James De Normandie.

The Lord reigneth : a few words on Sunday morning, April 16th, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln online

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Minister of the Soutli Parish, Portsmouth, N. H.




My CiiftJsTiAN F^RiExS'Ds,— 1 have rio sermorl,afi(;1
there will be no preaching here to-day. For
the first time I confess I wish I were not your
minister, expected to say a word of consolation or
help, which word I have not. Whenever I seek
words, there come only tears ; but I could wish to
be one of you, meeting here to weep out our com-
mon grief, while in the sacred silence of this tem-
ple of God we re- assure ourselves that the Lord
reigneth. Sometime when we are more calm I
shall speak to you at length of our sorrow, our
loss and our duty.

What means this oveiflow of tears wide as a
continent ? What mean these bells answering
bells in solemn dirge all over our land? What
mean these graspingsof hand with hand when no
word escapes the lips ? What mean these anxious
inquiries, these mute looks, this hope against hope
for some denial of our sad news, these mutterings
of vengeance, these streets lined with black, the
air filled with murmurings, the very heavens
joining in our tears ? What voice have these
strange drapings in our house of worship,— -this
emblem of our national glory, which at our last
meeting told such a tale of joy, now too heavy
with sorrow to speak at all— these flowers, which
came to join in our thanksgiving for the immor-
tal life brought to light to day, breathing their
fragrance over an invisible bier, on which rests an
invisible body? "He is not here, he is riseji."

Our President has been murdered ! What made
us love him, so that the humble citizen, taken by-
God from a western cabin, had well nigh won the
homage of the world ? What makes each one of
us feel a perso.ial grief, such as no ruler has ever
called forth before ? It was this simply : This
man of God was true to the noblest principles
which warm human breasts. Untaught in schools,
but wise for any emergency ; unskilled in diplo-
macy, but more than a match for any intrigue ;
temperate in the midst of every temptation ; fear-
less in the presence of any danger ; hopeful under
every defeat ; calm in every success ; humble in
every exaltation ; powerful and yet prudent ;
firm and yet lenient ; patriotic and yet humane ;
liberal and yet just ; humorous and yet solemn —
Abraham Lincoln walked by faith and not by
sight, and he was not, for God took him.

There is but one word of hope or trust. The
Lord reigneth. Do not let us forget or doubt that,
my friends,for one moment.or everything is gone.
You will hear this question asked by some in utter
despair. What are we all coming to ? Let not us
ask it, or harbor the despair. What are we com-
ing to? Why my christian friends we are just
following out the results of a cause which is suf-
ficient for all these things, and a great deal more;
for all that has happened, and a great deal still to
happen. It is all coming about as naturally as
the warm sun is calling all nature into life to-day.
You may think it severe, you may think it
strange, you may think it narrow, you may think

L4 5



it partizan, yon ma^^ think of it as you wUt-^
but remember this ; the time will come Avhen yoi^
look at it ill the light of Christian principle an<«
Christian retribution, and say with me, not a sin-
gle thing has happened for which we have not
had in slavery a sufficient and plain cause.

Our President has been murdered ! Who murder-
ed bim ? That is something for you to consider
n your hearts,else we learn nothing from our ca-
amity. Who muderedhim ? They tell us it was
Booth, an actor. No, it was not Booth. He wag
only an instrument of others. They tell us it
was a maniac in a moment of frenzy. No, it w;-.!,
not a maniac. It icas the calmest deliberation of the
most reflecting and honorable supporters of slavery for
the last two hundred yearsl The maturity and cul-
mination, I trust, of thi^ iniquity. Every man
who has ever said a word in defence, or extenua-
tion of this, helped murcJer our President. Every
man who has ever said a word in defence or sym-
pathy with the confederacy based on this iniquity,
helped murder our President. Every man who
has withheld his word of support or sympathy for
this nation struggling for a broader freedoni,
helped murder our President. Every minister
who has stifled his prayer, or forborne the utter
auce of his heart's conviction, or permitted his
sanctuary to be a refuge for the nation's destroy-
ers, has helped murder our President.

Abraham Lincoln was a noble man. Noble his
life — forever sacred be his memory. He was all
American ; a true representative of what this peo-

pie may become^ He was not my choice for Pres-
ident the first time, but he soon won ray heart. —
I have read somewhat of the history of the past
four thousand years, and I find there the record
of no nobler, truer, simpler, grander man. But he
is dead.

