Jacob Post.

Discourse on the assassination of President Lincoln, preached in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, April 23d, 1865 online

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Chaplain of the 184th Regiment N. Y. V.,

At Harrison's Landing, Virginia,

APRIL 23d, 1865A>




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"Romans, G ; 2G. We know that all things work together for good to
them that love God."

The words which I have chosen from the fountain of
Divine Truth are full of consolation, and of the greatest
importance for all who love their God and their Country.

Whatever this world may be to others, the true believer
knows that all things work together for his good. "Whatever
the trials may be, which he encounters, he knows that God
is the ruler of the universe, the conductor of His people, and
as it is written that not a sparrow falleth down to the
ground without our Heavenly Father's will, so the believer
is led to believe that the national bereavement, which fell
upon this nation like a thunderclap in a clear and cloudless
akj, was part and parcel of God's holy and inscrutable will.

The death of Abraham Lincoln, by the hand of a trait-
orous assassin, at a time when all hearts yearned for a resto-
ration of true national unity, and at the very threshhold of
peace, must be considered, by every true and God-fearing
man, as an event fraught with mysterious designs by an all-
wise and overruling God.

It has been observed, and should be remembered by all
coming generations, that on Good Friday, the anniversary of
the day on which our Savior was crucified, the closing hours
of the great American Kebellion have been marked by its
greatest crime ; a crime which will live in history as the
most truthful representation of diabolical wickedness since
the crucifixion of our Savior.

The life of the Redeemer of mankind was taken by an
intolerant and bigoted hierarchy, who feared Him because
He was the inspired revealer of the Divine Truth : "Peace
and good will towards all men."

On the latest anniversary of that mournful occasion,
when the Son of God was murdered, and expired on the
cross, the life of Abraham Lincoln was taken by the repre-
sentative of a set of autocrats, who defy the power of a
free people and set at naught the righteous laws of God.

There was darkness over all the earth when, eighteen cen-
turies ago, the Redeemer exclaimed "it is finished," and,
while the elements sympathized with the pains of a dying
Savior, they furnished also testimony to the dignity of the

There was darkness and gloom on the mind of all through-
out this broad land, when the electric wire trembled with the
tidings "Abraham Lincoln is murdered." And we may
safely conclude that there will be for a long while but
one thought in the public mind, one feeling in the pub-
lic heart, one theme of conversation in the army, in the
tented field and in the parlor, in the mansion of the rich as
well as in the humble dwelling of the poor ; all of which are
referable to the astounding tragedy, the appalling national
calamity of Friday, the 14th day of April, 1865.

But, fellow soldiers, if it was a mystery eighteen centuries
ago, that the Son of God should expire on the Hill of Cal-
vary, if the immediate followers of Jesus stood doubting,
fearing and trembling at the foot of the cross, the people and
nations of the earth called the anniversary of that great
event Good Friday, because in following generations it proved
a day full of mercy and goodness towards the human race.

Let us then in hours of national sorrow, while God in His
inscrutable providence lias thus visited the nation, remove
from our hearts all doubts and fears, leaving the future to
Him who "doeth all things well ;" and though the ways
of Providence are often so dark and mysterious, let us rely
upon the promise that "all things work together for good to
them that love God."

Instead of giving ourselves over to the impulse of wrath,
and the terrible sorrow that the national heart must feel for

him who fell a martyr for the unity of his country, let us
rather be calm, subdue our passions, and looking as chris-
tian soldiers, and as a christian nation to the leader of all
things, consider at this time the way in which we are led by
an overruling Providence.

May this be the theme of our present meditation, and
may the Spirit of God guide our heart and our mind, through
Christ Jesus our Lord.

First. When we lift our eyes to the canopy of Heaven,
and ask the Leader of all things to give us counsel and wis-
dom under the present calamity, our mind is directed towards
Sacred History, and opening the book of all wisdom we read
of a Moses, once leading the people of Israel for forty years
through the wilderness, and at last, after many a rebellion
against God and their earthly leader, the people were per-
mitted to enter into the promised land. But Moses himself,
he who led the people through many dangers, who had
been with them in battle and in the heat and burden of the
dav Moses himself was not permitted to enter into or take
possession of the land of Canaan. He was only permitted
to take a glance at it from Mount Pisgah, and then God
Himself took charge of his burial.

