Page images



affrighted man-servant, the young man saw it too ; for “the Lord opened the eyes of the young man ; and he saw : and, behold, the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

How do I know that this divine equipage is on the side of our institutions ? I know it by the history of the last one hundred and fifteen years. The American Revolution started from the hand of John Hancock in Independence Hall, in 1776. On one side were the colonies, without ships, without ammunition, without guns, without trained warriors, without money, without prestige ; on the other side were the mightiest nation of the earth, the largest armies, the grandest navies, and the most distinguished commanders, with resources almost inexhaustible, and with nearly all nations to back them up in the fight. Nothing against immensity.

The cause of the American colonies, which started at zero, dropped still lower through the quarreling of the generals, and through their petty jealousies, and through the violence of the winters, which surpassed all their predecessors in depths of snow and horrors of congealment. Elisha, when surrounded by the whole Assyrian army, did not seem to be worse off than did the thirteen colonies thus encompassed and overshadowed by foreign assault. What decided the contest in our favor? The upper forces, the upper armies. The Green and the White Mountains of New England, the Highlands along the Hudson, the mountains of Virginia, all the Appalachian ranges, were filled with reinforcements which the young man Washington saw by faith ; and his men endured the frozen feet, the gangrened wounds, the exhausting hunger and the long march, because the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw : and, behold, the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."

Washington himself was a miracle. What Joshua was in sacred history the first American President was in secalar history. A thousand other men excelled him in special powers, but he excelled them all in roundness and completeness of character. The world never saw his like, and probably will never see his like again, because there will never be another such exigency. He was sent down by a divine interposition. He was from God direct. I cannot comprehend how any man can read the history of those times without admitting that the contest was decided by the upper forces.

Again, in 1861, when our Civil War opened, many at the North and at the South pronounced it national suicide. It was not courage against cowardice, it was not wealth against poverty, it was not large States against small States. It was heroism against heroism, the resources of many generations against the resources of many generations, the prayer



of the North against the prayer of the South, one-half of the nation in armed wrath meeting the other half of the nation in armed indignation. What could come but extermination ?

At the opening of the war the commander-in-chief of the United States forces was a man who had served long in battle, but old age had come, with its many infirmities, and he had a right to repose. He could not mount a horse, and he rode to the battlefield in a carriage, asking the driver not to jolt too much. During the most of the four years of the contest the commander on the Southern side was a man in midlife, who had in his veins the blood of many generations of warriors, himself one of the heroes of Cherubusco and Cerro Gordo, Contreras and Chapultepec. As the years rolled on and the scroll of carnage unrolled, there came out from both sides a heroism and a strength and a determination that the world had never seen surpassed. What but extermination could come where Philip Sheridan and Stonewall Jackson led their brigades, and Nathaniel Lyon and Sydney Johnston rode in from the North and South, and Grant and Lee, the two thunderbolts of battle, clashed ?

Yet we are still a nation, and we are at peace. Earthly courage did not decide the contest. It was the upper forces that saved our land. They tell us that there was a battle fought above the clouds at Lookout Mountain ; but there was something higher than that-a victory of the Lord of Hosts.

Again, the horses and chariots of God came to the rescue of this nation in 1876, at the close of a Presidential election famous for its acrimony. A darker cloud still threatened to settle down upon this nation. The result of the election was in dispute, and revolution, not between two or three sections, but revolution in every town and village and city of the United States, seemed imminent. It looked as if New York would throttle New York; and New Orleans would grip New Orleans; and Boston, Boston ; and Savannah, Savannah ; and Washington, Washington. Some said that Mr. Tilden was elected ; others said that Mr. Hayes was elected ; and how near we came to universal massacre some of us guessed, but God only knew. I ascribe our escape not to the honesty and righteousness of infuriated politicians, but I ascribe it to the upper forces, the army of divine rescue. The chariot of mercy rolled in, and though the wheels were not heard and the flash was not seen, yet through all the mountains of the North and the South, and the East and the West, though the hoofs did not clatter, the cavalry of God galloped by. God is the friend of this nation. In the awful excitement of the massacre of Lincoln, where there was a prospect that greater slaughter would come upon us, God hushed the tempest. In the awful excitement at the time of Garfield's assassination, God put his foot on the neck of the cyclone.




HE Potter family is highly distinguished in the Episcopal

Church in the United States, it having furnished three bishops

to that Church within the nineteenth century. These include Alonzo Potter, consecrated Bishop of Pennsylvania in 1845; Horatio Potter, his brother, Bishop of New York in 1861; and Henry Codman Potter, his son, who was consecrated Bishop of New York in 1887. The last named had previously held various rectorships, the most noteworthy being at Grace Church, New York. He is the author of a number of valuable works of literature, and is a pulpit orator of fine powers and high estimation.

THE HEROISM OF THE UNKNOWN [As a fitting example of the warmth and effectiveness of Bishop Potter's eloquence, we give the following extract from an address made by him at the dedication of a monument in commemoration of the men of New York who fell at the battle of Gettysburg. After speaking of the seemingly inevitable character of the Civil War, and the great moral problem which it solved, he offered the following tribute to the unknown heroes who gave their lives at Gettysburg in their country's cause.]

