her guilt by crucifying the
Redeemer, and casting out His followers, than the
day of her destruction came. When the region
where flourished the Seven Churches of Asia
once the most populous and cultivated spot on the
globe torudd preach the Gospel of life into sense-


less forms and deadly errors, how speedily did all
its prosperity depart, and leave it a silent waste.
And Rome, the crowned empress of the world,
glorying in the vain epithet of " Eternal," by ex-
changing Christianity for a baptized paganism, lost
the palladium of her greatness, and fell from her
glittering height into the mire of superstition and

There cannot, in short, be a question that God
spares and blesses guilty nations wholly in reference
to the piety that yet lingers in them, or the fulfil-
ment of some design of mercy with respect to them
which the future is to evolve. Who can doubt that
if all the sincere followers of Christ were to be re-
moved from a land, and the counsels of redemption
required that no more of its inhabitants shoujd be
brought to the enjoyment of His salvation, that land
would at once be destroyed? Or who, with the
teachings of Inspiration before him, can doubt that
when the last of those whom the Father hath given
to the Son shall have been renewed and sanctified
for heaven, the fires of the Judgment will blaze
forth, and earth itself pass away?

It is, then, most evident that God administers
His providence over communities and over individ-
uals entirely for the sake of His people. They
alone are in covenant with Him. They alone are
the objects of His special favor and protection. If


others share His overflowing munificence, it is be-
cause, in the present state of human affairs, His
bounty cannot reach its chosen subjects without
being in a greater or less degree diffused over
all ; and because the salvation of the redeemed
requires that the framework of society should be

Viewed in this aspect, how important is the rela-
tion which pious men sustain to the land in which
they dwell! They are, indeed, "the salt of the
earth," not only as they pervade it with an element
of moral health and purity, and thus preserve it

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Online LibraryGeorge Barton IdeBattle echoes : or, Lessons from the war → online text (page 6 of 19)