The Religion of Loyalty
Pastor George Mooar -- April 23, 1865
Scriptures for today:
FCCO records show the the congregation increased to 75 in Nov 1861 when they moved into the Agricultural Pavillian. The first building [and the third place] the young 'relogious society' called home was built o a small plot purchased about August of 1861 at the corner of 10th & Broadway.
On March 23, 1862 the first service was held with 75 persons in attendance. The theme for the first year in the new building was "I love the habitation of thy home, and the place where thy glory dwelleth."
He retired on April 1, 1872 to become the President o Pacific School of Religion.
During his pastorate, the church grew to about 340.
He passed away on February 16, 1904 in his home. The funeral service was held at Plymouth Congregational, which was part of FCCO when Dr. Mooar was pastor.1
“For when thy judments are in the earth, the inhabintants of the world will learn righteousness” - Isaiah xxvi: 9, I. c.
CERTAINLY God’s judgments have been in our land. Certainly the inhabitants of this country have had the chance to learn the great principles, which lie at the root of all righteousness. Often during the four years of these judgments, it has seemed to me that a most instructive volume might be written with some such title as THE RELIGION OF LOYALTY. It should be the purpose of such a volume to gather up the illustrations, which the Rebellion has supplied, of the truth and force of Biblical doctrine. And if it will not seem presumptuous in me, I will undertake to suggest some of the themes this book might more fully discuss.
1. The scenes through which we have been passing teach us the importance of correct doctrinal opinions.
Among the most common remarks, which you will hear, concerning religious matters is this: “It is no matter what you believe. Your creed makes no difference with your life or your prospect of salvation.” But the difference between such men as Webster and Calhoun was a difference of opinion, of belief almost solely. One was not any purer or safer man personally than the other. Indeed some might think that if either had the advantage in this respect, the Southern statesman bad it. And what was the difference between Jefferson Davis and Stephen A. Douglas? Both were ambitious; both were lovers of power and fitted to be leaders of the people. Doubtless there were great differences in natural disposition. But the point at which the two men separated was quite as much one of belief as of sympathy. They differed in their political creed. The one exalted the sovereignty of the State, and the other the sovereignty of the Nation. Did this difference between those men lead to no serious consequences? Why, the Rebellion, with all its enormity, has grown in great part out of that disagreement in respect to the theory of our Government. For thirty years the one creed had been industriously preached on platform and in pulpit in one section, and the other creed in the other section. This political opinion of State Rights poisoned the whole Southern mind and heart. We said: “Oh, it is only a difference of opinion.” Bu it was an entering wedge, which well nigh [might] split a Nation asunder. We may laugh at opinions, and make merriment of creeds and catechisms. But, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” No personal sincerity or correctness of general behavior can prevent the injurious influence of his opinions, if those opinions arc wrong. If these opinions do not seem to affect him, they will affect his children. If they do not cause ruin in the first generation, they will in the second.
Doubtless thousands of men who have drawn the sword against this Government have been as sincere and conscientious us any thousand of our own soldiers. They have felt it sweet to die for country as well as we. They have shown their sincerity by sacrifices great as any that we have made. The very spies and assassins have professed to be doing their country service. But we condemn them. History will condemn them to disgrace. At their doors will be laid the accusation of a great crime. And why? Because they were mistaken in opinion! Because they had adopted an incorrect theory of our institutions! Is it then of no importance what men believe? Does sincerity whiten the assassin’s bloody hand? Does it prevent the flowing of a nation’s blood and treasure? Rather we know that this fanatical sincerity has prolonged and aggravated the war.
Differences there may be in religion; differences as to mere dress, which will have little effect; because they do not pertain to the substance of the faith. But all differences of creed, which do run down into the substance of faith, however slight they may seem, are of the greatest moment, of gravest concern.
2. Among the most prominent lessons in doctrine, which these times of rebellion have taught us, is, that government is a great good.
The Bible has often told us indeed, that the ruler of a land is minister unto it for good. But liberty was the American idol. The people were irksome of restraint. We liked to do that which was good in our own eyes. We did not appreciate the value of civil authority. But we have been taught to think of government as a great comfort, a shelter, and a defense. It seems now like the rocky coast, with green grass and clumps of flowers in its clefts, which keeps back the angry waves. We have seen its strong arm uplifted, and we have rejoiced in that arm, as a little child in a moment of danger rejoices in the strength of his father.
