John McClintock.

Discourse delivered on the day of the funeral of President Lincoln, Wednesday, April 19, 1865 : in St. Paul's Church, New York (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJohn McClintockDiscourse delivered on the day of the funeral of President Lincoln, Wednesday, April 19, 1865 : in St. Paul's Church, New York (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)
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President Lincoln,


In St. Paul's Church, New York,




NEW YORK: VW^'^'.-^'^r

Press of J. M. Bradstreet &''^S^'. '"-'-•'
I 865.

^^ 7(^./'P^^'


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865,


In the Clerk's Office of tlie District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New
York ; in behalf of the Young Men's Christian Association of St. Paul's M. E. Church.


New York, jipril zo, 1865.
The Rev. John McClintock, D. D.,
Dear Sir :

Having listened to your Discourse yesterday, upon
the sad event of the death of our late President, and fully sym-
pathizing with the sentiments of the discourse, we, the Commit-
tee, in behalf of the Young Men's Christian Association of St.
Paul's M. E. Church, respectfully solicit a copy for the press,
believing that its circulation in a permanent form will subserve
the interest of justice and freedom.

We are, truly yours,

Bowles Colgate, Chairman.


E. Frank. Hyde.
L. Bolton Bancs.

New York, Jpril 21, 1865.
Gentlemen :

The Discourse was delivered extempore. As I am
just about to leave town, it is impossible for me to write it
out ; but one of the reporters for the daily press, Mr. Butts,
has sent me his notes, which, though not taken with a view to
publication, are yet tolerably ample. I have hastily revised
them, and herewith submit them to you.

Very truly,

J. McClintock.


Heb. xiii. 7. — Remember them which have the rule over you,

faith follow.


It is the Lord ; His will be done. The blow
has stunned the nation. Had we no trust in
Him who conquers even the last enemy, the "vic-
tory of the grave" which calls us together to-day
would fill us with despair. And even with all
the light which the word of God affords, and with
all the strength which our faith in God gives us,
we can still only say, "His way is in the sea, and
His path in the deep waters." We shall know
hereafter what He doeth ; but we know not now.

" Remember^' says our text, and '■^follow."

There is little fear of our forgetting — there is
little fear of the world forgetting the name of Abra-
ham Lincoln. It was the remark of Heine, the
German poet and satirist, that " men preserve the
memory of their destroyers better than that of their
benefactors ; the warrior's name outlasts the phi-
lanthropist's." There is some truth in this, taking
the world's history as it has been. But it is one of
the best signs of the times that men's hearts are more
than ever attracted by moral greatness, and that all
laurels are not stained with blood. The day is
dawning, even though its rising sun be dimmed by
clouds, and struggles up amid gloom, and tears,
and blood, in which the glory of the reformer shall
outshine that of the conqueror — in which the

Saints of humanity, strong, yet tender.
Making the present hopeful with their life,

shall be held the true heroes in men's thoughts, as
they are the true heroes in the progress of humani-
ty, and before the eye of God. And to this heroic
class belongs the name of Abraham Lincoln, who
fell, if ever man did, fighting the battles of hu-



A voice came to us ten days ago from beyond
the sea. Here is what it says of Abraham Lincoln:
"When the heats of party passion and international
jealousy have abated, when detraction has spent its
malice, and the scandalous gossip of the day goes
the way of all lies, the place of Abraham Lincoln
in the grateful affection of his countrymen and in
the respect of mankind, will be second only, if it be
second, to that of Washington himself." When
Robert ^Cairnes penned those prophetic words,
how little did he dream that in a few weeks his
prediction should become history! "When the
heats of party passion are abated !" A work
of long and weary time, no doubt. Yet it has
been done in a day. The fame of Abraham Lin-
coln has not had to wait for the revolving years
to set it right. The bullet of the assassin has done
the work of an age. To-day that name stands as
high before this whole people, of all parties, of all
sects, of all classes, as it would have stood in a half
a century, had the blow of the assassin never fallen.
Party spirit, for the time at least, is dead. Who
thinks of party now? There are doubtless, in this
congregation, many men who voted against Abra-


