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jority of this nation. Our destiny is no longer in the power of one man, but millions. If one man governed us, we should ask, with awful emphasis, what is his character? If millions govern us, we may, with equal emphasis, ask what is, and is to be, the character of those millions? Are they educated? Are they moral ? Are they patriotic? Do they fear God and respect the great principles of righteousness? Who does not see the pertinence of these questions? Who that loves his country does not feel their importance? It is obvious, that while the grand mission of the Revolution was to battle down foreign domination, by fanning the spirit of martial feeling and resistance to tyranny, our great office, in the sixty-ninth year of independence, is, through the spirit of peace and universally diffused light, to educate into right principles and right action, the millions who hold here the sceptre of power.
The Revolution demanded the cultivation of the stronger passions—the nourishing of a sense of wrong, and the martial spirit to resist wrong. Now we need the passions to be soothed, lest they break out in violence on ourselves. Now we need to cultivate the intellect, the conscience, and the heart, that men may “lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty."
The patriotism of the Revolution found its highest developement in hazarding life and property to defend the country. The high office of the distinguished patriot now is fulfilled, by the exhibition of an example of industry, temperance, self-control, of warm domestic affections, and love of public order in subjection to the laws of God and man—and of large and willing charities to diffuse that moral education, which shall elevate this entire 'nation to the practice of the same virtues.
The Revolution demanded agitation and excitement. We then asked for great changes. We have now gained our freedom and the means to defend it. Our true interest can now best be secured by tranquillity and repose. We then had everything to gain by excitement and revolution. Now we have everything to lose.
A very remote predecessor in this pulpit, the Reverend Doctor Duffield, was associated with Bishop White as chaplain to the
Continental Congress. He was also for a time chaplain in the Continental army. He made these old walls resound seventy years ago, with exhortations to the male members of this congregation to take up arms for their country. On a Sabbath morning, when the British were approaching, he told them he was sorry to see so many yet at home.
It is now my duty, after seventy years, to exhort you to make similar great and patriotic sacrifices, to plant schools, academies, colleges, and churches, in every destitute neighbourhood, and to give your personal example and labours to the great work of educating the youthful generation, that they, by their virtues, may be
worthy to hold the inestimable blessing purchased by the blood of their fathers.
Doctor Duffield here prayed for the success of our arms in war. It is your duty and mine now to pray for the spirit of peace to be breathed over this great nation, that the arts of peace may beautify and enrich our domain from the sands of the Atlantic to the mild waves of the Pacific Ocean.
I must say here, although somewhat out of place, that our late President Jackson was always the warm friend and frequent patron of religious education. When the Reverend Samuel J. Mills was on a missionary tour to the West, his horse died, near Nashville. A great loss for a poor missionary! He was the guest of General Jackson, who promptly gave him another and better horse, as a mark of friendship to the cause.
A clergyman, now in New York city, of the highest standing, told me, a few days since, that when he was on a tour in Tennessee, twenty-five years ago or more, to obtain pecuniary means to build up the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Maryville, General Jackson was his best auxiliary. He gave him one hundred dollars most cheerfully, and volunteered a letter to all his friends in the South and West, urging the building up of such seminaries, as indispensable to the well-being of the country. Such testimony on such a point is valuable.
The grand instrument of national salvation in the Revolution was the army, brave to defend their homes and their country. The grand instrument of saving this land now from idleness, intemperance, fraud and violence, and ultimate despotism, is the church of God embraced in the various religious denominations. Her prayers are to propitiate Heaven's anger. Her active benevolence in good works, in promoting education and true religion, is to be the foundation of our national morality and prosperity. The moral virtues of no nation rise above its religion. When the army of the Revolution faltered in courage and self-sacrifice, the genius of our nation grew pale with fear and wept in sadness. When the church of God in this land becomes self-indulgent, proud, sectarian, and temporizing, forgetful of her high office, as Heaven's almoner of light and purity, angels in Heaven might weep over a presage of national abandonment and sin.. You will remember that in the most perplexing period of General Jackson's administration, when clouds lowered over the whole political horizon, he was daunted by none of these things, but said “his greatest trouble was the schism in his favourite denomination—the Presbyterian church.” Partisans jeered him for this, accused him of hypocrisy; but is there any reason to doubt that his sagacious intellect saw that what impaired the influence of Christianity struck a blow at national morality and safety?
Patriotism and piety might now mourn over the religious apathy, not of a single denomination, but of this entire land. As the practice and enjoyment of religion is absolutely indispensable to the true happiness of each individual of the nation, that cannot be called a truly prosperous nation which is not increasing in the favour of God.
I propose now to advert to some lessons taught to this nation by the life and death of one of the most prominent of our citizens. As the death of any man under God's providence is a fair subject for pulpit discussion—as the president of these United States has officially called the attention of the nation to the decease of his distinguished predecessor—and as the individual himself bore a remarkable character both in life and death, I make no apology for introducing the name of ANDREW JACKSON on this occasion. As I shall express my honest convictions, with a desire to give no offence to any human being, by invading the political prejudices of any, I hope for your candid attention. With political creeds I have no concern here, but as the name of Andrew Jackson has an influence with millions, it is desirable to see how far it prompts to truth and virtue.