Government is no longer, in our eyes, a convenient arrangement, a shrewd political contrivance; nor is it a kind of copartner ship into which men enter for a little while, which is to be dissolved as soon as a personal whim or interest may dictate. It is an ordinance of God, a venerable and blessed institution, with which it is a sacrilege to trifle, indispensable to personal comfort, to growth of country, to peace, to progress, to the security of all that men hold dearest on earth. Our fathers, brothers, sons, have laid down their lives by thousands - for what? To maintain the Government of the Union. They counted not their lives dear; we have not counted our taxes dear; nothing has been counted too dear to be given up to keep the Government unharmed. Then, surely, government — just, equal, and strong — is a great good.
But if human government be a great good, then God’s government is good and blessed also. There are persons who profess to like to hear concerning the love of God, the fatherhood and motherhood of God, as they fancifully speak, but of his law and government they cannot bear to think. But the Government of God is the stability and security of the Universe. “The Lord reigneth,” therefore “let the earth rejoice.” He might live, but if He did not reign, the world would be an anarchy.
Because, after the assassins had done their work, and had left the noble President dead, the Government, nevertheless, in all its departments, remained; its authority could reach every part of the loyal land, and every soldier in the national army; therefore we were able to pursue our business, and to look forward to the future with hope. Even the national currency drooped, if at all, but for a moment. No panic ran like a wild fire through the States. The Government, that invisible, but strong and blessed thing, was still in Washington, and omnipresent also in America. Even the rebel camps felt its power. Its flags, floating though they were at half-mast, were glad emblems still of national majesty.
The moral Government of God is, in like measure, a joy and pride. Because it is strong, the world is secure. Infinite goodness, unswerving justice — God himself reigns. Crime often rears its head; sin plots in the dark places of the heart; rebellion so wide and so defiant, seems ready to break all cords asunder He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh. For he hath set his king in Zion. He “hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all.”
3. The events of the past four years have taught us the reality of the divine providence and purposes.
It has been gratifying to notice how men have loved, in the shadow of these passing events, to detect the hand of God in our affairs. This has been true not of professedly religious men only, but of men who make no pretensions to personal piety. Their language has been surprisingly religious in its tone. When prosperity has come, they have felt like thanking God; when there have been reverses, they have even more noticeably said: It is God’s hand; He has some great and good lessons for us to learn. What they have said has been strangely true. The humiliating things have been put into our national experience just at the place and time in which they were wanted. If the war could have come to an end in one year, what a curse to us! If in two years, what would the land have gained! If certain men had been permitted to win the victories for us, how would they have fastened on us the old bondage! And even now, it is a feeling universal, spontaneous, that this last and most sad event is from the hand f the same watchful and kind providence. If you have read speeches and sermons, and talked with men on the street, they all tell you God is in this matter. And would it not be a curse to think that all these things were happening, just as men throw dice, that there as no Hand of a personal God on the secret springs. Ordering events, and bringing good out of evil? Hardly less disagreeable would be the supposition that all has come from the mere destiny of things — fate. We want to feel, and these years of war have taught us to feel, that it is the will of “Creation’s Lord and friend”, which is being fulfilled in these times.
Well, if the doctrine of Divine Providence has been thus commended to us in national affairs, let it be commended to us in all affairs. The same hand, which leads our nation, leads all nations and all individuals, and all things work together for good to those who love him. How does this doctrine of Providence come with its comfort in many a home today, in which strange and dark things have happened! These strange and dark things, things not to be explained by any human wit, do not break the heart; because that heart takes to itself the great Christian doctrine that God does all things well: nothing is out of his inspection and sway. Little things as well as great, terrible things as well as beautiful are embraced in his providence and obey his behests. Oh, well for us, if we can feel that we love Him who watches the sparrow as it falls, numbers the hairs of the head, as well as rules in the movements of mighty armies!
