the Occasion of the Death of Abraham Lincoln, Sutphen, Morris C., April 16th,
Spring Garden Presbyterian Church,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEATH OF
President of the United States,
PREACHED IN THE SPRING GARDEN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, PHILADELPHIA,
BY THE PASTOR,
REV. MORRIS C. SUTPHEN,
APRIL 16th, 1865.
JAS. B. RODGERS, PRINTER, 52 & 54 NORTH SIXTH STREET.
Philadelphia, Sabbath, April 16th, 1865.
Rev. Morris C. Sutphen:
Dear Pastor-The satisfaction and as we hope the profit, with which we have just listened to this morning's sermon upon the death of our President, prompts us to request of you, for ourselves and others, a copy for publication, that the benefit may be more widely spread, and the discourse preserved.
Respectfully and truly yours,
A. DUFF, GILBERT PARKER
CHAS. HENDERSON, JOHN WIEGAND, JR.,
JOHN McDOWELL, S. G. DENNISSON,
H. H. SHILLINGFORD, H. B. ARRISON,
GILBERT COMBS, H. D. GREGORY,
THOMAS POLLOCK, B. L. HERKNESS.
Philadelphia, April 17th, 1865.
Gentlemen-Although perhaps justice to myself would dictate the withholding from print of a discourse prepared in a few hours of great confusion, yet I cheerfully consent to its publication, as my grateful tribute to the distinguished worth of our Martyr President, and my humble contribution to the consolation of an afflicted people.
With sincere regard, yours,
M. C. SUTPHEN.
To MESSRS. WILLIAM A. DUFF,
"THOU DESTROYEST THE HOPE OF MAN."--Job xiv. 19.
THIS world is a world of vicissitude. The joys of to-day and the tears of to-morrow are life's constant interchanges. Of this truth we have had sad experience as a people within the last few hours. But yesterday our hearts were bounding with glee, to-day our hearts are breaking with grief. But yesterday our faces were brightened with gladness, to-day they are darkened with sadness. But yesterday our houses were decked in triumph, to-day they are draped in trouble. But yesterday our bells rang merry paeans, to-day they toll mournful dirges. But yesterday our banners, full high advanced, floated gayly, to-day they fall gloomily at half-mast. A funeral pall has suddenly settled upon city and country, like that which shrouded Egypt on the memorable night of the universal slaughter of her first-born--from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne, to the first-born of the
What has so suddenly dashed our cup of joy, changed our feastings into fastings, our congratulations into commiserations? The answer is too well known to you. "Death is come into our windows, and is entered into our palaces." "The beauty of Israel is slain upon the high places: the mighty is fallen." The President of the United States, most suddenly and unexpectedly, most cowardly and cruelly, has been cut down by the hand of an assassin in human form.
And it is no wonder that the death of the nation's Chief Magistrate sends a tide of sorrow over the land, and that houses hitherto uninvaded by the desolations of this desolating war, are now filled with grief. The loss of the loved head of a family, makes many mourners,--the loss of the loved head of a church more--the loss of the loved head of a State still more; but, more than all, the loss of the loved head of a nation.
But it is not simply because a respected and regarded Chief Magistrate is so suddenly dashed from the high place of power, that the people mourn. This heavy blow we have felt once and again before. Two Pre-
ABRAHAM LINCOLN was the human hope of the country. This is too evident to be questioned. The man who disputes it, shows either pitiable ignorance, or still more pitiable prejudice. His original nomination to the Presidency, intimated that in him were thought, by a large portion of the representative men of the nation, to lie the qualities needed for the safe conduct of the already troubled affairs of State, while his subsequent election indicated that their judgment was confirmed by the majority of the people. But especially his renomination, almost by acclamation, and his reelection by a vote so overwhelming as to be almost unprecedented, were evidence that on him, above all his countrymen, rested the popular confidence. The painful solicitude, also, which filled our hearts, on the occasion of his first and second inauguration, argues that to him
And the reasons why our trust so largely reposed in him are obvious. One undoubtedly was his successful conduct of our affairs during the four years of difficulty recently ended. For, recall the troubles that beset him at the time of his entrance upon office. The capital swarmed with traitors, and approach to it was barred by armed assassins lurking for his life. Secretly
And not only the eminent success with which he conducted the affairs of the nation, but also the eminent qualities which he manifestly possessed, led the people to repose their confidence in him. Time will permit me only baldly to enumerate the more prominent of these. One that stands out conspicuously, was his wisdom. President Lincoln was not, in the ordinary acceptation of the phrase, a man of learning. He made no pretension to high literary accomplishments. Nor was he an expert in the dark sinuosities of diplomacy. Neither has he been regarded as specially proficient in statesmanship, or deeply versed in constitutional law. But if he had read little, he had thought much. If he possessed small learning, he possessed great wisdom. Especially wonderful, was his insight into human nature. And he proved his sagacity in the men he called to be his counsellors; as also in the measures he originated, perfected, and executed. The manner, too, in which he moderated the bitter passions of opposing partisans, and mediated between
