« PreviousContinue »
a regiment into battle when you know that the whole nation will applaud the victory; it is comparatively easy to doctor the sick when you know that your skill will be appreciated by a large company of friends and relatives; it is comparatively easy to address an audience when in the gleaming eyes and the flushed cheeks you know that your sentiments are adopted; but to do sewing where you expect that the employer will come and thrust his thumb through the work to show how imperfect it is, or to have the whole garment thrown back on you to be done over again; to build a wall and know there will be no one to say you did it well, but only a swearing employer howling across the scaffold; to work until your eyes are dim and your back aches, and your heart faints, and to know that if you stop before night your children will starve. Ah! the sword has not slain so many as the needle. The great battle-fields of our last war were not Gettysburg and Shiloh and South Mountain. The great battle-fields of the last war were in the arsenals, and in the shops and in the attics, where women made army jackets for a sixpence. They toiled on until they died. They had no funeral eulogium, but in the name of my God, this morning, I enroll their names among those of whom the world was not worthy. Heroes of the needle. Heroes of the sewing-machine. Heroes of the attic. Heroes of the cellar. Heroes and heroines. Bless God for them.
In this roll I also find the heroes who have uncomplainingly endured domestic injustices. There are men who for their toil and anxiety have no sympathy in their homes. Exhausting application to business gets them a livelihood, but an unfrugal wife scatters it. He is fretted at from the moment he enters the door until he gorges out of it. The exasperations of business lifg augmented by the exasperations of domestic life. Such men are laughed at, but they have a heart-breaking trouble, and they would have long ago gone into appalling dissipations but for the grace of God. Society today is strewn with the wrecks of men who under the north-east storm of domestic infelicity have been driven on the rocks. There are tens of thousands of drunkards in this country to-day, made such by their wives. That is not poetry! That is prose! But the wrong is generally in the opposite direction. You would not have to go far to find a wife whose life is a perpetual martyrdom. Something heavier than a stroke of the fist; unkind words, staggerings home at midnight, and constant maltreatment, which have left her only a wreck of what she was on that day when in the midst of a brilliant assemblage the vows were taken, and full organ played the wedding march, and the carriage rolled away with the benediction of the people. What was the burning of Latimer and Eidley at the stake compared with this? Those men soon became unconscious in the fire, but here is a fifty years' martyrdom, a fifty years' putting to death, yet uncomplaining. No bitter words when the rollicking companions at two o'clock in the morning pitch the husband dead drunk into the front entry. No bitter words when wiping from the swollen brow the blood struck out in a midnight carousal. Bending over the battered and bruised form of him who, when he took her from her father's home, promised love, and kindness, and protection, yet nothing but sympathy, and prayers, and forgiveness before they are asked for. No bitter words when the family Bible goes for rum, and the pawnbroker's shop gets the last decent dress, Some day, desiring to evoke the story of lier sorrows, you say: "Well, hpw are you getting along now?" and rallying ber trejji* bling voice, and quieting her quivering lip, she says: "Pretty well, I thank you, pretty well." She never will tell you. In the delirium of her last sickness she may tell all the secrets of her lifetime, but she will not tell that. Not until the books of eternity are opened on the thrones of judgment will ever be known what she has suffered. Oh! ye wdio are twisting a garland for the victor, put it on that pale brow. - "When she is dead the neighbors will beg linen to make her a shroud, and she will be carried out in a plain box with no silver plate to tell her years, for she has lived a thousand years of trial and anguish. The gamblers and swindlers who destroyed her husband will not come to the funeral. One carriage will be enough for that funeral—one carriage to carry the orphans and the two Christian women who presided over the obsequies. But there is a flash, and the opening of a celestial door, and a shout: "Lift up your head, ye everlasting gate, and let her come in!" And Christ will step forth and say: "Come in! ye suffered with me on earth, be glorified with me in heaven." What is the highest throne in heaven? You say: "The throne of the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb." No doubt about it. What is the next highest throne in heaven? While I speak it seems to me that it will be the throne of the drunkard's wife, if she, with cheerful patience, endured all her earthly torture. Heroes and heroines. I find also in this roll the heroes of Christian charity. We all admire the George Peabodys and the James Lenoxes of the earth, who give tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars to good objects. A few days ago Moses H. Grinnell was buried, and the most significant thing about the ceremonies, as I read them, was that there was no sermon and no oration; a plain hymn, a prayer, .and % benediction. Well, I said, that is very beautiful. All Christendom pronounces the eulogium of Moses H. Grinnell, and the icebergs that stand as monuments to Franklin and his men will stand as the monuments of this great merchant, and the sunlight that plays upon the glittering cliff will write his epitaph. But I am speaking this morning of those who, out of their pinched poverty, help others—of such men as those Christian missionaries at the West, who are living on $250 a year that they may proclaim Christ to the people, one of them, writing to the secretary in New York, saying:"I thank you for that $25. Until yesterday we have had no meat in our house for three months. We have suffered terribly. My children have no shoes this winter." And of those people who have only a half loaf of bread, but give a piece of it to others who are hungrier; and of those who have only a scuttle of coal, but help others to fuel; and of those who have only a dollar in their pocket, and give twenty-five cents to somebody else; and of that father who wears a shabby coat, and of that mother who wears a faded dress, that their children may be well apparelled. You call them paupers, or ragmuffins, or emigrants. I call them heroes and heroines. You and I. may not know where they live, or what their name is. God knows, and they have more angels hovering over them than you and I have, and they will have a higher seat in heaven.
They may have only a cup of cold water to give a poor traveler, or may have only picked a splinter from under the nail of a child's finger, or have put only two mites into the treasury, but the Lord knows them. Considering what they had, they did more than wre have ever done, and their faded dress will become a white robe, and the small room will be an eternal mansion, and the old hat will be a coronet of victory, and all the applause of earth and all the shouting of heaven will be drowned out when God rises up to give his reward to those humble workers in his kingdom, and to say to them: "Well done, good and faithful servant." You have all seen or heard of the ruin of Melrose Abbey. I suppose in some respects it is the most exquisite ruin on earth. And yet, looking at it I was not so impressed—you may set it down to bad taste—but I was not so deeply stirred as I was at a tombstone at the foot of that abbey—the tombstone placed by Walter Scott over the grave of an old man who had served him for a good many years in his house —the inscription most significant, but I defy any man to stand there and read it without tears coming into his eyes—the epitaph: "Well done, good and faithful servent." Oh ! when our work is over, will it be found that because of anything,we have done for God, or the church, or suffering humanity, that such an inscription is appropriate for us? God grant it.
Who are those who were bravest and deserved the greatest monument—Lord Claverhouse and his burly soldiers or John Brown, the Edinburgh carrier and his wife? Mr. Atkins, the persecuted minister of Jesus Christ in Scotland, was secreted by John Brown and his wife, and Claverhouse rode up one day with his armed men and shouted in front of the house. John Brown's little girl came out. He said to her: "Well, miss, is Mr. Atkins here?" She made no answer, for she could not betray the minister of the Gospel. "Ha!" Claverhouse said, "then you are a chip of the old block, are you? I have something in my pocket for you. It is a nosegay. Some people call it a thumbscrew, but I call it a nosegay." And he. got off his horse, and he put it on the little girl's hand, and begin to turn it until the bones cracked, and she cried. - He said, "don't cry, don't cry; this isn't a