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That war is an evil, and often, a sore and terrible evil, and a thing at variance with the spirit of the Gospel, is what no Christian can for a moment doubt. But these facts do not place it beyond the employment of God, as a means of working out His purposes on earth. Sickness, suffering, famine and pestilence, are also evils, yet God employs them in this way, and having declared that "the wrath of man shall praise Him," He may also use war to effect His designs among nations. Had there been no sin, there would have been no war, as there would have been no suffering of any other kind; but as long as there is sin in the world, so long may we expect to find this huge, colossal scourge--this Moloch of evils--among men. Indeed, our Lord expressly declares that wars and rumors of wars shall be among the signs that shall herald the end, so that our fond dreams of a universal peace, when in millennial blessedness, men shall "beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks," may be realized only in those final scenes that lie beyond the great day, and not on this side of it, "in the new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
But war is not an unmitigated evil, terrible as its ravages are. It is like the hurricane and the flood in Nature, desolating
and terrific, yet accomplishing ends in the physical world that can be accomplished by no other agencies. The brooding miasma, the tainted air and the poisoned water are swept away, and there are left behind a purer air and a richer soil than could have existed without this purgation of tempest and flood. Similar services are rendered by the hurricane of war, in spite of its evils.
A long course of peace and prosperity, acting on our depraved nature, tends to emasculate and corrupt a people. As wealth increases, unless religion advances with it, luxury grows apace. Mammon-worship soon becomes supreme, everything assumes a money standard, and corruption creeps slowly into the very heart of a people. The refined and intelligent withdraw from political life, either to amass wealth in business, or to enjoy it in scholarly ease, leaving the direction of public affairs in the hands of brawling demagogues; and the fiery energy of youth is expended in revelry and dissipation. There grows gradually up a worldly and Epicurean expediency that sneers at lofty heroism and high principle as mere Quixotic romance; a hard and brassy materialism that measures everything by the standard of dollars and cents and rejects all that will not pay in this coin; and a secret, but potent scepticism as to the very existence of anything like virtue, honor, unselfishness or truth, believing that every man at last has his price. The general prevalence of this feeling will at last sap the very foundations of public and private morality, enthrone a shameless selfishness in the high places of life, which in the end will be guilty of some outrages on common justice and right so flagrant as to provoke resistance, the recoil of whose violence may lay the whole fabric of society in ruin.
War tends to break up this mammon-worship, effeminacy and selfish expediency, to show that there are nobler things to be contended for in life than mere material advancement; that the chief end of man is not to make money; that there are great principles of belief, and great elements of moral
character which underlie all human prosperity, and the sacrifice of which will, in the end, undermine even material greatness; and that heroism, daring, unselfishness, and a sacrificing patriotism, are living realities, and not mere poetic romances. As men contend for great political or religious rights, they have a clearer perception of the nature and value of all human rights; and as they endure hardship, hunger, cold and danger, in defence of these rights, there is generated a sturdier manliness, and a loftier tone of character that will descend in kindling memories of noble deeds, at once a heritage and a model to coming generations, inspiring them with a generous ambition to emulate the bright example of their worthy sires. It is thus that national character is formed. It is thus that vigor, enterprise and honor are breathed into the heart of a people, and that the hardy, simple and manly virtues are worked into the very sources of national life. It was thus that the Hebrew Commonwealth gathered its enduring strength after the effeminacy of its Egyptian life, by battling with the Canaanites, and purchasing their God-given homes and fields with their swords and spears. It was thus that the Greek republics attained their athletic sinew and symmetry, and quickened into its beautiful life their immortal genius. It was thus that the wolf-nursed colony of the Tiber became at last imperial Rome, stamping in lines of iron her mighty image on all nations and on all time. And it has been thus that God has caused the roots of every enduring nationality to strike deep, and grow strong, as its branches have wrestled with the storms of war. As no nation has ever risen to greatness without this stern tutorage, it seems but a simple induction from the facts of universal history, that in a fallen world like ours, war is a necessary part of the agency by which God disciplines nations.
