Maxwell Pierson Gaddis.

Sermon upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln online

. (page 1 of 2)
Online LibraryMaxwell Pierson GaddisSermon upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 1 of 2)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

.0( i ^

:ff ^



hw f '^^


5 PHIhl, II weST t"'«0 St., I











Cincinnati, April 24, 1865.

Rev. jM. p. Gaddis, Jr.:

Dear Sir — We have the honor, in behalf of the "Library Association" of
your charge, to solicit for publication, in pamphlet form, your sermons of Friday
morning, April 14th, and Sabbath evening, April 16th, 1865. Our reasons for
said request are, First, the merits of the sermons themselves as well as the princi-
ples they inculcate, are deserving of a wider circulation. Secondly, a knowledge
of the wishes of the ])ublic generally for their publication; more especially those
who were not so fortunate to hear them delivered. Thirdly, a belief that the per-
usal and careful study of the sentiments they contain, will tend to make us appre-
ciate more fully our duties, not only as Christians but as American citizens in
these trj-ing times of our country's history.

Hoping that, for these reasons, you will accede to our request.
We are yours respectfully,

L. C. ROBINSON, Chairman, "1

FRANK G. EPPLY, Secretary,

JNO. W. RICHARDS, r CommUtee.



Cincinnati, Ohio, April 26, 1865.

Messrs. L. C. Robinson, Frank G. Epply and others,
Committee Library Association :
Gentlemen — Your kind and complimentary favor of the 24th inst. is before
me. In response to the same I am compelled to say, that a part of your request
cannot be complied with. The sermon of April the 14th was in the main im-
promptu, and cannot be written as delivered. So with portions of the sermon,
upon the death of that yreai and good man. President Lincoln. Yet, from a
desire to gratify an Association having for its object the glory of God and the
good of our beloved country, I place the crude manuscript at your service, trust-
ing that your reasons for its publication may be fully realized.
I remain with many expressions of regard,

Yours, as ever, in the cause of God and liberty,



The following scenes, descriptive of the excitement attending
the delivery of Mr. Gaddis' sermon, is taken from the Cincinnati
Daily Times, Monday, April 18th :

Long before dark, Sunday evening, an immense crowd congre-
gated in front of the Methodist Church, on Sixth street, between
Vine and Eace, presided over by Eev. M. P. Gaddis. No sooner
had the doors been thrown open, than the crowd immediately
filled the church to overflowing, but not one-fourth of the crowd
could get in, and thousands remained outside, filling up all the
approaches to it ; and when the time came for the pastor to open
the services, he found it a matter of impossibility to do po, as he
could not even get an entrance to the church. Finding it impossi-
ble to proceed with the services in his church, a committee of
several of our well known citizens, having procured the consent
of Mr. Gaddis to deliver his sermon in Mozart Hall, providing that
Hall could be obtained, an announcement was immediately made
from the church steps, of the intention to deliver the sermon from
that place, but some delay would take place, as the janitor would
have to be seen, and the Hall lighted.

The crowd immediately proceeded to Mozart Hall, and waited
there patiently for it to be opened. Some disappointment was
manifested when it was found that the Hall could not be obtained,
the janitor refusing the use of it, as his orders were not to let the
Hall that evening for any purpose. Another announcement was
then made, that as it was then late, and even if the Opera House
could be procured, it would take at least an hour before the house
could be lighted, it would be impossible to carry the idea into effect,
and that Mr. Gaddis would be compelled to deliver his sermon in
his church to as many as were fortunate enough to crowd into it.
The immense crowd then left Mozart Hall, and proceeded back to
the church, which was soon crowded to overflowing, but thousands
still remained outside, and showed no disposition to leave the
vicinity, not only the sidewalks being full, but the street also. It
seems, however, that the committee were not to be deterred from

their efforts to obtain a hall, and finally were successful in procur-
ing the Opera House, and the announcement being made to the
crowd, it moved for Fourth street, hundreds of ladies and gentle-
men hurrying through the streets on the double-quick, for fear
they would not get there in time.