But it deserves marked notice how in these times of war, loyal men have rejoiced in the doctrine of Divine Purposes. Not merely has it been a comfort to us to feel that God’s hand was in charge of all our affairs, but we have been confident that our national future was fueled by his eternal purpose. We where “elected” to be United States the greet heart of the people has been buoyed up by the very general belief that God had “foreordained” that we should be one, and free. To use a current phrase, we have believed in a “manifest destiny” for our Republic. Physical geographers have shown us that this destiny was written for us in the line of our coasts, in the course of our rivers, in the mountain chains, which traverse our territory. We were never meant to be divided. Philosophers in history have traced out the same divine purpose in the country’s annals. Where no such reasonings have been employed, yet somehow men have said over to themselves: We were not made to fall. No disaster, bad as that of Bull Run, or horrid as this at Ford’s Theater, could repress the national conviction that God had marked us out for deliverance. So certain have we been of this, that immediately on the news of such an event, we have set ourselves to studying how it was likely to sub verse the plan of God concerning us. The war could not have been waged except for this firm persuasion that it was purposed to end in victory.
This has nerved the arm of the soldier; this has cheered him in toilsome marches; this has reconciled us all to “fighting it out on this line,” because we have held a firm faith that this line was the one marked out from the foundation of the world. It is this conviction of a Divine purpose in our war, which breathes in the second Inaugural of President Lincoln, and gave that document its place in the American heart. “The Almighty has his own purpose.” That was the opening sentence of a paragraph, which read like words of inspiration, and which compelled the awe of men on both sides of the Atlantic.
Again and again men have spontaneously quoted against our enemies the proverb: “Whom the gods destroy they first make mad.” Steadily the faith grew that God meant they should fail, signally and terribly fail.
If we have found no objection to holding this faith in God’s purposes with respect to the war, why should we find any to holding it with respect to all events? If it has cheered and spurred men to valorous deeds, why should it not spur the inner to work out his own salvation with fear and trembling? If such a faith be nowise inconsistent with the firmest possible conviction of personal responsibility and obligation in national affairs, how should it be inconsistent with such responsibility and obligation anywhere or at any time? If the American mind believes in destiny and a divine purpose in the domain of politics, why should it not in the domain of religion? If Paul, and Augustine, and Calvin, and Edwards utter our belief respecting our national redemption, why not respecting our personal salvation?
4. The rebellion has made men learn the truth of the scriptural doctrine of total depravity. We have long since learned to say that such and such a man is disloyal, totally disloyal. We well understood what was meant by the phrase. The man might be a good father and an honest man in many relations-nay, he might be a praying man; but he was totally disloyal to his country. There was not one sentiment of true affection for his Government; his sympathies were all against it. That gave him his character; that divided him from his fellow-citizens; it made a deep and black line between him and them. Taking this position be become more and more like those with whom he associated. Some of them will be more mad and desperate than he; they will not observe the proprieties so much; they will do fouler deeds than he. But then we know that these gentlemanly, and chivalrous, and high-bred rebels are just as totally disloyal as Wilkes Booth or any of his accomplices. They differ among themselves, and some of them are much more enjoyable than others; but they all are one in disaffection and alienation from their country. They are committed to one unholy cause.
But is not this precisely what is meant by, the theological phrase of total depravity? It means, simply, total disloyalty. A man either is or is not loyal to his God — he either does or he does not choose to have God reign over him; if he does not choose, we say he is ungodly, and totally ungodly. We do not say "He is totally unattainable, or totally dishonest, or totally untruthful". He is not as bad as he could or may become; but godliness — a disposition to serve the Governor of the world — he does not possess — he does not possess it at all; and not to possess that, is indeed to be totally wrong. The main, central pillar of a holy character has fallen, and the house is a ruin.
With the first moment of secession, the sunny South became a foreign land. It still was sunny, and there were memorials of the old Union; but the atmosphere was oppressively vacant to the American heart. So with man’s soul; it still gives traces of its Maker and Lord, but the supreme loyalty to God is strangely, unnaturally, and yet wholly absent.
