THE DEATH OF THE PRESIDENT.*
It was the old story of a suppressed rebellion planting its last revengeful sting. Abner, the captain of Saul's host had been beaten in battle aud had taken to flight. Three brothers from the array of Israel had pursued him. As Asahel, the fleetest of them, without armor, pressed upon him, Abner smote him with his spear. Asahel's very strength and swiftness and noble daring had brought him to his death. The enemies of David and of stable government gave the good cause a temporary check by striking down (me of its most hopeful champions. It was no wonder that all the people that saw that bloody deed, or looked upon the mangled corpse of the brave soldier, were so moved with grief and indignation that they stood still.
Twice, in like manner, this whole nation has stood still over the bodies of its chosen and beloved chief-magistrates, smitten in the hour of greatest fame and promise, and smitten by the hand of the assassin. Once when Abraham Lincoln,— the great civil war concluded, emancipation an accomplished fact, the whole North full of gratitude and reverence for the sturdiness of that homely, humane trust in the people aud in God that had led him safely through,— fell a martyr to liberty. How well I remember looking down from a window in Broadway upon that mighty funeral procession stretching up and down as far as the eye could reach, the muffled drums and the draperies of woe with which our great War-President was carried through the country to his tomb. But sadder yet, seemed to me the other night those mournful bells that waked us only to tell that the brave spirit of our last President had passed forever from the world. Lincoln's work seemed to have been accomplished. The whole land wept for him as for a benefactor. Garfield had just entered upon his term of service, and his work as President had just begun. As with Asahel in the Scripture narrative, a thousand hopes lie buried with him — hopes that held on in spite of disappointment, hopes fostered by the quiet courage of the long struggle against death, hopes based upon the new independence and influence which this very agony and trial would have given him. When I heard the tolling of those midnight bells, it seemed to me like a voice of God calling the nation to solemn thought and prayer. Now, if never before, we may hear what God the Lord will speak. Surely it becomes us, like the Israelites of old, in the presence of our dead, to stand still.
First of all, we may stand still in appreciative remembrance of the life
* A Sermon on the death of President Garfield, preached at the Central Presbyterian Church, Rochester, Sunday morning, September 25, 1881, on the text, 2 Samuel, 2 : 23 — "And it came to pass that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and •died, stood still."
and character of the departed. President Garfield was a man of whom we have very many reasons as a people to be proud. He was a noble example of what is almost distinctively American, the rise of native ability and energy from the lowest to the highest positions in the social scale. Left fatherless at an early age but under the tutelage of a mother of intrepid spirit, his hard work in the fields only develops a rugged constitution, his narrow opportunities for schooling rouse an eager thirst for knowledge, the bullying of larger boys stimulates a just assertion of his rights. He becomes conscious of power, first as a student, then as a teacher, finally as a public speaker. He has a manly, healthy, sound spirit; and he makes his way by rapid strides through a college course, into active work as a professor, and finally to the head of the institution where he got his first taste of a liberal training. He has convictions, and a manly way of propagating his opinions, that wins the hearts of his pupils. Without being ordained to the ministry of the gospel, he naturally drifts into preaching. He defends Christianity against spiritualism and infidelity. He advocates Free Soil doctrine in the contest with slavery. At twenty-eight, he is State Senator of Ohio. At thirty, he is Brigadier-General in the Army. Rosecranz at first distrusts him, as a preacher who has gone into politics, just as Cameron afterwards declares that a broken-down preacher has no right to be nominated for the Presidency. But there is no break-down about the preacher, after all. Chickamauga makes him Major-General. Then he is needed in Congre&s, and to Congress he goes. There for eighteen years he holds a place second to none, for consistent and intelligent defense of sound principles in legislation and in politics. As Chairman, first of the Committee on Military Affairs, then of the Committees on Banking and Currency and on Appropriations, ho presents to tho House of Representatives and to the country as valuable a body of opinion on great questions of political economy and administration as has come from any statesman in our history except Alexander Hamilton and Daniel Webster.