These views furnish no apology for an offensive war, which is a crime as well as an evil, but they do furnish an encouragement to those on whom a defensive war is forced; for they show that what is an undoubted evil may be, and has been,
overruled by God to good results. Man means it for evil, God controls it for good. It comes as a chastening for sins, and becomes a blessing by extirpating those sins, and bringing to a hardier life the corresponding virtues. We can thus see some of the reasons for that general fact alluded to by Solomon in the text, when he assumes that God's people will go forth to war by "a way in which God shall send them," as if war was one of the inevitable incidents in the history even of a people belonging to God, and under His special protection, and an incident arranged by His special and foreordaining providence.
In the war now upon us there are special considerations bearing on this point.
(1.) One of the sins of the Southern country has been a lazy dependence on the industry of the North for what we might have done, and ought to have done for ourselves. We have looked to them to manufacture everything--from a man-of-war to a lucifer match; allowing them to come and carry away our cotton, wool, iron, lead, copper, coal, hemp, and our very cord-wood, to return them in manufactured forms, whilst we paid not only for the manufacture, but for this double transportation, and brokerage, commission, percentage, exchange, insurance, discount, storage, and a list of charges whose name was legion, for the privilege of being dependent on them for the very necessaries of life, as we are now learning to our cost. Add to these the tribute that was paid for papers, periodicals and books, boarding schools, seminaries and colleges, that moulded our opinions, and the enormous expenditures of travel to watering places, hotels, cities, and other resorts, that moulded our fashions and manners, and we have but a faint conception of that condition of provincial dependence to which half a century of fishery-bounty, navigation, tariff, revenue and commercial laws, written and unwritten, had reduced this broad and opulent region. So enormous was the tribute paid in this way for things wholly unnecessary, that we shall save probably the entire expense of the war by simply
keeping at home the wealth that would otherwise have been sent to build up the prosperity of those who would use that very prosperity as an argument to prove the superiority of their institutions to ours.
Now, had a peaceable separation been effected, this dependence would have continued, until with overgrown wealth on one side, and exhausted poverty on the other, that very separation would have been our ruin. But separated by the convulsive throes of war, all these ties must be broken, all these channels filled up; domestic industry must spring up to meet the very necessities of life; manufacturing and commercial independence be firmly established, without which political independence would be a sceptre without a kingdom, a sword without a hand to wield it. Thus the very blockade, cruel as it is designed to be, will be a blessing; and should another war come upon us, it will not find us, as this one did, without a mill or a manufactory to furnish powder and caps for the muskets of our soldiers.
And in nothing does the suicidal folly of this war on the part of the United States Government appear more vividly than in the light of this fact. It proposes to make us friends by hunting us down as enemies; to restore our love and loyalty by means that must naturally produce the most undying hate; to drag us back, all bleeding and crushed, to the iron embrace of a huge enginery of coercive power, to illustrate the theory of free government; to ravage our coasts, and slaughter our sons, and distress our households, in order to restore our allegiance to those who have thus cruelly, wantonly and bitterly oppressed us. It professes to regard slave territory as an unmitigated curse, and yet, rather than allow this alleged curse to be separated from it, will raise half a million of men and half a billion of money that it may grasp this accursed soil with a hand of iron, even though it thus makes it but one vast field of blood. Surely the lessons of all past history have been in vain if such means do not engender a hate, a deep, burning and deathless memory of
wrong and cruelty, that shall remain in its engendered animosities a wide and yawning gulf for generations to come. These two sections, however this war may end, shall
"Stand aloof, the scars remaining
Like cliffs that have been rent asunder,
A dreary sea shall roll between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Can wholly do away I ween,
The marks of which once hath been."
The sword may cut apart, but can never unite.
