A Great Man
Fallen!, Paddock, Wilbur F., Sunday Morning, April 23, 1865,
St. Andrew's Church, Philadelphia.
A GREAT MAN FALLEN!
DEATH OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
St. Andrew's Church, Philadelphia,
SUNDAY MORNING, APRIL 23, 1865.
REV. WILBUR F. PADDOCK.
SHERMAN & CO., PRINTERS.
This Discourse is published at the request of Governor Pickering, Senator Williams, and others of the Funeral Escort of President Lincoln, who were present at the time of its delivery.
2 SAMUEL 3:34, 38.
"THY HANDS WERE NOT BOUND, NOR THY FEET PUT INTO FETTERS: AS A MAN FALLETH BEFORE WICKED MEN, SO FELLEST THOU. AND ALL THE PEOPLE WEPT AGAIN OVER HIM. AND THE KING SAID UNTO HIS SERVANTS, KNOW YE NOT THAT THERE IS A PRINCE AND A GREAT MAN FALLEN?"
A GREAT leader and a brave man had fallen in Israel. Not in battle, not by disease, not by the hands of the ministers of justice in satisfaction to violated law, but by the hand of an assassin,--a deed treacherously, cowardly, infamously and unsuspectedly committed. In the gate at Hebron, the place of judgment and the place of concourse, in defiance of the laws of God and man, Joab, openly before the people, imbrues his hands in the blood of Abner, whom he from jealousy feared, and towards whom he entertained the bitterest feelings of revenge. "And David said to Joab and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And King David himself followed the bier. And they buried Abner in Hebron; and the king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave
How striking in many respects, the parallel between this deed of blood and that committed but little more than a week ago in our national capitol. A prince and a great man then fell by the hand of an assassin; unsuspectedly, cowardly, cruelly murdered in the place of concourse before the eyes of thousands, in defiance of the laws of God and man. The deed itself spoke in thunder tones to the hearts of the people. It needed not that Executive authority should call upon the nation to gird itself in sackcloth and mourn before its fallen friend, benefactor and ruler. Scarce had the terrible tidings flown upon the lightning's wing through the loyal States, when, from millions of stricken hearts there went up to Heaven a bitter cry of anguish,--the pitiful moan of a crushed and bereaved people. The whole land, just before revelling in excess of joy over unparalleled military success, glowing with bright
Twice, my friends, since this awful crime was committed, have we assembled in this church. Upon Easter Day we sought to catch the spirit of the service and ascend gladly in our hearts to the risen and glorified Saviour. We sought to meditate upon the precious hopes given us and the triumph achieved for us in His resurrection. But how sad and fruitless all our efforts. A great woe pressed heavily upon our hearts. Easter joys were turned into mourning, songs of thankfulness into notes of sadness and bereavement. Our thoughts and feelings would not but flow mournfully through the dark valley of affliction into which we had been called as a nation to enter. We could not, from very weeping, sing the songs of Zion.
Wednesday's solemn service brought with it the same deep impressions of the great and terrible loss we had sustained. We gathered in spirit around the cold and lifeless form of our martyr President, and paid, with distressed and weeping hearts, like offices with those which were being at the same hour per-
To-day, we are again assembled, and the same subject is occupying our minds and moving the deepest emotions of our hearts. There is no possibility of escaping it. Nor, dear friends, would we if we could, until it shall produce the result God designed it to accomplish in the gracious orderings of this most mysterious providence. A blow so heavy, so sudden, so momentous in its consequences, is not easily to be recovered from, or soon to be forgotten. To-day, the great and noble dead is in our midst; and every Church assemblage and every heart in this vast city feel the influence of that presence. Meet was it, that the noblest, the greatest, and the best of all the martyrs, who have been sacrificed upon the altar of liberty since the birth of this nation, should upon this, the last Sabbath before his sepulture, lie in state in the hall where liberty was cradled, and in which were first authoritatively uttered those great principles of human freedom, equality and constitutional law, in the defence of which he died.* His lifeless and mutilated
body calls upon us for a more extended notice of his character and services than in this church has heretofore been given; and in so doing, I shall not, I am assured, do violence to the proprieties of time and place, or go counter to your just expectations and the demands of the present occasion.
I purpose, this morning, to show, first of all, the true greatness of him whom the nation now mourns and seeks to honor; second, to discover, if possible, the culprit by whose hand he fell; and third, to indicate the manner in which his death may best be avenged, and our great and irreparable loss be made a blessing to ourselves and to our country. We must speak briefly upon each of these points, and cannot, therefore, do more than present a faint outline of the virtues and excellences of the illustrious dead, trusting that the
perfectness and moral grandeur of his character, may at least, not suffer in your estimation by this necessarily imperfect presentation.
