For a week after the portentous cloud fairly broke over the land, a calm realization and contemplation of it were impossible. It seemed in men’s minds rather like a dreadful nightmare than an actuality. We begin now to recover from the shock, and are able to use our reason in looking at the nation’s calamity. The French Revolution, in the rugged diction of Carlyle, “was a revelation of God, clothed in hell-fire.” Europe is wiser for its lessons to-day, and there are even blessings which had their birth in that stormy time. So it may be that the Christian and the philosopher shall be able, even while he looks through bitter tears, to see the dark and chaotic present shaping into a better future. The politician, considering the history of the last few years, is not at a loss in determining the whereabouts of responsibility, or pointing out contingencies which might have averted the evil. Nor, though it must be that offences shall come, is the woe removed from him by whom the offence cometh. But the evil is upon us, and it is our privilege at least to hope that there is a grand good to come out of it.

We do not believe there can be a man, however much he may deplore and deprecate war, who does not thank God that he has lived to see this day. With all its terrors it has been a glorious one. The country has slept under a long, unbroken peace until the blood in its veins was well nigh stagnant. The body politic had grown corrupt, yea rotten. Public virtue was only seen to be sneered at. The individual was absorbed in the pursuit of selfish aggrandisement, and the national heart that throbbed, young and vigorous, after the excitement of the first Revolution, had grown torpid and callous. The second Revolution, it may be, was needed to waken it into new life. Almost in a day, national virtue, courage, character have seemed to be born. In the majesty of a common purpose, the North has risen colossal to confront a common danger. The spectacle is the sublimest that the century has witnessed. Patriotism, all but an obsolete word before, has a meaning now. The national flag which hung, an idle piece of bunting, in the time of peace, has been reconsecrated in the breath of war, and is again a holy thing.—Men would have sold their souls for a paltry consideration in gold or silver before; gold and silver are cheap now, and life itself, the last offering of the devotee, is laid upon the altar of the country. Who can say henceforth that corporations have no souls, when even these have vied with each other in anticipating every call that enthusiasm could make? What jealous alien henceforth may scoff at the sordidness, the selfishness and lack of earnestness in the national character, now that the loom is left idle in the mill, the plough in the furrow, and the “cheating yard-wand,” is abandoned for the musket, by the hosts who have risen at the first call of their country?

We pray for peace. We even trust and believe that when the flag has been borne victorious through the smoke of one or two battles, the nation’s point will have been gained, and there will be a cry for some adjustment, such as reasoning men may make, as loud and as general as has been the cry to arms. But in the very heat and fury of the conflict, we believe the people’s virtue will be strengthened and, as if by fire, the nation will be purified. This war is not one of ambition or aggrandizement. Historians tell us how demoralizing and degrading have been the influences of camp life on soldiers sent out to fulfill the behests of avaricious kings and emperors. It will not be so, in the grand result, with the brave men who go from among us to do battle for the right and the country. Never was a just cause more nobly or with better motives espoused. We fight to vindicate the inviolability of law, the sacredness of government. The men who take the standard in their hands were men of peace, to whose tastes and instincts war was more than repugnant. They could have been induced to leave home and fireside by no hopes of gain, or personal gratification. Out of the noble self-sacrifice, the heroic obedience to duty, the love of country and of right, strong even unto death—out of all that will be bravely done and manfully suffered in this just cause, good must inevitably result. The Christianity of the land is vitalized in the prayer that rises from a common altar to the God of battles, and while twenty millions of hearts bear the motto—