Sermon – Moral View of Rail Roads – 1851

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sermon-moral-view-of-rail-roads-1851Samuel Clark Aiken (1791-1879) was born in Windham, Vermont. He

became the first permanent pastor of Cleveland, Ohio’s well-known Old Stone
Church (also known as First Presbyterian Church) in 1835; and pastored there
until his retirement in 1861. Rev. Aiken was also an outstanding civic leader
in Cleveland. He preached several notable sermons including Theatrical Exhibitions
(1836) and The Laws of Ohio in Respect to the Colored People, Shown to be
Unequal, Unjust and Unconstitutional
(1845). Among the audience members
for Aiken’s Moral View of Rail Roads discourse were the Ohio Governor,
Speakers of the House and Senate, the presidents of two railroad companies,
the mayors of Columbus and Cleveland, and others. In his discourse, Rev. Aiken
cultivates a Christian worldview in his audience by presenting both a Biblical
and historical context for transportation.

 


Moral View of Rail Roads

A Discourse, Delivered on Sabbath Morning, February 23, 1851
On the Occasion of the Opening Of the Cleveland and Columbus Rail Road 1

By Rev. S. C. Aiken, D.D., Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.

Naham 2:4
The chariots shall rage in the streets: they shall justle one against another
in the broad ways: they shall seem like torches, they shall run like the lightnings.

On reading this verse, one might naturally suppose that the prophet lived in
the days of rail roads and Locomotives: But it was not so. His chariots of lightning
were chariots of War – armed and sent forth by the King of Babylon, to
effect the conquest and ruin of the city of Nineveh. From the passage however,
I shall take occasion to speak, not of war, which has proved such a curse to
the world, and yet, has often been overruled for good but of the development
and progress of a new power, which, we trust, is destined to supersede war and
to introduce into our world, a new order of things, which seems to betoken the
rapid fulfillment of prophecy: “Behold, I create new Heavens and a new earth:
and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind: – In the wilderness
shall waters break out and streams in the desert – and a highway shall
be there, and a way, and it shall be called, The Way of Holiness.”

This prophecy, reminds me of an occasion similar to the one, that has called
so many strangers to our city: – when, on the opening of the Erie Canal,
it was my privilege, on the Lord’s-Day, to address De Witt Clinton, and the
Commissioners, in grateful recognition of the beneficent Providence, which had
carried them on to the completion of a work, deemed chimerical by some and impolitic
by others: but which has proved a highway for commerce, and made many a wilderness
and solitary place to blossom as the rose.

In a moral and religious point of view, as well as social and commercial, to
me, there is something interesting, solemn, and grand in the opening of a great
thoroughfare. There is sublimity about it – indicating not only march of mind
and a higher type of society, but the evolution of divine purposes, infinite,
eternal – connecting social revolutions with the progress of Christianity and
the coming reign of Christ.

To overlook such an event – to view it only in its earthly relations, would be
to overlook a movement of Providence, bearing directly upon the great interests
of morality, and religion – the weal or woe of our country, and of unborn millions.
It is the duty of Christians, and especially of Christian ministers, to watch
the signs of the times – to see God, and lead the people to see Him, in all the
affairs of the world, whether commercial, political or religious,in the varied
aspects, in which He is presented to our view in His word.

The history of roads is one of the best commentaries upon the intellectual
and social state of society. Of course, it will not become the time and place,
to go into it any further than is needful as preliminary to my subject.

A road is a symbol of civilization – the want of it, a symbol of barbarism.
By its condition we may ascertain, with considerable accuracy, the degree of
the one or of the other. “Let us travel,” says the Abbe Raynal, “over all the
countries of the earth, and wherever we shall find no facilities of traveling
from city to town, and from a village to a hamlet, we may pronounce the people
to be barbarous.” The government is weak – the inhabitants poor and ignorant.
The road, then, is a physical index of the condition and character of any age
or nation. Viewed from this standpoint, its history may correct one of our errors,
and lead us to see, that we are not quite so far in advance of antiquity, as
we are apt to imagine.