It was but a few minutes, and the crowd in front of the Opera
House numbered its thousands — the sidewalks and streets soon
being full of an anxious, excited multitude. A few minutes trans-
pired, and the doors were open, and the crowd commenced pressing
its way in without regard to order. Ladies fainted awaj', bonnets
were smashed in, dresses were torn, but the crowd squeezed, they
jammed and rammed, but they determined to get into the Opera
House. -But in this they utterly failed. Notwithstanding the
Opera House was filled to overflowing, the isles being filled, and
every nook and corner of it crowded to its utmost capacity, yet
hundreds had to go away without finding even standing room.

We have seen crowds in our time, and have seen them in the
Opera House, but we think this would beat them all. We certainly
never seen a larger, or more attentive and orderly audience, than
on this occasion.

Kev. Mr. Gaddis was received with great applause. Ho opened
the services by some very appropriate remarks, to the effect that
he had prepared this sei'mon for his church, and that he was
greatly surprised at the turn affairs had taken, and hoped the
audience would take into consideration all the circumstances of
the occasion. He then gave out the hymn, and requested the
audience to join in singing it:

" Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
Our great Kedeemer's praise :
The glories of our God and King,
The triumphs of his grace."

Mr. GrADDis, in opening, remarked that on Friday last he took
occasion in his thanksgiving sermon to say, that now was the time
for a great people, in the face of one of the grandest triumphs
achieved by any people, to show a magnanimity to their con-
quered enemies, equal to their triumphs, but since the tragical
scenes of the past few hours, resulting in the death of the Chief-
tain of all these victories, the sermon on the j)resent occasion
would materially differ in its sentiments from the one referred to.

He selected for his text the 3d chapter of second Samuel, in
which is recorded the assassination of Abner, Captain General of
the Israelites, confining his remarks in the main to the 38Lh verse :
" Know ye not that a Prince and a great man has fallen this day

in iBrael." As remarked above, Mr. Gaddis had prepared his dis-
course for his own congregation, not aware that he was to deliver
it in the finest hall in America, to over four thousand people.
Below we give the contents of the sermon as we were enabled to
obtain it.


In looking at the sad events of the past few hours, I can but say
in the language of the poet —

" God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform ;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm. "

And, as on this sorrowful day — a day fraught with more grief
than all others in the history of this rebellion — I behold the
sorrow and anguish that rends the hearts of a grateful, liberty-
loving people, 1 continue to sing —

" Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him to His grace —
Behind this frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face. "

As for grief, we have, during the past four years, become inured
to its stings. The wails of early widowhood, the sighs of orj)han-
age, the falling of paternal and fraternal tears over the graves,
biers, and memories of our loved ones, have not only freighted
northern, but southern gales — -filling the entire land with sadness,
giving us naught but a daily contir.uation of terrible facts.

The sun of the 14th of April, 18(35, rose in unclouded splendor,
and shone upon millions of freemen ready to join in the festivities
and thanksgivings that were to take place over the triumphs of
our armies ; — it set only to rise again upon one of the most terri-
ble tragedies ever enacted since the race of man began — set amid
a blaze of glory and joy to rise upon the nation clad in the habili-
ments of grief and shame — grief over the loss of a great and
good man, and shame over the fact that an American struck the
terrible blow. E'en now there comes up from the capital of our
country a wail of anguish, penetrating every vein and artery of
the nation — one more keen in its cuttings than all the rest com-
bined ; nay, more, the stroke is so piercing that it tears open every
wound made in the body of Liberty since the war began, starts
fresh fountains of tears from the weeping bereaved ones of the
land, and almost opens again the graves of our dead braves. The
wild refrain of this wail is, " Abraham Lincoln is dead ! "


My hearers, do you realize the deep significance of those words,
" Abraham Lincoln is dead?" The most natural question upon
an announcement like this is, '' And how did he die ? In the
quietude of his own chamber, with his family around him, after
the great mission of his glorious life was accomplished ? Was it
amid the bright light of the peace he sought to bring to the nation
over which he presided, and to whose interest he gave the full
strength of his manhood ? Had he just finished writing some
proclamation that was to give liberty to millions of the human fam-
ily, or teaching the world some grand lesson in the terse, simple
expressions of ' To whom it may concern ? ' Was it while he was
engaged in giving expression to the merc}'^ that flowed from a heart
overcharged with the same, in the shape of a general amnesty to
repentent rebels ? Was it at a time when the ship of State was
etruggling amid the mad waves of the rebellion, with the desired
haven of peace still hidden from his sight?" No; — all this,
thank God, was accomplished ere the findish deed was done.

