providence, whether its control be over the world of matter or of mind; and the pious heart bows in reverence to the Supreme Will
, assured that failure can be written upon nothing within the scope of its comprehensive design.
These reflections may be brought closer to ourselves.
Reference has already been made to the severe civil conflict through which this country has recently passed.
A civil war, as waged between citizens of the same Commonwealth or State, is necessarily a contention for principles which are drawn into dispute to be more fully defined.
These lie, more or less, at the foundation of all governments, sometimes rather by implication than in formal statement.
Even when embodied in constitutional provisions there may arise differences of interpretation; or the full sweep of a recognized principle may not be understood except through its outworking in the experience of a century.
In the conflict which ensues one of the parties may be overthrown; yet in so far as they stood for what is true, their defeat is not the death of their cause.
Truth is immortal, and can never die. It is the thought of God translated into the dialect of man. Often in the history of our race truth has been buried in a protest until the world is ready for its assured resurrection.
Hence it comes to pass, at the close of a protracted struggle, there is neither undue exaltation with the victor, nor undue depression with the vanquished.
The dignity of the conflict, and the conviction that living principles cannot be displaced by physical force, preserves the one party from unseemly vanity or contemptuous scorn; and protect the other, even in the bitterness of defeat, from any sense of humiliation or shame.
He greets the generation after him, assured that no child can arise to be ashamed of his father or of the deeds he has wrought.
Another consequence ensues.
Such a conflict can only occur among a people both intelligent and brave; and so far from necessarily disrupting them, often consolidates them in a union more strong and lasting.
Ours is not the only country which has been torn by internal strife.
There is England
, for example, in her long conflict between prerogative and privilege, so graphically described by Macaulay
, yet more securely standing than ever before upon the principles of constitutional freedom.
So it must prove with ourselves.
The principles which are true will survive all conflicts, and while it has been determined that we remain together, all else is remanded