The Lord reigneth. God be thanked He has
not permitted very much of the world's progress
to rest upon any one m'an. The very highest,
the very greatest are quite insignificant when we
think of this mighty march of the soul of hu-
manity. We think otherwise. We think it all
depended upon cjne man we call Leader, General,
Emperor, King, President, Minister, Pope. It did
not. We call his death untimely. Nothing is
Untimely, from the quiet and unseen opening of
yonder leaf, and its fall some day next autumn
when a gentle wind shakes the bough, all along
up the series of events to where a demon robs a
nation of its choicest treasure. Everything comes
in the fulness of time,from the blessing of yester-
day to the Resurrection of the world's Redeemer.
It is all of God. God gave us our Chief Magis-
trate, Gcd preserved his life until he did his work ;
and think what a work it was ! Who shall say
it was not done, and well done ? But most cer-
tainly there was something for another to do.
Perhaps in that great heart which knew no jeal.
ousy, no envy, no bitterness, and could harbor no
unkind feeling, and no shadow of revenge to-
wards one of the human kind, there was also
wanting some of that quality which measures out


justice to the guilty. What that work wa?, tho
days will fast reveal ; and whatever it was, God
kept it for others to do.

God gave him, God took him. Yes, my friends
most sacredly remember both. We are too apt
to think that it is only by a lingering death, by a
long or severe sickness, or in a good old age, that
God takes one away. The other deaths we some-
times thoughtlessly call untimely and unnatural.
But God works by miracles sometimes, and then we
do not stop to read the natural laws under which
they come. I am very sure it was his Providenc-
that called our President away from that Wash-
ington Theatre, as truly as if he had fallen qui-
etly asleep in a good old age. One man dies; but
in God's way ; and by God's hand another is
raised up, and the principle lives on. Each man
fills a place no other can. We ought not to want
him to ; but from all these myriads, God will show
us one or many to carry on His work ; and if this
struggle be not His Avork, it matters little whether
we have another President or not.

I spoke last Thursday of the Christian doctrine
of retribution, and said a cry for it would come
up from the friends of the prisoners, from the
bereaved and sorrowing hearts, from the freed-
men . That cry to-day is wide as the nation. I
loved our President as I have never loved any
public man, and yet, now that he has been mur-
dered, I have not a single feeling of revenge. I
call for no vengeance, but we must demand j)un-
ishment. Not for the murderer merely. Why,

Ii would not have even him hanged. There are
many thousands all through our land far more to
blame than he. I do not ask for their blood. I
])ray to day that not a drop of blood may be shed,
tliough life is not much ; but I call for punish-
ment, for Christian punishment, for punishment,
for past transgressions, for present rebelliousness,
for the sake of future safety ; and let punishment
fall wherever it belongs, North or South. Let a
cry for justice go up which shall make this con-
tinent ring, and the guilty tremble. Justice
which none but the guilty ever fear. Law which
none but the law-breakers ever dread.

Our President is dead. He rests from his labors,
and his works do follow him. Rest in peace, thou
noble martyr, while every heart hastens to pay a
son of America, while thy land learns the lesson
tribute and drop a tear 6n thy grave. Rest in peace
of thy life. Rest in peace, child of liberty, while
her anthem swells to a purer strain over thy
memory. Rest in peace, child of the Infinite,
with all the immortal company.

Oar President is not dead. He still speaks. He
is 7iotdeady for the memory of virtue is immortal.
Re is not dead and here is our only suflticient con-

To-day is kept very sacred in the Christian
church, as commemorating the resurrection of
Jesus, wliich brought life, and immortality to
light. I was intending to speak to you this
morning from that passage in Mark's gospel, xvi.
chap. 4th verse, — when as the three women were
going to the sepulchre to annoint the body oj
their Master with spices, — the tribute of affection

after the custom of the age, and as the early sun
was just giving his rays to light their way, — it
occurred to them that a great stone which had
been put as a guard by the door, would defeat their
pious purpose ; but when they came to it, and
looked up, behold ! the stone was already rolled

A simple incident, indeed, but how deep its
meaning, how grand its tfuth, how universal its
experience. We too, go along with b'jwed heads
and mourning hearts, raising doubts or question-
ing possibilities, or wondering whence our aid is
to come, or what we shall do when we reach the
end, — when there, we lift up our eyes and it has
all vanished, the danger, the dread, like some
phantom which has taken to itself fearful pro-
portions, like some great body of human form,
which turns out only a stone, and that, rolled
away from where our path leads. Oh ! my
Christian friends, a bold and trusting, and per-
severing soul finds no stone against the door, but
always enters without hindrance among the guard -
ing angels by the Saviour's side.

It was a short and easy step for our departed
President from the theatre of earth to the thea-
tre of heaven. The evening light was mortal,
I tut the morning light was full of immortality.
It was a short way through a green pasture, and
beside a quiet stream, with the Lord Jesus lead-
ing. We have two words to strengthen and com-
fort us.

" The Lord is risen "

" Be still and know that I am God."

' B S '12


Online LibraryJames De NormandieThe Lord reigneth : a few words on Sunday morning, April 16th, 1865, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 1 of 1)