Friday, April 10, 2015

"Never could we have endured it but for the strength given from on high..."

From The New York Times on April 11, 1865:
.... "Glory to the Lord of Hosts, from whom all blessings are." If ever a people under heaven was bound to prostrate itself in gratitude, it is the loyal people of this land. Had it been foretold to them four years ago what trials awaited them, there would have been a universal cry of despairing agony. Human history affords no instance of such a national ordeal. Never could we have endured it but for the strength given from on high, as we had need. .... [W]e had a hidden strength which the world did not understand. It was Faith — a faith that first broke upon us with the first flash of Sumter's guns, and that ever afterward went on widening and deepening. The people came to feel as by an inspiration from heaven, that the moral elements of the national cause made it irresistible. They were penetrated with the feeling, that as sure as there was an Almighty Father, He could not permit the success of a rebellion that was made only for the benefit of human slavery. It was this which carried them through the struggle. Ten times their physical strength would not have kept them up, in the absence of this sovereign faith. The race of Titans could not have maintained this war, if, too, they had been a race of atheists.

That religious faith is fitly followed now by a religious gratitude. It is wonderful to mark the solemn character of the joy that now spreads the land. There are waving flags, ringing bells, booming cannon, and other national tokens of public gladness. But yet it is plain to see that the dominant feeling of the people is no ebullient exhilaration over human achievement, but a profound sense of a Divine blessing. The popular heart relieves itself, not so much in cheers and hurrahs as in doxologies. ....

With this gratitude for deliverance is mingled a fresh assurance that Heaven has reserved our republic for a destiny more glorious than can yet be conceived. Americans now feel that it is less than ever a presumption in them to believe themselves a chosen people, appointed to school the world to new ideas of human capacities and human rights. ....