Many of those before me remember that most admirable address in which, three years ago, he advocated in our City Hall the endangered cause of asound currency. That speech, so simple yet so powerful, so free from all appeals to pr ejudice, so full of calm and convincing reasoning, was enough to show to an en emy of our institutions tho wonderful educating power of a political campaign under our system of government, and the certainty that with prope r instruction the people could be trusted to decide aright. Ho had made the subject of finance his study for years, and one of his speeches in Congress begins: "Mr. Speaker,— I remember that on the monument of Quean Elizabeth, where her glories were recited and her honors summed up, among the last and the highest, recorded as the climax of her honors, was this, that she restored the money of her kingdom to its just value. And when this House shall have done its work — when it shall have brought back values to their proper standard, — it will deserve a monument." The House of Representatives and the nation combined did that very thing. James A. Garfield had much to do with setting that tide of public opinion that repressed corrupt silver legislation, that compelled a return to specie payments, and that branded as fraud all edging toward a repudiation of our public debt,—and for this, if for nothing else, he deserves a monument .
-From that influential position in Congress he was suddenly raised to the chief-magistracy of this great nation, and before time was given him for the full development of his policy, he has been now, as suddenly, taken from us. The purity of his private life, the warmth of his family affections, his love for wife and children and for the good old mother who tended and trained him when a boy, will stand side by side with George Washington's, as examples to a nation. The success which crowned a just ambition, the rising by right methods to the highest place of power, the scholarship and genuine mastery of public questions by which he achieved his honors, above all the high moral tone of his public life, will be an inspiration forever to American youth. I trust that to all this he joined the virtues of the truo Christian. In his early days, and during the war, he knew what it was to pray. He was always faithful to his church in its outward observances. "When the fatal shot struck him down, it was God's will to which he submitted himself, whether that will was life or death. The cares of office and the pressure of political life may have dulled his early religious feelings and made his devotions less earnest than once they were wont to be. I could have wished to hear from that sick-room plain recognitions of God's presence, voices of prayer to him who could save him from death, utterances of trust in Christ alone, as his soul prepared to go forth alone into the great darkness. But though these things are withheld from us, we look to the total record of his life and feel that the spirit of it was Christian. We can more easily explain the unmurmuring fortitude of those weeks of suffering, if we assume that a stronger than human arm sustained him. And now that he is gone, we feel that death glorifies him; we take the nobility and high purpose of his life, as we did in the case of Abraham Lincoln, as signs of an inner life that men could not see; we leave him reverently and hopefully with God, trusting that he has entered upon rest and reward, and waiting for the revelations of that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed.
I call yon now, in the second place, to stand still in grateful recognition of the alleviating circumstances with which divine Providence has attended our sorrow. For, if we are Christians at all, we must recognize a divine Providence in all such events as these. Let us call it a permissive Providence, for none of us would hold that God by any act of his inspired the murderous intent or aimed the shot of the assassin. But what God does not work he may foresee and permit, while yet the acts of his creatures are free, guilty, and punishable. God does not always deem it best to prevent man's wickedness from pursuing its chosen course and so revealing its real nature. So there is no crime of man which God has not foreknown and provided for — not one that he has not arranged to control and overrule for good. God might have palsied the hand of Guiteau, but it was his plan rather to make that very wrath of man turn to his praise. God made the treachery of Judas the means of the world's redemption. And so, throughout human history, God makes human passion and wickedness, in spite of themselves, to bring about his purposes of good. His voice calls to us today: "Be still and know that I am God," and assures us that even these crimes and sorrows are among the "all things that work together for good."
