the Death of Abraham Lincoln, Tousey, Thomas, April 19th, 1865,
Presbyterian Church, Palmyra, N. Y..
ON THE DEATH OF
Preached at the Presbyterian Church, Palmyra, N. Y.
April 19th, 1865, by
REV. THOMAS TOUSEY,
PASTOR OF M.E. CHURCH.
PUBLISHED BY REQUEST.
ROCHESTER, N. Y.
C. D. TRACY & CO., PRINTERS, EVENING EXPRESS OFFICE.
THE JOY OF OUR HEART IS CEASED-OUR DANCE IS TURNED INTO MOURNING. THE, CROWN IS FALLEN FROM OUR HEAD. WOE UNTO US THAT WE HAVE SINNED! FOR THIS OUR HEART IS FAINT FOR THESE THINGS OUR EYES ARE DIM.-Lamentations 5: 15-17.
The Bible is a wonderful book. It is God's book and man's book. God made it and man made it. Just as Christ is verily God and verily man, so every word is verily divine and verily human. It came not to us ready written with an angel's plume, but with reeds from the Jordan, inspired of God, committed to the parchment by man, and thus we have not only the thoughts and mind of God, and those grand and wonderful ideas that span eternity, but the emotions, experiences, perplexities, anxieties, doubts, and oppressive sorrows of men, beautifully blended in majestic appeal, stern denunciation, overflowing tenderness, or melodious woe.
It appears to me that these words were inspired and given to us for this very occasion-so appropriately do they describe our condition and express what seems to me to be the emotions of every heart. "One would think," says Dr. South, " that every letter was written with a tear every word the sound of a breaking heart; that the author was compacted of sorrows, disciplined to grief-one who never breathed but in sighs, nor spoke but in a groan.
The great design of this sacred poem was to teach the suffering Jews the proper medium between obdurate insensibility and rebellious despondency under their calamities; to lead them to consider God as the righteous author, and sin as the deserving cause of their suffering-to call them to the exercise of submission, repentance, faith and prayer; to show them the way of finding support under every trial and benefit from it; to inspire them with abhorrence of those crimes which had involved them in such complicated miseries, and with hopes of ultimate deliverance through the mercy of God.
A like object seems befitting a minister of God at such a time as this. It is no part of his duty to flatter the pride or quiet the consciences of godless men. Nor is he at
God has two modes of revealing his will to men-one by a written, the other by an unwritten revelation. The former we call his Word the latter his Providence. Our text to day is taken from both these volumes, and if we speak as the Word of God and as the Providence of God speak, what think you must be the character of the discourse? We have only to look around us to see the theme which Providence has selected for us. The tears and sighs of the loyal men, women and children of a great nation--the banners mourning at half mast--the churches decked with the weeds of unaffected sorrow--even the private dwellings clad in the habiliments of mourning and woe--the melancholy countenances of all classes in society-these are our text to day.
But yesterday we were electrified with joy. The proud, defiant, strongly fortified city, where treason walked and swaggered in her boasted strength and security-the capital of the so-called Southern Confederacy-had yielded to the pressure of the armies of freedom, and loyal feet had pressed and purified the, soil which had been polluted by traitors. The flying foe were pursued by the nation's chosen general and his brave subordinates and soldiers, day after day, with untiring tenacity and perseverance, until the great rebel
As the cheering news sped on the wings of lightning, in the still hour of night, a slumbering nation sprung to its feet in such transports of joy as is seldom the lot of mortals to experience. The booming cannon, the pealing bells, the exultant and almost frantic shouts of millions of glad voices were a faint expression of the gladness that thrilled every loyal heart and beamed from every loyal eye. Mothers pressed their children to their bosoms with a new and strange rapture-children danced and sang for joy--fathers wept, shouted and praised God-old men were inspired with the elasticity of boyhood's days--young men and maidens were wild with the prevailing excitement. Bonfires were kindled-cities and villages, hamlets and private dwellings were illuminated-the glorious Old Flag floated from millions of spars, church--steeples and dwellings, and the breezes of heaven seemed to kiss it with unwonted fervor. A day like that was never known in this land before. None, save here and there a son of treason or a daughter of rebellion (the Lord pity them), thought the demonstrations extravagant or wished them less. Each felt that they were but faint expressions of the joy and gratitude demanded of a disinthralled and regenerated nation The night--the long dark night had passed away. The glorious morning had dawned. The sun in full-orbed glory sprung to the mid-heaven, and his beams flashed light into every darkened cell. Treason was dead, and her demon sister, Slavery, had ceased to breathe. For four long years we had struggled, and fought, and bled, and watched, and
"Oh these were hours when thrilling joy repaid
A long, long course of darkness, doubts and fears;
The heart-sick faintness of the hope delayed-
The waste, the woe, the bloodshed and the tears
That tracked with terror previous rolling years-
All was forgot in that blithe jubilee.
