The first day of June having been appointed by the President of the United States, as a day of Humiliation and Prayer, arrangements were made, through the instrumentality of the Hon. Wm. W. MURPHY, Consul General of the United States at FRANKFORT ON THE MAIN, to observe the day at Hombourg-les-Bains, where a number of Americans are residing for the summer.
The Morning Service of the Church, with appropriate additional prayers, was read by the Bishop of California, the Lessons being read by the Rvd. Dr. BUTLER, English Chaplain at Hombourg. The Service was held in the Chapel attached to the Palace of the Sovereign Landgrave of Hesse-Hombourg, the use of which had been kindly granted.
The following Address, hastily written for the occasion, was then delivered, and is now published by request of the congregation present, conveyed to the Author in the following notes.
To the Right Reverend
the Bishop of California.
June 2d, 1865.
The undersigned, a Committee of Citizens of the United States sojourning in Frankfort and Hombourg, who heard with so much pleasure your excellent discourse delivered at the State Church in the city of Hombourg-les-Bains, on the day appointed by His Excellency, the President of the United States, as a day of Humiliation and Prayer, respectfully request you to favor us with a copy of the same for publication.
Your obedt. Servants
William W. Murphy, U.S. Consul General.
H. M. Watts, Philadelphia.
W. H. Grattan, San Francisco.
G. J. Bucknall, New-York.
Max. H. Becker, Chicago, Ill.
Julius Mohr, Frankfort o/M.
 We the Undersigned, British subjects, having been present on the occasion, referred to, heartily unite in the foregoing request.
J. C. Flood, M.A., British Chaplain at Frankfort o/M.
Henry Watson, Rector of Langton, Lincolnshire.
James Butler, British Chaplain, Hesse-Hombourg.
William Lewis, M.D., Resident English Physician, Hombourg.
We have gathered this morning, my Brethren, in this distant land, in obedience to the Proclamation of the head of our nation, to recognize this day as one of humiliation and prayer for the sins of our country. "Whereas"--says that document--"our country has become one great house of mourning, where the head of the family has been taken away, and believing that a special period should be assigned for again humbling ourselves before Almighty God, in order that the bereavement may be sanctified to the nation, I recommend to my fellow citizens, on Thursday, the first day of June, to assemble in their respective places of worship, there to unite in solemn service to Almighty God in memory of the good man who has been removed, so that all shall be occupied at the same time, in contemplation of his virtues and sorrow for his sudden and violent end.
That voice comes to us over the wide ocean and we bow to it from that principle of loyalty which should always characterize the Christian. It matters not to us, in whose hands that authority is placed. It is sufficient that he who weilds it is the recognized head of the nation to which we belong. To it we owe allegiance and its injunctions should be heeded, even in this far off land where we are strangers and sojourners.
The question is naturally suggested to us by these remarks, as well as by the services of this day.--What is loyalty? What is the obedience we owe to the government under which we live? Has each individual, or each section of country, a right to throw off allegiance at pleasure? The political answer to this would be:--If so, what becomes of nationality? A nation, on this theory, is but a rope of sand, liable at any moment to crumble into separate atoms and the promises of a [5/6] government are the pledges of an institution which to-morrow may have no existence.
But I turn from this to the religious view of the question, as best befitting this place and time. What then is loyalty as laid down in the Word of God? That volume expressly says: "The powers that be are ordained of God; whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God." And this was well illustrated and enforced by the conduct of the Early Christians. In that day, when our faith was now in the world and its followers were counted "the offscouring of all things," the hand of oppression rested heavily upon them. "They had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment," and might at any moment be called to receive the crown of martyrdom. And this persecuting power was weilded by the government of the land. At Rome, it willingly responded to that oft heard cry of the populace--that cry, in which alone Jew and Greek, Roman and Egyptian could unite,--"To the lions with the Christians!"