Will it impose too great a burden upon your faith if I go further, and say that we are bound also to believe that, in this sad event, over which a whole people are mourning, God has answered our prayers? This ought not to perplex us, but I know how often it does perplex us. I can see good from this calamity from the new lesson it is teaching us with regard to the true nature of answers to prayer. I fear there is an enthusiastic and unscriptural notion in many minds, the notion that a great desire for a specific blessing is proof that that blessing will certainly be granted us when we ask it of God. The Bible should have taught us better. Did not Christ our Lord pray: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Yet his Father's will was that he should drink that cup. Were not all of Christ's prayers answered? Was not that very prayer answered? We get the secret of all in the last words of that same prayer: "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." So "Thy will be done " is the easence of all true prayer. When God sees it best for us to give just what we ask, he gives it; when he sees it best for us not to give, he gives, not what we ask, but what we ought to ask. In either case, prayer is answered; blessing comes to us that never would have come, if prayer had not gone before ; the very prayers we offer are links arranged by God between his decree and its fulfilment. Prayer is answered, whether wo receive what we expect or not; and let us be sure that blessing will come to this nation as the result of the multitudinous petitions that have risen before God's throne —blessing larger and better than we in our poor wisdom are able to conceive.
Some blessings we can already see. Great sorrows like this make a whole peoplo one. They educate our youth to patriotism. The solemnities of this, day and of the morrow will cause a love of country and a sense of its greatness to thrill the soul of many a boy and girl that never felt it before. One of the earliest of my recollections is the draping of the church, and the memorial sermon, and the funeral procession, when William Henry Harrison died. I believe I have never ceased to feel the influence of that service. How much more deep and all-pervading is the grief of this hour! The telegraph and the press have brought a whole nation to stand as watchers by one bedside, aye, have made a whole nation parts of one family. A bond of sympathy has been established that makes all classes one. Such things as these make a nation strong, teach it the dignity and worth of national life, prepare it to resist attack from without, nerve it to put down the evils that threaten from within. There may be dangers in our civil system with which our late President would have been too weak to grapple. His death may do more than his life,—it may rouse within this peoplo an unappeasable determination to bring them to an end. But this feeling is wider than the nation. It has overspread tho world. There probably has never been a death—never an event of any kind—that has awakened such quick and world-wide sorrow. Methinks it is the prophecy of that coming day when the whole race of man shall become conscious of its organic unity; when one impulse of love and loyalty shall pervade every human heart; when all shall grieve and all rejoice together; when total humanity shall be like one great organ of maDy stops and keys, all vibrating to one grand harmony under the mighty constraining breath of the one Spirit of God.
We have had time, too, to prepare us for this calamity. Had death instantly followed the murderous shot, there would have been stirred far more of partizan passion. It would have seemed almost the fruit of a conspiracy. We know better now. No fear now disturbs us that our government is to become like that of Russia or of Turkey — a "despotism tempered by assassination." There is no nihilism abroad in the land. The deed is not significant of anarchy. When the bells sounded out on Monday night, no one's blood ran cold with the thought that revolution was to follow. Other lands, in other days, have not felt safe as we. How great God's gift to us, that the change from one ruler to another creates not the slightest jar • in the great system! In language like that which Tacitus used of the Roman state, so we may say: Presidents are mortal, but the Republic is eternal. The very contemptuous silence with which the weak miscreant who did this dreadful deed has beeu regarded, shows, far better than words, how little significance belongs to him and to his individual purpose. With him let justice have her way. Let him be an example to all coming time of the abhorrence and the condemnation and the punishment that belong to tho murderer of the head of a nation. And yet the greatest crime of human history was the murder of Christ, and Christ abhorred that crime as only one possessed of divine holiness could. And Christ prayed for his murderers. The penitent thief died by crucifixion, but the penitent thief was saved in answer to Christ's prayer. My friends, justice and pity are not incompatible. It is only the inah who hates iniquity that can truly pray. He who most surely dooms the unrepentant trausgressor to death cau most truly love his soul. I am reminded of Mr. Finney's answer to the question what he would do if the only way to save a fugitive slave from being taken back to bondage was to shoot the master who was attempting to play the part of the kidnapper. "I would kill him," said Mr. Finney,—"but I would love him with all my heart." So we may hate the crime of Guiteau and with one voice demand that he be hauged between heaven and earth, but we may also, and at the same time, pray that God may have mercy on his soul.