Still, the work of Moses was done, the promise given to
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was fulfilled, and he could safely
leave the people in the hands of Joshua, the hero and war-
rior, who exclaimed "as for me and my house we will serve

the Lord."

How much resemblance the History of Moses may have
to do with our late President I leave you to judge, but if
the people of Israel were made to weep and mourn in the
midst of triumph, I know that in the midst of our national
triumph, God appeared and said, U I shall be exalted."

Often, after many sorrows, perils and difficulties, the chris-
tian, as well as the greatest ruler and statesman, is not per-
mitted to reap here on earth the harvest of his anxieties and
care, but from the mountain of his highest expectation he

is only permitted to take a glance of the work he has accom-
plished, and then ordered to depart and be no more.

Now, I ask, if there are only few who are permitted to reap
here on earth the rewards of their sorrows and cares, what
would be this world if our mind could find no resting place ?
How could we live, if Ave had no conductor to lead us by
night and by day ; if we have not the conviction within us
that we are under the control of an Almighty God, "Who
doeth all things well ?" The believer knows and feels within
him that all things work together for his good, and he can
say with David, under all calamities, '"This Clod is my God
forever and ever ; He will be my guide even unto death."
He knows that God, the Leader and Ruler of all, is a God of
wisdom, and "knoweth what is good for a man in this life."

These observations are full of consolation in moments like
the present, for in a time like this, who can distinguish
between appearance and reality ? Who can determine but
what he wishes to shun is not a blessing, or what he covets is
not a curse ?

Truly, the way of man is not in himself. Hence the
admonition and the promise — " Trust in the Lord with all
thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge God
and He shall direct thy paths." Yes, fellow soldiers, the
words of the Lord come unto us at this peculiar time with
double force, saying : "I will bring the blind by a way that
they knew not. I will lead them in paths that the// hare not
Jcnown. I iv ill make darkness light before thcni, and cr<>ok< <1
things straight. These things will I do for them, and not
forsake them."

But, says the unbeliever, or he who stands aloof, doubting
and fearing, if God, the Leader of all things, is infallibly
wise ; if we endeavor to convince ourselves that under His
providence "all things work together for good," if we read in
the Bible that God leads his people by the right way, when
we look around us, how many things seem perfectly inconsis-
tent with this -acknowledgement ? How often, when we

looked upon the various trials with which those that love
God are exercised, how often we have been astonished to hear
them exclaim with Gideon, " If the Lord he with us, why
then is all this evil befallen us ?" Why, we ask, must at the
present time the head of thirty millions of people be hurried
into eternity by the hand of a murderer ? Why must the
nation be bereaved in these days of momentous importance of
so good, and noble, and honest a man as Abraham Lincoln?
or according to Avhat principle is it right that so many are
persecuted by enemies and betrayed by friends ?

Fellow soldiers, remember simply that a thing may be
wrong in one way and right in another ; and that the afflic-
tion of a nation or a simple christian never befel him without
a good reason or wise Providence. In the system of nature
we observe that winter is as necessary as summer, night as
useful as day, yet for some purposes they are not equally
good. A way that winds about may not be valued for its
shortness, but it may be preferable for its safety. We often
take on our marches another road to avoid steep hills or
swamps, though the way is longer ; but in taking the wind-
ing road we touch also at different places where we discover
enemies or friends, and afterwards we see how good and pro-
fitable it was for our cause.

The correction which may appear cruel if considered only
with regard to the feelings of the child, will appear very dif-
ferent when we connect it with his profit. So it may be with
our present sorrow and national calamity. Many of the dis-
pensations of Providence, if viewed separately and partially,
would be objectionable ; but they are right when considered
in connection with their designs and the future welfare of a
people. The history of the world is full of instances whereby
we may observe that the most dreadful calamities were also
the means in God's hand to bring about the most blessed re-

When in the seventeenth century William, Prince of Or-
ange, (whose descendants are still on the throne of Holland,)
when that noble prince was murdered by the hand of an as-

sassin, bought with Spanish gold, it seemed that my little
country was annihilated and stabbed to the heart. But the
terrible sorrow and wrath united the seven provinces of Holland
as one man, and with the help of God they were able to over-
come the united forces of Spain, England and France. Who
can tell whether the death of Abraham Lincoln may not be
the means in God's hand to unite the American people with
stronger ties than human laws could make them ? Who can
tell whether the assassination of Abraham Lincoln may not be
the means in God's providence to punish with united force
the treachery and falsehood of these same enemies of the
Netherlands ? False to the North and treacherous to the
South, these same nations may tremble when in future times
the united forces of America under one banner remember the
death of Abraham Lincoln !