5. We cannot help, also, learning in these times the terribleness of sin. One great part of Biblical religion consists in setting forth the evil and bitter thing it is to sin against God. On a small scale, and in a single person, sins of all kinds seem to lose their enormity; but during three years we have seen them on a large scale, and they affect millions of people. If we suppose that the rebellion sprung from ambition and from the disposition to perpetuate human bondage, who can compute the ruin those sins have brought in their train? If, as is doubtless true, all that has happened can be traced in great measure to a few leading individuals-to their personal lust for power how many murdered lives throw back upon those few a criminality such as must appall and overwhelm them with accusations? Sin appears in its full light to us only in its consequences.
It would have been a small thing for Kennedy to have started a fire here and there in the City of New York, if each building fired stood alone; but it was in his heart to lay the great city of a million of people in ashes. Arson, with such purposes, becomes a colossal crime. We mention the crime of treason in a single breath; but that crime, as it lay in the purpose, and went out into the deed of the rebel conspirators, meant the murder of at least a million American men, and the sorrow and anguish, and poverty, to a greater or less extent, of ten millions more. It meant wasted cities, devastated towns, ruined industry. All this enormity of evil sprang out of a sinful heart. You may put that sinfulness into what hearts you please, and into as many as you please; but you cannot rise from this enormous spectacle of suffering without feeling that in a world such as this is, it is dangerous to trifle with sin-just as it is dangerous in a powder mill to strike as much as a spark of lire. That single spark may instantaneously destroy the labor and hopes of a lifetime.
It has often been to me a serious and solemn thought, as the months have more and more revealed the immensity of crime, to reflect that the authors of all this are just such men as ourselves. We are apt to figure great criminals to be persons of peculiarly revolting history and personal appearance; but they are not always such. They have the same flesh and blood as ourselves; they have no worse natures than loyal men. Exactly such sins as we indulge have led them into the crime, which now appalls us. At first thought we assume that at least Wilkes Booth and his accomplices are the worst persons, and the worst looking, that walk the earth. It will not be found so, very likely. Some leading men of the South may disavow them — may profess great honor of them, possibly; but if you were to converse with these assassins, it is not improbable they might even win your sympathies. It would be found that they were influenced by no worse feelings or motives than the men who profess to abhor them; nay, it might be found that they were ruled by the same sinful motives, which actuate ourselves. Condenses, or love of notoriety or personal resentment the deed. These motives look bad when we see them seeking the lives of men so eminent and so kindly as Abraham Lincoln and William H. Seward; but Oh! How many times have we given way to precisely these motives in our own life? In how many millions of our countrymen are the same sins working to will and to do? So we come out on that exposition of the matter, which our Lord gives: “He that hateth his brother is a murderer.” He who does not love God with his whole heart, and his neighbor as himself, he is an assassin; that is to say, there is no knowing what a sinner may do-may be left to do. The most revolting crimes spring from nothing worse than sin. If covetousness was Judas´ motive in betraying his Master, then that Master has been virtually betrayed many and many a time. If covetousness, ambition, pride, and love of power were the moral causes of the rebellion, then, wherever these sins prevail, there is the motive power, which may deluge the continent in blood.
6. We have learned also, amid these judgments, that retribution is both a necessity and a great good. Our humanitarian religions and the peaceful times have caused many people to have a great horror of punishment. They do not like to hear about it. They quarrel with any prospect of future penalty; but what were our national security if no retribution had been practiced, or were yet to be administered to high-handed offenders? Who of us does not rejoice that detectives, sharp and keen in scent, were on all the routes that led out of Washington, and that they scoured the country for the arrest of all who had part or complicity in the great crime of assassination? Is there a loyal man, or woman, or child, who does not pray that the highest penalty which an offender can pay may be paid when those men shall be arrested? Has there not been a sense of justice gratified as we have seen the hot-beds of secession trampled into the dust beneath the iron feet of war? When we have looked on the skeletons of our brave fellows returning from the slow death of Southern prisons, have not our souls clamored for vengeance on their infamous keepers? Have we not felt glad, soberly and righteously, and yet almost exultantly glad, as we have seen the fomenters of all this mischief reaping the whirlwind which they themselves had sown, falling into the pit which they bad themselves digged? And if some of them shall hang on the gallows it will be considered by millions a matter of praise.