(2.) But there is another effect of the war, not less important than this one. The deep, original cause of that mighty disruption that is now going forward was the diversity of interests that were included in a single government, interests so vast, and connected with other diversities, social, historical and political, themselves so important, that all could not be harmonized under a single organization, without an amount of wisdom, justice and statesmanship but rarely found in any administration. Similar diversities remain in the separated section, which in time must have produced the same result unless prevented by some powerful agency. The jealousies even now exhibited, which every good man should frown down as the worst kind of treason; and the unkind detractions that have been uttered against our own great old Commonwealth, without whose aid, whatever may be said about her, the success of this struggle would have been a hopeless impossibility, all prove that these divisive tendencies are at work, and that one of our greatest dangers was in the diversities that existed between border, and cotton, and gulf, and western States, producing undue friction in the working of government. What our young Republic needed was a feeling of oneness, a broad, deep national unity, binding together the separate sovereignties of the Confederacy, so that whilst, politically, they shall be "distinct as the billows," yet, nationally, they shall be "one as the sea." Although the common institution of domestic slavery is a powerful bond of union, especially in view of the mighty hostility against it that compresses its adherents
together, yet even this could not have created this national unity, as we had it, under a peaceful separation. Had the original thirteen colonies separated peacefully from Great Britain they would never have made that e pluribus unum under which they advanced to such peerless greatness, until the spirit of that Revolutionary struggle became extinct in a generation "that knew not Joseph." In the same way it was necessary that these Confederate States should be put into the furnace of war, that they might be welded into one great, united and loving people, fused together by common weakness common suffering, and common triumphs; having a common heritage of grief, and a common heritage of glory; mingling the blood of the border States with that of the gulf and the great valley on the same battle-fields; garnering their precious dust in the same graves; mingling their tears over the same hallowed sods; and thus creating for all future time, memories so deep and so enduring as to mould into one warm, living and enduring whole, this new birth into the great sisterhood of nationalities.
(3.) There is another result of this war, which as far as it exists, is a yet higher one than that just stated. War is usually a vast demoralizer, and all religious feeling withers under its baleful breath. And, to some extent, this is true of this war, as we mournfully know. And in this aspect the act of our Congress in virtually degrading the office of Chaplain, by making it the only one in the army whose rank and pay were cut down, and after two reductions, fixing it at a rate that excludes from it any man with a family, who has not private means of his own, a thing not very common with clergymen--this marked and seemingly invidious distinction of this office, I feel bound to say kindly, but plainly, was at least an unfortunate act, if not more blameable. In an army of volunteers, like ours, a good Chaplain is just as important as a good Captain or a good Surgeon, for he is adapted to meet those moral evils arising from inaction, discontent, weariness and home-sickness that are often far more injurious than the dangers of the battle-field. And we know of no reason
arising from incompetency or dereliction of duty in those who have filled the one office for any such stigma, which does not exist in a twofold, if not a tenfold degree with the occupants of the others. It is a false economy that starves the soul to feed the body, even in an army. The eagle that robbed the altar of its sacrificial flesh fired her own nest by the living coals that adhered to it, and so will it ever be in depriving religion of its honest rights in any human organization. Hence we feel bound to say plainly, that this was a wrong, a short-sighted and suicidal wrong, although we also believe an undesigned and inadvertent wrong, which we hope will be remedied as soon as it can be reached by competent authority. If the finances of the government will not warrant the employment of men of experience and mature age in this office, it were better to abolish it, and leave the spiritual wants of the soldier entirely to the voluntary action of the people. But if the office is to be retained at all, it ought to be put on an equality with other offices of the same importance.
But in spite of all these things, I believe, that there has never been an army since the time of Cromwell, in which there was a more pervading sense of the power of God than our own. A brave, but irreligious officer remarked to me a few days ago, we may well adopt the language of the good book, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say, when men rose up against us, they had swallowed us up quick." And this is the solemn conviction of thousands, even the most wicked. The resources of the mighty organization, whose stupendous gage of battle we fearlessly took up, were so vast in men, money, munitions of war, forts, fleets and armies, that unless God had been with us we must have been crushed. When we saw the bloodless achievements of Sumter, Gosport, Harper's Ferry, and the river batteries; when we saw an unprotected woman sent forth as it would seem by a Divine impulse to venture alone in imminent peril to give the information that led to the first victory on our soil, which struck the key-note to all the rest; when we saw boys yet warm from their mother's hearts
stand like veterans in the iron sleet of Bethel, and college lads from our quiet lowland homes make the gorges of Rich Mountain a very Thermopylæ; where we saw squadrons of volunteers stand, "like a stone wall," a sweep like an avenging hurricane over the red plains of Manassas and Springfield, or the green hills of Carnifax Ferry, Belmont, and Leesburg; when we saw the very winds and waves, the very "stars in their courses" conspiring to bring disaster on our enemies; when all human calculation must have predicted the exact opposite; we cannot wonder that even ungodly men have been compelled to pause and say, "this is the finger of God." And we cannot wonder that many a brave man, as he saw these seeming tokens of the ascending and descending angels, and the protecting presence of God, has found these battle-fields to be Bethels, and said: "Surely the Lord was in this place, and I knew it not;" that many a dear child, while pacing his lonely round as sentinel, or standing on his perilous post as picket, beneath the silent stars, has found his place to be a Manassah, "a forgetting" of the wild delusions of sin, and a solemn rising to his memory of words that he has heard, amid the sweet scenes of home, from lips, some of which are silent in the grave, and others of which may be even then, in the deep silence of midnight, moving in wakeful prayer for the brave and beloved boy who is far, far away. The many conversions in camp, the prayer-meetings in soldiers' tents, of which we have heard, and the letters we have seen breathing emotions of piety that have been awaked by the exposures and sufferings of the army, induce us to believe that this war will lead many a soul to the Cross that might otherwise have perished in impenitency.