If we look back to the earliest period of the world, of which we have any record,
we find that roads were the dividing line between civilization and barbarism.
The first country, of which we have any definite knowledge, distinguished for
the arts and sciences, was Egypt. Could we read its lost history, we should
see that under the reign of its Pharaohs, it rose to a pitch of civilization
and grandeur of which, probably, we have no conception. This fact is indicated
by its pyramids and magnificent remains, which clearly show its former glory.
If Thebes had its hundred gates, it is likely, that it had also its paved and
spacious avenues leading from it into every part of the kingdom, on which the
chariots of its kings and nobles rolled in splendor.

Nor was the Jewish commonwealth without its roads, constructed in the most
durable manner, under the reign of Solomon. Those leading to and from the cities
of refuge, have probably never been excelled. But in the uncivilized surrounding
nations, we hear nothing of roads.

Mark also the Roman empire at the period of its highest prosperity and grandeur.
The famous “Appian Way,” celebrated by Horace, built three hundred years before
Christ, remains of which are still visible after the lapse of more than twenty
centuries, is familiar to every reader of history. Two-thirds of it, from Capua
to Brundusium, were built by Julius Caesar – and formed one of the most splendid
memorials of that Emperor’s reign. Its entire length was nearly four hundred
miles – graded so far as practicable to a level – paved with hewn stone in the form
of hexagonal blocks, laid in durable cement – with a surface spacious and smooth.
Besides this, there were other roads, constructed by different emperors, such
as the Salernian, Flaminian, Ostian, and Triumphal, leading from the capital – one
of which extended four thousand miles, from Antioch on the north, to Scotland
on the south – at one place tunneling a mountain of rock, 2 at another, stretching over ravines and rivers by bridges and
aqueducts, interrupted only by the English channel and the Hellespont.

Nor were the Romans so greatly behind us as to speed. History records the fact,
that “one Cesarius went post from Antioch to Constantinople – six hundred and
sixty-five miles – in less than six days. The modern traveler in his rail-car
smiles at the statement; but he forgets, that the Roman horse was neither fire
nor steam, and that he is indebted for his speed to the discovery of a new and
wonderful power of which the ancients knew nothing.

Now turn and consider the old Saxons. Look at the Feudal age of comparative
barbarism, when each community or county had its Baron and castle, built upon
inaccessible rocks; – when the people dwelt in walled cities, with sentinels upon
the towers; – when there were no roads – no wheeled vehicles, except a few, and
those of the most cumbersome kind; – when the mode of travel was on foot or horseback,
through fields and streams and forests. Then it was, that the arts, sciences,
and religion were at a dead stand. There were no ducts for commerce – no life
or motion. Day and night, the people lived in fear of robbers, and their only
hope of safety lay in having no intercourse with one another, nor with distant
neighborhoods and provinces. So it has always been. So it is now. Point me to
a country where there are no roads, and I will point you to one where all things
are stagnant – where there is no commerce except on a limited scale – no religion,
except a dead formality – no learning, except the scholastic and unprofitable.
A road is a sign of motion and progress – a sign the people are living and not
dead. If there is intercourse, social or commercial, there is activity; “advancement
is going on – new ideas and hopes are rising. All creative action, whether in
government, industry, thought, or religion, creates roads,” and roads create
action.

To an inquisitive mind, it is extremely interesting and instructive to mark
the progress of mechanical invention. To one accustomed to trace effects to
their causes, it is more than interesting. He sees something besides human agency
at work in the provision of materials – in the adaptation of means to ends – in
the wisdom, order, and regularity of general laws, which the practical mechanic
has learnt to accommodate to his own purposes. But he is not the originator
of those laws, nor of the materials on which he operates. He has discovered
that certain agents will serve particular ends. Of these agents he skillfully
avails himself, and the result he aimed at is produced.

