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5. It is most fit that, amid this day's solemnities, we, with the spirits of our dead martyrs hovering over us, and all loyal men giving us their sympathies, and the freeman lifting to heaven his unshackled hands and his eyes streaming with grateful joy - it is fit that we bend our knee in fervent thanksgiving to God, for our country saved, for sweet peace restored, for our fathers’ graves redeemed from threatened dishonor, and for the bow of promise that spans the heavens for us, its one limb brightening in the present gladness, and the other encompassing the far, far destinies of our posterity. Let us rejoice before the Lord and be glad! Let us praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men; and bless his name for that he hath saved us from our enemies and redeemed his people Israel.
6. It is with great price that we have obtained these results. We have given of our very best. We know how death is wont to transfigure those we have loved, and make invisible their failings and their limitations. But there is little of this illusion here, and little room for it. Indeed, indeed, they were of our best and choicest. We knew it before as well as now. We knew it and said it of one and another of them, when we saw them in these scenes, and looked into their faces radiant with intelligence, with genius, and life's young ardors of hope and promise. We knew it, and said it of how many of them, when we saw them gird on their arms and march away. We knew it and said it, when we were watching with trembling their career in distant campaigns. We can no more than know it now that they have died; only we know it, say it, feel it, over their green graves, with more thoughtfulness, more tenderness, and more admiring and grateful reverence.
7. Is it not, think ye, the mysterious privilege of souls to dwell and shine and soar amid the heavenly intelligences, and
by the waters of the river of life, and at the same time to visit and inhabit, as a presence and a power, the scenes they have loved and the hearts that will welcome them on earth? Indeed it is, we will not doubt it. Aye, have we not known it sometimes by the burning of our hearts when we have walked and talked in the spirit with the saintly and heroic dead.
8. Oh, then, ye noble and beautiful ones! we will not call you back from your glory above; yet we will not bid you farewell, we will not speak a parting word, nor think a parting thought. We invoke your continual presence. Come and abide in these scenes of your earthly love! We install you in the highest places ! Come very near to the heart of our ingenuous youth! Others shall give them knowledge; do ye bend over them in your glistening robes, and be to them, in your example and in your memories, a shining presence and guiding light! Hallow their learning, consecrate their genius, brace them to manliness, ennoble their aims, inspire them for duty and fidelity and self-sacrifice, the martyr's devotion and the hero's valor! Make them dear lovers of truth and virtue, of their country and race, of God and the right-mold them into your own spiritual likeness—make them your very brothers in the family of God!
LXII.—THROUGH DEATH TO LIFE.
1. Have you heard the tale of the Aloe plant
Away in the sunny clime?
It reaches its blooming time;
And then a wondrous bud at its crown
Breaks into a thousand flowers;
Is the pride of the tropical bowers.
2. Have you further heard of this Aloe plant
That grows in the sunny clime,
As they drop in the blooming time,
In the place where it falls on the ground; And, fast as they drop from the dying stem,
Grow lively and lovely around ? By dying it liveth a thousand-fold In the young that spring from the death of the old.
3. Have you heard the tale of the Pelican,
The Arab's Gimel el Bahr,
Where the birds that live lonely are ?
heard how it loves its tender young, And cares and toils for their good ? It brings them water from fountains afar,
And fishes the seas for their food. In famine it feeds them—what love can devise!
The blood of its bosom, and feeding them dies.
4. Have you heard the tale they tell of the swan,
The snow-white bird of the lake?
It silently sits in the brake;
till the end of life, And then, in the soft, still even,
'Mid the golden light of the setting sun,
It sings as it soars into heaven! And the blessed notes fall back from the skies; 'Tis its only song, for in singing it dies.
5. You have heard these tales; shall I tell you one,
A greater and better than all ? Have you heard of Him whom the heavens adore,
Before whom the hosts of them fall ?
For earth in its wailings and woes,
And die for the life of His foes ?
6. Have you heard this tale-the best of them all,
The tale of the Holy and True ?
Lives on in the world anew.
As the stars fill the sky above;
For the sake of the life of love.
7. Now hear these tales, ye weary and worn,
Who for others do give up your all; Our Savior hath told you, the seed that would grow
Into earth's dark bosom must fall, Must pass
from the view and die away, And then will the fruit
The grain that seems lost in the earth below
Will return many fold in the ear.
LXIII.-GEOLOGIC PROOFS THAT THE EARTH
1. “The earth, for anything that appears to the contrary, may have been made yesterday !” We stand in the middle of an ancient burying-ground in a northern district. The monuments of the dead, lichened and gray, rise thick around us; and there are fragments of moldering bones lying scattered amid the loose dust that rests under them, in dark recesses impervious to the rain and the sunshine. We dig into the soil below; here is a human skull, and there numerous other well-known bones of the human skeleton, vertebræ, ribs, arm and leg bones, with the bones of the breast and pelvis. Still, as we dig, the bony mass aocumulates, - we disinter portions, not of one, but of many skeletons, some comparatively fresh, some in a state of great decay; and with the bones there mingle fragments of coffin, with the wasted tinsel-mounting in some instances still attached, and the rusted nails still sticking in the joints.
2. We continue to dig, and at a depth to which the sexton never penetrates, find a stratum of pure sea sand, and then a stratum of the sea-shells common on the neighboring coast, -especially oyster, muscle, and cockle shells. We dig a little further, and reach a thick bed of sandstone, which we penetrate, and beneath which we find a bed of impure lime,