Now, if we have learned thus to see the necessity, the justice, the benevolence, and even the joy, of retribution in national affairs, we must admit that it is possible to acquiesce in the retributions which are decreed in the Divine government against those who shall not comply with the proclaimed amnesty of the Governor and Savior of the world? I have heard one of you u say, you could stand by and see a certain man, once your friend, hung, because of his prominent agency in this rebellion. Doubtless there are friends and kindred who, if they could not, in the temper of the elder Brutus, stand by and see such a penalty inflicted upon those of their own flesh, would, nevertheless, admit that it were a just and fitting award. Do we not learn in the light of such feelings, in reference to national crime, the necessary place, and reason, and good, of those penalties, which God inflicts upon all sinners who stand out against his supreme and blessed authority? The great loyal heart of the people believes the sentimentality, which would not punish with death the assassin and the perfidious traitor, to be sickly and dangerous. From all the four winds the popular breath is, “there must be retribution. Treason must be made odious.” The nation must express by condign penalty its estimation of its own life. So God says of those who persist in rebellion against him. They have lifted up unholy bands against a blessed and perfect government; they have had no excuse for it; they have struck in the face of Love and Favor-verily they shall have their reward.
7. These years of war have taught us the folly and emptiness of mere secret religion.
We have not been content with guessing at the loyalty of our fellow-citizens. In times like these the demand has been-show your colors; declare where you stand; take the oath; join some league; contribute to some loyal object; show in some way, in a way which puts the matter beyond doubt, which side you are on. We have come to feel that what a man thinks and speaks about his country is not a private, it is a public concern. Do ask my neighbor in regard to his feelings and views on the great question, he is not at liberty to tell me that it is an impertinent inquiry; it is eminently pertinent-for when such a question is at issue no man can decently pretend to be neutral. This lesson is one, which Christ would have men learn in religion likewise. It is not a merely private affair whether I am Christian or not in my decisions and sympathies. If I love some private person, it is at my option, to a great extent, to keep the matter to myself. But our Lord is no private person; if a man loves Him it is public concern that he express his love, and let it be known widely as his influence may extend. Therefore it is that so much stress is laid. In the New Testament, on profession. Christ wants out and out, decided, open followers. In a cause so vitally important as his, our religion must be, not indeed ostentatious, but pronounced and clear; if it is not paraded in posters along the streets, it should be written in living epistles, known and read of all men.
8. The course of political events during this time of our nation’s danger has illustrated the doctrine, that all genuine religion will be loyal to Christ.
We have heard, even to sickness, men profess that they were loyal to the Government, but not to the existing administration. That sounds plausible; but we came to count all such professions suspicious. Let our conviction concerning this point be well pondered. Some of our fellow-citizens, who would not like to be called irreligious or un-godly, make a distinction between God’s government and the administration of affairs in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ-they are loyal to God, but not to his vice-royal Son. It is the claim of the New Testament, that all such loyalty is radically defective. God has set his King upon the holy Hill of Zion, and that King is Christ. “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth;” and to be disloyal to Him, is to be thoroughly ungodly — “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.” We have learned to have a wholesome suspicion of the party, which praised the Government and picked flaws in what they called “Lincoln’s Government.” Let us beware of that naturalistic religion, current in much of our literature, which exalts God and disowns Christ. We do not like this deception in politics; we should dislike it as much in religion.
We have come to look upon it as a mere ruse to disguise real opposition there; is it anything else or does a man say, “Well, religion is a good thing; I love religion; but I do not like this and that policy which Christ pursues and insists upon. I see the importance of repentance and good works, but not of faith.” We should have learned that this attitude towards Christ is exactly what has gained in politics the opprobrious name of “Copperhead.” It is a want of cordial and unhesitating loyalty. To oppose the Government and to oppose the administration, in this case, is one and the same thing-for the Government is “upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
9. These events of war impress upon the public mind that leading evangelical truth, the necessity of Regeneration. A disloyal man does not become loyal without a thorough change of heart. Doubtless hundreds and thousands may take the oath of allegiance under the immediate motive of personal interest, but we feel that we could not really trust one of them, unless his change came out of a truly penitent confession of his wrong. One might become innocuous, might saying, and do nothing to the prejudice of the Government; but nothing save a thorough conversion in convictions, and feelings, and sympathies, can make a real rebel into a real patriot. Whether such conversions will be many or few does not appear. From all that appears, it does not seem that they are very numerous yet; but unless such changes do take place, nothing less than immigration of Union men and enfranchisement of the freedmen can make those broad States one in the national bonds. But it is obviously on the same grounds, only of course those grounds are deeper, that Christ says: “Except ye become converted, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven;” “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must be born again.” Heaven cannot be heaven, if ungodly and godly are mixed in its enclosures. There is no doctrine, which comes to us with so obvious a force as this of conversion. I have preached it here sometimes, and heard that men went away saying it was a hard doctrine. Surely it is the easiest of doctrines to believe. The necessity of a change of affections toward God in order to heavenly peace is as clear as the sunlight.
