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for our country's triumph with our rejoicings for our Redeemer's victory, He has permitted our land to be shrouded with such a tragic gloom as even the radiance of the resurrection cannot wholly dispel. Alas! that the same loving hands which were preparing to grace this sacred altar with those simple but fragrant tokens of our Christian gratitude, should have been called, at the last moment, to entwine around them those drooping i emblems of our patriotic woe.
How mysterious are the ways of Providence ! The life which He had protected for four eventful years amidst a thousand dangers; the life which was dear, and every day becoming dearer to all who love our country; the life which, in human view, was most important to the nation's welfare; the life upon whose continuance, more than upon any other mortal pillar, we hung our hopes of a brighter era of justice and of peace; the life which the myriads who are coming out of bondage have daily commended with prayers and thanksgivings to God; the life which foreign nations, both friendly and jealous, were beginning to respect and honor ; the life which, in its peculiar way, was exerting an influence more powerful and extensive than that of any potentate of the old world; the life which legions of armed men stood ready to protect with their own, He has permitted a vile assassin's hand to destroy at one fell blow.
* Several ladies of the church had prepared a cross of “ Mayflowers” for the front of the pulpit, and a large basket of rich flowers for the communion-table, in honor of Easter Sunday. On hearing of the President's death they draped the pulpit with flags of the United States, dressed with mourning.
We are told in his holy oracles, that, without Him, not a sparrow falleth to the ground, nor a hair of His servants' heads can be harmed. But He has not interposed secret hand to shield that honored head from such an ignoble fate. We are told that He counts the tears of His children, and hears every sigh of the solitary sufferer. But He has not thwarted that murderous purpose which has flooded a nation with grief, and extorted a simultaneous wail of anguish from millions of wounded hearts.
Yes, His ways are indeed mysterious ! But who of us would question His wisdom or His mercy ? “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so are His thoughts higher than our thoughts." (nly because they are so exalted are they incomprehensible to us. The darkness which shrouds His plans is caused by their unfathomable depth. We fail to see His goodness, because His love is infinite.
What know we yet of the purposes of His providence in permitting this horrid crime? Who can tell us what consequences God may have foreseen would have resulted from the disappointment of that infernal design ? What consequences to the distinguished victim himself, and what to the nation and to humanity ? You must discover that secret before you begin to question His wisdom. Who can tell us that greater evil would not have accrued from the arrest, than from the execution of that satanic deed ? — greater evil to him whom we lament, to the people to whom he was so unselfishly devoted, and to the cause of those principles which, as he himself once said, were dearer to him than life, and which
ought to be dearer to us also than the life of any mortal, however honored and beloved. You must solve that problem, before you can begin to arraign His goodness. You must pry into the future, and foresee the results which will actually follow from this tragedy, the influence it is to have upon the course and welfare of the country, upon the settlement of the momentous questions that are opening before us, upon the feeling and action of the North and of the South, upon our domestic and foreign relations and policy, upon the great interests of justice, freedom, and Christian civilization, look forward and acquaint yourself with these things before you begin to murmur at what He has done, “ who seeth the end from the beginning."
Yes, His ways are mysterious, — dark, very dark, and awful, as we contemplate them amid these first pangs of bereavement. But not wholly dark even now. Already gleams of light flash upon us through the gloom. Already some tokens of loving kindness find their way to our hearts.
He who so reluctantly inaugurated the war of defence and retribution which treason had forced upon us; he who till the last moment cherished the delusive hope, offspring of his own generous nature, that his rebellious countrymen would relent; he who, through all the stages of the fierce conflict, in spite of the bitterness which it has engendered and the spirit of retaliation it has provoked, has invariably leaned to the side of forgiveness and mercy; he who, whatever errors he may be judged by any to have committed, has under God conducted the nation safely and honorably through i:s long path of
peril; he who, as the event has proved, was the providential man for the last four years, and whom we could not have spared during their progress without far worse disasters than any which have befallen us, he has been graciously preserved to rejoice with us all over those last victories which have vindicated the violated authori. ty of the nation; he has been spared to hear the shouts of our armies hailing the glorious issue which has crowned their valor, and repaid them for all their toils ; he has been spared to see the flag of the Union floating over the strongholds of rebellion; to contemplate near at hand the blessed prospect of peace; to meditate a proclamation of amnesty ; to consider with his Cabinet the terms of reconciliation, and to send abroad to foreign nations those significant messages which re-assert the suspended rights of the nation, and demand the unqualified recognition of its re-established dignity and power. In these providential favors, which come at once to remembrance, we should be ungrateful not to recognize the divine benignity, both to him and to us.
Moreover, we cannot but feel that he has died in a good time for himself; in a moment of joy, in an hour of hope and triumph, in the midst of peaceful and generous thoughts, while offering grateful aspirations to God, and devising acts of forgiveness and magnanimity towards man. Though the manner of his death is shocking to us, yet we should not forget that to him it was without a pang. Though we contemplate the vileness of the instrument with indignation and abhorrence, yet he himself had no suspicion of the malignity of
which he was the victim, and no feeling of revenge towards the murderer who hurried him to his rest.
Whether he has died also in a good time for his country and for us, remains yet to be revealed. That Providence designs this event for the ultimate good of the nation we will not, we cannot doubt. But of what nature that good may be, and in what ways it may be accomplished, only the future will disclose.
Perhaps it may be His holy purpose to subject us to yet new tribulations. Perhaps He sees that we have not improved as we ought the discipline which has been hitherto laid upon us. Perhaps He perceives that it is necessary that we should pass through yet another furnace of affliction before we shall have become purified like gold tried in the fire. Perhaps He has seen that we have trusted too much to an arm of flesh. Perhaps He knows that the awful lessons of the war have not sunk deep enough into our hearts; that ranity and pride, frivolity and luxury, intemperance and dishonesty, reckless speculation and greed of gain, immorality and ungodliness, have not been rebuked and abashed and awed as they ought to have been by His judgments, by the vast bereavements and calamities which have been visited upon us for our public and private sins. If such as these are among
purposes, and that they may be, the consciences of many must bear witness that there is too much cause for believing, — then it rests in no small measure with ourselves whether this sudden chastisement shall eventuate in our good. O my trymen, my countrymen! let us suffer ourselves to be implored and admonished, by all that is solemn and