But, ! fellow soldiers, let me pray as well as you for
calmness and wisdom, subdue my passions and remember that
God alone is capable of judging. His judgment is always
good according to truth, and what seemeth good in his sight
must be really good. We may possess great talents, and
have acquired much knowledge. Yet no creature is infalli-
bly wise. God alone cannot be deceived, his understanding
is infinite and He alone seeth the end from the beginning.

Let us remember that we are so ignorant and can grasp so
little of God's plans. We are often so occupied, so full of
prejudices, so selfish, so earnest, so impatient, such very in-
adequate judges, giving full scope to our passions, that we
often call evil good and good evil.

Let us then, under the sudden shock of a calamity so ap-
palling, cling to the words of consolation that " All things
work together for good to them that love God." " What I
do," says our great leader, " thou knowest not now, but
thou shalt know hereafter." Therefore, when he that trusts
in God observes the things with which he is surrounded in
the light of God's countenance, he will join the exclamations
of those to whom all mysteries which once perplexed them

are now explained, and lie will sing on earth as it is sung in
Heaven, " Marvellous are thy works Lord God Almighty,
just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints."

Let me secondly add, that while the dispensations of Pro-
vidence are often so dark and mysterious, we sometimes receive^
already here on earth, some glimpses into the designs of

How often we are permitted to see already here below why
God dealt with us in such a mysterious way, and how many
times we are allowed to see how so many sorrows, trials and
disappointments were on our pathway. Especially when the
noise of passion has subsided, when God has wiped away the
tears which bedimmed our eyes, how often could we hear the
small still voice,

" I can now/' says a Christian, " perceive the reason why I
was so affected. I was making flesh my arm. I was leaning
on the World and the things of the "World. I was forgetting
the fountain of living waters. In the days of my prosperity
I was trusting in the things which did not belong to my ever-
lasting peace." " I made gold my god" says another, " or I
was trusting in my own strength. I ascribed praise and
honor and glory to myself."

Truly, fellow soldiers, was it not so with us ? Was it not
the case with the Nation a few days since ? Throughout the
greatest part of our country the shout of rejoicing went up for
our late victories, from almost every dwelling the national
banner was displayed, and old and young, poor and rich,
were fired with delight and poured forth in unbroken streams
through our cities and villages. From every quarter came the
tidings to our camp that the people at home were mad with
joy as the news came to them that Eichmond had fallen, and
the mighty army of General Lee had surrendered.

Truly, it was right and just to rejoice. We ourselves
shared in the general rejoicing, and the booming of the can-
non at our front, mingling with the thunder of our noble navy

on the James, was music in our ear.


But let me ask one solemn question. How many of us,
how many of our friends at home, how many of the nation
repaired also to their tents, to their closets and inner rooms,
and bowed down in gratitude before the God of battles ? How
many throughout the land gave God the praise, who alone
brought victory to our arms and crowned the efforts of our
noble and valiant commanders ?

While yet in the distance the din of war was heard, while
the thunder of the cannon in the harbor of Mobile proclaimed
there was no j>eace yet ; while still in our own neighborhood
thousands of human beings, (friends and enemies,) were lay-
ing on the battle-field wounded, dead or dying, while all our
ward and field hospitals were filled with those who were ago-
nizing in their pain, thousands and millions of our friends at
home forgot all this, and gave themselves over to debauchery
and revelry unbecoming our late victories, and I may say, a
christian people.

While God permitted to raise again on the 14th day of
April the emblem of liberty, the flag of our Union, upon the
ruins of Fort Sumpter, after it had been trampled in the dust
four long years, no temples of God were opened to commemo-
rate this glorious event, but only a few assembled on that day
to celebrate the anniversary of a dying Savior. While
throughout the world in Roman Catholic as well as Protes-
tant countries, the people ceased from business, repairing to
the temple of God to remember a Savior's love, and prepare
themselves for communion at his table, America ignored or
forgot the fact, and only temples of vanity and drunkenness
were filled with noisy 'patriots.

