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time to time what was in my heart, and so uttered it, I trust, that the voice of your pulpit has given no "uncertain sound." I have meant only to bring the whole strength of this desk and of this church, so far as my position and poor abilities would allow, to the support of the cause of our country and humanity.
. A call now comes to me, my friends, to make other proof of this my ministry among you. I have spoken to you heretofore by words: I am now called to speak to you by an act. I am bidden to make that full proof of the sincerity of my utterances which only deeds can give. I have held up before you the beauty and the sublimity of sacrifice: I am now asked to bring my sacrifice to the altar.
This call does not come to me unexpectedly; nor do I answer it hastily, or in any narrow enthusiasm of the moment which shuts out a view of the many collateral questions and consequences it involves. I see all, and on all sides, just, I think, as you see, and more than any of you can see. Long foreseeing the probability of the call, my mind has been silently, and with full deliberation, preparing its answer; and, so seeing and so judging, there is but one course that conscience opens to me. My friends, this call is imperative: I must obey.
I would not make the matter too serious. There may be little service or sacrifice required,— perhaps the showing a readiness to obey will be all; and I am glad to see that the result of the military
draft is accepted in this community with such cheerfulness. Still, I wish there were a deeper feeling of seriousness beneath this good, but almost too jocose, cheer. Probably there is more than there seems. But I wish that our obligation to our country was more sacredly considered and revered, and that the whole question was decided more in the light of solemn duty. I wish that those whose names have been drawn were asking rather if they cannot go than seeking reasons for staying at home. There ought to be such a sentiment of patriotism in the community that the presumption would be that every drafted man would go, whereas the presumption now seems to be that he will stay at home if he can, and go only if he is obliged to. I should count it a much higher testimony to my own character and the value of my past preaching, if I were met with the remark, "Of course, you will
if you are allowed," than to be addressed, as I more frequently have been, "Of course, you will not think of going."
I assure you, my friends, I can think of nothing else. My words to you with regard to our duties to our country have expressed my sincere convictions. I have preached what I believed, and I still believe as I have preached, and what I have preached to others I have meant also for myself; and I could never come into this pulpit and utter again such words as I have spoken here - for they would then seem to me mere empty breath unless I obey, so far as I have the capacity, this call.
I do not know as I shall be pronounced physically worthy for the service into which the lot would take me, though I am aware of no defect that would legally exempt me, and sincerely hope that none may be found. I only wish this matter were beyond doubt. I have wanted since last Thursday, as never before, strength of body, and shall regard it with profound mortification if I shall be declared physically disabled for meeting this demand which my country makes upon me. I cannot at all understand the feeling which prompts so many men to search their bodies for some weakness or disease whereby they can escape this service to their country. I know very well that one physically incapacitated should not go as a soldier, and that patriotism sometimes may require that one abstain from going rather than to go and become a burden to the service. But how any one can exult if such incapacity be discovered in himself is what I cannot comprehend. Aside from the mean and craven nature of such a sentiment, a proper pride in the possession of a sound body should keep one from grovelling so low. How much nobler is the spirit of the drafted sailor, who, already in the sea service of the government, came before the examining board the other day with a certificate from some local physician, trumped up for him, probably, by his home friends, stating that he had an internal organic disease, but who, when the board found no disease, but, on the contrary, pronounced him a sound and perfectly
healthy man, exclaimed with exultation: "Good! But I shall go back to the service in which I now am, for I can serve better there; so here are my three hundred dollars, which I willingly pay for the sake of going back knowing that I am a sound man!" Young men, if your mothers should be assailed, would you exult because you were feeblebodied, and could not go to their defence? Our country is our mother; and shall we not pray for strong arms, in this her hour of peril, to defend her? I decide not for others; but for one I do so pray continually, and I shall use all possible means, between this day and the day of examination a month hence, to make myself physically worthy to answer her call. And, if accepted, I must go, go wherever and in whatever capacity the legally constituted authorities may place me, seeking for myself nothing that is not equally open to all, only trusting that, if there be any kind of service in which I may be more useful than another, it will in providential ways come to me.
And, if not accepted, if I shall be doomed to the mortification of physical unworthiness, I shall still feel that this call is a new voice of duty which I must in some way try to obey. In what shape I can respond to the demand I know not now; but I have for some time felt that I must get nearer to the heart of this national struggle, that I must enter more interiorly into the life of this hour of our national history, that I have done what I could by word, and must now make some fuller
and more personal proof of my ministry in this regard. And this call from the conscription wheel I accept as an intimation that another field of duty may be somewhere opening for me.
You say it is all accident, that the turn of a hair's breadth more might have drawn the next name instead of mine. True; and yet no accident happens to us which does not bring for us, if we listen, a divine message. And this is the message that this so-called accident brings to me: "Make full proof of thy ministry." I have spoken to you so much by words that I feel that my words have lost their power, at least that my absence, in some service to which the nation calls, would now speak more forcibly than my presence for the truths which I have endeavored to uphold.
I know what may be rising in your hearts to be uttered, and what many have already said to me,that there is a certain fitness of abilities to be considered, and that I can do better service here than in any other position, particularly in a military position. I accept gratefully this evidence of your favor and regard, and readily acknowledge that considerations of this kind are to receive attention. But we must be careful not to allow them too much weight. So long as the question was concerning the raising of a volunteer army, I have not felt called to any kind of military service. Neither by temperament, education, nor tastes, have I any special qualifications for it. I could consistently encourage those who had the qualifications to go,