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(title page) Our Cause in Harmony with the Purposes of God in Christ Jesus. A Sermon Preached in Christ Church, Savannah, on Thursday, September 18th, 1862, Being the Day Set Forth by the President of the Confederate States, as a Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, for our Manifold Victories, and Especially for the Fields of Manassas and Richmond, Ky.
Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott, D. D.
Savannah: Power Press of John M. Cooper, 1862.
Call number 4150 Conf. (Rare Book Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?"
PSALM II.: v.i.
SAVANNAH, SEPTEMBER 21st, 1862.
RIGHT REVEREND AND DEAR SIR:
We, the undersigned Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church, respectfully request of you for publication, a copy of the Sermon preached by you on Thanksgiving day,--Thursday, September 18th, inst.
In order that fanaticism and infidelity may be rebuked, and the cause of the Confederacy may be strengthened, we desire that the views presented in that sermon may be disseminated as widely as possible.
W. P. HUNTER, WM. H. CUYLER, ROBT. HABERSHAM, W. THORNE WILLIAMS, JOHN WILLIAMSON, GEORGE A. GORDON.
RT. REV'D STEPHEN ELLIOTT.
SAVANNAH, SEPT. 22d, 1862.
Messrs. WM. P. HUNTER, WM. H. CUYLER, Wardens, and Messrs. ROBT. HABERSHAM, W. THORNE WILLIAMS, JOHN WILLIAMSON and GEORGE A. GORDON, Vestrymen of Christ Church, Savannah.
Your's of yesterday requesting for publication a copy of the Sermon preached on Thanksgiving day, September 18th, 1862, was received this morning.
As I desire to see our cause placed upon its highest ground, I readily consent that my contribution to that end shall be submitted to the public consideration. Your approval of it confirms me in the soundness of my positions and renders me more secure of their justice and truth.
I am, with the highest consideration,
Very sincerely your Pastor and Bishop,
To the Clergy of the Diocese of Georgia.
Whereas the President of the Confederate States did, on the 4th day of September, issue his proclamation setting apart Thursday, the 18th day of September inst., as a day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for the great mercies vouchsafed to our people, and more especially for the triumph of our arms at Richmond and Manassas, in Virginia, and at Richmond, in Kentucky, and did invite the people of the Confederate States to meet on that day at their respective places of public worship, and to unite in rendering thanks and praise to God for these great mercies, and to implore him to conduct our country safely through the perils which surround us, to the final attainment of the blessings of peace and security.
Now, therefore, I, Stephen Elliott, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Georgia, do recommend to the Clergy of said Diocese, to open their several places of worship on Thursday, the said 18th day of September, and to unite with their congregations in thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God for all His mercies, and especially for our signal and manifold victories over the invaders of our country, according to the following form:
Morning Prayer as usual to the "Venite Exultemus." Instead of the "Venite," let the Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving after victory, to be found in the "Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea," and beginning "If the Lord had not been on our side, now may we say," be said or sung.
For the Psalter--Psalms 136, 144, 146.
GLORIA IN EXCELSIS.
First Lesson--2 Chronicles: Ch. 20 to V. 31.
THE TE DEUM.
Second Lesson--1 Timothy: Ch. 6 to V. 17.
Before the General Thanksgiving introduce the Collect for Victory, to be found in the "Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea," beginning "O, Almighty God, the Sovereign Commander of all the world," changing "this happy victory" into "these happy victories," and "this great mercy" into "these great mercies," wherever the words may occur.
Introduce, likewise, the "Collect for Peace and Deliverance from our Enemies," to be found among the occasional thanksgivings.
It not being a Litany day, the Litany will not be said. The Prayer set forth by the Bishop to be used during the continuance of the war, will also be omitted upon this occasion.
"Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:"
Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him and he turn away his wrath from him."
