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over the soul! How has covetousness robbed it of its godlike attributes! This is a sin which has pervaded the entire nation. “Covetousness," says the voice that never errs, "is idolatry.” To this idol we have as a nation paid willing homage. Like the Israelites at the foot of Sinai, we have, in the presence of a revealed God, set up and worshipped a golden calf. Can such a sin go unpunished? Has not God, as it were, broken up that golden image, ground it to powder, and made us drink of it to our sorrow? Are we not at this very moment reaping the bitter fruits of our idolatry? Oh yes, the accumulated treasures
, the golden stores were found to be but “the baseless fabric of a vision." Men were rich in imagination, but poor in reality. They had all the vice of avarice without any of its ordinary gains. How offensive must such a course have been to that Being who has said, “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon
earth .“ love not the world” “ye cannot serve God and mammon!” Fearfully has that displeasure been expressed. Look over the scene and see the wreck of human hopes which has followed. First came the panic and then the explosion. Every heart trembled as the fiery flood laid our merchant princes in the dust. Still the angel of retribution, though passing over the land, was not recognized by a suffering community. Instead of looking to God and their own desert of evil, men began to perplex themselves with the assignable causes of their embarrassments. They fell into a system of mutual distrust and recrimination. It was at length decided, that a great political change was requisite, in order to rebuild the dilapidated fortunes of the republic. This the people willed and effected. But it is admitted that in this change there was too little reference to the providence of God. Must we not so judge, in view of the marked interposition, which, amidst a nation's grief and disappointment, declares “that no flesh shall glory in his presence ?” In the personal character of our late chief magistrate, religion promised once more to grace our councils, and to shed her hallowed influence in the high places of power.
But it seems we were not yet prepared for so great a blessing. The hand of God had not been sufficiently acknowledged. We talked of human wisdom too much and of Divine wisdom too little. The qualifications of the high incumbent were of such acknowledged appropriateness, we were tempted to forget that he held his office by a higher power than the will of the people. The feeling, if it did not amount to official idolatry, was sufficient to exclude a practical-recognition of Divine Providence. Hence God has taught us, in this unlooked-for national affliction, that there is one to whom all power and wisdom are to be referred; and that “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes."
How this sad event may be viewed by others I cannot say; but for one, I am disposed to look upon it as a judgment of heaven for
our national sins. It has moral aspects which I trust will not be disregarded by this nation. It has a voice for the heart and the conscience, as well as for the speculating and restless mind. God intends, by this providence, to make himself heard. It speaks to to the sensibilities and the anxieties of millions. Here is not the death of an ordinary individual, filling a common sphere of life, and touching by his influence but a few minds and hearts. When such die, there is indeed a little sanctuary of the affections, within which their memory is fondly cherished; but they are neither missed nor mourned by the community at large. But what shall we say of a death like this ; which first enters the loved circle of home, crushing the hearts of affectionate relatives, and then takes in a wide range of personal friends, whose grief, if less in intensity, is not less sincere; and as the wave of sorrow rolls on, invades the hearts and disappoints the hopes of a nation of freemen? Is not this a judgment of God ?
Consider also the circumstances under which it came. The storm of political strife and turmoil, which kept the horizon darkened for so long a time, had rolled off ; and on the retiring clouds was seen the bow of promise, at which all eyes were willing to gaze. A man whom the people delighted to honor, was called by their suffrages to the most exalted and responsible station which they have it in their power to confer. The veteran soldier and statesman acceded to his country's wishes. He laid down the implements of husbandry and assumed the helm of state. He did it with the solemnity of one conscious that the voice of the people was, in this instance, the voice of God. It was too late for the stirrings of ambition. He trod too near the confines of another world to be elated by his elevation in this world. In his own language, he expected to end his days in peaceful seclusion on the banks of the Ohio. But he left that seclusion, under the impression that God and his country demanded his services in a wider sphere. Hence all his bearing, from the first announcement of his success, partook of that solemn and sublime spirit which bespoke a consciousness of high trusts committed to a dependent
ind. The situation of the country—its internal difficulties and its external perils, formed a crisis too eventful, too uncertain, to allow either of levity or of sanguine expectation. Accordingly he declared to us that he felt his dependence on God. He combined, as every man in his circumstances should do, the spirit of religion with the responsibilities and the dignity of office. It was a noble spectacle, when in presence of assembled thousands, and within hearing of the universe, he stood forth and did public homage to christianity, declaring that he felt bound on that occasion to profess his respect for religion, and his belief that its influence is necessary for the security of our institutions and the happiness of the people. That was indeed an auspicious day,
which saw our late chief magistrate taking the oath of office on the portico of our capitol! With the constitution of his country in one hand and the word of God in the other, he aeknowledged their mutual dependence, and swore fealty alike to patriotism and to religion. An unclouded sun shone upon that scene. Millions who were not permitted to witness it, imagined and felt with patriotic sympathy the sublime transaction. Yet how in one short month is that scene reversed! The athletie form--the beaming eye--the lofty mind, had passed away from earth, and left in the heart and soul of the nation a void, which it seemed vain to think of supplying. “It seems;”-in the language of the eloquent Hall on a similar occasion--" as if providence placed him on the pinnacle of society for the express purpose of rendering his fall the more conspicuous, and of convincing as many as are susceptible of conviction, that man in his best state is altogether vanity.” In view of all the circumstances, must not this event, I again ask, be viewed as a judgment of God? Is it not a sufficiently marked providence to justify, nay to demand this day of national humiliation ? Let the whole nation then go down upon their knees, and with one voice confess the accumulated guilt of ages. Shall this dark dispensation have in it more of mercy or of wrath? It is for us to say. It is for us to give it a character by our penitence or by our obduracy. The voice from heaven inquires over the grave of HARRISON, “Why should ye be stricken anymore ?”