h:im l.iiu-olii; is there one of them who does not
ini>urn him to thiv r When vmi hc:u\i th;it Abraham
l.uKohi was dead — vou, who a year ago, perhaps,
made his name an object ot abuse and caUimnv ; \ou,
whose lips were accustomed to speak ot that bra\e,
noble, KniuL!; nian as a usurper, perhaps, or at least
as a foolish imbecile, and an unfit tet\ant ot the
highest place in all the world — 1 ask vou, when
vou heard on Saturdav moriuno; that Lincoln was
dead, did not vour heart throb as never betore; did
not vour throat become huskv and the damp gather
in Nour eves, in spite ot vou, as vou spoke ot it ?
Partv spirit tor the moment is indeed forgotten. Do
not forget the lesson ; and when vour party journals, as thev will bec;in verv soon, to assail Andrew
Johnson, as thev have in the past assailed Abraham
Lincoln, do not be led awav; let not opposition
he sullied with calumny or embittered by hate.

The streets of the city of' New York, and ot' every
city in the LTnion, from Portland to San Francisco,
are clad in mourning. I have been struck, in
o;oinfx through the poorer streets of this city,
to find the emblems of sorrow more general, if
possible, on the abodes of the humble and the


lowly, than on the stately dwellings of the rich in
the grand avenues. All over this land, and over
all the civilized world, I dare say, there shall be
grief and mourning in the hearts and homes of
those who are called the " common people" — of
whom was Abraham Lincoln. The "ruling classes"
abroad will grieve also, but for a very different rea-
son. The Tories and aristocrats of England have
watched, with fear and wrath, the later progress of
the Republic towards triumph ; and they will feel
the tremor of a new fear when they learn that
this good and generous man — so tender, so mer-
ciful, so forgiving, so full of all peaceful thoughts,
that revenge or cruelty could find no place in
his heart ; this noble, steadfast man of the peo-
ple, at whose feet all their taunts and gibes had
fallen harmless, whose simple dignity of nature
achieved for him that serene indifference, that high
superiority to abuse and calumny which have been
claimed as the peculiar attributes of what are called
high birth and breeding — has passed away from earth.
For they were just learning that he loved peace next
to justice, and, in the vague terror of their conscious
guilt, as abettors of the slaveholders' rebellion, they


looked to the gentle ruler, whom they had so
vilely traduced, to avert the war which their con-
sciences told them ought to come.

But while, for this reason, there will be real grief
among the ruling classes, there shall be sorrow of an-
other sort among all the liberal hearts, among all who
have hoped and struggled for the future equality of
the race, and who, these four weary years, have been
watching the issues of our great war for freedom,
with an intensity of feeling only next to our own.
As for the working classes, everywhere through the
British islands, and on the continent of Europe, the
name of Abraham Lincoln had come to be, for them,
the synonyme of hope for their cause ; for

Love had he found in huts, where poor men lie,

not only in every slave cabin in the South, where
he is canonized already, but in many a shepherd's
lodge of Switzerland — in many a woodman's cabin
of the Black Forest — in many a miner's hut of the
Hartz Mountains — in many a cottage in Italy,
for there, as well as here, the poor had learned to
look upon him as the anointed of God for the
redemption of the liberties of mankind. It is


but lately that Garibaldi named one of his grand-
children Lincoln, little dreaming how soon that
name was to be enrolled among the immortals. Oh !
how his great heart will throb, how the tears will I
roll like bullets down his seamed and furrowed
face, when to him shall come the sad message,
" Lincoln is dead !"