The proclamation was not only written, but the chains had
fallen, under its power, from over three millions of enslaved men,
"To whom it may concern " had gone forth to the worM, and has
in the past and is to-day accomplishing its mission. His last great
act of mercy had been written, and the Amnesty read even in the
streets of the Eebel capital ! The ship of State was no longer in
the maelstrom of rebellion. The shoals and quick'^ands were
passed, the destined haven of peace was in view, the anchor was
being thrown overboard to find a fastening fi'om which it was
never more to be loosed. Its enemies were conquered, its millions
of passengers were happy, its thousands of hardy sailors and de-
fenders were preparing to taste again the joys of home. Its pilot
came out from his place of watching and trial, to gratify a grate-
ful people by his presence, when, from some unseen hold of trea-
son, there sprang up a Rebel sailor, a hater of the proclamations,
a non-submissionist to whom it may concern, a despiser of mercy,
and who, auiid the storm, tried to scuttle the ship, dismantle its
shroudrt, or run it upon the destructive rocks of northern sympathy,
and with a cowardly heart, and still more cowardly design, took
the life of the great pilot.

Thus fell Abraham Lincoln, President of these United States.
Fell as he lived, seeking to make his fellow men happy ; fell, too,
by the hands of those who had the best reasons for regarding
him as their truest friend : for in the midst of his successful efforts to
preserve the government he had sworn to protect, he, at the same time,
tempered the winds of vengeance to the meanest of its foes.

Some one has said that *' Cassar was merciful ; Scipio was conti-

nent; Hannibal was patient, and that George Washington com-
bined these in one ;" but yet it is not said of them, as the world
must now say of the great departed, " he loved his enemies." Like
him of old, who came to subdue the rebellion of earth against the
government of God, he died, saying, " Father, forgive them, the}-
know not what they do."

Looking upon Mr. Lincoln in this light, may we not. with great
propriety, say, as does David in the text, " Know ye not that there
is a Prince, and a great man fallen this day in Israel '" — and with
equal propriety adopt the same writer's language as given in the
context, "I and my kingdom are guiltless before the Lord forever
from the blood of Abner." Are we all innocent? Can we all say
that there is no drop of Mr. Lincoln's blood on our skirts? I am
afraid that there are some here in our own city that will, in the day
of judgment, find at least one drop of Mr. Lincoln's blood upon
their skirts. Then turning from this declaration of our innocence,
after having extended the hand of forgiveness to them as we did
on Friday last, to find it so treacherously and horribly spurned,
may we not call down David's curses upon the murderer, as he did
on the head of the assassin Joab? I do not desire to take God's
work in my unholy hands, for he has said, " Vengeance is mine ; 1
will repay." I am willing to leave the penalty with Him ; for if
ever God loved any man he must have loved Abraham Lincoln,
and he stands pledged to avenge his own. In this I rest satisfied,
for His pledges are immutable. Feeling, then, that there have
been times in the administrations of God's government when ven-
geance was necessaiy, I pray him now, in view of the great crime
just committed — committed, too, in the name of liberty — that all
the curses pronounced by David against Joab for the murder of
Abner, may befall the murderer of our President: "May the
results of his perfidious act rest upon his head, and on all his
father's house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one
that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or
that falleth on a sword, or thav lacketh bread."

And may we, who feel so deeply this treasonable work, live to
see the time when, out of this darkness, there shall come glory and
honor to all those who loved the victim, and hated the murc'erer.
It is not my purpose, at this time, to enter upon a history- of the
life and services of Mr. Lincoln. He needs no written or spoken
history. His memory, the glory and goodness of his deeds, are
written on an imperishable tablet: on the heart of liberty-loving
humanity wherever it breathes the air of freedom, or tramples
upon broken shackles ; nay more, it will cheer the hope of those of
our race who are still oppressed, until the morn of their redemp-


tion comes, and with it the fulfillment of that song of universal
freedom, ihat came first from Heaven, and will not return again
until earth returns with it, to Eden and God.