Thirty years ago to-day these peaceful scenes were echoing with the roar and din of what a calm and unimpassioned historian, writing of it long years afterward, described as the greatest battle-field of the New World." Thirty years ago to-day the hearts of some thirty millions of people turned to this spot with various but eager emotions, and watched here the crash of two armies which gathered in their vast embrace the flower of a great people. Never, so declared the seasoned soldiers who listened to the roar of the enemy's artillery, had they heard anything that was comparable with it. Now and then it paused, as though the very throats of the mighty guns were tired; but only for a little. Not for one day, nor for two, but for three, raged the awful conflict, while the Republic gave its best life to



redeem its honor, and the stain of all previous blundering and faltering was washed away forever with the blood of its patriots and martyrs. How far away it all seems, as we stand here to-day! How profound the contrast between those hours and days of bloodshed and the still serenity of Nature as it greets us now! The graves that cluster around us here, the peaceful resting places of a nation's heroes, are green and fair ; and, within them, they who fell here, after life's fierce and fitful fever, are sleeping peacefully the sleep of the brave.

This day, this service, and most of all these our heroic dead, standlet us here swear never to forget it—for the sanctity of law, for the enduring supremacy of just and equitable government, and so for the liberties of a united and law-abiding people.

What, now, is that one feature in this occasion which lends to it supreme and most pathetic interest ? Here are tombs and memorials of heroes whose names are blazoned upon them, and whose kindred and friends have stood round them, have recited their deeds, and have stood in tender homage around those forms which were once to them a living joy.

But for us there is no such privilege, no such tender individuality of grief. These are our unknown dead. Out of whatever homes they came we cannot tell. What were their names, their lineage, we are ignorant. One thing only we know. They wore our uniform. And that is enough for us.

We need to know no more. From the banks of the Hudson and the St. Lawrence; from the wilds of the Catskills and the Adirondacks : from the salt shores of Long Island; from the fresh lakes of Geneva and Onondaga, and their peers ; from the forge and the farm, the shop and the factory; from college halls and crowded tenements; all alike, they came here and fought and fell—and shall never, never be forgotten. Our great unknown defenders! Ah, my countrymen, here we touch the foundations of a people's safety-of a nation's greatness. We are wont to talk much of the world's need of great leaders, and their proverb is often on our lips who said of old, “Woe unto the land whose King is a child." Yes, verily, that is a dreary outlook for any people when among her sons there is none worthy to lead her armies, to guide her councils, to interpret her laws, or to administer them. But that is a still drearier outlook, when in any nation, however wise her rulers, and noble and heroic her commanders, there is no greatness in the people equal to a great vision in an emergency, and a great courage with which to seize it.

And that, I maintain, was the supreine glory of the heroes whom we commemorate to-day. All the more are they the fitting representatives of you and of me—the people. Never in all history, I venture to affirm, was there a war



whose aims, whose policy, whose sacrifices were so absolutely determined by the people, in whom lay the strength and the power of the Republic. When some one reproached Lincoln for the seeming hesitancy of his policy, he answered-great seer as well as great soul that he was—“I stand for the people. I am going just as fast and as far as I can feel them behind me.”

And so, as we come here to-day and plant this column, consecrating it to its enduring dignity and honor as the memorial of our unknown dead, we are doing, as I cannot but think, the fittest possible deed that we can do. These unknown that lie about us here-ah, what are they but the peerless representatives, elect forever by, the deadly gauge of battle, of those sixty millions of people, as to-day they are, whose rights and liberties they achieved ! Unknown to us are their names ; unknown to them were the greatness and glory of their deeds! And is not this, brothers of New York, the story of the world's best manhood, and of its best achievement? The work by the great unknown, for the great unknown —the work that, by fidelity in the ranks, courage in the trenches, obedience to the voice of command, patience at the picket line, vigilance at the outpost, is done by that great host that bear no splendid insignia of rank, and figure in no Commander's despatches--this work, with its largest, and incalculable, and unforseen consequences for a whole people-is not this work, which we are here to-day to commemorate, at once the noblest and most vast? Who can tell us now the names even of those that sleep about us here; and who of them would guess, on that eventful day when here they gave their lives for duty and their country, how great and how far-reaching in its effects would be the victory they should win ?

And thus we learn, my brothers, where a nation's strength resides. When the German Emperor, after the Franco-Prussian War, was crowned in the Salle des Glaces at Versailles, on the ceiling of the great hall in which that memorable ceremony took place, there were inscribed the words : “ The King Rules by His Own Authority.” “Not so," said that grand old man of blood and iron who, most of all, had welded Germany into one mighty people—not so: The Kings of the earth shall rule under me, saith the Lord.' Trusting in the tried love of the whole people, we leave the country's future in God's hands !” Ah, my countrymen, it was not this man or that man that saved our Republic in its hour of supreme peril. Let us not, indeed, forget her great leaders, great generals, great statesmen, and greatest among them all, her great martyr and President, Lincoln. But there was no one of these then who would not have told us that which we may all see so plainly now, that it was not they who saved the country, but the host of her great unknown.

« PreviousContinue »