ON the 16th day of last May, in the moment of our bitterest adversity, when our honored Chief Magistrate had called the people of these Confederate States to supplication and prayer, at the close of the sermon preached upon that occasion, I was bold to utter the following sentiments:
"In my opinion the real troubles of our enemies are just about to begin. They find themselves now, with the heats and sickness of summer coming upon them, with the water courses preparing to dry up, with their armies in a hostile country far from their base of operation, in the face of determined and exasperated enemies, led by some of the best generals of the continent, with the wail of Europe beginning to swell upon the breeze, and their work not half done. Truly their position is one not to be envied; and in the midst of their exultation and feasting the handwriting is upon the wall of their palace. For a few weeks more their successes may seem to continue, but the summer's sun shall not have passed away, ere we shall find ourselves freed from their power, and rejoicing in present deliverance. And what is more, we shall be forced to confess that the Lord hath done it in the face of all the nations."
A few weeks after these utterances were made, commenced that series of victories which culminated on the 30th day of August, one day before the summer's sun had finished its course, in the battles of Manassas and Richmond, freeing us
from the power of our enemies, and causing us to be gathered together to-day, through all the wide extent of our Confederacy, that we may offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and of praise to Almighty God for our present deliverance.
I reproduce these words to-day, not to claim for myself any spirit of prophecy, but because the conclusions then enunciated were deduced, through a train of reasoning, from premises distinctly laid down in the word of God, and acted upon again and again in his dealings with the nations, and also because I desire to gain credit with you for opinions which I shall utter to-day, and which may be of vast importance to you in the future. When a man's judgment has been more than once strikingly confirmed, his views deserve attention and ought to receive it. And knowing how loth man is to admit God's hand in any of the affairs of the world--how set he is to rest altogether in secondary causes and secondary agencies--how he will move, if possible, in the lower atmosphere of sense and of worldliness, I would fortify myself, in this way, in behalf of ulterior conclusions, which I derive from the same infallible book of wisdom and of knowledge, the Holy Scriptures. To some they will prove unpalatable, because they will not smack of peace--to others they will seem visionary, because they will deal with spiritual influences which the world admits not into its calculations--by many they will be deemed humiliating, because they will rest our success and our security upon causes distinct from our own valor or wisdom or merit, but they appear to me to be in entire accordance with God's purposes, and to furnish adequate reasons for a condition of things which seems to the world inconsistent with the christian principles that ought to control this country and this people. My purpose is to justify the ways of God to man, even when those ways have been forced, by the blindness and perverseness of human nature, to pass through seas of blood and over the ruined and desolated hearthstones of multitude.
If the affairs of the world are regulated at all by God, we cannot suppose that the destiny of a great Christian nation,
such as these United States were, would be disregarded by him or unaffected by his control. It was rapidly becoming, at the moment when this civil convulsion began, a mighty power in the earth, a controlling element in the progress of the world. A century more would have made it not only the mightiest nation of modern times, but would have exalted it to an equality with the greatest Empires which have ever swayed the earth. Vast then must have been the interest which was permitted to shatter it while yet ascending to its greatness; heinous the sin which could deserve such a punishment as is now scourging it from its one ocean to the other. We can find that interest only in the institution of slavery which was the immediate cause of this revolution. We can find the sin only in that presumptuous interference with the will and ways of God, which, beginning in an overmuch righteousness, coalesced rapidly with infidelity, and ended in a bold defiance of the word of God, and of the principles of his moral government.
As the world draws towards its end, the hand of God becomes more visible in its affairs. Even in human arrangements where a scheme or a policy is complicated, ordinary men can understand but little of them in their beginning or during much of their progress. But when they draw near to their consummation, the purpose becomes more evident, the converging movements more perceptible, the final result more clear and determined. The last touches are those which harmonize the discordant features of the plan and pronounce it the work of a great and persistent mind. It can then be seen what was the meaning of each arrangement--what the intent of every act, however unintelligible when first they flashed upon the perception. And so with the mighty and sublime work of God upon earth. We cannot understand it as it progresses, because our finite minds cannot comprehend the policy of an infinite will. The Bible reveals to us what it is, tells us through what agencies it is to be produced, introduces us to the beings who are working it out, gives us a chart of the future as well as a history of the past, but nevertheless our
limited vision is embarrassed amid the complicate movements of the world, and the numberless causes which combine to produce a single effect. We perceive that it is going on; at long intervals of time we can trace backward its persistent though interrupted course, but we cannot conceive what the future steps are to be, nor how such confusion as often reigns upon earth can be tending to the production of an ultimate harmony. But as the period approaches when God's economy of grace is to be consummated, then are we permitted to gather up all the interlacing threads and to distinguish the glorious pattern which the Almighty Artist has been working out through the instruments which he is wielding, and has been wielding for ages. That work is the regeneration of a fallen world, and that regeneration is to be wrought out through the preaching of the gospel to every creature, through his opening all the Continents of the earth to the influence of the religion of Jesus Christ. When this shall have been accomplished, when the gospel shall have been preached as a witness to all the world, then will the end come, and Christ shall be set upon his Holy Hill of Zion.