10. Once more, the distinctively Christian doctrine of costly sacrifice for· the redemption of men has been commended to us in the midst of these judgments. From beginning t end, our national redemption has been advanced only at the price of blood. In thousands and thousands of cases this blood has been of the purest and most virtuous. We used to read occasionally an English memoir of some noble youth who perished in the Crimea or among the Sepoys. It seemed odd to us to associate sacrifices so pure, offerings so blameless, with the altars of war. We held such lives to be rare in the ranks of soldiers; but they have not been rare in this struggle. The beauty of our Israel has been slain again and again on the high places, and amid the low and malarias swamps of our battlefields and trenches. What murderous assaults! It makes the blood curdle to see the poor fellows slaughtered in those awful fires â€” in the Seven Days, at Fredericksburg, at Fort Wagner, at Vicksburg, at Fort Hudson, in the battle-month of May, and at Petersburg. The tales told of Andersonville surpass not our belief, indeed, but our conception "We have been bought with a price!” But we little thought that when the price had nearly all been paid â€” in what has been softly called regular warfare â€” we little thought that they would wreak from us that charmed and precious life, which seemed to represent precisely what was best and most characteristic in our average American manhood. Many a Barabbas, many a shoddy contractor and army robber we might have released unto them; but we could not easily find another offering to their rage so hard, so cruel to give up, as Abraham Lincoln. The first shock stunned us, for it was sudden; but the more you look upon it, the more does the deed seem atrocious â€” the costlier does the victim appear. He was an American in every instinct. He was, in every fiber, of national lineage. All his education was of the most unmixed home manufacture. His dominant associations were with the yeomanry of his own land. He represented the hundreds, we might say the hundred thousands of American youth, who have struggled up from poverty and have acquired knowledge under difficulties. He had cultivated familiar acquaintance with his fellow-citizens, and was eminently a man among men. He spoke to their understanding, and their good sense and best feelings. He was hedged about by no scholastic or professional ways. He had that homely, unaffected kindness, which knew not how to stilt its phrases, but spoke its sympathy with laconic simplicity to many a stricken widow, and many a wounded soldier. “Honest" was what the people called him, and honesty is the highest compliment that the common men of America can pay. His one fault in public affairs was said to be leniency, but it was leniency, which sprung from no defective reprobation of crime, but from the native kindliness and toleration of his nature. A finer sense of justice never dwelt in a statesman’s mind; a truer exponent of the American institutions never sat in the Presidential chair. You would not expect from a man of his broad humor and his somewhat rough companionship, temperance; bat he was well nigh, I believe wholly, abstinent. You would fear that the sense of religion would be weak, but even a passing traveler, as Goldwin Smith, noticed it as a controlling element in his nature; and no one could read his letters and messages without feeling that that element seemed to flow from fuller and fuller fountains, as if the rock in which the fountains were had been cleft far down into its heart by the providence and grace of God! This man, just then in the height of his esteem â€” when radical impatience had changed to praise, and the conservative fear had turned to love â€” ^just as the sounds of victory long wished for had come to his ear â€” just after his own safe return from Richmond, the surrendered capital â€” just at the hour when he was studying how his four years´ kindness to come might complete what four years of war had now fairly begun â€” this man, the typical wild flower of our civilization, was deemed the last and crowning sacrifice of our national redemption. No wonder strong men wept. And no wonder if now that he is offered, men think that offering is done, and the war is over; for surely our foes cannot take anything, and we have nothing to give, which is worthier.