All history proves, from Abraham and his armed servants, and Gideon's three hundred men, through Marathon, to the Spanish armada, and later struggles of heroic people for their rights, that "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong." God gives victory as He pleases to carry out
His great and holy purposes in human history. Hence the instinctive resort of every right-hearted people at such a time is to that High and Mighty One, "who doeth his will in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth." This resort is proper for several reasons.
(1.) That the sins which have caused the chastening may be removed.
As these sins have been set forth on former occasions, we will not repeat the enumeration, but only say that, until they are repented of and forsaken, God will continue to smite us. Hence we should come to-day with honest penitence, and, taking words of truth and sincerity upon our lips, should cry to him, "Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger against us to cease, and bear us from thy holy heavens."
(2.) That we may be delivered from evils that must weaken us.
There are evils inevitable to war from which we cannot expect to escape. We must expect to find personal ambition in the guise of patriotism; itch for office, with its horse-leech cry of "give, give;" favoritism and nepotism, by which the sons, relations and friends of those in office will be placed over the heads of better and older men who are unable to command this kind of patronage, and must, therefore, drudge in humbler and harder positions; wastefulness in the use of public funds and the granting of public contracts; blunders in movements, both civil and military, that are hard to explain; provoking circumlocutions and red-tape delays in the transaction of public business; insolence and petty tyranny in men raised from obscurity and dressed in a little brief authority, who lord it with arrogance and sometimes with cruelty over braver and better men placed under their command; heartless brutality in drunken surgeons and drunken nurses allowing sick men to pine and suffer, and even to die from sheer and inexcusable neglect; drunkenness in the ranks, as well as among the officers, preparing many a gallant man for disgrace and defeat in battle, and a drunkard's grave when
the war is ended; profanity; gambling; pillage and peculation at least in small matters; all these evils are well nigh inevitable in a time of war, with our poor fallen nature as it is, and can only be diminished by looking to that God before whom we bow this day in reverent supplication.
But there are some evils that we had no right to expect, and that, therefore, as far as they do exist, are the more difficult to bear. We had no right to expect that flaming and furious patriots of twelve months ago, whose voice was then for war, denouncing all who could not go as fast and far as they, should now be as meek and as mute as mice, leaving to others the burdens, sacrifices and dangers of this contest when it has really come. We had no right to expect that they who have been so long sneering at Yankee greed and Yankee meanness, should emulate this ignoble example by filching the funds that the hard taxation of a burdened people have generously given to their governments, by usurious contracts, and exorbitant charges for supplies which the poor soldier often finds to his cost were made to sell and not to use; buying up the very necessaries of life to pile enormous profits on them, so that whilst brave men are driving off the hungry invader abroad, at the point of the sword, their straitened families find the wolf at the door in the form of the hungry speculator, who spares not even medicine for the sick, and will wring his percentage out of the very agonies of the suffering; trafficking in the hunger, cold and nakedness of the soldier while living, and speculating upon his very shroud and coffin and grave when dead; blockading our homes by land as really, as wickedly, and as heartlessly as our enemies are blockading them by sea; bribing officials to act as accomplices with them in their schemes to obtain undisputed control of a market; creating needless panics and needless pressures, that they may wring from a groaning and helpless community the hard earnings of the poor on whom these exactions must fall most heavily; and whilst a struggling country is bleeding at every pore, instead of seeking to staunch that blood, virtually gathering it up drop by drop
to sell like butcher's meat in the shambles, and coin it into gold; acting a treason more deadly than an armed aid to our enemies, by compelling many a poor man who once calculated the value of the Union, to begin to calculate the value of disunion, and ask what have we gained by escaping the leeches and blood-suckers of one Confederacy, only to fall into the fangs of the sharks and cormorants of another; surely, surely, we had a right to expect that in a struggle so sublime, so tremendous, and so desperate as this, we should have been safe from the cruel greed of such hungry Shylocks, such human vultures as these. And if in any cases we have been disappointed in this reasonable expectation, it but creates another reason for coming before Him whose blood was sold by his own chosen companion for thirty pieces of silver, to pray that He would not only deliver us from the Ahithopels abroad, but also, and even more earnestly, from the Iscariots at home.