I trust this calamity will teach us also our dependence as a nation upon God. We have not prayed enough for our rulers. It is a pleasing part of the English Church service that there never fails a petition for the Queen, that God may endue her with his best gifts for the discharge of her high office, and may grant her in health and wealth long to live. Let us never forget our President. And then let us so reform our system of choosing Vice-Presidents that we shall practically answer our own prayers. To make the nomination for Vice-President a mere matter of conciliation to a defeated faction, in the hope that the result will be of no significance, is simply to tempt Providence, and to hazard tho most important interests of the country. In almost every case where the Vice-President has succeeded to office since the adoption of our Constitution, the consequences have beeu a most sudden and violent change of policy in the administration, an unsettling of public confidence in the stability of the government, and a rousing of political passions which have blocked the wheels of legislation. The inadvertent defects of our political system cau be revealed only in such times as these. God may teach us our needs by this very trial. May we depend upon him and seek his wisdom.
But all these thoughts only lead me on to what, in my judgment, is the great lesson of the hour. I would have you, therefore, in the third place, stand still in penitent contemplation of the special sin of this people which has been at least the indirect cause of President Garfield's death. When I speak of a special wickedness among us which has virtually aimed the pistol that killed our President, I am not inconsistent with what I said a moment ago. I do not charge this crime upon any band of conscious conspirators. But there is an evil among us, a general tendency in our government, a method in our politics, which I brand as the guilty cause of this atrocious murder. That I may not seem to you to be dealing in mere figures of speech, let me quote you a sentence from General Garfield's speech in the House of Representatives on the day after the assassination of President Lincoln. "It was no one man," he said, "it was no one man that killed Abraham Lincoln; it was the spirit of treason and slavery, inspired with despairing hate, that struck him down." As General Garfield then charged Lincoln's assassination to the system of slavery, so I now charge Garfield's own assassination to the spoils-system, which beginning with Aaron Burr, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, has degraded our whole political life into a selfish struggle for office, and which proclaims as its motto the principle that to the victor in this struggle belong the spoils of the enemy.
Years ago, in my first visit to England, I was hospitably entertained at the house of the Postmaster of Oxford. He was a dissenter of one of the straitest sects. He was personally obnoxious to the dignitaries of the Uersity, and of the Church to whom Oxford is an earthly Paradise. He was a liberal in politics, while the administration in- power was Tory. Yet, in spite of these disadvantages, he held on in his office, and had held on through all changes of government for more than twenty years. How do I explain it? Simply in this way : He was a capable and faithful public officer ; he administered the business of his office on economical business principles; he knew his work as Postmaster better than any one else; and no government, Tory or Liberal, thought for a moment of removing him. Would the Oxford public have been better served, if every four years had witnessed a change; if each time some new incumbent had had to learn the trade; if these successive Postmasters had been put there, not so much to secure the expeditious delivery of the mails, as to manage caucuses and to secure votes for the party; if the tenure of office had been absolutely dependent on the retention of that party in power?
And yet these last hypotheses represent the real state of our public service. Offices are distributed as tokens of private friendship or rewards of political service; insecurity of tenure renders the administration of these trusts inefficient, and leads directly to efforts to make the most out of the positions while they last; the absence of proper tests of character and competency permits the crowding of these places with men whose only merit is that they know how to manage the machine and keep the body of voters subservient to the will of a limited number of party managers. In the New York Custom House, where the government levies duties every year on merchandise worth a thousand millions of dollars, an office where long experience, thorough competency and the most scrupulous honesty would seem to be most pressing needs, Collector Schell, in 1858, removed 389 out of 690 officials; Collector Barney removed 525 out of 702; and in 1866 Collector Smythe removed 830 out of 903. Who can compute the distress of these officials at a change in the administration! For many of them change is ruin. They adopt corrupt methods to retain their positions, or they feather their nests before the time of change is upon them. The New York Custom House is but the type of some six thousand offices to which the United States Senate has the right of ponfirmation; of 100,000 subordinates of all ranks and names, through whom the President executes the laws; of 250,000 officials, national, state and municipal, throughout the land. The interest which all these have in elections is, not public interest, but selfish interest. This personal interest makes every political campaign a battle, not of reason cr principle, not of intelligence or discussion, but a life and death fight for place, for perquisites, for subsistence, for spoils. Because everything is at stake for them, this vast body can organize, so that the few can govern the many; men of character are driven out of politics; democracy becomes a cheat and a lie; and the lowest rule. The result is such inefficiency and extravagance, such dishonesty and defalcation, that it costs us three times as much proportionally to collect our revenue as it docs in France, four times as much as it does in Germany, and five times as much as it does in England.