In the third era of the human race, we as a nation have a part to act. It is not simply, as some would affirm, to show to Europeans our power of self-government. This is, indeed, a noble tribute which we hope to pay to freedom ; but even this tribute cannot be rendered, if we base not that freedom on religion. There is, however, a still higher part which, we trust, is to be enacted on this soil. The tree of life planted here two hundred years ago is to strike its roots so deep that its towering foliage shall overshadow the world. It is here to stand on its own eternal basis, nourished by no state patronage, but drawing its sap from “the fountain of living waters." " Its leaves are to be for the healing of the nations.” Is such the high destiny to which the providence of God calls us? We are incapable of fulfilling it until we are humbled. Let the nation be prostrated before God. Let us mark his band. Let us no longer seek for vain glory. Let us seek for peace--for rational liberty-for human happiness.
Ye men of influence and of power, our appeal is to you. The promptings of ambition must surely receive a check, as ye recur to the triumphs of death over strength, dignity and glory. That office which has been so suddenly vacated by his mandate, is in my view peerless among the dignities of earth. What an impressive lesson of the vanity of this world! How small when greatest, how weak when strongest does man appear! It is said of Massillon, when the mortal remains of his illustrious monarch lay before him in funeral state, that he looked down into the coffin from the high altar, and broke the awful stillness of the scene by these words "there is none truly great but God.” The sentiment was just, and the circumstances gave it weight. What is human glory but as the flower of the field, which flourisheth one moment and withereth the next. On a dying bed how contemptible a thing is fame! Edmund Burke exclaimed at the death of his only son, “What shadows we are, and what shadøws we pursue !" Yes, noble statesman, if thou speakest only of our earthly relations. But all is not shadow. The soul is not a shadow ; nor is its fearful retribution. Amid the shifting scenes of earth, there is something that endures. It is virtue-truth--piety-God. These are the stabilities of the universe. These live, when every thing else dies. It is the nature of these to be undecaying, eternal. Hence I commend to your chief pursuit, not the distinctions of earth however alluring in prospeet, for often they dazzle but to blind. They absorb without satisfying the soul. If you seek these alone; or if for these you set aside God and religion, you act the part of a profane Esau who sold his heavenly birth-right for a sensual dish. But if the grave of Harrison be not a sufficient lesson, go to that of Napoleon. The hero of a hundred battles reposing under the dome of the Invalids, illustrates both the strength and weakness, both the greatness and littleness of man. He ascended step by step the slippery height of power. He strode where others walked. His eagle eye sent its keen glance to the summit of universal dominion. But his lofty looks and his proud aspirations were the precursors of his ruin. So will it be with all who exalt themselves and who do not honor God. So will it be with our own nation, if she seek for any other glory or immortality but those which sacred truth shall sanction. We may strew our coasts with lines of defence-multiply our ships like Tarshish-boast of our mighty men, our tall cedars and our oaks of Bashan, all will be vain if God see fit to withdraw from us the wing of his protection. Religion then must be acknowledged, revered and obeyed. She must furnish us with motives, and preside as the conservative influence in our councils. She' must extinguish those lusts “from whence come wars and fightings." She must unbind the burden of the oppressed. Instead of being quoted as authority for the continuance of slavery, she must be allowed to dissolve its chain by her own sweet spirit of love. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”
The prospect for a sin-ruined world seems to me to brighten. The day of a false illuminism has passed by. Even France, the home of atheism, is turning her eyes upward in search of a God.
She has seen what it is to have a corrupt religion, and what it is to have no religion ; and God grant she may feel her way to the true liberty of the Gospel. As to our own country, a most auspicious event occurs this day in the solemn prostration of the nation before the King of kings. This surely betokens good for America and for the world. The thunderbolt strikes not the lowly but the lofty object. May the cloud of indignation pass over us with but one startling shock! That has riven our hearts, and laid a noble citizen in the dust. Yet in his case it was not an avenging but a gracious stroke. It took him, as we have reason to believe, from an earthly to a heavenly principality. The hero, the statesman sleeps, but the christian lives. Life is renewed at the fountain of life. Oh may his mantle be transmitted to his successors; and may we derive from his death a benefit, which, perhaps, in our ingratitude, we might have been unwilling to have acknowledged in his life, however devoted to his country's good! May this day's humiliation precede a return of the smiles of heaven, expressed in the revival of true religion—in a general respect for law and social order--in the diminution of partizan strife, and the prevalence of christian patriotism-in the suppression of intemperance, profaneness and infidelity! Then shall our nation, as with the predicted moral beauty of ancient Zion, "arise and shine, her light being come, and the glory of the Lord having risen
BY REV. J. B. WATERBURY, PASTOR OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, HUDSON, N. Y.
“ THE ISSUES OF THE FINAL JUDGMENT."
“And the books were opened.”—Rev. 20 : 12. Amidst much that is obscure, the Revelation of St. John presents occasional gleams of prophetic truths too plain to be misunderstood.
Towards the close, especially, the lurid clouds are gilded by a terrific brightness. The awful future is unveiled. Scenes of overwhelming grandeur come into view, as the destinies of an accountable universe are plainly foreshadowed. If critics are at a loss for a clue, amid the accumulated imagery of the central portions of this wonderful book, they must be all agreed as to the import of the close. Let any mind contemplate the chapter from which the text is taken, and it will be seen that the final conflict between the powers of light and darkness is to be followed by that closing act of the Divine administration, viz., the universal judgment.