The occasion, which brings us together, has much in it calculated to awaken our sensibilities, and cast a solemnity over our thoughts.
We are met to consecrate these grounds exclusively to the service and repose of the dead.
The duty is not new; for it has been performed for countless millions.
The scenery is not new; for the hill and the valley, the still, silent dell, and the deep forest, have often been devoted to the same pious purpose.
But that, which must always give it a peculiar interest, is, that it can rarely occur except at distant intervals; and, whenever it does, it must address itself to feelings intelligible to all nations, and common to all hearts.
The patriarchal language of four thousand years ago is precisely that to which we would now give utterance.
We are “strangers and sojourners” here.
We have need of “a possession of a burying-place, that we may bury our dead out of our sight.”
Let us have “the field, and the cave which is therein; and all the trees, that are in the field, and that are in the borders round about;” and let them “be made sure for a possession of a burying-place.”
It is the duty of the living thus to provide for the dead.
It is not a mere office of pious regard for others;