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may turn to Him and put their trust in Him only. He visits his church, and selecting those who are as the pillars of the house of God, to whom Zion looks as to her great strength, puts them in the grave that He may be exalted, and in him alone may bis people trust. In like manner he invades the nation which has grown unmindful of him, frustrates its wisest counsels, disappoints its most sagacious anticipations, and removes its chosen helpers.
Let it not be set down as an arrogant and presumptous attempt to interpret the providence of God, when I remark, that (if a disposition to trust in ourselves characterizes us as a people,) then there has been a series of remarkable events in our recent history which appear to have been designed expressly for its rebuke and correction. I look back to a period less than ten years ago, and recount the consternation which pervaded this city,
-When the blessed seals
and thousands were withering, in a moment, before the breath of the great destroyer. Emphatically walking in darkness, as it did, evading the researches of science after its causes and its cure, it would seem that God intended that this visitation should be resolved into his own immediate agency, thereby teaching men their entire dependence on him for life, and breath, and all things. Did that religious feeling extend, and was it perpetuated as designed ? Was God recognized and adored in this terrible event as he should have been? A short interval elapsed, and the scourge again returned. Was it productive of the intended effect? Or was there an abounding atheism which provoked the displeasure of heaven? Not many months passed away and the hand of God was again visible in another form. The devouring element, gaining ascendency over man, consumed, in a single night, millions upon millions of wealth. A spectator of that terrible scene myself, and an observer of the dismay which, for a season, existed, I confess to you that the impression made on my mind of the criminal inattention to the hand of God, and the indomitable spirit of self-confidence and selfdependence which almost universally prevailed, is even now as painfully distinct in my recollection as are the terrors of that eventful night. It was hard to humble ourselves under the hand of God; and the elasticity of a self-confident spirit threw off the pressure, and went forth again in its own strength. Again did God assert his own supremacy, and bring to nought the counsels of the wise. Unexampled embarrassments perplexed all mercantile affairs, and men's hearts failed them from looking for the things which were to come to pass. And again it was hard to discern the agency of God in all this, and devoutly to recognize our constant dependence on him for stability of purpose and cer. tainty of success in the marts of business, in the relations of credit, and in the paths of the sea. Again was the spirit of self-confidence permitted to develope itself, we fear, with too much of a real disregard to the voice and providence of God. Various measures for relief were proposed and urged; divers opinions advanced; parties were formed; favorite schemes discussed; some looked to the right hand, and some to the left; some to this man, and others to that; but few, we fear, looked upward to Him from whom help cometh. And now, when the utmost wishes and hopes of the majority were accomplished, I hear a voice from heaven, saying, * Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils ; put not your trust in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth ; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help, whose hope is in the Lord God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is.”
The agency of God in the affairs of nations is as real as in the concerns of individuals, and never does a nation attain unto His favor, till this supreme authority is devoutly recognized in all that pertains to internal economy, to foreign relations, to the pursuits of business, and the enactment of laws. That people whom God intends to bless he will afflict, till every human dependence be forsaken, and the lesson be learned and practised, of an habitual acknowledgment of his presence, a strong confidence in his arm, and a careful obedience unto his commandments.
2. The tendency of that event we are now considering, I observe, in the next place, must be to rebuke and allay a prevailing spirit of party.
No one has been a calm observer of recent events without experiencing many sad regrets in view of the prevalence of this great evil, and many forebodings in reference to its probable issue. Am I required to define the lawful limits of party preferences, and demonstrate in what cases it is excessive and disastrous? I have only to reply in a word,--that spirit of party is evil, and only evil, which is superior to the claims of pure patriotism, and the expression of which is allied to passions selfish, vile and corrupt. It has been urged by some, as a serious objection to the morality of the New Testament, that it omits to inculcate patriotism as a specific virtue. How groundless the objection is will appear, when we consider that patriotism is included within the great law of love, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and soul, and thy neighbor as thyself; and that to have insisted on the practice of patriotism by itself might have been to erect that into an independent feeling, separate from the universal claims of christianity; a feeling which when thus divorced is always prone, as his. tory proves, to be excessive and ruinous.
Against life, and interest, and excitement even in relation to national affairs, religion has nothing to object; but a truly patriotic heart, animated by pure motives, swelling only with virtuous emotions, can bear to be heated through and through without the ebullition of one angry or sinful feeling. Compared with this rule of love, how alarmingly prevalent have been the evils of a party spirit. How much that was truthless; how inuch that was selfish; how much that was unkind; how much that was angry, alns! how much has been said and done, the whole spirit of which was opposed to the love of country and to the love of God. And now, when brethren of the same household, citizens of the same country, were well nigh intoxicated with this feeling; when all was eagerness and excitement, a ghastly figure enters the arena--it is death! He waves his skeleton arm, and all is still. What instructor is so impressive concerning the folly of strife as this speechless messenger ! Did you ever stand by the grave of one against whom you had in life been at enmity ? Was it not with a compunction of conscience that you looked down on the poor, helpless remnant of mortality, wondering how you could ever have quarrelled with a worm of the dust like yourself? How mean, how worthless, how unworthy appear those objects which party feeling has presented, in comparison with the sublime realities which death forces on the attention. What a great calm it brings over the agitated spirits of men. How it hushes noise-how it subdues excitement. I thank God that there are so many proofs that, before his own providence, party spirit has fallen prostrate, and that, in the presence of death, men are made to feel that they are brethren still. Let us hope that this effect may not be temporary or limited; but that a more conciliatory spirit, a spirit more consonant with the providences and word of God, may pervade the future counsels and conduct of this whole people.