(3.) That we may have direct strength from on High for this conflict.
Did time permit, it would be easy to show that the religion which fits men for any duty, suffering and danger, must fit them for the duties, sufferings and dangers of war; and that he who believes that God is with him, and that the field of death will be to him only the vestibule of heaven, must move down to the dread ordeal of battle with a heart all the stronger for this faith and hope; that the religion which breathed such heroism into the battalions of Gustavus; that made feeble Holland an over-match for the proud chivalry of Spain; that nerved the iron men of Cromwell to such deeds of daring prowess; that has inscribed the name of Huguenot and Covenanter among the world's heroes; that nerved the hearts of so many brave men in our first Revolutionary struggle; that has written upon her spiritual muster-roll such heroic names as Vicars and Havelock; that has adorned the character of some in our own army, whose glorious work is not yet completed, and whose names our children will utter with enthusiastic love; that such a religion as this should be
a yet loftier spring of action than even that wild fanaticism whose religious faith made the Moslem arms resistless for so many centuries. For such strength then as it gives to suffer and wait at home, as well as to suffer and strike in the field, we should come this day, saying, in the words of the old Hebrew battle-cry, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God; and in the name of our God will we set up our banners."
Had we far less to excite our hopes in this struggle than we have, there is a stern necessity upon us to go forward to it which we cannot escape. There is nothing now left us but a death-grapple for very existence. An institution has been planted on our soil, the ethical nature of which, as a relation in human society, it is too late to argue, for God has recognized it twice in the Decalogue, and devoted an entire epistle to an incident connected with it in the New Testament, without hinting at its unlawfulness. Like all, human institutions, it has its evils, evils which the ceaseless assaults of its enemies give no opportunity to correct, and yet under its influence more members of Christian Churches have been enrolled from a race whose ancestors were heathen, than has been done in the same length of time by all the missionary societies on earth, much good as they have done; and under it there has been secured more temporal comfort to the slaves than has been reached by any corresponding class of laborers on earth. There is one fact that speaks volumes on this point, that in this bitter struggle, whilst every possible agency has been used upon them, for one colored man who has been unfaithful to the South there have been ten whites; that whilst a Washington was fighting and dying in Western Virginia against white traitors born on her soil, his servants were faithfully tending the fields of Mount Vernon, and trying to secure for him their proceeds from the pillaging vandals, within the sound of whose drums Old Gabriel and his follow-servants remained faithful to their master;
and that, in one of the hottest battles on the Kanawha, a servant begged and obtained the privilege of fighting by the side of his master, whilst that master's own blood relations were fighting on the other side. Nor are these cases few or far between, but enough to show that we have often more reason to trust the black face of the honest servant who fears God and loves his master, than the black heart of many a snivelling white man, whose god is a dollar, and who would sell not only his country, but his very soul, if need be, for a fat office and a bloated salary. Let this be recorded to the honor of the black man, and let it be remembered to his advantage when the struggle is over, as we believe it will be, and let it stand as an answer to some of the slanders that have been heaped on this institution.
