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lished. Men had for ages been the tools of despots, the many had been governed in the interest of the few, the world had groaned under the tyranny of courts and kings. But our fathers found their Magna Charta in the people's heart. The government they founded was in a wonderful accordance with the pattern of civil institutions which God showed to Moses in the mount. It was the wonder of the world. Such universal liberty under the supremest law—such equity combined with power-such harmo nious consent amid diverse opinions; nothing like it had been ever seen.
It was not strange that the thoughts of oppressed nations turned to it with a benediction for its influence and its example. It was not strange that the great tide of emigration rolled across the broad Atlantic, and poured itself upon our shores. It was not strange that the renown of this unparalleled achievement was an impulse to all men who struggled to be free. And now, after all this, we hear the verdict of opinion from the representative of European journalism, who is seeking to portray the aspect of affairs among us : " The great Republic is gone. The glory has departed from it. Its existence has not attained the limit of one century. The dream of enthusiasts, the fair illusion of the people, is a manifest and entire failure." Not so, thank God I but it is at stake. The great Republic, with all its precious freight of history, example, influence, and aid for struggling nations, is the prize for which the might of battle is enlisted. On! if it is worth a struggle to sustain the rights of man—to hold open wide the doors of refuge for the weary and oppressed—to stand forth in glorious example of free government before the admiring world, then it is imperative on us to be true to the traditions of our history, and meet this conflict in the strength of truth, of justice, and eternal right.
The last position in this view of the magnitude of this crisis is reached when we consider that this is a contest for the world and for all future ages. There are races and nations whose internal conflicts, or whose destruction from the earth, would have but lit. tle relation to the great hopes of the world. In their seclusion and littleness they may rise and fall, affecting by their various fortunes only their own territorial connections. But this can never be the case with this Republic. Its origin was so peculiar, its position is so central, its political institutions are so benignant, its religious privileges are so preëminent, that its decline and fall must send a thrill and shudder through every useful human institution, and the ruins of its glory must bar the path of progress for centuries to come. Especially let it be remembered that it is as the exponents of a fresh Christian civilization that this nation has acted on the world. A leavening influence has gone from it into the darkest regions, and the Gospel of the Son of God has moved on in its glorious course under the peculiar impulse which
came from the Christian missions of this land.
It is no exaggeration to affirm that, all things considered, the world's best interests and highest hopes depend more on the future of America than on any other earthly influence. These interests are being settled, in a large degree, by the results of this conflict, for our institutions and our nation's life. If Napoleon could say to his soldiers, as they fought beneath the Egyptian pyramids, “Soldiers, from those summits forty centuries look down upon you,” with more emphasis and more truth can we say: “Unto this field of strife, to which the might of a continent is marshaled, all living nations and all coming ages are looking." If we fail in this struggle—if the Government is broken and crushed—if barbarism and anarchy usurp the dominion—if treason and disloyalty succeed in their dreadful designs, the shock of our fall will be to the world what the fall of the sons of the morning was to the thrones and dominions of heaven—a result to be deplored through all coming ages, a beginning of woes which no tongue can describe and no thought can fathom. Well may men sing in solemn cadence:
“We are living, we are dwelling in a grand and awful time.” We turn from this view of the crisis to consider
2d. The Christian duty of the hour. To this point especially should the servant of God direct his speech, that all thoughts may be impelled towards it, to be aroused, not to angry passion, but to a calm and holy purpose which conscience may commend and God may visibly and gloriously bless. The inquiry, What are the duties of the hour? may be summed up in these points:
Firm loyalty to the Government is the first and most urgent obligation. No good citizen, no Christian man can be neutral in such an hour. We are to prove by our individual and united action, that this people can be as true to their constitutional rulers as other nations are to an anointed king. We are to prove that hosts of freemen, rallying at the call of government, can sustain it and defend it better than it can be defended by a standing army. We are to prove ourselves worthy of our institutions, of our lineage, of our sacred cause, by making sacrifice with cheerfulness, by rendering due reverence to those whom God has placed in stations of authority, by remaining true to the great interests which are at stake, amid all risks of life or treasure, through all disasters and opposition unto the end. Again
Another of the duties of the hour is, that we take especial pains to purge our hearts from the spirit of bitterness and wicked wrath while engaged in this most righteous struggle. Loyalty is not revenge. True courage does not revel in excesses and wanton violence. A holy cause should be sustained in righteous resolution. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord." I beseech you, brethren, frown upon and denounce every where the
utterance of those among us who would sully the honor of this cause by their malignant wrath, and would excite measures of aggression scarcely less reprehensible than the outrages which have provoked them. Let pity go hand in hand with strength in all this conflict, and the majesty of our power be only' equaled by the magnanimity of our gentleness. It would be for our lasting glory, as a nation, if in this strife we might overcome our antagonists even as Christ overcomes his enemies, subduing them utterly unto himself by the might of his arm, but taking them, when once subdued and penitent, into his very heart, restoring them unto the place from which they fell, and giving them the names of sons and daughters.