If we examine the religious condition of the world, keeping this purpose in our view, we will perceive that paramount Christian influences are steadily at work every where else except in Africa. Europe is Christian in its entire length and breadth, that is, has had the gospel preached as a witness to all her various kingdoms and empires. America has been re-peopled altogether from Christian nations, and the cross is adored over all her wide area, save where the rapidly expiring Indian tribes yet break its continuity. England, France, and Russia are fast casting over Asia the spell of their vast political power, and the old worship of Brahma and the moral teachings of Confucius and the imposture of Mohammed are tottering to their fall. Australia is peopling under the auspices of Great Britain, and wherever she goes, her Church goes with her. Africa alone is uninfluenced by Christianity, and whence is that influence to proceed? 'Tis true, that here and there, along her outward limits, Christian Churches have
planted their feeble settlements, and Christian missionaries have devoted themselves in faith to the service of the Lord. But they have gone, for the most part, only to die, and have made no impression upon that vast interior which swarms with life and knows no religion save that of Nature, or the fraudulent devices of man. How, then, is that dark spot upon the world's surface to be enlightened? Who is to pierce those pestilential regions and preach the everlasting Gospel, even though it be only for a witness? And echo answers who? for all have attempted it, and all alike have failed. The self-denying missionaries of Rome --men who have gained a foothold in all other regions--have tried it, but have been swept away before the flood of barbarism and incivility. The highly educated missionaries of the English Church have tried it, and neither their knowledge, nor their devotion, nor the prestige of English power, have availed any thing against climate and disease. The indomitable missionaries of the Moravian Church have tried it until Sierra Leone has been a very Golgotha to them. The enterprising missionaries of the American Churches have tried it, and while their previous knowledge of the African in this country had, in a measure, prepared them their work, they too have failed, because the Caucasian blood has not been able to bear the enervating heats and destructive fevers of the torrid zone. Whence, then, is their regeneration to come, for come it must, if the Bible be the word of God, ere the present economy of things shall terminate? We are driven to look for it from some agency which shall able, through national affinities, through a like physiological structure, through a oneness of blood and of race, to bear the burden of this work, and ultimately, in God's own time, to plant the gospel in their Father-land, after they themselves shall have been prepared, through a proper discipline, for the performance of this duty. And I find this agency in the African slaves now dwelling upon this Continent and educating among ourselves. I see here the instruments whom God is preparing, in his own inscrutable way, to co-operate with the other instruments who
are at work upon the other Continents to bring in the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and it is this conviction, and not any merit in ourselves, which makes me confident that we shall be safely preserved through this conflict. Most of you are looking to other causes for our success and our preservation, to the valor of our troops, to the skill of our generals, to the extent of our territorial surface, to foreign influence, to the power of commerce and of trade. I am looking to the poor despised slave as the source of our security, because I firmly believe that God will not permit his purposes to be overthrown or his arrangements to be interfered with. He has caused the African race to be planted here under our political protection and under our christian nurture, for his own ultimate designs, and he will keep it here under that culture until the fulness of his own times, and any people which strives against this divine arrangement will find that it is running against the thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler. Those who have looked at slavery superficially, have permitted themselves to be moved away from scriptural decrees by such trivial things as are the necessary accompaniments of all bondage, and have rashly yielded to their sensibilities the conclusions which ought to be drawn exclusively from the word of God. They have passionately decided that God could have nothing to do with an institution bearing upon its face the evils and miseries which attend the enslavement of any people. They seem strangely to forget that he kept his own chosen people--the descendants after the flesh of that Abraham whom he called his friend--the children of that Jacob whom he surnamed a Prince with God--in bondage to Egypt for four hundred years, until they were disciplined to go forth and become a nation among the nations. What cared He, in his stern, unbending preparation of a people educating for divine ends and for immortal purposes, for such trivial things as slavery, as toil, as the sufferings of a subject race? There were they kept under the yoke until he saw fit to break it and to carry them, a humbled and prepared people, into the land which had been marked out for them as the scene of their
future glory--a glory of spiritual triumphs. Will man learn nothing from the past? Shall God unveil his purposes and his dealings to his sight, and will he forever turn away besotted and without perception? With this treatment by God of his own chosen people full in their view, with a clear perception of the necessity of a people, of African lineage, to be disciplined and educated for the work of the Lord, will Christian nations be yet so blinded by their passions, and so deceived by their sensibilities, as to combine to overturn a divine missionary scheme, and blot it out from the face of the earth? But it will be all in vain, and the Church of the future will see and confess that as Egypt was the land of refuge and the school of nurture for the race of Israel, so were these Southern States first the home and then the nursing mother of those who were to go forth and regenerate the dark recesses of a benighted Continent.