Her downcast eye even pale Affliction rears,
To sigh a thankful prayer amid the glee
That hailed the traitor's fall, and peace and liberty."
Scarce bad the song of rejoicing died away ere we were again startled from our slumbers by another message borne upon the flashing wires. But oh, how different its character! How different the emotions it excited! ABRAHAM LINCOLN is dead! Fallen by the hand of a foul assassin! Never was transition from excessive joy to grief untold, so sudden. Never before did the heart of the nation struggle with such throes of agony. Agony, that is the word-agony unexpressed and inexpressible-agony unrelieved and unrelievable by any earthly power. Men were paralyzed. Grief, horror, indignation, despair, seemed depicted on every countenance. They held high carnival in every breast. Business was almost involuntarily suspended. The relish for trade was gone. Even young children wept as though their hearts would break, and tears flowed freely from eyes unused to weep. Mourning, lamentation and woe, spread a funeral pall over a stricken nation. The
Nor are these evidences of almost frantic grief unwarranted. We had learned to love and trust ABRAHAM LINCOLN as we have loved and trusted no man since the days of GEORGE WASHINGTON. Called from comparative obscurity by the suffrages of a free people, he assumed the duties of Chief Magistrate at a time of unprecedented peril to our nation. Foul treason stalked defiantly through the nation's capital. That "mystery of iniquity" had been working until it had culminated in a bold and determined attempt to overthrow our government and destroy our glorious Union. With plans long studied and well matured-with an unity of purpose, zeal and devotion, worthy a better cause, the leaders and abettors of treason counted on a short struggle or no struggle at all, and an easy triumph. All was confusion, worse confounded. Men high in authority had joined in the conspiracy.
I need not trace the history of those dark and tumultuous days. It is written with fearful distinctness on our memory. We have hardly yet recovered from the horror and amazement, which almost froze the vital current of the nation, and settled in sullen gloom and despair upon every countenance. ABRAHAM LINCOLN appeared upon the scene
Oh, how did such devout language recall the memory of those godly men of old, who by faith and prayer, " subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Courage inspired the heart of the nation. It breathed easier. Through the darkness and storms along our dangerous way-over mountains steep and rugged, and bare-under God, he has led us in safety during the four years of unparalleled anxiety, through which we have just passed.
I have neither time, ability, nor heart to attempt a sketch of his character, or to write his eulogy. I believe he was raised up for the duties and responsibilities of his day by the same hand which is so clearly visible in all the past of our history-that in answer to the prayers and supplications
But it is comparatively easy to recognize God's hand in events that are past, and results that are known. It is in times like these, when "He removeth the mountains and they know not when He overturneth them in His anger--when He shaketh the earth out of her place and the pillars thereof tremble--when He commandeth the sun, and it riseth not and sealeth up the stars, "that we sigh and struggle in our bewilderment; that "He goeth by us and we see Him not--He passeth on, also, and we perceive Him not." We are prone to regard favors and blessings as coming from God, while we forget that calamities and judgments are from the same infinite source.