And now let us ask why all this sorrow ?
Whence this universal love ? Certainly it was not
intellectual grandeur that so drew all hearts toward
Lincoln. And yet I do not sympathize with much
that has been said in disparagement of his intellect,
although mere mental gifts, of the highest order,
might well have been eclipsed, in the popular esti-
mation, by the sublimity of that moral power which
overshadowed all his other qualities. But it is stu-
pid to talk of him as a man of mean intellect.
He had a giant's work to do, and he has done it
nobly. Called upon to steer the ship of state
through the mightiest and most rapid tide of events
that ever swept over a nation, he guided her safely,
and was within sight of the harbor, when he was
struck down at the helm. Even in his speeches and
writings, where defects of form reveal the want of


early culture and give room for the carping of petty
critics who can see no farther than the torm, I do
not fear to say that the calm criticism of history
will find marks of the highest power of mind. Do
you remember his little speech over the graves of
our martyrs at Gettysburg ? I remember the thrill
with which I read it, across the sea. It is Greek-
like in its simple majesty of thought, and even in
the exquisite felicity of some of its phrases. Nor
could that have been a mean intellect which enabled
this simple son of the people, standing among men
who piqued themselves upon their refinement and
culture, among men of large acquirements and pol-
ished speech, to hold on his own way among them,
to take or reject their advice, to hear all plans and
all arguments, and after all to be the real ruler of
the nation and of the times. With such gifts as
God gave him, he was enabled to pierce to the very
core of a matter, while others, with their fine rhe-
toric, could only talk around it.

Yet it was not for the intellect, but for the moral
qualities of the man that we loved him It is a
wise order of Providence that it is so that men are
drawn. We never love cold intellect. We may


admire it ; we may wonder at it ; sometimes we
may even worship it, but we never love it. The
hearts of men leap out only after the image of God
in man, and the image of God in man is love. Oh !
what a large and loving heart was stilled last Fri-
day ! How line, how tender, how all-embracing
was his love of that old man ! Those of you who
have never seen him, and never have known the
inexpressible charm of his simple manner, can nev-
er understand how much there was in him to love.
Men of all classes were alike won by his personal
magnetism. Those who have traduced him most,
and those who have been most carried away by the
blind fury of partisan hate, and have gone to Wash-
ington to see him, have always come away disarmed.
Whenever they had talk with the President, when-
ever those tender eyes opened gently upon them,
(they had the habit of opening gently,) and they
looked through those portals of his soul and saw
the infinite wealth of tenderness that was there,
they yielded to the spell. Illustrations of the
tenderness of his nature abound. A colonel
in the army was telling a friend the other
day, of a time in 1862, when he had command of


one of the posts, and the President visited the
place for a few days. This officer had never met
the President, and had no very exalted opinion of
him, " but at the end of those ten days," said he,
" I found that I was in love with him, and I could
not help it." He related an incident that took
place one evening while sitting alone with the Pres-
ident, Mr. Lincoln was reading Shakspeare, when
suddenly turning his eyes upon the officer, he said :
" Colonel, do you ever find yourself talking with
a dead friend as if he was present and still living ?"
" Yes," said the colonel, " I know the feeling, for
it has occurred to me often." '* I am glad I asked
you the question," said Mr. Lincoln, closing his
book and leaning his head upon his hand, *' I did
not know that it was common, but ever since my
little boy died, I find myself talking with him
every day."

The entire absence of vindictiveness, either per-
sonal or political, was one of the ripe fruits of
Lincoln's native tenderness. Did you ever hear
of his saying a hard thing of his opponents ? After
all the vile calumnies heaped upon him at home
and abroad, did you ever know him to utter a


single word showing personal hate, or even personal
feeling? It is a marvellous record. Test our pub-
lic men by this standard, and you will see how
loftily he towers above them in moral dignity.
He lived as he died : the last of his public utter-
ances closed with the words, "With malice towards
none, with charity for all." This phrase will fall
hereafter into that small number of phrases, not
Scripture, but which men often cite, unwittingly,
as though they were.