Ah, fellow soldiers, if we believe in a God of justice and
holiness, can we be astonished that on the evening of that
same day the country was shrouded in mourning, and the
great rejoicing turned into deathlike stillness, manifesting the
sorrow which pervaded the country, when it was told that
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Well may it be said
that God planted thorns in our way, for we were in danger of


ascribing too much, if not all praise to ourselves, to our ru-
lers and generals. Therefore God in his faithfulness afflicted
us in the most vital part the nation could be afflicted, and by
a very terrible discipline is bringing us to look to God for
light, and to lean upon His divine arm for further deliverance
and restoration of true peace and union. While satisfied
with the rectitude of the divine proceedings, let us then learn
now to be more faithful, more wise and attentive, more true
to our profession as a christian nation, trusting in the words
which are written, " Whoso is wise and will observe these
things, even they shall understand the loving kindness of the

Yes, my friends, as an ambassador of Christ, I fear not to
say, that we as a nation too often go down from our watch
tower, closing our eyes when we should run our race single to
the glory of God ; and if we do not perceive at yjresent the
leading hand of an Almighty God, satisfying ourselves as
usual with the appearance and not the reality of religion,
there is reason to fear that still sorrow and anguish will come
over this once so happy land, for God speaks to us and to our
children, "If you will not believe, surely ye shall not be es-

Let us then lean under our present national calamity upon
that God from whom proceeds no evil, trusting that indeed
" all things work together for good," especially to those who
love God. Remember it requires often only our attention to
find out the most convincing proofs of His providence.

Let us, above all things, not give full scope to our passions
and hatred towards the people of the South, but rather carry
out the intentions of our late President to pursue a humane
and conciliatory policy. No man in public life was less dis-
posed than Abraham Lincoln to enforce the extreme rigor
of the laws against the rebels. His kindness of heart had
become proverbial. Many of his friends complained that he
had an excess of that virtue, while his enemies accorded it to
him. Every upright and loyal political opponent throughout


the North, of which I fear nut to say I was myself one, was
compelled to say in his heart that Mr. Lincoln was an honest
noble soul, well worthy to guide the ship of State through
the terrible storm of the past, and we may well say that no
event which could have occurred was so well calculated to
make the people unanimous and intensify hatred of rebellion
and treason, as tin's brutal assassination of our Chief Magis-
trate. I believe with certainty, that no loyal heart received
the news of this murder with as great a shock as the hearts
of those men who originated and have kept alive the flames
of this rebellion. It has been remarked, and I believe it to
be true, that these same men are wise enough to know that
when the soul of Abraham Lincoln left the body it carried
with it into the abyss of eternity the key of this nation's door
of mercy to them, a door which in the kindness of Mr. Lin-
coln's heart he had half unlocked.

For the sake then of the Southern people, and for that of
true peace and union, we trust that the conspiracy to murder
our late President and his Cabinet was unknown to the rebel
leaders, that it originated with a few fanatical and brutal
miscreants, alike destitute of character and influence. Well
may we leave them in the hands of a God of Justice, even if
the grasp of Nemesis should not overtake them in this world.

May God in His mercy comfort the hearts that mourn, be
near to the weeping widow, and endow the sons of our de-
ceased President with strength and wisdom from on high.
May he spare to the nation those who have been stricken by
the hand of the cruel murderer.

Let us all unitedly pray for wisdom and pour forth our
supplications with renewed earnestness for our beloved coun-
try, for the newly inauguarated President and for all those
who are to be the rulers of the destiny of our country.

Let us as[a nation humble ourselves before the throne of

■v. '

our Almighty, Heavenly Father, and pray to avert his judg-


ments on the country and bring back to us peace, prosperity
and happiness as a nation.

Are there any here who do not believe in an allwise and
overruling Providence, who do not trust with all their heart
in that great leader, who overruleth all and everything for
our greatest good ? Let them remember that they deprive
themselves of a happiness and peace under all trials and sor-
rows which can be found alone in true and sincere religion.

And may the peace of Clod which passeth all understanding
keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen..


My 73


Online LibraryJacob PostDiscourse on the assassination of President Lincoln, preached in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, April 23d, 1865 → online text (page 1 of 1)