The great revolution through which we are passing certainly turns upon this point of slavery, and our future destiny is bound up with it. As we deal with it, so shall we prosper, or so shall we suffer. The responsibility is upon us, and if we rise up, in a true Christian temper, to the sublime work which God has committed to us of educating a subject nation for his divine purposes, we shall be blessed of him as Joseph was, and he will say to us, "Blessed of the Lord be thy land, for the precious things of Heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush." But if contrariwise, we shall misunderstand our relations and shall assume the dominion of masters without remembering the duties thereof, God will "make them pricks in our eyes and thorns in our sides, and shall vex us in the land wherein we dwell."
It is very curious and very striking, in this connexion, to trace out the history of slavery in this country, and to observe
God's providential care over it ever since its introduction. Strange to say, African slavery, upon this Continent, had its origin in an act of mercy. The negro was first brought across the ocean to save the Indian from a toil which was destroying him, but while the Indian has perished, the substitute who was brought to die in his place, has lived, prospered and multiplied. When the slave trade had become so hateful to all civilized nations, because of the horrors which accompanied it, that with one consent it was abolished and put under the ban of the world, that which was supposed to have dealt a fatal blow to slavery proved its salvation and rapid increase. The inability any longer to procure slaves through importation, forced upon masters in these States a greater attention to the comforts and morals of their slaves. The family relation was fostered, the marriage tie grew in importance, and the eight hundred thousand slaves who inhabited these States at the closing of our ports in 1808, have, in the short space of fifty years, grown into four millions! When slavery was once again endangered by the very scanty profits which were yielded to the planters by their old staples of indigo and rice, articles of only partial consumption, God permitted a new staple to be introduced--men called it an happy accident--the staple of cotton, which seems to have no limit to its consumption, and which cannot be increased too fast for the wants of the world. When the border States, which could not profitably grow this staple, were calculating the value of the slave institution for themselves, and were actually debating, in conventions, its speedy extinction, a sudden and unexpected value was given to their old staples of wheat and tobacco--men called it again an happy accident--and the slave rose once again into importance, and God used self-interest to check the disposition towards emancipation. When the false philanthropy of Europe was making many converts to its views, even in the Southern States, and earnest minds were deeply agitated upon the question of the sinfulness of slavery, God permitted a Christian nation to try the experiment of emancipation upon a small scale--to try it in the face of the world--and the wretched and ruinous
result of idleness, of dissipation, of anarchy which followed in the most fertile and beautiful Islands of the globe, satisfied our people that it was the veriest mistake ever made by a wise nation. When, in these still more recent times, the institution was denounced as unscriptural, and contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and the finger of scorn was pointed at us and we were unchurched for our adherence to it, and were called to bear the shock of opinion striking upon us from the christian world, such an host of writers from every department of literature sprang into the arena--statesmen, economists, philosophers, divines, as if raised up by God--and refuted those calumnies so overwhelmingly, that the public mind became settled to an unusual degree, and we were prepared to contend for it as for one of our most sacred domestic relations. God protected it at every point, made all assaults upon it to turn to its more permanent establishment, caused the laws of nature to work in its behalf, furnished new products to ensure its continuance and, at the same time, ameliorate its circumstances, made its bitterest antagonists to furnish arguments against its destruction, and raised up advocates who placed it, through reasoning drawn directly from the Bible, upon an impregnable basis of truth and necessity, connecting it, as we have shewn you, with sublime spiritual purposes in the future. And, finally, when the deeply-laid conspiracy of Black Republicanism threatened to undermine this divinely-guarded institution, God produced for its defence within the more Southern States an unanimity of sentiment, and a devoted spirit of self-sacrifice almost unexampled in the world and has so directed affairs as to discipline into a like sympathy those border States which were not at first prepared to risk a revolution in its defence.
