William Wallace Lincoln
, I never knew.
He died Thursday, February 20th, 1862, nearly two years before my intercourse with the President
He had just entered upon his twelfth year, and has been described to me as of an unusually serious and thoughtful disposition.
His death was the most crushing affliction Mr. Lincoln
had ever been called upon to pass through.
After the funeral, the President
official duties, but mechanically, and with a terrible weight at his heart.
The following Thursday
he gave way to his feelings, and shut himself from all society.
The second Thursday it was the same; he would see no one, and seemed a prey to the deepest melancholy.
About this time the Rev. Francis Vinton
, of Trinity Church, New York, had occasion to spend a few days in Washington
An acquaintance of Mrs. Lincoln
and of her sister, Mrs. Edwards
, of Springfield
, he was requested by them to come up and see the President
The setting apart of Thursday for the indulgence of his grief had gone on for several weeks, and Mrs. Lincoln
began to be seriously alarmed for the health of her husband, of which fact Dr. Vinton
received him in the parlor, and an opportunity was soon embraced by the clergyman to chide him for showing so rebellious a disposition to the decrees of Providence
He told him plainly that the indulgence of such feelings, though natural, was sinful.
It was unworthy one who believed in the Christian
He had duties to the living, greater than those of any other man, as the chosen father, and leader of the people, and he was unfitting himself for his responsibilities by thus giving way to his grief.
To mourn the departed as lost
belonged to heathenism — not to Christianity.
“Your son,” said Dr. Vinton
, “is alive, in Paradise.
Do you remember that passage in the Gospels: ‘God is not the God of the dead
but of the living, for all
live unto him’ ?”
The President had listened as one in a stupor, until his ear caught the words, “Your son is alive.”
Starting from the sofa, he exclaimed, “Alive!
! Surely you mock me.”
“No, sir, believe me,” replied Dr. Vinton
; “it is a most comforting doctrine of the church, founded upon the words of Christ
looked at him a moment, and then, stepping forward, he threw his arm around the clergyman's neck, and, laying his head upon his breast, sobbed aloud.
“My dear sir,” said Dr. Vinton
, greatly moved, as he twined his own arm around the weeping father, “believe this, for it is God's most precious truth.
Seek not your son among the dead; he is not there; he lives to-day in Paradise!
Think of the full import of the words I have quoted.
, when they questioned Jesus, had no other conception than that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead and buried.
Mark the reply: ‘Now that the dead are
raised, even Moses
showed at the bush when he called the Lord
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto him
Did not the aged patriarch mourn his sons as dead?-- ‘Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin
But Joseph and Simeon were both living, though he believed it not. Indeed, Joseph being taken from him, was the eventual
means of the preservation of the whole family, And so God has called your son into his upper kingdom — a kingdom and an existence as real, more real, than your own. It may be that he too, like Joseph, has gone, in God's good providence, to be the salvation of his father's household.
It is a part of the Lord
's plan for the ultimate happiness of you and yours.
Doubt it not. I have a sermon,” continued Dr. Vinton
, “upon this subject, which I think might interest you.”
begged him to send it at an early day — thanking him repeatedly for his cheering and hopeful words.
The sermon was sent, and read over and over by the President
, who caused a copy to be made for his own private use before it was returned.
Through a member of the family, I have been informed that Mr. Lincoln
's views in relation to spiritual things seemed changed from that hour.
Certain it is, that thenceforth he ceased the observance of the day of the week upon which his son died, and gradually resumed his accustomed cheerfulness.