The system of spoils has overwhelmed the Executive and his Cabinet. Three-quarters of the time of the President is consumed in listening to claims for office. Out of 720 calls upon a single Cabinet officer, 710 had to do with applications for place. In 1872, General Garfield, then in Congress, uttered these words: "For many years Presidents of the United States have been crying out in their agony to be relieved of the unconstitutional, crushing, irresistible pressure brought to bear upon them by the entire body of that party in the.legislative department which elected them." By the so-called courtesy of the Senate, that body has usurped executive functions, while by working for office-seekers the House has made it well nigh impossible to devote proper time to the public business. It is a system that inspires every excitable voter with the belief that he too has a right to a share in the spoils of his party. It is a system that invites Guiteau to the Capital, and then maddens him by delays. It is a system that turns public office into public plunder, and that transforms the citizen's reverence for the Chief-magistrate into murderous hatred, and that wings the bullet to his heart as the swiftest means of bringing about a new deal.
Into these last few moments I have condensed the substance of a most able and stirring article in the last Princeton Review by Dorman B. Eaton, Esq., of New York. But there is much more to be said, than has been said by Mr. Eaton. I have come here to-day to utter the whole truth as I belit ve it needs to be uttered. I must say to you that there can be no more impressive illustration of the all-encompassing grasp of this gigantic evil than the official history of our departed Chief-magistrate. With a Congressional record that was unimpeachable behind him, with many an utterauce in which he had pointed out the need of reform and had marked out the path to be followed, General Garfield hardly found himself the nominee of the Republican Party, before he felt the need of conciliating that powerful machine which by its opposition or its indifference might frustrate his election. The result was a letter of acceptance in which ambiguities took the place of clear statement, and the concession was made that Members of Congress have a right to be heard with regard to the appointments in their districts. He entered upon his high office, and we have now to mourn that the vast majority of the time he had to give to his country was given, under compulsion, to listening to the vast horde of office-seekers, who besieged him at the White House and urged their claims to a share in the distribution of the spoils. With a still lingering notion that official place might properly be made a reward for private or party service, he was led, in violation of his own expressed principle that no public servant should be removed before the expiration of his term, except for malfeasance in office, to transfer the Collector of the Port of New York to a position of lower rank and to put in his place one whose chief claim was that he had been a strong opponent of another wing of the party and an influential advocate of his own nomination. I do not believe that these inconsistencies indicated the set purpose and temper of his mind. I trust that, had he lived, he would have risen superior to the malign influences that were about him, and that a healthy moral nature would have overcome this worse than malarious poison that infects our political atmosphere. Still we must be true to facts and to God. With what we may acknowledge to be good intents and plans for the future, even President Garfield allowed himself to take wrong steps at the beginning of his presidential career — steps which it would have cost many political friendships and much of moral courage to retrace.
I recognize in general the principle, "nil de mortuis nisi bonum." But the crisis upon us is too terrible to permit a public teacher to mince his words. An apotheosis of President Garfield is not the best service to his memory, nor to the country which he loved and sought to serve. It will not detract from our sorrow, to acknowledge that he was human and that he erred. We need to acknowledge the fact, because only in the light of it can we see how deeply-rooted is the evil we are called to combat . It is with Presidents as it is with Popes. Before their accession, they are not uncommonly reformers. Once in office, they find themselves not so much engineers as passengers, on a moving train whose direction and momentum apparently require more than mortal energy to change. They find that there is a machine; that well nigh all their advisers and associates belong to it; that its instinctive and almost resistless movement is in traditional directions and after traditional methods. Presidents and Popes were intended to lead, — but alas, it is so much easier to follow! They are like Laocoon and his sons in the folds of the serpents,—they writhe, but they succumb. This is what every President has done thus far — even President Hayes. All have more or less recognized and yielded to the doctrine that positions of trust under government may properly be made the means of controlling a party, of propitiating enemies, of rewarding friends.