He has gone from us. And while I would not wipe away a
single tear that falls from millions of eyes to-night, or check one
of the unnumbered sighs that come up from as many wailing
hearts, allow me to say that our tears and our sighs will not call
him back. His place is vacant forever ; his mantle falls upon the
shoulders of others. This being the case, let us look backward
over his illustrious life for consolation, and forward to the great
results that must flow, not onl} - to us as a nation, but to the world
at large, from his tragical death. I shall attempt no eulogy — I am
not equal to the task. His own life, as we know it, constitutes his
best eulogy. Neither shall I attempt to apologize for God in his
actions toward us as a nation. Had we loved and served him as
He has loved and served us, there would have been no occasion, in
the administering of his wise Providence, for the removal of the
President. I look away from our sorrow to-night ; I look up from
that small house, that now contains all that is left of earth, to the
God of all good — to Him who gave us such a President — to find
his countenance smiling in mercy upon us. I hear him say that
all these things shall work together for our good. God alone can
estimate the value of liberty ; hence he gave us Mr. Lincoln, in
order to enhance its value in our eyes, and then took him away
that its newly developed glories, as connected with his memory,
might become still more precious to us. The value of a blessing in
this world is generally estimated by its cost. In this view of the
subject the blessings of civil liberty should be dearer to us now
than a'l else, save the consolations of our holy religion, and this
in our hearts only makes its blessings more sweet. It took over
four thousand years of sacrifice and offering upon the altars of
God, and ultimately the death of his own sou, to redeem man from
sin. into the pleasant liberty of righteousness; and the marks of this
mighty struggle are traceable in blood from where Abel offered his
bleeding victim down to Calvary's summit, where, through the
blood of Jesus, victory came and Satan was conquered. The price
paid for liberty stands next to this. I have not time to trace its
struggles, its defeats or victories, or to show how near its triumph
is complete. Its history, as connected with our own fair land, will
be suflScient to show j^ou the immense and, may I say, the dreadful
price to be paid for its blessings. Read o'er the struggles of our
forefathers, from their landing on the rock-bound shores of New-
England until the dawn of their revolutionary triumph ; then
take their subsequent struggles with the Indians, the second lime

/ 9

with the mother country, with Mexico, with treason and nullifica-
tion, and close the chapter with the immense sacrifices made
during the present war, and in some slight degree you may
realize the cost of civil liberty. Its money value may bo computed
so far as the expenditure of rational currency is concerned, but
where is the voice, or pen, that can describe the cost of so much
precious blood and life ''■ Yet these are paiis of liberty's price.
Every drop of blood, every fallen brave, every tear, every throb
of anguish, every broken household, every vacant chair, every
lonely grave, is so much paid into the treasury of liberty. It de-
manded an Ellsworth, a Lyons, a Baker, a McPherson, a McCook,
a Lytle, a Mitchell, and time would fail to mention a Patrick, an
Elstner and Leek, of our own city, and a thousand others whose
names have been rendered by her immortal.

We have met her demands as often as they came, until, at last,
we thought her satisfied ; and, radiant with sacrifice and victory,
we went up to receive her bles.sings, rendered to her on the 14:th
instant our grateful homage, and returned prepared to enjoy the
rich fruits that were in store for us. when again her voice was
heard mingling with the dying throbs of treachery and treason —
"one sacrifice more" ere my triumph is complete. "Who is it?
starts from eveiy heart. Is it one of our gallant generals who has
triumphantly led our armies to victory? No! Who then? No
less a personage than the Captain of this s,hip that was at that
moment furling her sails ready to enter the port of peace. Not
one of the disciples, but the "Master." In order that the work may
be well done, the Chief must die.