The elements of water-power have been in existence since the world was made;
and yet, there doubtless was a time when there was no waterwheel applied to
a dashing current, to propel machinery. Why did not the human mind grasp at
once the simple law, and dispense with animal power to grind meal for daily
bread? On the principles of philosophy, this question is not so easily answered.
To say that mind is slow in its development, does not solve the difficulty.
From the earliest ages, it has accomplished wonders in the arts. It has built
cities and pyramids – aqueducts and canals – calculated eclipses and established
great principles in science.

The truth is, there is a providence in mechanical invention as well as in all
the affairs of men. And when God has purposes to accomplish by this invention,
he arouses some active spirit to search for the laws already in existence, and
to arrange the materials with reference to the end.

In past ages, for all practical purposes, the world has done well enough with
the mechanical powers it possessed. The water-wheel has moved the machinery
attached to it. The stagecoach has trundled its passengers along, contented
and happy with the slow pace, though not always convenient or comfortable, because
they had no better mode of conveyance. The merchant has cheerfully committed
his goods to the sail boat, because he knew of no more powerful agent than the
winds. But the human mind has received a new impulse. It is waked up to unwonted
energy. It is filled with the great idea of progress. It is leaving the things
that are behind, and pressing onward.

Nothing has contributed more to wake up the mind from its sleep of ages – to
draw out its powers and to set it on the track of discovery, than the invention
of the steam engine. This event occurred about eighty years since, and the name
of the inventor is inscribed on the tablet of immortality. It was no freak of
chance – no random thought of the human intellect, unaided by that Infinite Intelligence,
at whose disposal is all matter and mind; and who, in his own time and way,
makes them subserve his own purposes. Was Bezaleel raised up by God and filled
with wisdom “to devise cunning work – to work in gold and silver and brass” – to
aid Moses in building the tabernacle? Was Hiram afterward endowed with great
mechanical skill in the erection of Solomon’s temple? So was Watt. God raised
him up to invent the steam-engine; and, when “he gave it to mankind in the form
in which it is now employed for countless uses, it was as if God had sent into
the world a legion of strong angels to toil for man in a thousand forms of drudgery,
and to accomplish for man a thousand achievements which human hands could never
have accomplished, even with the aid of such powers of nature as were previously
known and mastered. The earth with the steam engine in it, and with all the
capabilities which belong to that mighty instrument for aiding the industry
and multiplying the comforts of mankind, is a new earth; – far better fitted in
its physical arrangements for the universal establishment of the kingdom of
Christ, or in other words, for the universal prevalence of knowledge, liberty,
righteousness, peace, and salvation.”

The application of steam, as a mechanical power, to locomotion on land and
water, forms a new era in invention, and in the history of the world. Twenty
years ago, the first successful experiment with the locomotive, was made between
Liverpool and Manchester. Now, we can hardly compute the number of railways.
Forty-three years ago the Hudson was first successfully navigated by a steamer.
In the summer of 1838 the Atlantic ocean was crossed for the first time by vessels
exclusively propelled by steam power. Now look at the progress. The steamer
ploughs our navigable rivers – our great lakes – our coasts; – and asserts its supremacy
over all other craft, from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and from the Atlantic
to the Indian ocean. The changes in the moral and physical condition of our
world, by means of this wonderful agency, are what no one can witness, without
mingled emotions of admiration and wonder. That the hand of the Almighty is
in it; that he has some good and grand design to accomplish through its instrumentality,
must be evident to all who believe Him to be the moral Governor of the world.
Were a new planet to start into existence, I should as soon think it the result
of a fortuitous conglomeration of atoms, as to disconnect the present revolutions
by steam, from the wisdom and power of God.

Some good people, I am aware, look with a suspicious eye upon the iron-horse.
They fancy there is a gloomy destiny in it – a power to subvert old and established
customs; – to change the laws and ordinances of God and man; – to introduce moral
and political anarchy, ignorance and impiety, and to make our degenerate race
more degenerate still.