And how did they receive it? St. Paul does not say to his followers,--"Rouse yourselves against this oppression: strike a blow for your rights and liberties!" But, on the contrary, he tells them--"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to Kings as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him." He advocated no sudden and violent convulsions, but trusted to the gradual yet sure influence of Christian principles, to bring all things into conformity with right. Even in the third century, when, in the consciousness of their power, one of the early apologists for the faith says--"We fill the court, the camps and the cities"--they still remained "subject for conscience sake.")
And who at that time was head of the Roman Empire? Nero was on the throne,--a monster in human form and stained with the blood of his own nearest relatives: He it was who was the bitter persecutor of the Christians. For him certainly [6/7] the Apostle could have had no reverence. Yet what does he say? Why, he inculcates loyalty to the Emperor. His unequivocal language is--"Honor the King." Such was the lesson taught by the Apostles to the infant Church, and so it always has been. Thus was loyalty wrought into the very fabric of our religion. Rebellion against the justly constituted authority of the land is as much a violation of religious duty, as it is a crime against the civil law.
It is a disregard of this principle of religion which has for years past deluged our country with blood--made often "a man's foes they of his own household,"--and spread sorrow through every family circle. In our fancied security we were suddenly startled by the outbreak of a convulsion,--unlooked for and unexpected,--excited by no oppression--and which struck a blow at the very existence of the government. As we now look back upon the contest, its history is like the "roll of the book" seen in vision by the prophet Ezekiel, "written within and without with lamentation and mourning and woe."
But yet, everything in the retrospect is not sorrowful. Not unmingled with light have been the dark scenes through which we have passed. There have been visible blessings united with the judgments we have experienced. There are worse evils, Brethren, than war--even than a civil war. National degeneracy is worse, where a people sink lower and lower each year, and high toned honor is forgotten and every noble impulse is lost in the strife of money getting. And so it was too much with us. Many years of peace and prosperity had materialized the minds of our people and they were growing more and more "of the earth, earthy." They were caring only for the physical things of life--for getting gain and "adding house to house and field to field."
Then, this storm burst upon us and awakened our people to new and unaccustomed impulses. It developed the dormant patriotism of the masses. Selfdenial and selfsacrifice for country's sake became living things, and they who devoted to this cause those nearest and dearest to them and saw them go down, one by one, upon the battle field, were taken out of [7/8] their own narrow interests and learned that the love of country is a vital principle and patriotism something more than a mere name. And they who "perilled their lives unto the death in the high places of the field" were actuated by higher impulses than those arising from "the greed of gold." The whole tone of the nation has thus been elevated and ennobled by the fiery trial through which it passed. The solemn sacrifice offered on the altar of patriot duty brought down its blessing, and what was sown in tears upon the battle field will one day be reaped in joy in the harvest of loftier principles than of old. The blow which fell upon us realized what the superstition of the ancients ascribed to lightning,--consecrating what it scathed.
We cannot therefore ask in despondency, as we look at the thousands who died on the battle field--"Wherefore is this waste?" We feel that not in vain was this blood poured forth--that it was ennobling millions who know not perhaps those who thus consecrated themselves to death,--that it was winning for them a heritage which many coming generations may enjoy. It is thus by private sorrow that the public weal is always worked out, and when Leonidas died at Thermopylae, and by his very fall taught a lesson of selfconsecrating patriotism which fired the hearts of his countrymen, no one who ever reads the story on the page of history, characterized his loss of life as "waste," or thought that useless was the sacrifice offered.
But beyond this mere elevation of national character, there are tangible and evident benefits resulting from this fearful strife. It swept away for ever that curse of slavery which had been eating like a canker into the heart of the land and had become an evil, so vast in its proportions that the wisest saw not how to grapple with it. It settled questions of great political moment, which for eighty years had distracted the councils of our nation, blotting out in blood views and theories which militated against the very frame work of our Constitution. Yet though the price paid was great, it purchased an abiding peace for the future. It created a feeling of nationality such as never before existed, and our country commences a new career, sanctified by its baptism of blood.
