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When Lincoln and Beecher prayed together

The Christian Educator 5

By Samuel Scoville, Jr.

During the year 1862, the hopes of the North were at their lowest ebb. It was in that year that the second battle of Bull Run had been fought and lost, McClellan was entrenched before Richmond, and the strength and resources of the nation seemed to have been fruitlessly wasted. Henry Ward Beecher was then in Brooklyn, and was perhaps more prominently associated with the cause of the North at that time than any other minister of the gospel. He had preached and lectured and fought its battles in pulpit and press all over the country, had ransomed slaves from his pulpit, and his convictions and feelings were everywhere known.

Late one evening a stranger called at his home and asked to see him. Mr. Beecher was working alone in his study as was his usual custom, and this stranger refused to send up his name, and came muffled in a military cloak which completely hid his face. Mrs. Beecher’s suspicions were aroused, and she was very unwilling that he should have the interview which he requested, especially as Mr. Beecher’s life had been frequently threatened by sympathizers with the South. The latter, however, insisted that his visitor be shown up. Accordingly the stranger entered, the doors were shut, and for hours the wife below could hear their voices and their footsteps as they paced back and forth. Finally, toward midnight, the mysterious visitor went out, still muffled in his cloak, so that it was impossible to gain any idea of his features.

The years went by, the war was finished, the President had suffered martyrdom at his post, and it was not until shortly before Mr. Beecher’s death, over twenty years later, that it was known that the mysterious stranger who had called on the stormy winter night was Abraham Lincoln. The stress and strain of those days and nights of struggle, with all the responsibilities and sorrows of a nation fighting for its life thrust upon him, had broken down his strength, and for a time undermined even his courage. He had traveled alone in disguise and at night from Washington to Brooklyn to gain the sympathy and help of one whom he knew as a man of God, engaged in the same great battle in which he was the leader. Alone for hours that night the two had wrestled together in prayer with the God of battles and the Watcher over the right, until they had received the help which he had promised to those who seek his aid. Whatever were the convictions and religious belief of Abraham Lincoln, there is no doubt that he believed in prayer, and made that the source of his strength.—Sunday-school Times.

Mr. Scoville is a grandson of Henry Ward Beecher.—The Editor.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1950, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.