Now, I am not troubled with such specters. I look for evils to be multiplied
with the increase of travel. But order will reign – law will reign –
religion will reign, because there will be an increase also of counteracting
agents. If the effect should be the increase of wealth only, we might well pre-predict,
fearful consequences. To look upon the railroad simply as an auxiliary to commerce
– as a great mint for coining money; is to take but a superficial and contracted
view of it. If we would contemplate it in all its bearings, we must consider
it as a new and vast power, intended by Providence to act upon religion and
education – upon the civilization and character of a nation in all the
complicated interests of its social organism. This is a great subject, and while
I have neither time nor ability to do it justice, I can see in it matter that
may well employ, and will yet employ the best heads and hearts which God has
bestowed on mortals. Without anticipating evils there are certain benefits to
follow, which will prove more than an antidote. To name a few.

The increase of commerce and wealth is a consideration which I leave to the
political economist. In no country should they be overlooked, much less in our
own. Wealth is power, and when properly used, is a source of unspeakable good.

As to commerce, there are two aspects – aside from its bearing on wealth
– in which I love to contemplate its connection with the railroad.

One is, as a preventive of war. This remark applies more to commerce as now
conducted by steam on the ocean. It is bringing the nations together, and making
them feel the sympathetic throbbings of one family heart – of one great brotherhood.
Would the idea of a World’s Fair have been conceived, had it not been for steam
navigation? It was a noble thought! Let the people of every tongue, and kindred,
and nation from under heaven assemble. Let them gather under the same magnificent
crystal palace, and through its transparent dome, raise their eyes to the same
God, and feel that he has made them all of one blood, and united them, by one
common tie of interest and affection, to the same father and to one another
; and we may expect to hear that a motion has been made and carried by acclamation,
to “beat their swords into plough-shares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

The other view of steam-commerce is, its tendency to unite more closely the
states – bringing them into more intimate relations, and subjecting them to the
influence of mutual intercourse.

Owing to emigration, we are becoming a heterogeneous people – unlike in
habits, language and religion, and scattered over a vast territory, from the
Atlantic to the Pacific. How States, formed out of such a population, thus widely
dispersed, can be held together and consolidated, is a question vitally interesting
and important. One thing is certain; it cannot be done by law, nor by military
power alone. Sectional interests and jealousies will spring up against which
the Constitution and brute force will form no barrier. Under circumstances so
unprecedented in the history of nations, our only hope, it seems to me, lies
in the general diffusion of religion and education, and in the kind and frequent
intercourse which the railway is calculated to promote, – bringing distant
portions of the country into the relation of neighborhoods, and thus removing
sectional jealousies and animosities, and inspiring mutual confidence and affection.
It is for this reason, as well as others, I rejoice in the construction of a
railroad., connecting, us I may say, with the Southern States. The influence,
according to all the laws of our social being, cannot fail to be peaceful and
happy. On a little better acquaintance, our brethren of the South will feel
more kindly towards us, and we towards them; and, possibly, some mistakes and
misapprehensions, on both sides, will be corrected and removed By means of recent
intercourse with foreigners, the Chinese begin to think it doubtful whether
the earth is a plane, and they in the center of it, and all upon the outside
barbarians. By a law of our nature, minds in contact assimilate, and, for this
reason, we hope to see good result from the intermingling of the North with
the South; and, could a railroad. be extended to the Pacific, it would do more
to promote union in the States – to circulate kind feelings – to establish
our institutions in California, Oregon, Utah, and New Mexico, and to consolidate
our glorious confederacy, than all the legislation of Congress from now until
doomsday. A new and vast trade would at once spring up between the parent States
and those more recently formed, also with the numerous islands of the Pacific,
and with the populous regions of eastern Asia. In its tendency all legitimate
commerce is peaceful and happy, because its benefits are mutual and reciprocal.
Every new railway, therefore, constructed in our country, is another link in
a chain of iron, binding the States together.

