As the bells of the
cities and villages of our land tolled out the sad message in the
early hours of last Saturday morning the profoundest depths of every
true heart were touched and awestruck, and to-day a cloud hangs
low and heavy over the civilized world.
As was fitly said at
Washington on Tuesday, “this is not the time to measure the far-reaching
influence of President McKinley’s public life; that will come later.”
To-day is much more for thought and prayer and golden silence in
which to hear the words of God speaking His message of comfort.
Still our hearts are
not dumb with despair. Hopefulness is the dominant note of Christian
faith, and even in this dark day we have much for which to give
God thanks. God is in the land. The God of Washington and Lincoln
and McKinley is our God, and He Himself will lead the nation on
to its destiny. A thousand may fall, but we are still under the
leadership of the Almighty. And he who served his country so faithfully
and so well has passed into the bright light of the Master’s immediate
presence, and has laid his burdens at His feet.
We are thankful to-day
for the good man’s stainless life. Consecrated to God and to duty
in his earliest days, with no gaps nor scars in his years. With
the help of Christ he yielded up an honest life. For the breadth,
the proportion of his life we are thankful. From communion with
God it reached out to every practical duty. And duty had a big meaning
for him. He loved his church, his country and his fellows. It was
a poised soul that did the duty. There was never panic. That awful
moment of startling composure, when others were in confusion, was
the revelation of a continual attitude. And the fruits of inner
composure were his—strength and kindness.
The man who, on the day of
his first inaugural, had time and thought to give the flower from
his coat to  the engineer
of the train which took him from Canton to Washington while the
multitudes were waiting for him, had kindness as a refreshing stream
flowing from his heart.
We cannot dwell too much upon
the exceeding beauty of his domestic life. Surely, it comes as a
fragrant message to the nation. Notwithstanding the ever-increasing
weight of duties, the complex relationships to the larger life of
the state, yet the dew of the morning was still upon his domestic
life, fresh and sweet. The young tenderness of long ago had not
grown old. It was young to the last. We thank God to-day, not only
for what he was in himself, but for the influence of it all. We
cannot measure any influence. It is one of the immeasurable things.
It is one of the things that baffles all attempts at computation.
But his career speaks to us on behalf of a broader life. It is a
call to more religion and more patriotism; more composure and more
kindness. Nobody can think quietly of his life as we have been forced
to do during these past days without feeling that he teaches us
something that we individually need; and that not only on the active
side of life, but also on the passive side. How to take trouble;
how to stand before the sudden stroke that shatters hopes; how to
hold one’s self when the fondest dreams are broken. That message
has come home to us all from these last days of our beloved President’s
life. And how to die. We have seen how a good man dies; we have
seen the strong arm of faith clinging to the cross. Simple, genuine,
unfaltering trust in the eternal love of the Father.
It is a priceless inheritance
to have all that came to us. It is vastly more than all the treasures
of art. I bless the memory of the mother who taught him to pray.
I bless the memory of her who taught him the secret of Christian
living. For we have the influence of it falling upon us like the
rain upon the parched ground.
I believe his example
is calling us, as a people, to a deeper consecration to God and
duty. And it cannot fail to lift us higher. This great wave of national
sorrow is our recognition of the beauty and power of goodness.