I deem it time to say these things, because the American people will never listen if they will not listen now. If this time passes by and the warning voice is unheard, it may take years of yet deeper corruption and of more selfish partizanship, to open the eyes of the nation. For it is the nation — it is we oursolves — who are at fault. The trouble with both President Hayes and President Garfield was, not that they had not sound convictions, but that they feared the people were not sufficiently in earnest to support them. How sad now seems the end of our President's career! Killed by the very spirit which he was willing to some extent to conciliate! The bullet of Guiteau was not the work of a few politicians disappointed in their greedy clamor for place,— but it was indirectly the result of a system which we all have fostered, when we ought to have lifted up our voices and our hands against it. Well was it said, a short time ago, that the American people has as yet but a superficial interest in the reform of our civil service. We have not done our duty in protesting against this prostitution of our public service to the base uses of a horde of machine politicians. Guiteau, with his passionate clamor to be fed out of the public crib, is but the type of a spirit that has been all-pervasive among us — the spirit that would use the public service for private gain,—and therefore for that bullet of Guiteau we ourselves are more or less responsible, and for it ought to repent before Almighty God.
We hoped for future public utterances and acts on the part of our dead President which would show his heart still right on this great subject, and which would lead the way to the complete wiping-out of the accursed evil. And the worst forebodings which many of us have had with regard to the incoming administration have arisen from the fact that the new President has hitherto seemed, not from compulsion but from choice, to adopt the aims and to use the methods of the stock politician. Did ever any ruler of men so need the prayers of the good as Chester A. Arthur does to-day? We have tried to hope that these last months may have taught him wisdom; may have led him to see that there were certain moral forces at work in this nation whose existence he had not counted on before; may have led him to look with incipient distrust upon the counselors whom he has hitherto followed. But in estimating the probabilities of the future, I have been unable to forget that President Arthur owes his political being to a stronger man than he — a man who is the very representative and embodiment of the system we abhor. By all rules of political honor, or rather dishonor, he is bound to exalt his creator,— and his creator is Roscoe Conkling. As Vice- , President of the United States he soiled his great office by lobbying at Albany for his chief, when that chief was squabbling for the Senatorship he had thrown away. Let the President now appoint Mr. Conkling his Secretary of State, let the broken machine be rehabilitated, let all the arts that both know so well how to use be employed to strengthen and consolidate it, let the offices be packed with men pledged to advance its interests, let newspapers and politicians and people who prefer the semblance of power and success to principle and the public good, all join in hallelujahs to the ability, the force, and the thoroughly American character of the new administration, and we shall see a perpetuation of this spoils-system and a further lease of power given to its defenders and advocates such as will bind an honest but too submissive nation in chains for another twenty years.
Nowhere, except in the Arabian Nights, where the barber becomes Grand Vizier, do I remember so sudden, unmerited, and dizzying an elevation as that by which the former Collector of the Port of New York has first become Vice-President, and then President of the United States, If President Arthur has only been taught wisdom by the outburst of public feeling that followed the shot of the assassin; if he will only cut himself loose from association with the set of professional politicians whose methods have roused such abhorrence among thinking and patriotic men ; if he will only remember that it is for no goodness that there is in him that he has been pnt in this place of responsibility and power, and that respect for his administration will be wholly dependent upon his good behavior, he may yet furnish reason to think that the death of President Garfield was not an unrelieved calamity. But if Providence has otherwise ordered, and it is our lot to have the spoils-system in its worst features revived; to see wholesale changes in our public offices for the mere sake of perpetuating the power of a few and of rewarding personal services at the polls; to experience a still further degradation of our civil service in the line of inflaming party passion, of making our elections mere squabbles for spoils, of turning our legislatures into mere assemblies for the ratification of the decrees of the managers of the machine,— still we will not despair of the Republic, but will believe it simply the will of Providence that the evil should grow ripe before its fall, that its monstrosity should become so hateful as to rouse uersal opposition, that like slavery it should meet its doom in the very act of subjugating all things to its sway. The accession of President Arthur should be the signal, not for blind acquiesecnce in the inevitable, if that inevitable be the extension and deepening of corruption in our politics,— it should be the signal for united determination on the part of all Christians and all patriots, all thinking and good men of whatever party or name, that our civil service shall be reformed, and that the accursed system of spoils shall be done away forever from our politics.
