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dom and justice was embraced in God's plans, would be shaped by his purposes; that he was only a humble instrument whose business it was to execute God's will. Without this faith, he would have hesitated oftentimes and faltered, but to falter was to fail and bring ruin and disaster upon the cause of his country.
Honesty, humility, industry, benevolence, and trust in God's providence—such were elements in the character which God, in his love and mercy, placed at the head of our nation in its trying hour. To him be the praise.
II. THE THEATER.
Mr. Lincoln's usefulness and his fame were almost wholly due to the practice of those principles and the exhibition of those traits which lead us to trust that he was a true Christian; yet he met his death in the box of a theater, a circumstance which was not only deeply humiliating and painful to those who loved and honored him most, but one which, by the force of example, is fraught with irreparable evil. As time passes away, and the faults and follies which are inseparable from human character fall from his name into forgetfulness, this fact, stead
fast as his fame, will be read and remembered. And yet this circumstance can scarcely be plead in honor of those houses of iniquity. The fact that the stage was selected for the scene of the foulest deed in the annals of crime, that the perpetrator was one of the most popular in the theatrical profession, and that his immediate accomplices were habitues of such places, are surely not facts to which any advocate of theaters can refer with complaisance.
The Christian will remember that, if Mr. Lincoln had boldly taken position with Christ's disciples, and consistently adhered to the precepts of the Gospel, he would not have died in the theater, and might not have fallen at all at the hand of an assassin.
We may charitably suppose that Mr. Lincoln visited the theater as a momentary relaxation of his overtaxed mind, as an opportunity to cast aside his cares and relieve himself from his anxieties. Why may not others do the same and remain innocent ? What evil is there in the gaslight, music, and pantomime of the stage ? Let us answer these questions briefly:
1. The playwrights who construct the fictions now displayed upon the stage are, without a solitary exception, enemies of our Lord and Savior, and hence at heart scoffers at piety; most of them have been open and profane revilers of pure religion ; many of them grossly immoral, sensual, and debauched. These traits exhibited in their lives permeate their productions, and are hidden, in part only, by a tawdry veil of mock morality. Are such writers fit instructors of those who wish to attain purity of mind and life?
2. The play-actors, men and women—who and what are they? It is sufficient to answer that the very
actor” and “ actress” have become the synonyms of immorality and vice. There are, it is true, exceptions. There are even those in whom a solitary virtue shines out with peculiar brightness, but these are exceptions. The rule is, that not only the moralities but the decencies of life are ignored and disregarded. Are such persons such as those who would avoid the misery and ruin of vicious courses should sit beneath and listen to ?
3. The surroundings of the theater—what are they ? Not a house of that kind in the world but casts its shadow and sustains by its influence a drinking saloon, a gambling den, and, more or less directly, other places not fit to be
named. Why are these avenues to destruction and death crowded, with open portals, close around the theater ? Because the entrance into the theater is the first step into their jaws. If fascinated by the false lights into the first, the steps are easily and almost certainly taken, by short gradations, into the others.
4. The pretense that the rewards of virtue and punishments of vice are exhibited there, is a sham as obvious as their tawdry costumes. No reasonable mind would pretend that such characters, in such a place, would seek to promote purity among the people. Their success in obtaining money is dependent upon, and inseparable from, their success in depraving and polluting the minds of their auditors.
5. The pleasure they offer by their displays is not worthy the name. The fact that it sickens and palls so quickly on the senses of even those who have succeeded in drowning their conscientious scruples against such exhibitions, is one reason why the deeper excitement of the saloon and the gaming-table is so quickly sought by its devotees.
6. The audience of the stage-of whom is it composed ? Not a thief, robber, gambler, burglar, or harlot can be found, in any city, who does not make the theater a place of regular resort. Without the patronage of the classes of most grossly immoral people, not one-fourth of these institutions could be sustained. The performances are, and must of necessity be, adapted to their tastes and preferences. Many respectable and moral people are found associated with them in witnessing the same exhibitions; but is such the company in which those who desire to honor God and win everlasting life would desire their Lord and Master to find them? Is it possible to plunge in such a pool without contamination ?
But from this sad chapter, this humiliating circumstance, let us turn away.
III. THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD.
In no chapter of the history of man was the sovereignty of God more clearly manifest than in the American civil war. It stood out so obvious as to attract the attention of the most stolid and unbelieving. As each inexplicable event, disaster, and defeat burst upon the country, the question seemed to rise involuntarily on every hand, “What are God's designs in this ?”