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MATTHEW, IX: 15.
AND Jesus SAID UNTO THEM, CAN THE CHILDREN OF THB BRIDE-CHAMBER MOURN AS LONG AS THE BRIDEGROOM IS WITH THEM? But the Days WILL COME WHEN THE BRIDEGROOM SHALL BE TAKEN FROM THEM, AND THEN SHALL THEY FAST.
I QUOTED the first part of this text last Thursday, as a reason for turning the annual fast into a day of thanksgiving. They were used by the Saviour to show that it was not required of his disciples to mourn on joyous occasions, and we were then full of gladness. Sad looks would have been sheer hypocrisy. So universal was the feeling of gratitude for the recent victories of our armies, that it would have been inconsistent and unnatural on that day to have put on sackcloth and sat in ashes. It seemed more befitting to improve the day, as I believe it generally was improved, in songs of praise, and by the voice of melody. How little did any imagine that the occasion for sorrow, for appropriate fasting and universal weeping, was so near at hand!
So great was my joy on Thursday, that, as I then said, I did not feel in a sermon-like mood of mind, though religious considerations were never nearer, more vivid
and sublime, than then. They appeared, however, not in a mere clerical form, but as they presented themselves to the whole community, and I wanted to throw off professional restraint and speak out freely, as a citizen and a man; and so I went on, speaking from the heart, and you obviously responding with equal fulness of soul, of the great things the Lord had done for us; we were grateful and glad, and sang praises to the God of our fathers, who had defeated the enemy and broken the
But how soon has our joy been changed to sorrow! I feel that there is a leaden weight upon
How can I preach to-day? It would seem more natural to do as did our citizens yesterday, when news of the dreadful tragedy first came. They took one another by the hand, pressed it in silence, and
wept the grief they could not speak.” Oh, it is hard to think, and must I utter the unwelcome thought, that the President, the good President, is dead! that Abraham Lincoln, our Abraham Lincoln, whose name is fraught with so many endearing associations, is gone! He has been with us during all this war; the thought of him, his sagacity, his fidelity, his buoyant hope, has cheered us in seasons of despondency. We felt secure while he was at the helm, and were confident so long as he was not afraid. We leaned upon him as our stay and staff. Alas! and is the dear man to be with us no more! What familiar memories come sadly up at this hour! It is painful to think of pleasant things, his looks, his anecdotes, the way in which we called him, not disrespectfully, but lovingly, by his first name. He was one of us, a member of the family, a parent and
brother, toward whom reverence and love were sweetly intermingled, and must we part?
He has gone, too, at such a time! Just as the bright period long looked for had come, – the war ended, slavery dead, the rebellion put down, the long conflict
The good President, we thought, will now have some rest. He will need no disguise at Baltimore, no military guard at Washington.
He can rest upon
his laurels, and walk the streets when and where he pleases. Everybody will be his friend. No one, surely, will wish to hurt him, he is so kind-hearted himself. When did he ever knowingly harm anybody? It was a comfort to him, he said recently, that he had never said a word or done an act that was designed to inflict a wound upon any heart. Anger and revenge were no part of his nature. Like his Master, when reviled, he reviled not again, but committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
But while we are oppressed with bereavement, while a nation mourns, and the people are in tears at their loss, it is consoling to think that he is safe. He is where no sorrow can reach him. As you have just sung:
« No morta! woes Car reach the peaceful sleeper hcre, While angels guard his soft repose.”
He was a good man, a truly pious man: he did not wish to go to the theatre. The etiquette of public life required him, sometimes, to sacrifice his individual preferences ; besides, as General Grant had been adver