Another benefit. In one respect, the railroad. is a leveler, but it levels
up, not down. Its tendency is to place the poor on a level with the rich, not
by abolishing the distinction of property – it is no socialist – not
by depressing the rich, but by elevating all to the enjoyment of equal advantages.
It is like the Press. Before the art of printing, the poor had no books. Now,
the possession of books is no very distinctive mark of wealth. Manufactories
are leveling in the same way, by bringing to the firesides and wardrobes of
the poor, articles of comfort and luxury, which once were attainable only by
the rich. So with the railway The poor can travel with as much ease, rapidity
and cheapness as the rich. They are not doomed, as formerly, to spend life within
the limits of a parish or a city; but, can take their seat beside the millionaire,
breathe the pure air of the country, recreate and recruit health and spirits
in its valleys and on its mountain tops. But there are other advantages still
greater.

One is the general diffusion of education. “Many shall run to and fro, and
knowledge shall be increased.” The motion of the body quickens the mind. The
rapid passing of objects – the active interchange of commodities in commercial
intercourse, is attended with the interchange of ideas. Then, possibly, such
active intercourse maybe unfavorable to education. In a passion for travel,
there is danger of cultivating the senses more than the intellect. Should knowledge
degenerate into mere sight-seeing and become superficial, the effect will be
deplorable. But as an offset to this evil, which we hardly anticipate, we see
everywhere the multiplication of schools and a disposition in the people, and
especially in our rulers, to patronize and encourage education. Happily for
the world, rulers are beginning to see, that they are invested with power not
for themselves, but for the people; that the interest of one is the interest
of both; and, that in shaping their policy so as to advance general knowledge,
industry, equal rights and privileges; they are laying a broad foundation in
the intelligence and affection of the masses for permanent peace and prosperity.
In political science, this is a great advance from the old gothic notion that
God made the people for the king and the king for himself. This branch of my
subject I cannot close better, than in the words of an eloquent writer. Speaking
of governments, he says: – “Having it for their problem to make every man as valuable
as possible to himself and to his country, and becoming more and more inspired,
as we may hope, by an aim so lofty, every means will be used to diffuse education,
to fortify morals and favor the holy power of religion. This being done, there
is no longer any danger from travel. On the contrary, the masses of society,
will, by this means, be set forward continually in character and intelligence.
As they run, knowledge will be increased. The roads will themselves be schools,
for here they will see the great world moving, and feel themselves to be a part
of it. Their narrow, local prejudices will be worn off; their superstitions
forgotten. Every people will begin to understand and appreciate every other,
and a common light be kindled in all bosoms.”

The effects to result from the great facilities for travel, in regard to the
general interests of religion is another subject on which a large portion of
community feel a deep interest. And well we may. Whatever tends to loosen the
bonds that bind society together – to uproot law and order – to introduce anarchy
and misrule, guilt and wretchedness.

There is one fact, however, which encourages us to hope that the influence
of railways will be favorable to religion. As I have already said, they mark
a new era in the world. They are destined to erect a great revolution in all
the departments of society. Now, if we look back on the past half century, we
see nothing but a succession of revolutions in government – in the arts and sciences – in
the conditions of political and social life; and yet, where is there one that
has not immediately or remotely favored the extension of Christianity – given
prosperity and power to evangelical truth, and caused the heart of Christian
philanthropy to beat more intensely for the happiness of universal being? On
that one, I cannot place my eye. It is not in memory. It is not on record. Wrongs
deep and dreadful there have been, and are still; but every attempt to perpetuate
them – as is obvious to the nice observer – is working out, slowly it may be, but
surely, their removal.