Another striking element of his moral nature
was his profound faith — a faith not like that of the
man who now stands at the head of the French
people, a blind fatalistic confidence in his own
destiny, or in the destiny of the system with which
he is identified. Nor yet merely an uncalculating
faith in the wisdom, virtue or steadfastness of the
American people. Abraham Lincoln had this, in-
deed ; but it was not all : he had a profound reli-
gious faith : not simply a general recognition of the
law of order in the universe, but a profound faith
in a Personal God. He once remarked to me, at a
sudden turn in conversation, " Ah, Providence is
stronger than you or I," and he said it in such a

tone as to reveal a habit of thought. It was
out of the abundance of the heart that the
mouth spoke. We were discussing at the time
the relations of this country with Europe, and
the effects of his Proclamation of Emancipa-
tion. " When I issued that Proclamation,"
said he, " I was in great doubt about it my-
self I did not think that the people had been
quite educated up to it, and I feared its effect upon
the Border States, yet I think it was right; I knew
it would help our cause in Europe, and I trusted
in God and did it." I believe that no president
since George Washington ever brought in so em-
inent a degree to his official work a deep religious
faith. Of his personal religious experience I can-
not speak of my own knowledge, but we have
more than one cheering testimony about it. I
have been assured that ever after the battle of Get-
tysburgh he was daily in the habit of suppli-
cating in prayer the throne of divine grace, as a
believer in Jesus Christ, and that from that time
he classed himself with believers. Oh! what pray-
ers those must have been in the dark days of '63,
and how wondrously has God answered them.


I shall not speak of the patriotism of Abraham
Lincoln, though it is one of the points of which I
had intended to speak, but you know all about it.
You know what a tremendous duty fell to him,
and how he did it all the way through ; seduced by
no blandishment, frightened by no threats from the
steady pursuit of his one duty — to restore the in-
tegrity of the government. How far he succeeded
is known to you all. The "forts and places"
which he said he would retake are all ours to-day,
and the main army of the rebellion is scattered and
gone !

The manners of Abraham Lincoln have been a mat-
ter of a great deal of comment, and of snobbish com-
ment too. If unaffected simplicity, the most entire
ease, and the power to put one's visitor at ease,
and to do it unconsciously; if these are the ultimate
results and the final tests of refinement, as they
unquestionably are, then was he the peer of any
nobleman in manners. When you shall learn to be
as easy, as gentle, as truly unaffected, as free from
all thought of yourself, as Abraham Lincoln was,
then indeed will you have finished manners. What
if there were a few accidental remnants of his


former habits ? Of all people in the world, we are
the very last that should think of these.

Just now, across the sea, men are grieving over
the death of a plain man of the people, like Abra-
ham Lincoln, a man of the same kind of man-
ners, a man bred to the plough, and whose early
years were given to trade — Richard Cobden. And
not merely in naturalness of manners, but also in
moral elevation, in guileless sincerity, in delicate
regard for the feelings even of enemies, in true
devotion to the good of their fellow-men, espe-
cially to the cause of the poor and oppressed, and
in earnest religious faith, were these men twin-
brothers. Even in outward look there was a marked
resemblance ; the same tenderness of eye, the same
pathetic sadness of general expression, and the
same lurking smile of humor.

In two weeks after the fall of Sumter, I heard the
news of it in Paris. Cobden arrived in town, from
Algiers, I think, just then. Early the next morn-
ing I went to him, and said, " Are you enough in-
terested in the American question to have a few
words?" "Interested!" said he, "interested!"
and the tears started to his eyes. " My God !


sir, I do not sleep at night!" We then talked
over all the probable phases of this great question
and its tremendous issues. Never, until I came
home and sat down alone with Abraham Lincoln,
as I had sat down with Richard Cobden, did I
know how much alike these two men were. How
prophetic is it of the near coming of the time
when all the sophisms of power by which a few
have held, and are still striving to hold, the mass
of mankind in their iron grasp to make them the
tools of their ambition and their avarice, shall
be swept away forever, that, all over the earth,
in palaces as well as in hovels, there is mourn-
ing over Richard Cobden and Abraham Lincoln;
men that worked with their hands and yet raised
themselves higher than nobles; precursors of that
triumphant Christian civilization that is yet to
gladden the hearts of all mankind with the
reign of universal brotherhood. In seven years
Cobden bowed the neck of the proudest aristoc-
racy in the world. In five years Lincoln de-
stroyed and buried the most cruel, the most dan-
gerous aristocracy that ever sought to establish
itself in a civilized nation. The two representa-


tive men of the spirit of the age have passed away
from earth together.