Andrew Jackson began life amid the storms of the Revolution, when the war spirit was most rife in the land. He spent his whole life in a section of country where not to resent injury is to lose caste in society. He was a soldier for his country, and thus forced by duty into scenes of bloodshed. He was a man not only of singular sagacity, but of strong and quick passions—full of the chivalry of the military profession. He was not a professed Christian until he had retired from public life. Taking all these circumstances into account, it is not wonderful that there should have always been in his character an irritability under opposition, and an occasional violence of language and manner, which we, trained among calmer scenes, and under a more steady and consistent Christian influence, must condemn. But an orphan at fourteen years of age, first a soldier in the Revolutionary army-then a prisoner in the British camp—then an emigrant at twenty-one, to sojourn in the western wilderness among treacherous savages and lawless associates, had few opportunities to study the doctrine of Christian meekness and forbearance.
I was told by a distinguished gentleman of Tennessee, then an elder in the Presbyterian church, that in early times, when a howling wilderness of one hundred and fifty miles in extent, filled with savages, separated Nashville settlement, then in North Carolina, from Lexington settlement, then in Western Virginia, they were accustomed to form caravans for mutual safety in threading this wilderness. One of these caravans, made up mostly of young men, among whom was Jackson, started from Nashville for Lexington,
having a woman in charge going to join her husband in Lexington. The lady was taken sick the second night. In the morning several of the young men arose, saddled their horses, and were about to leave, when young Jackson asked what they were about to do? Would they leave a woman to perish alone in the wilderness ? They were impatient, reckless, afraid perhaps of Indians on their track. They said they must go on. Jackson levelled his rifle and declared he would kill the first man that put his foot in the stirrup; thus he brought them to a stand. They agreed to wait a day-the lady was then able to travel, and they reached Lexington in safety. This shows the kind of associates around young Jackson, and the kind of bearing which he came to regard as chivalrous and necessary:
We must judge such a man by his circumstances, not by ours; and tried by this standard, I think, what Walter Scott said of a covenanter was true of Andrew Jackson: “ His faults were those of his times and associates; his virtues were eminently his own.” I may here in candour say that some of the leading measures of his civil administration I did not approve. The removal of the Cherokee Indians from their homes I resisted with my pen, and have often denounced it in this congregation. But I then believed, and I now believe, that no president since the days of Washington ever carried to the presidential chair a more patriotic and honest heart.
Whether a measure were popular or unpopular--whether his friends approved or opposed if he thought it right, he urged it without regard to personal consequences.
If a measure were too unpopular to be touched by his friends, he threw himself into the breach and shouldered the responsibility. This course, so far above the truckling, time-serving course of mere selfish and heartless demagogues of all parties, took the nation by surprise. The nature of his measures, and the energy of his will, excited, in many, fear, but all felt the power of this moral courage -of this abandonment of self; and many, while they dreaded the effect of the measures, felt an increased admiration of the sincerity of the man.
This conviction of the sincerity of General Jackson, of his willingness to do what he believed the good of the country demanded, without respect to friend or foe, was one element of his great popularity. Mankind love a sincere and resolute character, and I hope politicians will learn from the example of General Jackson that “ honesty is the best policy;" while perhaps he himself would have been more wise had he sometimes lent a more open ear to the counsels of his judicious friends.
The sanction which the early example and the great name of General Jackson gave to duelling we must all deplore.
But we must remember that in office he struck at once from the
rolls of the navy the names of two officers who had engaged in a duel, showing that his riper judgment disapproved the violence of his youth. In the early part of his last sickness he said, “ May my enemies find peace”—“ may the liberty of my country endure for ever.” This was the spirit in which he died, the spirit which I hope all his friends will cultivate.
General Jackson's defects were as open as his virtues. He concealed nothing, and the eyes of millions watched his errors. I will palliate none.
But among his defects known to this nation, has he ever shrunk at any sacrifice to discharge every pecuniary obligation ? He once exchanged a delightful villa for a home in the wilderness, to pay the debts assumed for a friend. Has he ever sought wealth by gambling, fraud, or overreaching in trade, or by speculating in office ? Has he ever been accused of seducing innocence from the paths of virtue, or rioting in low debauchery? Has he ever shrunk in bearing his testimony to the value of temperance and religion? Has he ever neglected the poor to flatter the rich? Has he ever refused a well-authenticated claim on his charity, whether from friend or foe, whether for an object secular or religious ? Has he ever forgotten a friend in adversity, or received at the hands of any one an obligation which he did not endeavour to discharge? Has he ever forborne to bear his testimony to the truth and value of the Christian religion, or absented himself on the Sabbath from the worship of Almighty God? Has he ever failed to treat with kindness ministers of the gospel-to open bis house and his purse to such as were in poverty and want? Has he not, again and again, sacrificed ease, and home, and money, and put in peril reputation and life, to defend his country?
If, with so many claims to national respect and gratitude, it be still true that the prompt decision, powerful will, and ardent temper, which made him one of the greatest military commanders of this or any age, sometimes tempted him to precipitation, violence, and obstinacy, it only shows that he was a man, and, like other men, liable to err.
We cannot have the strength of the wind to swell our sails without a liability to tempests—nor the warmth of fire without danger of conflagrations. So, neither can we find in man great abilities and energy for good, without corresponding infelicities. To this our great Washington alone seems to have been an exception. It is enough to excite our best feelings in view of the death of Jackson, if we can all say—as I believe we can—that in spite of the defects, moral or political, imputed to him, he had a lofty patriotism -a large, honest, and brave heart, and the ends “he aimed at were his country's !"