We have been gathered together to-day by a proclamation of our President to return thanks to Almighty God for a series of brilliant victories won by our gallant soldiers over the invaders of our soil. Most fervently do we thank Him for his presence with us upon those fields of terrible conflict, for skill of our commanding generals, for the heroism of our officers of every grade, for the valour and self-sacrifice of our
soldiers, for the glorious results which have followed upon the success of our arms. Most devoutly do we praise and bless His holy name, this day, for the deliverance of our country from the polluting tread of the enemy and for the punishment which he has seen fit to inflict upon those who vainly boasted that they would devour us. We give all the glory to Him, while we cannot forget the living heroes whose inspired conrage led them triumphant over fields of desperate carnage, nor the martyred dead who have poured out the gushing tide of their young and noble life-blood for the sacred cause which carried them to the battle field. But battles, at last, even with all the dazzling halo which surrounds them, are but fields of slaughter, unless made illustrious by the principles which they involved or by the spirit which animated and ruled over them. The meeting of barbaric hordes upon fields of blood, of which history is full, where men fought with the instinct and ferocity of beasts, simply for hatred's sake or the love of war, is disgusting to the noble mind, and carries with it no idea save that of brutality. We could not thank God for victories such as those, and therefore, in keeping this Holy Festival our thankfulness must rest more upon the cause for which he has called us to arms, upon the spirit which has accompanied it, and upon the guardianship which he has established over us, than upon the mere triumphs of the battle field.
We do not place our cause upon its highest level until we grasp the idea that God has made us the guardians and champions of a people whom he is preparing for his own purposes and against whom the whole world is banded. The most solemn relation upon earth is that between parent and child, because in it immortal souls are committed to the training of man not only for time but for eternity. There is no measure to its sublimity, for it stretches upwards to the throne of God and links us with immortality. We tremble when we meditate upon it and cry for divine help when we weigh its responsibilities What shall we think, then, of the relation which subsists between a dominant race professing to believe in God
and to acknowledge Christ and a subject race, brought from their distant homes and placed under its charge for culture, for elevation and for salvation, and while so placed contributing by its labor to the welfare and comfort of the world. What a trust from God! What reliance has he placed upon our faithfulness and our integrity! What a sure confidence does it give us in his protection and favor! His divine arrangements are placed in our keeping. Will he not preserve them? His divine purposes seem to be intermingled with our success. Will he not be careful to give us that success and just in the way that he shall see to be best for us? His purposes are yea and amen in Christ Jesus and cannot be overturned by man. It places our warfare above any estimate which unspiritual minds can make of it. While many other motives are urging us to the battle-field and we rush forward to defend our liberties, our homes, our altars, God is super-adding this other motive--the secret of his own will--is making it to produce within us, unconsciously perhaps to ourselves, a power which is irresistible. Our conscience in this way is thus made right towards God and towards man; our heart is filled with his fear and his love; our arm is nerved with almost super-human strength, and we have reason to thank him, not only for what he has done for us, but for what he has restrained us from doing for ourselves and others from doing for us. This noble cause has made him our guide and our overruling governor, and we are moving forward, as I firmly believe, as truly under his direction, as did the people of Israel when he led them with a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.