When railroads were first projected, it was predicted, and not without some
reason, that they would demolish the Christian Sabbath. But what has been the
result? So far as ascertained, I confess I see no occasion for alarm. True,
this sacred season of rest, given to man by his Creator, and which his physical
nature imperiously demands – being able, as has often been demonstrated,
to do more labor with it than without it – is shamefully desecrated by
steamers, railcars and other modes of conveyance. But, so far as railroads are
concerned, experience both in this country and in England is gradually deciding
favor of remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy. If correctly informed,
several lines are already discontinued and others will be. Wherever the voice
of community favors it, Directors are not backward to let their men and enginery
remain quiet on this day; for it is found that nothing is gained and much lost
by running. All the business can be done in six days of the week; while, not
only one-seventh part of the expense is saved, but the hands employed are refreshed
and invigorated by rest, and better prepared with safety and fidelity to discharge
their duty. Thus the evil is working out its own remedy. The truth is, the law
of the Sabbath is written, not only in the Bible, but upon the constitution
of man; and such are the arrangements of Providence that it cannot be violated
without incurring loss. The penalty will follow, and if religion does not enforce
obedience, self-interest will. All that is necessary is, to direct the attention
of considerate men to the subject, and leave it with conscience and common sense
to decide. This done, I have no fears of the result.

Another thing. When a railway is managed as it should be, and as I confidently
believe ours will be, it is found to be an important auxiliary to the cause
of temperance. In a concern involving so great an amount of life and property,
it is worse than folly to employ men who are not strictly temperate. The public
expect and have a right to demand, for the sake of safety if nothing else, the
most scrupulous adherence on the part of directors to the principles of temperance;
in the appointment of their agents. This will inspire confidence in the traveling
community, and secure patronage; and if no higher motive actuates, its influence
will be good, at least upon a large class of persons necessarily connected with
such an establishment.

But it is in the power of directors – and that power can be easily exercised,
especially at the first start of a railroad. – to extend the healthful
influence of temperance, along the whole line; – operating benignly upon
the population at large, through which it passes. They can and ought to control
the eating-houses and depots maintained for its accommodation; and if this be
so, the prohibited use of intoxicating liquor in them, by its example, will
do good to the whole state. If this wise and practicable measure be adopted,
as it has been on some other roads, and with entire success, it can readily
be seen how powerfully it will aid the cause of temperance. For years past,
one prolific source of intemperance, has been the taverns and grog-shops upon
our great thoroughfares. Persons who drank but little at home, under the excitement
or fatigue of traveling, have thought it pleasant if not necessary to indulge
in the intoxicating cup, especially where none but strangers could be witnesses
to their delinquency. As these sources will in a great degree cease to corrupt,
if others are not opened on the railroad., incalculable good will result to
the public. May we not hope that the noble stand will be taken and maintained,
and that our railway, so big with promise to other interests, will apply its
mighty fires and forces to dry up the poisonous fountains of intemperance? It
will be an achievement worthy of the age. It will reflect honor upon our State.
Its example will tell upon other railroads and upon the nation. In a few years,
it will save money enough to repay the building of the road. It will scatter
unnumbered blessings of contentment, peace, prosperity, and religion over our
great commonwealth!

Let me, in conclusion, recall your minds to the thought already suggested;
that the hand of the Almighty is concerned in the vast system of railroads.
In their construction, the object of man may be commerce, convenience, pleasure,
profit, or national glory. But “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are
your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” What
God intends to accomplish, we are incompetent fully to determine; but we may
rest assured, that he has some great and glorious object in view, and will make
man’s agency in this earthly enterprise instrumental in bringing it about.

Do you think it derogatory to Him who creates worlds and guides them in their
orbits, to have thing to do with railroads? Or, do you adopt the Epicurean theory,
revived by the author of “Vestiges of Creation” – a work replete with palpable
and enormous blunders – a work based on the principle, that God, after
creating the world, left it to take care of itself, and retired into the bosom
or eternity? Revelation forbids the thought. Reason forbids it. The presence
and action of universal laws forbid it. Look at the wisdom, order and harmony
of these laws. Look at their unity, and in that unity, see the agency of one
Infinite Mind upholding and governing all. Or do you take another view of the
subject less revolting to the Christian mind? Is God in nature, but not in its
movements and evolutions? Is he in matter, but not in the mind that molds it?
Is he in the stars, but not in the telescope, nor in the mechanic that made
it? Is he in the bow in the cloud, but not in the beautiful mechanism of the
eye that looks upon it? And is he in the fires of Etna, and not in the locomotive?
Give me the philosophy of David, rather than that of Laplace. “O Lord, how manifold
are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.” David looked up only to adore.
Laplace never worshipped. David saw God everywhere. His boundless glory filled
the universe. Laplace looked into the temple of omnipotence to scrutinize the
principles of its structure, but saw nothing of “its Builder and Maker who is
God.” Let us not be equally blind, unbelieving or irreverent. Let us not say,
God is a spirit, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent; and yet deny him an agency
in those mechanical forces destined to change the face of the world. Rather
let us love and adore. Let us rejoice in the truth, that God reigns and “doeth
his pleasure in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.”