3. Again, I observe that this dispensation of Providence was obviously intended to teach us the vanity of the world, the certainty of death, and the nearness of eternity.
In some respects the death of a king and a beggar are alike. The pains of dissolution are the same. The impotence of human aid are alike apparent. But in the effects produced on others by the decease of those whose circumstances are so dissimilar there is a difference. When death enters the cottage of the humble man, he teaches the sad lesson of human frailty but to few. When he invades a circle of wider relations, louder and more impressive are his monitions. But when, as now, he removes in an hour the most exalted in rank, God speaks therein unto a whole nation at once, saying, "all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The breath of man is in his nostrils, and wherein is he to be accounted of, at his best estate, but a frail, helpless, dying creature.” If death sometimes assumes the air of friendship, and is greeted with a melancholy welcome when he comes to the relief of the abject and the forlorn, true and terrible is his aspect to the eye of mortals, when he dims the lustre of rank, humbles the power and quenches the glory of life. Now is it that the world is taught, in a manner most impressive, that there is no exemption from the decree and power of the king of terrors. The lofty and the lowly, the rich and the poor, lie down together under his silent dominion.
It would be difficult to conceive of any combination of circumstances better adapted to impress a people with the vanity of all things earthly, than those in which death has now achieved his conquest. The individual who has fallen, occupied the very pinnacle of society. He had attained the utmost that a lawful ambition could desire ; and while his glory was yet fresh upon him, the destroyer came. Scarcely had the intelligence of his official installation reached our remoter States, ere his earthly career was finished, and his soul summoned to the bar of God. We look back a little more than a month ago, and read again the records of that day, and survey the scene of splendor und of joy, and hear the shouts of a great multitude; and while we look and listen, already it has faded away like a dream. Instead of a shout, is the dirge; instead of the joyous procession, is the funeral train, the bier, and the urn. The shadow of death has passed upon it all. Who can behold the contrast without feeling how vain, how empty, how evanescent the highest honors which the world can give! What a lesson is conveyed by this event, especially to those who are high in office, and who, from the very influences which beset them, may be supposed to be most in danger of putting far away the thought of their own mortality!
" The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth ere gave, " Await alike the inevitable hour;
" The paths of glory lead but to the grave.” God is speaking unto this nation, that it is appointed unto men once to die, and after death cometh the judgment! Eternity, with its amazing realities, is very near. Very soon and the vast throng which yesterday moved through these streets, will, without exception, have passed beyond the scenes which now occupy them, into eternity. What then will be to us the honors or the obscurities of life? What to him, who is now engrossed in the solemn concerns of the eternal world, is the voice of eulogy-the solemn pageant, and these habiliments of mourning ? Nothing are these to an immortal spirit. All, all on earth is shadow-that beyond is substance. And are no religious impressions to follow this public bereavement? Is it not a moment in which it may be expected that the thoughts of a whole nation would be turned to the life which is to come? Is the feeling which Providence has awakened to expend itself in forms and ceremonies ? or is it destined to introduce and extend a more serious attention to eternal things, and a more general practice of devout piety? Fortunate for his own fame as was the time of death with this distinguished individual, thrice fortu
nate will it prove if it shall appear to have been the means of conferring religious blessings on his countrymen. Should his untimely death be instrumental of giving a direction to the thoughts of this nation towards the truths of religion, greater benefits would thereby result, than could have followed the most prosperous administration of affairs.
4. There is one circumstance in connection with death which is very striking. It is the deep interest which is felt by survivors in the moral character of the departed. There is an eager inquisitiveness after the evidences of his preparation for death. There is an anxiety to know what was the conduct of the individual as he approached the confines of eternity. Did he show himself a christian? Did he express himself as being ready for the summons ? Did he leave testimony that it was all well with his soul? This remarkable fact, my hearers, is one mode in which the human conscience testifies to the wisdom and necessity of being well prepared to meet a holy God. This universal habit has been forcibly brought to my attention in the present instance. With the religious character of the deceased I am wholly unacquainted. Of this I am not to speak. If evidences existed of true piety in his heart and life, most sincerely do I rejoice, praising God. But the fact of which I now speak, is the importance which is attached, in the judgment of all, to any acts, any expressions which indicate a religious turn of mind. Every thing else appears to be lost sight of in the presence of death. When the officers of state made official announcement of his decease, nothing was judged to be of greater importance to be told, than that his death was “ calm and resigned.” The fact that on entering the national mansion he had purchased a “ Bible and Prayer-book," which, on the day of his interment, were placed beside his coffin-the fact that he signified to a religious attendant his purpose to connect himself with a christian church, on profession of his faith-why, my brethren, is so much interest attached to circumstances like these? Why do men, whether their own lives evince a regard to religion or not, speak of these facts as so very important ? They are published — they are reported—they are the theme of conversation and inquiry. The reason is, as I have already said, that there is in the bosom of every man the consciousness that true religion alone prepares any mortal to appear before the tribunal of God. Nothing is more common than for the most irreligious, when death invades the circle of their nearest companionships, to make mention, as a matter of satisfaction, of every look, and act, and sign of the deceased, which evinced a preparation, on his part, for the great change. Every thing else loses its importance. When was it ever known, in these christian times, that the amount of a man's possessions was inscribed on his tomb-stone? The bare suggestion of such a thing would be construed as a mockery of death, under whose denuding hand the rich man leaveth the world naked as he entered it. But