How impressively this event suggests to us the great Gospel Sacrifice, I need only mention. It suggests it only, I know; but though a vastly lesser instance of sacrifice than the death of the Son of God, yet it is an instance in the same general line â€” a filling up, we may reverently say, of what was behind in the sufferings of Christ for the amelioration of men â€” making us, too, more and more to feel that, awful in some of its aspects as the Scripture Doctrine of Atonement is, it is not all foreign to our human history. Rather it runs through the web of human affairs, everywhere present with its threads of blood. Wilkes Booth, like Caiaphas of old, uttered prophecy to which he himself was judicially blind â€” it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, that the whole nation perish not." Without some such costly shedding of blood, there seems to be no remission of sins for nations or for individuals; and however costly all our offerings for country and for human deliverance may be, the Christian Doctrine ever glorifies itself in the face of our bleeding sympathies â€” because it teaches that God has laid the costliest sacrifice that can be laid upon any human altar. He “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." So it happens that whatever be the glories of sacrifice, which thrill us in these sublime moments of a nation’s crisis, the old tale of our suffering Lord, which we heard in childhood at our mother’s knee, loses none of its interest in the comparison; rather it is just at these times that we are fitted to appreciate its worth, I might show also again how the glow of loyalty with which these events of war have transfigured us is fitted to impart itself to our religion, making our citizenship and service in the heavenly kingdom take on a similar ardor, devotion, generosity, joy, and triumph. Indeed, “I count it one among the greatest gifts of the war that this word loyalty has got fairly at home in our American speech. We have now only to say to each other, be as loyal, as delicately, chivalrously loyal to Christ as you are to country. Transfer to Jesus, your King, those very sentiments and emotions, which have thrilled you in these eventful years of national danger, and struggle, and triumph.
It were possible to illustrate likewise how eminently the Bible shows itself the book for war as for peace. Read at the campfires, the hot blaze has brought out truths, which could not be seen by the parlor lamp or in the gentle light of peaceful days at home. How have men read its hard passages as well as its loving ones, and felt that they also were fitted to this wicked world. Men, who have caviled at the extermination of the Canaanite, have come to see in some measure why it needed to be. The very liberals in religion, who have been shocked at the imprecations contained in the Psalms, have been obliged to repeat the same language in order to express their own righteous indignation. Our own Starr King, who was so much inclined to tone down the Biblical threatenings by calling them expressions of oriental passionateness, found it easy and natural to use those very expressions of wrath against the enemies of his country. For them, at least, he felt that no punishment could be too severe. And surely no religion but the Biblical has had any pertinence or power in the scenes of bloodshed and arms. On the fields of blood and in the prisons of captivity, the Bible has shown itself the book of solid and precious comfort to the dying and suffering.
But it has been my aim not so much to gather the illustrations of what the war has given the people to learn of righteousness, as to throw out hints of how illustrations might be gathered. Sure I am that in the ways pointed out, and in other ways, we have been learning righteousness â€” we have been lifted up toward God â€” we have come to welcome and rejoice in his government, to feel satisfied in the terror of his retributions. His Providence has seemed to draw close about our lives and our homes. The Biblical view of man’s sinfulness, its deep seat and its power, have been made more evident. The one safety of the world as of the nation has been seen to be in having a new heart, a right loyal spirit toward Christ our King. As country has grown richer and its future more secure, because of the blood that has been poured out in its defense, we have been led to think that that heavenly country must be rich and secure, for it has been purchased at the same kind and a greater degree of cost. Oh! That the Spirit of God, coming into every city, and town, and village in these States, would take of these things which Divine ´ judgments have taught us, and double at once the righteous men in the land! God grant that we who profess to be righteous, may find that our righteousness is becoming purer and more perfect in quality. Then violence shall no more be heard in the land, wasting nor desolation within our borders. Our people, being all-righteous, shall inherit the land forever. He who has been judging us shall give unto them that mourn beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Then shall they build the wastes, raise up the former desolations, and repair the waste cities and the desolations of former years, which seem like the desolations of many generations.
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