It is this view of the subject which I love to contemplate; and it is because

deeply impressed with this view of it, that it is in my heart to congratulate
the President and Directors, and my fellow citizens generally, on the completion
of the first railway connecting Cleveland with the Capital, and with a great
inland city upon the beautiful banks of the Ohio. I feel it to be a noble achievement – worthy
our state – worthy the age; and while I praise God, who has furnished the men
and the means, the skill and the talent, to carry it forward, amidst toils and
difficulties, to a successful termination; I must not forget to mention the
only drawback upon our rejoicings.

In the prosecution of the work there was one, who from its commencement has
sustained a high and honorable part in it. Of his forecast, integrity, mechanical
skill, incessant toil and uncompromising energy and perseverance, I need not
speak. In connection with this road, the name of Harbach will long live in our
affectionate remembrance. Strange, that just as it was completed, he should
drop into the tomb! But we know that active mind lives, and is active still;
and who can tell the interest it may now take, viewing events in the clear light
of eternity – in the wonderful developments connected with his short but useful
career!

“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.”

Those most useful – whose services to the world seem indispensable, are
often, as was our friend, suddenly called away. Let the dispensation, mournful
to us all, and especially to the bereaved partner and family, with whom we deeply
sympathize, teach us, that in the midst of life we are in death; – that
life is only good and great as it works out the problem of a higher destiny,
in the realization of a blessed hope of immortality through Jesus Christ.

My Friends, the stirring scenes through which we are passing – the movements
of which we are spectators, and in which we are actors, are great to us. And,
indeed, connected with the progress of our race, and with the destiny of our
country and world, they are great in reality. But another existence is before
us. Other scenes are yet to open – scenes of still deeper interest –
vastly different in their nature – of a higher order – spiritual,
eternal; and we are all approaching them in the great railcar of time, with
a speed more rapid than lightning – more irresistible than chariots of
fire.

God grant, that through infinite mercy in Jesus Christ, we may be faithful
in our day and generation – live to some valuable purpose – that when we reach the
great depot of our earthly existence, and go out of this tabernacle, we may
enter into the building of God – “An house not made with hands, eternal in the
heavens.”


NOTES

[1] For the information of persons
at a distance, it may be well to say a word respecting the occasion which
gave rise to this discourse. By invitation from the Common Council of Cleveland,
the Legislature of Ohio, now in session, and the Common Councils of Cincinnati
and Columbus were induced to unite with the citizens of Cleveland in celebrating
Washington’s birthday and the opening of the Cleveland and Columbus Rail Road.
Accordingly the Legislature adjourned for this purpose; and, accompanied with
numerous gentlemen and ladies, the first train of cars passed over the road
on the 21st inst., with entire ease and safety, and the guests remained until
the Monday following. The Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, anticipating
the presence of strangers on the Sabbath, had determined to speak on the absorbing
topic of the day, and had intimated the same to one or two friends. It so
happened, that one of our editors hearing of it, inserted his own responsibility
a notice of it in his paper, which circumstance will account for the large
number of strangers at the Stone Church.

[2] The under ground tunnel of
Pozzuoli, near Naples, is said to have been half a league, or, in American
measure, one mile and a half. The passage was cut through solid rock fifteen
feet square.

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