Against this institution, and thus both the races that are connected with it, has been waged a hostility whose steady course has never faltered nor turned aside. There is something portentous in the rise and growth of this anti-slavery Hydra with which we are now struggling. Spawned in the huge Serbonian bog of French infidelity and radicalism, it was a fitting coincidence that the same year which witnessed the first development of the one in the French Revolution, should have witnessed the first development of the other in the seizure of that magnificent North-Western territory, which the credulous generosity of Virginia bestowed as a free gift to the Federal Government, to rear up on her border a deadly enemy, by the Ordinance of 1787. Again did the Hydra demand and receive a fresh accession to its bulk in the Missouri Compromise, where rights that were solemnly guaranteed by the Louisiana treaty were ruthlessly disregarded, and yielded to the clamors of this voracious and growing monster. Again and again was it swollen by new gorges of new territory, purchased by the common blood and treasure of all the States, and, therefore, rightfully belonging to the whole, and not to any of its parts. Grown by these enormous meals, and stimulated by the secret working of foreign emissaries, who saw in this agent the serpent that might strangle this mighty Republic
in its infancy, it planned a more deadly assault on the object of its hate. Suborning every avenue to the creation of public opinion, it was able at last to inoculate vast masses of men with its envenomed feeling, until having nullified the Constitution of the United States; divided churches; broken up benevolent agencies; embroiled States; stirred up Kansas and John Brown raids; bespattered the very Bible with its virus; breathed its poison into the very Gospel of the Son of God, and filled its pulpits with a religion of hate; hissing its venom from a million heads and through a million tongues, from the Senate of the United States to the penny pamphlet, it then proposed, as its coup-de-main, to coil itself in one huge, stifling cordon of hostile settlements around the territory of the Confederate States, so that having crushed this hated institution to death by its tightening folds, these States might be left to the terrible doom of the ancient criminal when a living body was chained to a dead corpse to perish by a slow, loathsome and inevitable death. Against this dreadful doom these States remonstrated with the most supplicating entreaties, but in vain, for the Hydra was, in contemptuous disregard of them, exalted to the sacred seat that had been filled by the form of Washington. Even then they sought in fraternal conference for some guarantee against this hideous policy, until their entreaties were taken as confessions of cowardice and weakness, their humblest proposals received with sneers of derisive scorn, and they commanded to furnish men and money to murder and crush their own flesh and blood. Then, and not until then, did an outraged and long-suffering people rise in their indignant might, and, appealing to the God of Justice, resolve to cut with the sword the coils of this mighty constrictor, and crush his beads of venom beneath their feet. And this Herculean task must be done, or we must perish, miserably perish. There was a time when submission and compromise might have postponed this fate, though perhaps never have finally averted it, but that time has forever gone by, and now they would only make it more abject and complete, adding dishonor
to defeat, and degradation to destruction. Never since the terrible scenes of La Vendee, under the ravaging hordes of Republican France, has the old heathen war-cry, Voe Victis, (wo! to the conquered!) been more unmistakeably sounded by an army of invaders.
Let this tremendous crusade become successful, either by mismanagement in the army, or cowardice and greediness at home, and history furnishes no page so dark and bloody as that which would record the result. Our best and bravest men would be slaughtered like bullocks in the shambles; our wives and daughters dishonored before our eyes; our cities sacked; our fields laid waste; our homes pillaged and burned; our property, which we are perhaps selfishly hoarding, wrested from us by fines and confiscations; our grand old Commonwealth degraded from her proud historic place of "Ancient Dominion," to be the vassal province of a huge central despotism, which, having wasted her with fire and sword, would compel her by military force to pay the enormous expense of her own subjugation, or, in default of this, parcel out her broad lands to insulting emigrants as a feudal reward for the rapine and murder of this new Norman conquest: whilst the owners of these lands must either remain as cowering factors for insolent conquerors and oppressive lords, or wander as penniless and homeless fugitives in a land of strangers.
Is this picture overdrawn? Does it exceed the avowed designs of the great invasion as proclaimed not only by partisan journals, but by those who profess to be ministers of the gospel of peace? Did not their leading journals, at the outset of this war, exult with gloating delight over the terrible fate that their avenging armies were to inflict on us, our suffering wives and our hunger-bitten children, until all Europe cried out shame on such fiendish barbarity? And has not the work already begun? Has not a gallant sister State been trodden under foot by an insolent military despotism--some of her best citizens banished to our own borders, (may God bless them, and enable them soon to return to a home untainted by tyranny and outrage,) others imprisoned in loathsome dungeons
without even the farce of a legal process; her Legislature and Judiciary insulted, defied and overawed; her houses searched and pillaged; her women subjected by the reeking ruffians of New York stews to those outrages "that turn a coward's heart to steel, a sluggard's blood to flame," whilst rights of the common law, as old as the fields. of Runnymede; rights which the Queen of England dare not violate without imperilling her crown, have been scornfully trampled under foot by these lawless miscreants? Have they not repeated these atrocities as far as they dared in our own State; in Alexandria and Hampton, and elsewhere, where the gray hairs of age, the feebleness of disease, and the helplessness of womanhood have been no protection against insult, robbery and murder? Have they not made war on the sick, the aged and the dying, on childhood and helplessness, by making medicines, and even the Holy Bible itself, contraband of war, thus by a kind of Italian revenge, carrying their warfare to the very interests of the soul, and the very destinies of eternity? Have not their most magnanimous men-of-war bravely bombarded helpless houses and unprotected villages that two British wars had spared, houses and villages containing the sick and feeble, who had no other notice of their danger, and whose sole attraction to these marauders seems to have been their weakness? Have they not kidnapped hundreds of servants and then made them beasts of burden; and is not their mighty armada now prowling along our coast, intending to arm the rest for another St. Domingo massacre? Have not sovereign States, whose spindles were turned by Southern staples, and whose coffers were filled by Southern gold, who refused to give a man to the war of 1812, waged to protect their own shipping, and the war with Mexico, to vindicate the honor of that flag which they now so idolatrously worship; yet, now, when their own flesh and blood, their own brothers to whom they were bound by interest and gratitude as well as affection, were to be coerced and trampled under foot, send hordes of men, many of them blood-thirsty braggarts, who fly like sheep when the meet men fighting for their firesides and altars?
