-has written a Pastoral Letter for the Lenten season, the following extracts from which are pertinent to the approaching Fast Day:
"We need not inquire for great common offences which have exposed us to this terrible expression of the Divine displeasure.
National guilt is formed by individual sins, and to the mass of iniquity so accumulated we have each fearfully contributed.
The wonder is, not that He has scourged, but that He has not cut short the work in righteousness and consigned us to remediless ruin.
But God assures us that He doth not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. It is that they may examine and try their ways and turn unto the Lord
He has proclaimed and put it upon record, 'At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation — if that nation against which I have pronounced turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.'
"Now, as the national guilt, which displeases God and calls for affliction, is formed by individual sins, so the penitence which must precede its removal is not an affair of State, to be conducted in our stead by those in authority, but the personal penitence of the people who constitute the nation, each individually transacting with God.
Even the penitential services of the House
of God are but the joint utterance and open avowal of individual contrition, neither beginning nor ending there, but brought from the solitude of the closet which has been broken by its moan, and deepened by the social and sympathetic confessions in the sanctuary, and abiding in the humble heart, not only as a guard against relapse, but as an incentive to all dutifulness.
And this, dear brethren, is the very exercise essential to the health and salvation of the soul, to which, with appropriate helps, the church calls us, at this season, with special solemnity and earnestness.
Borrowing the awakening language of inspiration, she addresses us: 'Therefore also now, saith the Lord
, turn ye unto me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, and rend your hearts and not your garments; for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil.' 'He spares us when we deserve punishment, and in His wrath thinketh upon mercy.'
"What a combination of motives in connection with this call!
All that is valuable in the interests of the immortal soul, and all that is precious in the preservation and prosperity of this stricken and struggling Confederacy!
One and the same action bears on the welfare of both.
For our own and for our country's sake, it behooves us to maintain an humble and a contrite spirit, which God will not despise.
Piety and patriotism unite in the requirement.
The church and the country concur in the appeal.
The call of the church has been recited.
From the earliest ages of Christianity it has fallen at this season, and with special emphasis on the ears of her children; and to those who have heeded with blessed effect, as ministers and people testify.
This year it comes with peculiar concern, in view of the painful and protracted chastisement which we are enduring; and with it we hear the united voices of the representatives of the people, and of their honored Chief Magistrate
, calling upon their fellow citizens to 'bow down in humble submission before God's footstool, confessing their manifold sins, supplicating His gracious pardon, imploring His Divine help — praying that the trials and the sufferings which have so long borne heavily upon us may be turned away by His merciful love, and that His sustaining grace may be given to our people.'"