Another distinguishing quality of the late President, and which made him justly the hope of the nation, was his singular honesty. That he was eminently an honest man, may be asserted in any presence, without the fear of successful contradiction. In all the lying lampoons invented against him during the heat of his first and second presidential campaigns, I do not remember to have seen any question even, of his uprightness. Though engaged the greater part of his life in a profession easily perverted to dishonesty, all the testimonies that have ever reached my eyes and ears, unite in declaring him to have been upright, if not to a fault, at least to his loss. Instance's could be produced, in which he discouraged litigation on the part of his clients, at the expense of profitable employment. Truly, if an honest man is the noblest work of God, the dispassionate judgment of mankind will
And if he had honesty as a citizen, he had integrity as a ruler. In all his official acts he showed most praiseworthy disinterestedness. I am not aware that he has been charged with corruption even by his most irresponsible detractors. And if such accusations have been preferred, I am sure they have not been accredited by any, at all acquainted with his character and conduct. We can almost as well conceive of his plunging a dagger into the nation's heart, as trafficking in the nation's necessities. And as he most rigidly avoided all bribes, so he ever shunned private partialities and party cabals. Whatever may be imputed to others high in position, it cannot be charged against President Lincoln, that he was influenced in the performance of the duties of his office, by considerations either of person, pelf, or power. No man among his illustrious predecessors, directed the affairs of state with less regard to self, and his name will live in history as that of a man of unimpeachable integrity. No marvel that from such a character the country derived high expectation.
Another eminent quality of the lamented dead, which made him so largely the nation's delight and dependence, was his broad-hearted benevolence. Indeed, he was by common consent kind to a fault; and it may well be questioned whether to his overflow-
The only other prominent characteristic of President Lincoln which I can, on the present occasion, notice, and which made him the hope of the country, was his dependence on Almighty God. I do not mean positively to assert that he was a man of piety; although from testimony, direct and indirect, I have, months since, been led to believe him to be a Christian. Such, too, it is asserted on evidence which cannot be questioned, was his own hope. In answer to the inquiry, propounded by a clergyman on behalf of himself and others, whether he loved the Lord Jesus Christ, he is reported to have replied--"I trust I can say I do;" and to have dated his saving change from the solemn scene of the consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. And while my heart bleeds most at the thought that he should have received the fatal blow within the walls of a theatre, yet when I remember that he was drawn thither reluctantly, and from his characteristic kindly desire to mitigate the disappointment of the crowd collected in promise of the presence of the absent Lieutenant-General, I find it not impossible to think of him among the blood-bought throng of martyrs--himself a martyr in one of the holiest causes that ever demanded the sacrifice of
But should we yield to discouragement and despair, because of this dark dispensation? NO, NO, NO. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God." Though the human arm on which we fondly leaned has been paralyzed in death, the God who gave us ABRAHAM LINCOLN still lives. That God who has led us thus far through our Red Sea of blood, still reigns secure and supreme on the throne of the universe, doing his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. And let us remember that it is He who has destroyed the nation's hope. Not chance, not fatality, not the malignity even of the miserable murderer, on whose memory will fall the maledictions of mankind, and who will be inevitably doomed to an immortality of infamy: but God has done this deed. And let us believe that he has dealt with us in mercy. Let us rest confident that there is light in this dark dispensation.
"Good, when he gives, supremely good,
Nor less when he denies;
E'en crosses, from his sovereign hand,
Are blessings in disguise."
It is his province and prerogative to bring good out of evil; and how often has he turned the gloomi-
Besides, is it not possible that the overflowing love of our late President would have made concessions to rebels, calculated to imperil the peace and safety of the nation, and to tarnish the fair fame with which he will now descend to posterity? Is it not probable that the very humane policy he desired so much to inaugurate, would have proved prejudicial to the perpetuity of union and liberty, and that it was necessary that one, fresh from hand-to-hand grapple with treason, and familiar with its fiendish spirit, should be placed in power, so to punish rebellion, that it should never again raise its accursed head in the land? Is it not reasonable to suppose that God, having shielded the life of our loved President from the long meditated blow of his murderer, until he had finished the particular work for which he was fitted, until he had seen the banner of the Union elevated in triumph over both the cradle and the capital of secession, took him up to the higher duties and delights of the heavenly world,
There is then no reason for despair, or despondency, or even discouragement, because of this seemingly dark dispensation. On this black cloud we may already behold the rainbow of promise. Let us only persevere in "loosing the bands of wickedness, in undoing heavy burdens, letting the oppressed go free, in breaking every yoke, in feeding the hungry and covering the naked,"and then, as God is true, "our light shall break forth as the morning, and our health shall spring forth speedily, and our righteousness shall go before us, and the glory of the Lord shall be our rereward."