And, although we believe that many an honest heart in the North is indignant at these outrages, yet, have not all who have dared to remonstrate against them been muzzled by the bayonet or silenced by the Bastile? And if "they have done these things in the the green tree, what will they do in the dry?" If good men of the North in private life, and good officers in public, have been powerless to prevent these things hitherto, when they were impolitic as well as cruel, how can they prevent their most intense aggravation, when an infuriated and conquering army shall have crushed all opposition? Must not our fate be all the more terrible the more prolonged and determined our resistance? Then, if we must perish, is it not better to die the death of a man on the field of honor, than to die the death of a dog on the gibbet? Is it not better to meet this huge barbaric invasion with one flaming front of defiant resistance, than to sit hugging our treasures until the grip of the invader is at our throats, his manacles on our wrists, and we bound helpless at his feet?
But no such fate as this awaits us, if we are true to ourselves and true to God. If we are worthy to take our place among the nations of the earth, no human power may hinder us; for eight millions of brave, united and determined people can never be conquered. Battles may be lost, cities may be taken, many a gallant man and many a gentle woman may sleep in a premature grave, and many a home be shrouded with mournful memories, and yet we shall be unconquered still; for
" Freedom's battles once begun,
Descend from bleeding sire to son,
Though often lost are surely won."
The swamps that sheltered Marion's men, the rugged hills that blazed with the deadly fire of Morgan's riflemen, the blue mountains of West Augusta where Washington meant to make a last stand for liberty, and the storied heights of Yorktown, where he did make it, are still standing to tell us, that from the invading hordes of Xerxes, of Varus, of Farnese, and of
Napoleon, down to the vanquished columns on the plains of Manassas, a people who are fighting for their altars and their firesides, in the fear of God, can never, never, never be conquered. God will maintain our cause! He has maintained it. Starting in this conflict as unfurnished for battle as the stripling boy of Bethlehem going forth to meet the gigantic Philistine, nothing but the power of Jehovah could have made the arms of our beardless boys to vanquish again and again the stupendous preparations of our enemies. In that God we will continue to trust. These brave heroic boys may fall; and though many a weeping parent may not be able to say with the noble stoic of England, "I would not give my dead son for any living son in Christendom," they will say with an humbler, and yet a loftier spirit, "if God has willed that I should lay him as a sacrifice on the altar of my country, I bow to His will with unrepining submission, rejoicing that though he has perished, the cause has not, will not, and cannot perish, for God will maintain it to the end."
Hence, to every prophet of evil, every croaking Cassandra, who tells us we are too weak, and must perish at last before our powerful enemies, we reply, trusting, not in our own might, but in the strength of our covenant God--
"Down, soothless insulter, I trust not the tale,
For ne'er shall our brave men a destiny meet
So black with dishonor, so foul with defeat,
Though their perishing ranks should be strewed in their gore,
Like ocean weeds heaped on the surf-beaten shore,
They still, untainted by flight or by chains,
While the kindling of life in their bosom remains,
Shall as victors exult or in death be laid low
With their back to the field and their feet to the foe,
And leaving in battle no blot on their name,
Look calmly to Heaven from the death-bed of fame."