I. Consider then, how great Abraham Lincoln was, first, in his devotion to truth. It is said of him as of the immortal Washington, that he never told a lie. From the age of twenty-five to the time of his death, he was more or less in political life, and under its corrupting influences; and yet so sacredly did he hold to the inviolability of oaths, to the sanctity of plighted word, and to the great value and necessity of strict veracity in statement and conduct, that his bitterest enemies have not been able to convict him of a single falsehood, or prove upon him a single charge of fraud, of intrigue or of deceit. He had an instinctive love of truth,--truth in word, in principle, in belief, and in practice,--that caused him, no matter what the consequences might be to himself, to do and say, when duty demanded, what he thought and felt and believed. He was incapable of acting a part, and careful that he might not be deceived by others. No labor was too great, no pressure of business so severe, as to prevent him from learning, if possible, the truth of every case presented to him.
He was honest with himself, and honest in his dealings with others. It shone forth from earliest years. When a mere child, he labored for two days to pay for
In after life, this fidelity to truth in word, in principle and in conduct, was marvellously manifested. History furnishes no parallel of devotion so constant and unswerving,--under a combination of circumstances so powerfully arrayed in opposition,--as distinguished him during his entire Presidential career. In the midst of plots and counterplots; amid the fluctuations of opinion and the surging waves of intense feeling over different lines of policy; at one time basely attacked by bitter enemies; at another, made the subject of satire, ridicule, or unjust criticism; at another, still, brought under the blandishments and seductive influences of greedy politicians, unwise friends, or base pretenders--now contending with factious elements at home, and now with intriguing or hostile cabinets abroad--firmly relying upon the invincibility of his principles, the correctness of his opinions, the rightfulness of his position, and the integrity of his purpose, like a rock he stood courageously and heroically beating back every wave, resisting every encroachment, withstanding every seductive influence; unmoved alike by blame or praise, bribes or threats, reproach, contempt, cajolery, or base
But again, the greatness of Abraham Lincoln was manifested in his devotion to the rights of humanity, and his sympathy with his race. We see him at the very beginning of his legal career, in the face of bitter prejudice and an intense feeling of revenge on the part of the community, defending the life of the son of a poor widow, charged with the crime of murder. Volunteering his services without a thought of reward, he rested not day nor night until the tangled and deceptive web of circumstance was completely unravelled, the malicious falsehoods of witnesses disproved, the innocence of the prisoner established, and light and life and joy could again visit the home of the widow and the fatherless. And then, not selfishly elated by his success, indeed scarcely conscious, so great was the simplicity and humility of his heart, of the proud distinction his talents had won for him in triumphing over prejudice, hostility and wrong, regardless of needed rest or of the praise that awaited his presence among his associates, in the greatness of his disinterested devotion to the suffering, the neglected and the defamed, he remembers only their needs, and lets the sun of that eventful day go down upon him administering to their wants. And this was the spirit he ever
This remarkable freedom from every form of pretension, from self-commendation, and from all feelings of exultation over the defeat of others or his own success, arose not only from the native simplicity and generosity and divinely implanted humility of his heart, and the singular mastery he exercised over the varied impulses and passions of his nature, but, also, was largely the result of his intense devotion to the right, and whole-souled sympathy for the distressed, the needy and the wronged; causing him entirely to lose sight of selfish considerations, and in all his legal and political successes to be absorbed in the contemplation of truth vindicated, the right maintained, justice honored, the bounds of liberty enlarged, and the oppressed and afflicted blessed. Oh how grandly his whole heart went forth in sympathy for all his race, and how earnestly, faithfully and untiringly, did he labor in
Yes, even so. With Abraham Lincoln nothing was small or unimportant which his sense of justice and
Never had humanity a more faithful, devoted and self-sacrificing friend. The principles of human liberty he enunciated, and the blows he dealt to tyranny, oppression and wrong, are felt the world over. The simple, unpretending man, whose body now lies in yonder State House, has made the monarchs of Europe tremble upon their thrones, and sent joy and the assurance of ultimate freedom to every bondman who has been able to spell out his name and heard of his glorious deeds; and they will weep, too, as we to-day weep, over the cruel act that stilled the throbbings of his noble heart, and closed in violence and blood his earthly career.
Abraham Lincoln was great yet again, in his devotion to his country. No testimony of mine, I am sure, is needed to strengthen your convictions of the truth of this statement. His whole history, before as well as after his elevation to the chief office of authority in this nation, is in every part of it proof conclusive of his entire single-hearted devotion to the land of his birth. An intense, all-comprehensive patriotism, as has been said, was the constant stimulus of all his public exertions. It grew into the very constitution
And yet, once more. Chief above all things else, Abraham Lincoln was to the Christian heart manifestly great in his devotion to his God. Whatever other elements may enter into the composition of a great character, this undoubtedly is the noblest and the best. And this especially distinguished him whom the nation now mourns. Religion shed its pure and hallowed influence over his life. It preserved him from those vices which too often disgrace men in place and power. It made him a pattern of goodness even to those who made greater professions. It opened fountains of comfort, encouragement and support to his soul, and gave him that grand and
"Be just and fear
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's! Then if thou fallest, O Cromwell!