The great comprehensive lesson taught throughout the Word of God, written in flaming capitals on every event of Providence, and reiterated by the million voices of past history, is, that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Far back in the annals of time, He distinctly announced His determination to reduce men and nations to a practical acknowledgment of His supremacy, and all along the track of ages past, He has erected monuments, more enduring than brass or marble, and on them re-written this determination. Still with many, even in Christian lands, this doctrine is a mere "theoretic abstraction, a soulless idea, judged to be necessary, perhaps, to complete the symmetry
The same great principles which have governed His administration in ages past, govern Him still. They are changeless-eternal. It is not difficult then to trace substantially the line of consequences which must result from any given course pursued by any people. "Woe unto us, that we have sinned", is the inspired rule which connects cause and effect, and binds them together with the chains of God's omnipotence. In case of continual sin and impeni-
For years past it has required no prophet's ken to discover unmistakable indications of the gathering storm which has swept the land with such wide wasting ruin. Any one who had any just conception of God as a Ruler and Judge, who has declared that He "will be exalted in the earth,"
We had no excuse for thus denying and insulting God. From the first He has watched over us with more than parental solicitude. He has rocked us in the cradle of blessings and nursed us on the bosom of piety. Amid the storm of elements, the howling wilderness, the savage foe, what could have saved us from extinction but the hand of God? And when for seven long years we tracked our way to liberty with bleeding feet was not God our Friend? Did He not set the day-star of freedom on the brow of the firmament to cheer our desolate spirits? And when we were permitted to repose on the basis of a free constitution, enjoy privileges bought with blood, and a prosperity which contrasted strongly with the afflictions of our youth, was lit honorable in us to forget we were children of Providence,
Nor is it at all strange or any departure from God's ancient ways that the punishment due for the accumulated guilt of three-quarters of a century should be meted out to us in the untold horrors of the past four years of bloody, fratricidal war. If His retributions on nations were equally distributed along the years of their sin, they might pass wholly unobserved, just as His electricity in the heavens, while evenly. diffused, attracts no attention. It is only when He gathers it up in His thunderbolts and hurls them from His Almighty hand, that men tremble and stand in awe before. His appalling majesty and power. So the terrible enormity, the deep and damning guilt of American slavery could never have been fully realized, or the glaring crime adequately atoned for, or the heart of the nation. sufficiently aroused to wipe out the foul stain upon her
President LINCOLN came to see this. His clear, penetrating mind-his great and noble heart, were intent upon the study of the foundation principles of God's administration, until he grasped the mighty truth, and it opened with celestial clearness to his vision. The turning point in the history of his administration-the pivot on which the destiny of the nation hung suspended-the great crowning act of his life, which will go down to future ages, as the brightest spot in American history-was when he planted his feet on the eternal rock of God's immutable justice, and proclaimed Liberty through all the land to all the inhabitants thereof! From that day anew life has inspirited the nation. From that day the armies of the Union have been, in the main, victorious. From that day the power of treason, has waned, until scarcely a vestige remains to oppose the cohorts of freedom.
The last Inaugural of our lamented Chief Magistrate sounds marvellously like the utterances of those holy men of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. We seem, while reading it, to be listening to the voice of Isaiah or Jeremiah as, they uttered the mind of God to his ancient people:-"The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence, cometh.' We may suppose that American slavery is one of these offences, which in the Providence of God must needs come, but which, having continued through
These thoughts and words will live forever, for they are God's thoughts and many of them His words. They ought to be written with the point of a diamond on the heart of the American people. Encircled with a halo of glory they should be inscribed among the stars of our country's banner. They will be quoted with reverence when the men of this generation are dead, and read with rapture by millions yet unborn. From the hut of poverty--from the palace of wealth--from the gloomy dungeon-from the hall of justice--by the oppressed and down-trodden--by the free and
We have lost not only a wise, sagacious, God-fearing ruler, but a personal friend! ABRAHAM LINCOLN was the friend of humanity--"the friend of God." He was your friend. He was my friend. Color did not exclude from his presence or kindly offices. Poverty was no bar even to intimacy with him. One of the people, he did not suffer the dignities of official station to dim the finer qualities of the man, the friend, the Christian. I doubt whether the heart of any loyal man in the land would suffer greater anguish at the death of the dearest personal friend, than it suffers to day.
But in our grief that such a man is dead, we should not forget to be grateful to God that such a man has lived. As God raised up Moses to be the great leader and deliverer, of his people, Israel, so he raised up ABRAHAM LINCOLN to guide our ship of state over the stormy sea of political strife, and through the terrible breakers of secession and civil war to the quiet and safe harbor of peace, union. and liberty. Let us not forget that He gave us such a man, at
But who has done this deed? Not Booth, wretch and miscreant that he is-not he alone. He only gave expression to a spirit deeper, darker-more nearly allied to hell than even murder or assassination-the spirit of slavery, secession, and treason! The aggregations of every thing false, criminal, malignant, devilish-as exemplified in the brief history of the Southern Confederacy. A darker page than ever before disgraced the annals of time must now be, added to the world's history. The barbarism of the darkest ages and of the lowest and most degraded savages appears almost humane in comparison. With a pen dipped in the burning lake, and a scroll of infamy plucked from the centre of Pandemonium should the dark record be written. Would that for humanity's sake it could be blotted forever from the memory of men or God. But there it stands, and will stand, black with inconceivable infamy and covered with untold horrors. This cowardly assassination is only one of a long catalogue of crimes instigated by this diabolical spirit. ABRAHAM LINCOLN is only another martyr to the cause of freedom, and another victim of this foul conspiracy against God and humanity.
