Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 13.djvu/327

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326 Southern Historical Society Papers.

When a man already eminent by great virtues and services, attains great eminence in piety and wears the coronal of Heaven on his brow, because the spirit of Heaven has found its home in his heart, then the world, involuntarily, or with hearty readiness, places him on a higher pedestal, because with their love and admiration for the attractive qualities of the man, there is mingled a veneration for the ennobling graces of the Christian.

I do not agree with those who ascribe all that was admirable in the character of Jackson and all that was splendid in his career, to his religious faith. He was distinguished before faith became an element in his life; and even after his faith attained its fullest development, it did not secure the triumph of the cause to which his life was a sacrifice.

But this I say, that his piety heightened every virtue, gave direc- tion and force to every blow it struck for that cause, and then conse- cration to the sacrifice when he laid down his life on the altar of his country's liberties. He was purer, stronger, more courageous, more efficient because of his piety ; purer, because penitence strains the soul of the corruptions which defile it ; stronger, because faith nerves the arm that takes hold on omnipotence; more courageous, because hope gives exaltation to the heroism of one who fights with the crown of life ever in view; more efficient, because religion, which is but another name for the right use of one's own faculties, pre- serves them all in harmonious balance, develops all in symmetrical proportion, and by freeing them from the warping power of preju- dice, the blinding power of passion, and the debasing slavery of evil habits, gives them all wholesome exercise, trains them all to keep step to the music of duty, and inspires them with an energy which is both intense and rightly directed.

It was thus that he gave to the world an illustration of the power which results from the union of the loftiest human attributes and un- faltering faith in God.

To attempt, therefore, to portray the life of Jackson while leaving out the religious element, would be like undertaking " to describe Switzerland without making mention of the Alps," or to explain the fertility of the land of the Pharaohs without taking into account the enriching Nile.

If what comes from the speaker to-day on this subject loses aught of its force because it is regarded as professional, he will deeply re gret it. The same testimony might have more weight from the lips of many a statesman or soldier on these grounds to-day, but it would