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But there is other work for us than remembrance. We may not dwell always on the past. The exigencies of the country, the duties of patriotism, the calls to be faithful in the great struggle to which the nation has been summoned, and which is not yet ended, these abide ; and the national calamity over which we mourn should be in all our hearts a quickening incentive to persevering effort. “God buries his workmen, but carries on his work.” The individual dies, the generations pass; but the interests of humanity remain, and the nation continues. Abraham Lincoln is dead. Peace be to his memory, and immortal his fame. But the President of the United States still lives, the embodiment of the nation's life and power; and the first duty of patriotism now,—the duty to which this open grave around which the nation is standing gives a mighty emphasis,- is to gather around that President, and by the fresh, earnest, manly expression of our sympathy and confidence, give him strength and assurance for the high duties he is suddenly called to discharge. There is one dark hour, which he perhaps remembers with a keener sorrow than any of us. Is not a ray of light thrown upon that hour by recent events? What one conspirator accomplished by a fatal pistol-shot, may not another in another instance have attempted through the poisoner's drugs, so that an incident of the fourth of March last, especially when the subsequent illness and prostration are considered, ought in justice perhaps to be interpreted not as a personal fault, but the crime of others ? This is clear : we are not to confound an accident with a habit, and our first duty—the first duty of the nation is to let the new
President see that it remembers only, and recalls with grateful confidence, his undaunted loyalty, his noble efforts, his patriotic labors and sacrifices from the beginning of the war until now. As yet, he is to a certain extent an unknown quantity to us, as Abraham Lincoln was four years ago. It depends largely upon us, the people, to afford the elements that shall solve the problem, and determine what this unknown quantity is, its value and its power. Let the new President feel that he has the respect and confidence of the people, and it will help mightily to make him and keep him worthy of them. Let him feel that he has the respect and confidence of the people and it will be to him a great power, whereby to maintain the honor and glory, to secure the peace and prosperity of the nation.
In conclusion, my friends, let me urge you to a personal improvement of this solemn event. While it reveals to us the depths of wickedness and of moral madness into which the soul may be plunged, it gives an impressive emphasis to the injunction, “Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of Man cometh.” Of what awaits us beyond the present moment, we know with certainty but this one thing death. Exalted station, important services, noble usefulness, the charge of public trusts and interests of unspeakable magnitude, these nor aught else can avail to stay the hand or avert the blow of death. In his presence and before his power there is a stern and solemn equality of all men. All must die. But how, or when, or where? All inquiry is baffled, speculation' is vain, reasoning at fault. In apparent peril, we escape;
seemingly secure, we fall. The President at Richmond, we feared. It was an exposure, but a beautiful and touching drama. Returned to Washington, we breathe freely. He is safe. Nothing can touch him in the capital. But there, unannounced, with no foreshadowing, the destroyer met him; and, in a moment, of all that he had, and of all that he was, nothing is of importance to him, nothing stands him in stead now but his goodness of heart, the simple honesty of faith, through which he sought to do God's will and promote man's good. Our death, the death of any one of us, can never attract the attention, or be the great public event his was, but to ourselves personally it will be more important and solemn; and, like his, may come suddenly, when we least expect it. By holiness of heart and life, by consecration of ourselves through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ to great purposes for which he suffered and died, by a daily walk in the light of his truth and the culture of his spirit, let us be ever ready, so that life, if prolonged, may be noble, useful, holy; and death, when it comes, may be gain, - the gain of heaven and immortality.