Thou fallest a blessed martyr!"
Thou hast fallen, just and fearless one! greater in thy devotion to truth, to country and to God, than Wolsey ever could have believed of man, or Cromwell ever was capable of being! And thou art a martyr blessed! Blessed with the honors of Heaven, the smile of God, the gratitude of the rescued and the
II. But who was his murderer? Whose the hand that dared to still the beatings of that noble heart, destroy the great champion of human freedom and the preserver of our national life, make desolate the home of pure affection and filial devotion, and plunge a whole nation into mourning? Not that poor wretch who, now horror-stricken at the deed he has done, and the terrible penalty attached to it, seeks to escape the ministers of justice. He, indeed, was the tool, the agent in the execution of this diabolical act, and ought when found to be punished according to the atrocity of his crime. But he was not the inspirer, he was not the soul of this murder. There were others as much more guilty than he, as he was more guilty than the pistol which he held in his hand. Both were merely tools. Who set them to accomplish this awful deed? Who used them? Perhaps you may say, the chief of the Southern traitors, and those who with him devised this infernal plot. But can they truly be said to be the murderers of our noble-hearted President? Have we found the real culprit yet? No, my friends, though all we have mentioned may be guilty, and I believe they are of this crime, as well as the hundred
III. How, then, may this cruel murder best be avenged, and our great and irreparable loss be made a blessing to ourselves and our country?
Dear friends, not by indiscriminate denunciation of all now in rebellion against this Government. Not by giving vent to feelings of hatred and revenge against even its leaders, red as are their hands with this the best blood of our land. No. There is a better way of avenging it. It is by destroying entirely and forever the Spirit of Slavery and all its most infamous progeny. Let the law deal with the mere tools and agents of this awful crime according to the severity which justice demands,--no less and no more. But let us, as citizens and Christians, deal with that which has inspired them. This Spirit of Slavery as we see it in the North, let it be crushed out, root and branch. Let us hate treason and rebellion with a perfect hatred, because they are sins against God and crimes against the State. Let us make such distinctions between the guilty and the innocent as truth and justice demand. Let us require that the guilty and unrepentant be punished;
Oh, what a momentous time is the present to the young men of our country! What opportunity for noble effort, for a high development of character, for exerting great influence, and fighting glorious battles for truth, for humanity, for country and for God. Are they doing it? Are they meeting the great questions of the day with the seriousness and consideration which their importance demands? Are they placing themselves positively and clearly upon the side of human liberty and equality, truth and justice, law and loyalty, virtue and religion? Are they rising to the height of the demands of the years that are coming to a nation which God has preserved for a great work, and in which they are to act a most important part? Are they preparing themselves for it by a full dedication to their Lord and Saviour as well as their country?
Would God I could answer these questions in the affirmative, even as regards the young men of my own beloved flock. There are some who realize these times as they ought. Some who knowing their duty solemnly meet and perform it. Others are only partially awake to their responsibilities and unfitted to do the work assigned them. They love their country, but they do not love their God. And yet it is only Christian men that God would have direct the glorious future of this people. They only are equal to the work, because it is a work that they only can do. We have not been baptized in blood for nothing, or to be what we once were. God, I believe, has saved us, that we may extend far and wide His Gospel, while advocating at the same time, by theory and practice the cause of universal liberty and equality. Our mission as a people is the moral, social, political and religious elevation of mankind.
Let us, then, appreciate our work and its responsibilities. Let us begin with our own personal infirmities and sins, and seek to have them removed,--with individual aims, purposes, and positions, and seek to have them right. Let us take hold of every foolish prejudice and every false notion, and by the power of God, destroy their influence upon ourselves, and as far as we can, upon others. If we cowardly shrink from our duty, and say as did David, "These sons of Zeruiah be too hard for me," like him we may be
This day, when the body of our noble and sainted President is in our midst, and our hearts are touched by feelings of grateful love, let us over his lifeless and disfigured corse, pledge ourselves to truth, to humanity, to our country and to our God. And that we may do it aright, let us confess and forsake our sins, and trust and love and worship the Saviour, who hath bought us with His blood, and would present us to His Father without spot, clothed with His own most precious robe, and sealed with the signet of His covenanted and unchangeable love.
Page 6 - *.
The remains of President Lincoln were placed in
Independence Hall, Saturday evening, April 22, and remained there
exposed to view until the following Monday morning. The head of the
deceased was towards the pedestal upon which rests the old State House
bell, which first pealed liberty throughout the land. The four walls
of the hall were tapestried with serge. The pictures which the heavy
serge festoons were allowed to reveal were six in number, and not
inappropriate silent watchers of the dead. Upon the coffin was placed
a beautiful cross, composed of perfectly white flowers of the choicest
kinds. A card attached was inscribed as follows:
"A tribute to our great and good President, fallen a martyr in the cause of human freedom.
"In my hand no price I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling." Extract from Daily Paper.