What else could be expected from a class of fiends in human shape? I will not call them men, who have for years past rioted in wealth, wrought from the tears, groans, sighs, blood, and outraged virtue of their fellow-man-who have been schooled in lowest vice, and educated in blackest
And now, that the rebellion is substantially crushed--now that the war is practically over--what shall be our treatment of the authors and leaders of, the rebellion--the murderers of our noble President? Shall a weak, dangerous and wicked leniency prevail? Shall they be flattered, feted, lionized, and welcomed back to the privileges and immunities of citizenship, like "erring brethren" who have only been guilty of a little indiscretion under the heat of passion? Let the earth, red with the blood of patriots, answer. Let the million broken hearts all over the land answer. Let the voiceless graves of our brave sons, husbands and fathers answer. Let the cold, silent form of our murdered President answer. Let the spirits of those ancient worthies who fought, and bled, and died to bequeath to us this glorious heritage of freedom answer. Nay! let mercy, humanity, justice, GOD, answer.
If I mistake not, here is our chief peril now. It is not safe to trust men guilty of murder and treason for devils are devils still in hell or heaven. When God shall welcome Satan back to heaven, then it may be safe; but not till then! When nature's laws can be broken and the offender escape the penalty--when the eternal principles of mercy and
Generations past and generations to come, will hold us accountable for a strict, a firm, and a righteous policy towards these engineers of the darkest plot against human happiness that any age or any clime has witnessed. A grand license will be taken out. by all the ring-leaders of ruffianism and anarchy the world over, if they are allowed to infer from our policy in this crisis, that the failure of' their nefarious plans may involve but a few of their subordinates in ruin, while the leaders get off safely in a sort of magnificent haze of daring criminality. Interests too vast and far-reaching are pending; principles too high and sacred are involved to admit of a policy so certainly ruinous. It cannot, must not, shall not be. Our fathers from behind admonish us with their anxious, paternal voices. Posterity calls to us from the bosom of the future. The world turns hither with its solicitous eyes. All, all conjure us, by all that is dear and sacred in the past; by all that is hopeful and inspiring in the future, and by all that is high and holy in principle, to act wisely, firmly, justly, ill matters so momentous.
When the startling news of this terrible calamity first fell upon my ear, I said the American people will yet learn that treason is a crime. I have seen no reason yet to alter or amend that opinion. There was danger before. We were "losing a just appreciation of the awful crimes of this rebellion." It seemed doubtful whether Gen. GRANT or
The blood of the martyrs has ever been the seed of the church and the blood of martyred freemen--of martyred LINCOLN--will generate a host of earnest patriots that can not be trifled with. I have not the faintest idea, nor is there, in my opinion, the slightest foundation for the assumption that President LINCOLN would have favored the lenient, self-destroying policy of pardoning and restoring to citizenship leading traitors with their hands reeking in patriot gore. His past course contradicts such an assumption. He was too wise a statesman, too merciful and just a man, and too good a Christian, to pursue such a suicidal policy. He would never have done it, and in murdering him the rebellion has but heightened its guilt and accelerated its doom. As certain as the ordinances of heaven, and as swift as the lightnings of God, a just and righteous retribution shall overtake them.
Too well we know that "we can never secure indemnity for the past, for our wasted treasure and blood more precious than gold;" but by the help of God, we will "exact
I am happy to believe that such a policy will be pursued; and as a pledge of this, hear a few sentences from the last public speech of ANDREW JOHNSON, who now occupies the post of trust and responsibility, made vacant by the assassination of ABRAHAM LINCOLN. "When you ask me what I would do with such traitors, my reply is, I would arrest them. I would try them. I would convict them, and I would hang them. As humble as I am and have been, I have pursued but one undeviating course. All that I have, life, limb and property, have been put at the disposal of the country in this great struggle. I have been in camp, I have been in the field, I have been, everywhere where this
Brave words---and true, and just, and right! God bless ANDREW JOHNSON and preserve him to carry out to the fullest extent the policy thus indicated!
And now, my countrymen-under the impressive solemnities of this sad hour-amid the tears and sighs of a stricken nation--around the open grave of our murdered but glorified President--with the spirits of Washington,