Here I would, if I could, drop the curtain over this last and
grander sacrifice ; but as the claims of God and Liberty must meet
with full satisfaction, I say to them in this hour of grief: Here we
are ready to lay upon thy glorious altar more of goodness — more
of political worth — more of true virtue — more of mercy — more
of charity and love than thou hast ever before received in one
personal offering. O, Liberty ! here to- night, on thy bloody but
triumphant altar, we offer thee the Moses of the nineteenth cen-
tur}^^ — the Winkelried of America — the Howard of the Union —
the Wilberforce of over three millions of liberated slaves — the
Luther of the world's future political status — the admired of
earth — the idol of freemen everj'where — the loved of our hearts.
Go search the world for living men, where will you find his like
again ! Will nut this suffice ? Is not his blood suflScient to put out
the remaining fires of treason, and from its lofty eminence, will it
not spread o'er all the land until it becomes the cementing bond
of eternal fidelity to the Union? Grant it, God of Liberty!


Denied the privilege of entering with us into the promised land,
may his freed spirit, not many days hence, be sent, as a minister-
ing angel, to guide us as we enter into the possession of the heri-
tage given to us by this last and heaviest payment.

But I am to speak of the results that will, in all human proba-
bility, flow from the death of the President. Every death, to him
who studies the providences of God, is intended for some good,
greater or less. Moses was called to die just at a time when they
were about to enter the promised land. God gave him the sight,
but denied him an entrance. The reason assigned by the writer
is, that Moses, at some time while leading the children ot Israel,
displeased God. {Here the speaker referred to the history of
Moses.) But there were other reasons. The children of Israel
were an idolatrous people. They had more than once merged the
Creator in their worship of the creature. The history states that
in the course of their journeyings and sufferings they murmured
at Moses, disliked his administrations, yet on their near approach
to deliverance, their murmurings were turned into affection, their
complaints into rapturous praises, and they had already said, in
their hearts, "great is Moses," instead of "great is the God of
Moses." They, in their rejoicings, were ready to say, " See what
Moses has done for us." They lost sight of the Author of their
success, while looking upon the instrument. Here God saw that
the work of Moses w..s complete, and taking him up into the
mountain, he convinced him of the fact.

Again, Moses was a merciful man, and God may have said, in
his heart, " he has too often stayed my anger against this people)
they must now pass into other hands, in order tliat mercy does not
become a crime." May I not apply the above to our modern
Moses? No man ever encountered as much difficulty in trying to ad-
minister the government of this country as Air. Lincoln. Opposition,
not only from its enemies, but its avowed friends, met hira at every
step. There were heard murmurs and objections to his adminis-
tration ; many expressed fears and doubts, yet as he at last brought
the nation to the banks of deliverance, over thirty millions of
freemen began to exclaim, Great is Abraham Lincoln! and in the
spirit of sudden idolatry, ihat has ever characterized us as a
nation, we were ready to sink the Author of our happiness and
deliverance in the honored instrument. If not this, another rea-
Bon is prominent. Our President was a man of unbounded mercy
— never was as much mercy enshrined in humanity since the days
of the Nazarine as was in him. He was devoid of all prejudice,
of all personal resentment, of all feelings of hatred; in fact, mercy
was more pre-eminent in his administration than justice, and, 1 dare


not say tonight, that it was not right, ycc, like Moses of old, his
work was completed when mercy seemed to interfere with the
claims of justice. 1 may be wrong in this remark, God forgive me
if I am, 3'et I can but feel, riven by grief as I am, that when the
dark shadows of treason, in the garb of an assassin, entered that
box in the theatre of the capital, that mercy folded her snowy
pinions and left treason t(j the thunderbolts of justice, to return 710
more until this last great wrong is wiped out in the death or expa-
triation of every leader of this foul rebellion, (Continued cheer-
ing.) The wrongs of liberty culminated in the assassination of
Mr. Lincoln, and, minister as I am, I feel like saying to-night, that
these wrongs must be avenged. One of the results of this execra-
ble act is the opening of our eyes to the fact that in the midst of
our joy we were about to take to our bosom a half frozen adder,
only frozen by the power of our arms, to warm it into life again.

'• Ye.s, to make tbein great again,
Who sought their country's ruin."'

Now, the adder must die! [Immanse apphnise.) Hence I feel to
say, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. For every drop of


Online LibraryMaxwell Pierson GaddisSermon upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 1 of 2)