This conflict should be undertaken in the strength of God, and under his constant benediction. There need be no hesitation in our minds concerning the attitude of God in this field of strife. I speak with reverence, and yet with firm conviction, when I say that
every attribute of God, and every movement of his hand in human history, points clearly towards the integrity and justice of
If it were "conquest” that was intended, or “military subjugation," or the withholding of any right from our mistaken countrymen, we might well have our misgivings; but in a struggle for the maintenance of established government in an attempt to arrest the destructive tendencies of the hour, and to enthrone the majesty of law in every State and in every heart, there can be no doubt. The Lord of hosts is with us, and "if God be for us, who can be against us?” He is the great bulwark of our defense. In calm confidence in the certainty of his providence, in constant reliance on the power of prayer, and in the faithful discharge of every duty without fear of consequences, we shall be guided by the strength of God, and brought to a wise and happy deliverance from our troubles.
3d. I pass, finally, to an allusion merely to the firm grounds of confidence which stand out visibly before us. “ Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” That was a noble scene in Roman history, when, by the order of the Senate, the ground on which the Carthagenian army was encamped, right before the city.gate, was sold at auction, bringing readily the price at which it had always been valued. Never to despair of the Republic was a fundamental principle in that Roman state, and that unshaken confidence was a perpetual source of triumph. Far more may this be our possession.
For in this conflict the honest conscience of mankind is with us—the profoundest judgment of the world favors the maintenance of equal law; the binding obligations of oaths of allegiance; the right of the majority to rule; the preservation of a nation's natural boundaries and essential life; and the inherent and eternal obligation of a government to defend its being against wanton
and unprovoked destruction. The honest conscience of the world is with us on these points.
The progress of the world, the spirit of the age we live in, is with us too. The tendencies of the times are not towards narrow institutions, restricted intercourse, and lofty walls of demarkation. It is the nineteenth century of the acceptable year of the Lord, which the Saviour proclaimed in far Judea, bringing liberty to the oppressed, fraternity unto the warring nations, and the establishment of all human institutions on a broad and sacred basis. The blessed consummation is yet far away, but the world is moving towards it, and its progress will not permit this nation of the vanguard to take up a retreat towards the shades of anarchy or military despotism.
The providence of God is with us also, and it is our privilege and joy to note it. Why this uprising of the wrath of man has been permitted, it is not needful to inquire. God's hand is in.it, and in it for a purpose of mercy we may be sure. But that his providence is working for us mightily, the events of every day bear witness. It is his hand that has drawn the lines in this great struggle, so that the right and wrong are put in boldest conflict. It is his hand that has interposed once and again to thwart the counsels of wicked men. It is his hand that has touched the hearts of these rising millions, dissolving in a moment their former ties and thraldom to the call of parties, and drawing them around one honored standard which floats above the land the emblem of “the Union, the Constitution, and the Laws.” Let us discern his providence in this. Let us " thank God and take courage,” for he is the Lord of hosts. He may not grant us immediate deliverance. He may try our faith and patience by reverses, but one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; and it is a joy to feel that his great plan advances surely, that the day is bastening when they shall not hurt nor destroy in all his holy mountain.
It may come to pass that by his adjustment of this nation's strife, by the triumph of the rigħt, and the deliverance of the state, it may appear that he was hastening his work upon the earth, and through our toil and strife, preparing for the consummation of his earthly plan—for he shall work, and none shall hinder; his word shall shake the nations, and his truth shall be proclaimed until all hearts shall love it, and
"The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other; and the mountain-tops
NEW-YORK, May 13, 1861. REV. AND DEAR SIR:
We find a general and earnest desire prevailing with the members of your congregation, that the Discourse delivered by you yesterday morning should be published without delay.
Fully participating in this desire, we respectfully request that you will furnish us the manuscript, that we may have it published in pamphlet form for gratuitous distribution, believing that the dissemination of its evangelical and patriotic sentiments will be highly useful in the unbappy crisis in which our country is involved. With affection and respect, your friends, SAMUEL R. BETTS,
John W. QUINCY,
CHARLES A. DAVISON,
Wu. M. BLISS,
John P. CROSBY,
GEO. W. CLARKE.
Pastor of the Mercer-Street Presbyterian Church.
New-York, May 14, 1861. Hon. SAMUEL R. BETTS, JAMES BOORMAN, and others:
GENTLEMEN: In accordance with your request, a copy of the Sermon is herewith placed at your disposal. It was not prepared for publication, and, I fear, may not be altogether adapted to be put into print. I am glad, however, to be able to contribute, in any manner, to the support of patriotic and loyal feeling in this great crisis. Very respectfully yours,
ROBERT R. BOOTH.