We had no fear about Abraham Lincoln, except
the fear that he would be too forgiving. Oh !
what an epitaph — that the only fear men had was
that he would be too tender, that he had too much
love ; in a word, that he was too Christ-like !
And how Christ-like was he in dying! His last
official words in substance were, " Father, forgive
them, they know not what they do." And on
Good Friday he fell a martyr to the cause of
humanity. I do not think there was adequate
ground for the fear that he would ever have sacri-
ficed substantial justice upon the altar of his per-
sonal tenderness ; or, that he had not the strength
and the resolution to punish the authors of the re-
bellion ; yet, after all, in coming ages, it shall no
be the least of his titles to the veneration and love
of mankind, that his compeers found no fault with
him, except that he had too much love.

Last Friday, we are told. President Lincoln
asked General Grant if he had heard from Gen-
eral Sherman ? General Grant replied that he
had not; but that he was hourly in expectation


of receiving dispatches announcing the surrender
of Johnston. "Well," said the President, "you
will hear very soon now, and the news will be
important." " Why do you think so ?" said the
General. " Because," said Mr. Lincoln, " I had a
dream last night, and ever since the war began I
have invariably had the same dream before any
important event has occurred." He then in-
stanced Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburgh, &c., and
said that before each of those events he had had
the same dream. Turning to Secretary Welles,
he said: " It is in your line, too, Mr. Welles. I
dreamed that I saw a ship sailing very rapidly by,
and I am sure that it portends some important na-
tional event." Dear friends, the life of Abraham
Lincoln is closed. After a very, very stormy
voyage, the ship has reached her harbor at last.
And how, after all these tempests, these fierce
blasts, these rising floods, how did the ship sail
in ? Shattered and sinking, with sails all torn and
rent ? No, dear friends, God ordered it otherwise.
Not a mark of the storm was on the noble vessel ;
the hull was sound, the spars were strong, the sails
were spread, with the broad flag flying again as it


never waved before, and with pennants of red, white
and blue streaming gloriously and triumphantly
over all, the ship sailed into port, and the angels
of God said their glad "All hail !" So now say
I — and I venture to speak in your behalf, as well as
in my own — Abraham Lincoln, Patriot, Philan-
thropist, Christian, Martyr, Hail ! and Farewell !

And now, what are to be the results of this
tragedy to the country and to mankind ? It is
God that rules, and already we see that, even in
this terrible crime. He has made the wrath of man
to praise Him. One thing is clear: even now the
American people are united as they were never
united before. Four years ago (or it will be four
years within a week), in 1861, I stood in Exeter
Hall, in the City of London, with an audience of
nearly four thousand people. The London 'Times
of the day before had said " the great Republic is
gone." I made these words the text of a little
speech to these four thousand Englishmen. I ven-
tured to say to them, what in my heart I believed
to be true, that whatever might be the result of civil
war elsewhere, and however a single battle might
turn in the United States, the Government of the


United States was impregnable ; that the great
Republic would come forth out of the trial stronger
than ever ; that however the first battle might go,
we should win the last, and the Rebellion would
be crushed. It is but right to say that these re-
marks met with sympathy. The four thousand
people that sat before me showed every sign of
feeling; they rose from their seats, they clapped
their hands, they stamped their feet, they shouted.
The four years have passed, and the Republic is
not gone, thank God, but stands out in grander
proportions, is established upon a firmer founda-
tion than ever before. In the four days that have
passed since the shot that laid Abraham Lincoln
low, the work of fifty years in the consolidation of
the Republic has been done. The morning of the
same day that saw one President die, saw another
quietly inaugurated and as quietly performing his
functions. True, there were a few men in Wall
street who seemed to look upon it as the harbinger
of a golden harvest ; men who, if allowed by any
chance to pass the gates of the Celestial City, would
go with their eyes bent downward studying some

plan to pluck up the golden pavement. Naturally


Online LibraryJohn McClintockDiscourse delivered on the day of the funeral of President Lincoln, Wednesday, April 19, 1865 : in St. Paul's Church, New York (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)