Next to the cause in which we are engaged, we have to thank God for the spirit of our people and of our armies. Such a contest as this which we are waging could never have been carried on successfully without such an entire devotion as pervades the States of this confederacy. Although shut in from the rest of the world, and deprived of all our accustomed luxuries and many, even, of our comforts; although cut of from intercourse with those we love in foreign lands, many of whom are near and dear to us; although forbidden even to
know what is going on in science or literature or art, although stripped of all legitimate commerce and trade; although, in some of the professions, debarred from all business and all means of profit; although left with the ruling product of the country incapable of sale, save when a speculative demand within our own borders may arise for it, there is yet heard no murmur, no complaint, no disaffection, but all are willing to bear and to suffer for the cause's sake. God has given us a willing mind and we cheer each other on in faith and trustfulness. And not only to the sterner sex has God given this enduring temper, but the attitude of woman is sublime. Bearing all the sacrifices of which I have just spoken, she is moreover called upon to suffer in her affections, to be wounded and smitten where she feels deepest and most enduringly. Man goes to the battle-field but woman sends him there, even though her heart strings tremble while she gives the farewell kiss and the farewell blessing. Man is supported by the necessity of movement, by the excitement of action, by the hope of honor, by the glory of conquest. Woman remains at home to suffer, to bear the cruel torture of suspense, to tremble when the battle has been fought and the news of the slaughter is flashing over the electric wire, to know that defeat will cover her with dishonor and her little ones with ruin, to learn that the husband she doted upon, the son whom she cherished in her bosom and upon whom she never let the wind blow too rudely, the brother with whom she sported through all her happy days of childhood, the lover to whom her early vows were plighted, has died upon some distant battle-field and lies there a mangled corpse, unknown and uncared for, never to be seen again even in death. Oh! those fearful lists of the wounded and the dead! How carelessly we pass them over, unless our own loved ones happen to be linked with them in military association, and yet each name in that roll of slaughter carries a fatal pang to some woman's heart--some noble, devoted woman's heart. But she bears it all and bows submissive to the stroke. "He died for the cause. He perished for his country. I
would not have it otherwise, but I should like to have given the dying boy my blessing, the expiring husband my last kiss of affection, the bleeding lover the comfort of knowing that I kneeled beside him." This is the daily language of woman throughout this Confederacy, and whence could such a spirit come but from God, and, what is worthy to produce it but some cause which lies beyond any mere human estimate. And when we turn to our armies, truly these victories are the victories of the privates. God forbid that I should take one atom of honor or of praise from those who led our hosts upon those days of glory--from the accomplished and skilful Lee --the admirable Crichton of our armies--from the God-fearing and indomitable Jackson, upon whose prayer-bedewed banner victory seems to wait--from the intrepid Stuart, whose cavalry charges imitate those of Murat, from that great host of generals who swarm around our country's flag as Napoleon's Marshals did around the Imperial Eagle, but nevertheless our victories are the victories of the privates. It is the enthusiastic dash of their onsets, the fearless bravery with which they rush even to the cannon's mouth, the utter recklessness of life, if so be that its sacrifice may only lead to victory, the heartfelt impression that the cause is the cause of every man, and that success is a necessity. What intense honor do I feel for the private soldier! The officers may have motives other than the cause, the private soldier can have none. He knows that his valor must pass unnoticed, save in the narrow circle of his company; that his sacrifice can bring no honor to his name, no reputation to his family; that if he survives he lives only to enter upon new dangers with the same hopelessness of distinction; that if he dies, he will receive nothing but an unmarked grave, and yet is he proud to do his duty and to maintain his part in the destructive conflict. His comrades fall around him thick and fast, but with a sigh and tear he closes his ranks and presses on to a like destiny. Truly the first monument which our Confederacy rears, when our independence shall have been won, should be a lofty shaft, pure
and spotless, bearing this inscription: "TO THE UNKNOWN AND UNRECORDED DEAD."
But we have reason to thank God to-day, not only for what he has given us the heart to do, but for what he has restrained us from doing, and restrained others from doing in our behalf. If the premises upon which I have rested all my reasoning be correct, then is the unity of the slave institution, in this country, a matter of vast importance. And I think I can perceive how God has been working for us to produce that result by restraining us from any premature invasion of the border States, and in the meantime disciplining them for his ultimate purpose.