 Has not this conflict then been better,--aye, will not even they say so, who in their own sufferings have paid part of the price--has it not been better than the prosperous and unbroken peace in which national character and national principles sink surely down into degeneracy? Most nations which have disappeared from the page of history have been enervated and ruined by prosperity. Babylon expired amid the revelry of a banquet, and it was not on the battle field, but amid the luxury of Capua, that the great rival of Rome received its death blow. Said we not truly then, that there are sorer evils than those of war?
Yet we trust that the clouds have now passed away and the sunlight once more returned. We trust that peace will again spread her benign influence over the land and men "beat their swords into ploughshares." Why then, in this hour of seeming triumph, should we be called to humiliation? Why should not this day be one of thanksgiving and our utterances be those of unmingled rejoicing? This, Brethren, would be but an earthly view. On the contrary, it is meet and proper, that now, at the end of an embittered contest of years, we should, as a nation, prostrate ourselves before God in sorrow and contrition. When, with His ancient people, the land had been defiled with blood, the priest was commanded to offer a sacrifice and make atonement for the sins which had brought that judgment upon them. How great the need then that we should do so, when the blood of our noblest and best has been so freely poured forth for years--when brother has been arrayed in deadly strife against brother--and it has been, in the words of the prophet, "a day of trouble, of rebuke and blasphemy!" How many and grievous must have been the sins which the evil passions of men have called forth in this unhappy contest!
And more than all--how deep the stain resting on us, from that last sad tragedy, when our Chief Magistrate was stricken down by the hand of an assassin, and the sympathy of every Christian nation was awakened! It was a crime which we thought belonged only to the past--to the Dark Ages--to the old Republics of Italy and the days of the [9/10] Borgias. It was too, selecting as a victim, one whose leading trait was an exceeding kindness of heart,--who looked upon those so fiercely warring against his authority, as erring children to be won back and pardoned,--and who, through all this embittered contest, uttered no word of severity and left behind him no written sentence of harshness against those who were heaping their insults upon him. Yet this could not shield him and the hand of fanaticism has thus singled out for destruction him, who least of any high in office would naturally have awakened such vindictive feelings. But this too is recorded against us, and the whole world is startled by a crime, so unlooked for--so out of harmony with all that is expected in this age. How much reason have we then for humiliation! How should we cry,--"Spare us, O Lord! spare Thy people and visit us not too heavily for our sins! When Thou makest inquisition for blood, lay not to our charge the shedding of that which has defiled our land neither require it at our hands!"
But with sorrow for the past, we have also a duty for the future. If it please God that now this unhappy strife should end and we again stand before the world as one united people--the effort must be, to forget the bitterness of the past and restore that union of feeling which existed "in our fathers' days and in the old time before them." The physical features of the land will soon resume their old appearance. The desolated towns will be rebuilt,--trade will flow back upon its surface, where the iron heel of war has trodden,--and harvests will soon wave in cheerfulness over the battle field and the spot where thousands are lying in their bloody graves. Let us too strive to heal the wounds which have been inflicted and by the absence of all unseemly show of triumph--by kindness and forbearance--send balm to the hearts of those who now are suffering and depressed. Then we shall have learned the lesson which the services of this day should teach us and it will not have been in vain that we have come together to God's House this morning.
MOST merciful GOD! We beseech Thee to hear our prayers and to spare those who confess their sins to Thee. When Thou makest inquisition for blood, lay not to our charge the shedding of that which has defiled our land and may it not be required at our hands.
Thou only makest men to be of one mind and to dwell together in unity.--Assuage we beseech Thee the bitterness and strifes which have arisen in our land.--Soften the animosities which have been created and grant that those who dwell side by side may again live as brethren. Heal the wounds which this contest has made.--Send Thy grace to strengthen the bereaved, the impoverished, and the suffering, and grant that in this day of their sorrow they may be upheld by Thy Almighty Power. May peace and prosperity once more be our lot and we learn to recognize Thy hand and adore Thee as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. All of which we ask through the merits and mediation of Thy Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.