I am not unmindful that every incoming Executive is entitled to the support and confidence of the nation until he has proved himself unworthy. That confidence and support we should render him on his entrance upon his duties, and just so long as he remains faithful to his trust. May God enlighten and keep him! May God lift him up above low partizanship, and enable him to live for his country and for the future! There are many things to encourage the hope that he will do so. He is the son of Christian parents. His father was a Baptist minister. He has at least the ordinary respect for religion and for morality. His private life is above reproach. The letter in which he accepted the nomination for the Vice-Presidency, and the brief address which accompanied the final taking of the oath of office as President, will compare favorably with the utterances of General Garfield under similar circumstances. Above all, his modest and serious bearing during the weeks of suspense that have intervened between the shot of the assassin and the death of the late President, have drawn to him a popular sympathy and have awakened a general hopefulness which will prove most valuable helps in the adoption and carrying out of a truly statesmanlike policy. The country waits with patience and with good will to second and further every step in the direction of wise administration. If he shall devote himself to the reform of abuses, if he shall choose men of principle for his advisers, if he shall conduct the government upon business methods, if he shall scorn to be the servant of a selfish clique, if he shall rise to the dignity of a true President, then every Christian and every honest man will applaud him and award him a lofty place among the great men of history. We pray most devoutly that he may know and seize his opportunity. But if, with all these motives and influences to favor a right coarse, he shall pursue the wrong; if he shall put himself under the control of an unscrupulous faction; if he shall set himself to turn back the current that has been running more and more strongly toward reform in our civil service; if he shall use the vast patronage of his office to raise up a new army of placeholders devoted to his personal interests and bent upon the consolidation and perpetuation of their ill-used power,— then we utter to him a voice of warning; we assure him of indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish; of implacable hostility on the part of the intelligence and virtue of the land; of opposition to his administration shown by all legal and constitutional means; of political ruin to himself and to his party; of everlasting fame as a betrayer of his country. Like the king of Babylon, he stands at the parting of the way. Two roads diverge from the spot which his feet now tread. May God save him from choosing the wrong course! May God give him grace to choose the right!
So let us all stand still, in appreciative remembrance of the life and character of the departed; in grateful recognition of the alleviating circumstances with which divine Providence has attended our sorrow; in penitent contemplation of the special sin of this people which has been the indirect cause of President Garfield's death. I suppose that if all those soldiers of Israel stood still, and looked at the dead body of Asahel, then each one individually must have stood still. Have we done this to-day? Have I individually — have you, each of you and singly — stood still, in reverence, in gratitude, in penitence? Ah, these general reflections will be of little use, unless we make them personal to ourselves. Let us hear what God the Lord will speak to us. The life and character of General Garfield were gifta of God to you and me; you and I need to render thanks for many mercies which accompany this cup of sorrow; above all, you and I need to humble ourselves for our sins, and to address ourselves to the duty of the hour. There is a mighty feeling abroad in the land — a feeling strong enough and deep enough, if only organized into practical action, to remove from us the transgressions which have provoked God's auger and have endangered the safety of the nation. God will be with us, if we are but true to him. If we will only stand still, in fixed resolve to return to God and to the old paths of honesty and truth, we may also stand still and see the salvation of God,— and, as for those enemies of our peace, we shall see them no more again forever.