Those States were not prepared, a year ago, to receive an invading or protecting army, whichever you may please to call it. They had been, for years, under influences adverse to our institution of slavery, and at one period appeared to be fast approaching to Free-soilism, with its resulting demagogueism and corruption. An eloquent statesman, now gone to his rest, had come into public life at a period when the mad fervour of the French revolution had inclined men to think that liberty, as they termed licentiousness and anarchy, was the greatest blessing bestowed by God upon man, had himself strongly imbibed that feeling and did much to impress it especially upon Kentucky and Maryland. From him, too, for he was their political idol, those States had conceived a profound veneration for the Union, and had not been borne along by that tide of discontent which was every day swelling through the more Southern slave States, and making them realize that the Union was a curse and not a blessing, a means used for destruction and not for security. Those States rather favored the earlier steps of Federal encroachment. The tariff of duties for protection, the system of internal improvement by the National Government, the idea of a strong central system were fostered in those States and found eloquent advocates and a strong and oftimes a dominant party. To these influences were united those views of philanthropy, which, taking shape in England, under Wilberforce and his adherents,
found a ready home in this land of freedom, as it loved to call itself, and gave rise in the one State to the Colonization Society, and in the other, to a scheme of gradual emancipation. It is but a little while since those States began to recognize any danger from the encroachments of the Federal Government, or could perceive any lasting michief to grow out of Free-soil principles. They were not ripe, therefore, for action when we acted, and although many of the young and ardent, who had imbibed the re-actionary spirit in favor of State sovereignty and of slavery, rushed with ardor to our banner, the men of the old school, of the Whig regime, of the philanthropic party, conceived it to be a causeless rebellion, and were as ardent for the Union as the most devoted Republican of the North. It was a struggle between the young and the old, between the new doctrines and those of the past, between traditions circling around idolized names and mischiefs which were gradually forcing themselves upon the public mind. It required a year of Black Republican legislation, unmodified by the conservative Southern element and a year of Black Republican domination, to turn the scale fully in our favour. God wisely kept us back, by his inscrutable guidance, from invading those States a year ago, and we can now understand why the first battle of Manassas went so strangely and mysteriously unimproved, and why defeat so thickly pursued us in the West. It was that the presence of Northern armies might discipline the people for a thorough union with the South and might bring them more heartily into the support of the institution he was protecting. And when he perceived that the effect had been produced, he led us back to that very field of Manassas where we had paused in the full career of victory, and placed us under almost the identical circumstances of triumph, as if He said to us in words, "A year ago, my people, I placed my bit in your mouths and restrained you from advancing to a work not then prepared to your hand, but now I have made it ready and the hearts of the people are willing in the day of my power. Onward to your work, and gather in to the arms of your Confederacy
the utmost verge of slavery, that the world may see that I am the God who disposes all things according to the purpose of my will."
We have great cause, moreover, to be thankful to Almighty
God that he has restrained the powers of Europe from any
interference in our behalf, and has permitted us to gain these
glorious victories under his auspices alone. It was highly important
for our future to prove the strength of our institutions
and to convince the world that the African with us was not
a source of weakness or an object of fear, but was a comfort
and a help. And in no manner could this have been so fully
demonstrated as by leaving us to struggle alone with the
mighty power which has been endeavoring to crush us, while
this people was in the midst of us, almost equal in numbers
and unrestrained by the presence of armies. 'Tis true that in
some districts they have flocked to the banner of freedom,
which they consider equivalent to idleness, just as children
would rush after any new thing or boys would be tempted by a
holiday. But nowhere has any disaffection manifested itself
or any hatred to the white race been developed. They have
mingled freely in all our counsels, have been restrained in no
unusual degree, have been permitted to go in and out very
much as they pleased, have followed their masters to the field
and been faithful to them in danger, in suffering and in death.
They have shewn themselves a docile, and, in many instances,
a most affectionate race, and have sadly disappointed those
who counted upon their alliance and co-operation. This circumstance
has already impressed itself not only upon Europe,
but upon our very antagonists, and they have been forced to
confess that the slave was not as ready to embrace freedom as
they had supposed him.*
*Mr. Lincoln's proclamation, for general emancipation, which has appeared since this sermon was delivered, is a strong proof of this position, for surely the invading armies of last winter and spring, did not wait for any proclamation, but acted out the principle without any instructions from Washington. As our Lord has taught us all to pray "Lead us not into temptation," would it not be well for or the State Governments, in view of this proclamation, to order all slaves to be removed within our military lines, and to provide the planters with the means of doing it, under certain conditions? The loss of property to individuals and of wealth to the State will otherwise be very great this winter.
The interference of European powers
could have done us no service and might have done us great mischief, and what, at one time, we considered injustice and selfishness, has turned out for us the richest mercy. We can now say confidently to the world, "God has protected us in the hour of our necessity and has made this people, whom you calumniated and vilified as an oppressed and down-trodden people, to honor us in the face of all the nations, and to refute for us the slanders of politicians and the lies of hypocrisy. They have adhered to us in our difficulties, have borne with us our poverty, have comforted us in our sorrows, have never once lifted their arms against us and now testify to the world that our culture has changed them from savages into servants, from barbarians into men of Christian feeling and Christian sympathy."
I cannot see, as yet, the termination of this war, because I do not think that all the moral results have been produced which are to come out of it. We have yet much trouble before us and many trials to endure ere it shall be ended. God does not permit his creatures, especially those who are bound to him in the bond of the Christian covenant, to be slaughtered as they have been slaughtered in this war without meaning to produce effects adequate to the punishment. If the armies which have been brought into the field have at all approached in numbers what they have been officially reported to be, then I cannot be far wrong when I affirm that already, in the brief space of eighteen months, a quarter of a million of human beings have been swept away by disease, by wounds and by death upon the battle field. What a terrible reckoning! It cannot be for nothing! And it must go on until England shall be convinced that slavery, as we hold it here, is essential to the welfare of the world, until the North shall find that her fanaticism was a madness and delusion, until we ourselves shall learn to value the institution above any estimate we have ever placed upon it, and to treat it as a sacred trust from God, until all shall acknowledge, with one consent, that it is a divinely guarded system, planted by God, protected by
God and arranged for his own wise purposes in the future of him, with whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
And above all do I believe that this revolution will not have finished its work until punishment shall have been rolled back upon that fountain of evil whence have sprung all these bitter waters. I cannot conceive any thing more hateful to God than the infidelity which has revelled in the Eastern States for the last forty years, having its centre and its seat in the modern Athens, as the Bostonians have proudly called their city. And if, as the Apostle said, the mark of the Athenians was that they spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing, and to plant altars to unknown Gods, well has the name been chosen for themselves. For all that time has Christ been dishonored and discrowned; for all that time has impious reason been exalted with a quiet superciliousness above the word of God; for all that time has every accursed heresy been spued out of the mouths of men who called themselves the ministers of God. Nothing was too monstrous to be uttered, nothing too vile to be listened to. One would affirm that Christ was a philosopher good enough for his day, the legitimate successor of Plato and of Aristotle, but that the present times required a Christ more advanced in philosophy, and especially in the philosophy of abolitionism. Another would declare that there was no objective God, but that God was whatever each man conceived him to be within himself, that is, that man was the creator of God and not God the creator of man. Another would impiously cry out against the God of the Bible, because he, was a slave-holding God, and against Christ, because he was a slave admitting Christ, and against the Bible because it tolerated and affirmed the system. The Holy Ghost was utterly discarded and sinned against, until the great mass was given up to delusion and a lie. And out of this defiled nest have flown the birds of evil omen who have scattered discord and confusion over the land. At present they seem to be reaping money--the fruit which they love, but which the Bible calls
the root of all evil--from the seed of their planting. War is filling their coffers and they are riding upon the highest wave of prosperity. But although our arm may not reach them, God is upon their track and ere this conflict is ended, will bring them to repentance and remorse or else punish them in the day of his wrath. "Be sure your sin will find you out," is a law which never goes unfulfilled. And therefore is it that I have placed at the head of my sermon the words of the wise Solomon, that we may all this day draw the proper distinction between exulting over an enemy and offering praise and thanksgiving to God for his wrath. "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it and it displease him and he turn away his wrath from him." Let us not, by any improper exultation, turn away God's wrath from our enemies, and especially from these wretched infidels, the harbingers of war, of woe, and of anarchy. Let our thanksgiving be one of deep solemnity and deep humility, looking upon God's movements in our behalf with awe and waiting for him to inflict his wrath, in his own good time, upon his own revilers and the despisers of his son. He will arrange it all and if you will watch upon his wrath you will say, "Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints."