There is a story in regard to Lincoln that ought not to be lost to our people and nation. This story certainly has never been published in full. It is likely that the present writer is the only living person to whom it was communicated directly; at least, who remembers it sufficiently well to relate it clearly.
In council with Stanton, Secretary of War, Lincoln said, "Burnside must be removed, but I cannot find a man to take his place. He is doing no good. It seems like everything is against us. I do not know what to do, and cannot see one ray of hope." Stanton could offer no relief, and he left the council room. Lincoln walked with him to the door, and observing two women sitting in the waiting room, asked who they were. "They are two Quaker ladies who want to see you," was the reply. "Let them come next," Lincoln said, although there were others who had arrived earlier, officials on important business.
Rachel Grellet and Elizabeth L. Comstock were ushered into his presence. He received them kindly, and sat down between them. He had met them before; indeed, had given them letters to all army officers, directing that they should be allowed to go wherever they should elect under protection of the army. They had visited various camps and hospitals where, as angels of mercy, they had cheered many a soldier boy in distress, as two saintly mothers administering to their physical, as well as their spiritual needs.
I will relate the story of this visit, as told to me personally by Elizabeth L. Comstock, giving it in her own words, as nearly as I can remember:
"We were seated in the council room with Lincoln alone. We told him that we had been impressed that we ought to come to him with a message of love and cheer and encouragement. In appearance he was downcast and looked as if ready to give up. He said, `Well, if you have any encouragement for me, please give it. I need it. Be free to say whatever is on your minds to say.' I said, `Abraham, we believe we have a message from the Lord for thee. He has laid a great burden upon thee, and thou canst not bear it alone. It is too much for thee. He says, Be of good courage and I will be with thee. I will not leave thee nor forsake thee. Thou shalt prevail, only be of good courage. Cast all thy burdens upon Him. He is the great Burden-bearer. Nothing is too hard for Him. The destiny of this great nation is upon Him. Thy shoulders are too narrow. He invites us to cast all our cares upon Him. Do not try to carry it thyself. Look to Him. He will guide thee. He will give thee wisdom and thou shalt prevail. May it not be that God has raised thee up, like Moses, to be the great emancipator of His people? To establish the nation united and free. As He said to Joshua, only be strong and of a good courage.'
"When we had finished our message, as we believed the Lord had given it to us, we arose to go and said, `We had better not take any more of thy precious time.' He said, `Aren't you going to pray with me?' With one voice we said, `We hoped thee would ask for that.' We both knelt, and he between us. We clasped our hands each in front. He reached his broad hand and clasped mine in his right, and that of Rachel in his left, and his hands trembled like a leaf in a breeze. It was a very solemn occasion, and we felt as if we were helping him to roll the burdens off his shoulders, and that Jesus was there ready to receive them. When we had ceased speaking, he said, `Amen,' good and strong.
When we arose his countenance was so changed he looked as though he had the victory.—Geo. N. Hartley, in The American Friend.
When Sir Walter Scott was a boy he was considered a great dullard. His accustomed place in the schoolroom was the ignominious dunce corner, with the high-pointed paper cap of shame on his head. When about twelve or fourteen years old he happened to be in a house where some famous literary guests were being entertained. Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, was standing admiring a picture under which was written the couplet of a stanza. He inquired concerning the author. None seemed to know. Timidly a boy crept up to his side, named the author, and quoted the rest of the poem. Burns was surprised and delighted. Laying his hand on the boy's head, he exclaimed, `Ah, bairnie, ye will be a great man in Scotland some day.' From that day Walter Scott was a changed lad. One word of encouragement set him on the road to greatness.—Indian Christian
(Deut. 1. 38; 3. 28; Is. 41. 7).
A young Member of Parliament, when making his maiden speech in the House of Commons, was overcome by intense nervousness. Gradually, however, his shyness in addressing the House vanished, and he said what he had to say and sat down. Then his nervousness returned and he felt that he had blundered. Just as he was undergoing this misery, a note was passed to him with only two words, 'You'll do.' They were initiated by the greatest Statesman of the day. The Member kept those kind words as a treasured souvenir and a perpetual encouragement.
Are there not many of us who are needing encouragement today—in the spiritual life? Encouragement to read, to pray, to act.
(Deut. 1. 38; 3. 28; Heb. 10. 24, 25).
Lord, when I'm weary with toiling
And burdensome seem Thy commands,
If my load should lead to complaining,
Lord! show me Thy hands,
Thy nail-pierced hands,
Thy cross-torn hands.
O Savior! show me Thy hands.
Christ! if my footsteps should falter
And I be prepared for retreat;
If desert and thorn cause lamenting,
Lord! show me Thy feet,
Thy bleeding feet,
Thy nail-scarred feet.
O Savior! show me Thy feet.
O God; dare I show Thee my hands and my feet?—Brenton Thoburn Bradley
(Luke 24. 40; Gal. 6. 17).
David, like Joshua, was emerging from desert obscurity into a place of prominence. Adversity was upon him. But instead of being discouraged, he encouraged himself in the Lord. Then he turned defeat into victory. If others do not encourage us, let us encourage ourselves in the Lord. How much He encouraged others! On the stormy lake, and in the upper room. He spoke words of cheer to the paralytic, and to the stricken women He administered words of comfort. When Paul lay in prison He said, 'Be of good cheer, Paul.'—A. Soutter
David was greatly distressed and wept. No wonder, for he was enduring—Exile from his loved homeland—'eating the bitter bread of banishment'. Ingratitude from the people whom he had saved from Goliath and the Philistines: Postponement of his acceptance by his own people as their Divinely-appointed king: Losses of material possessions snatched from him at a single blow, and of all he held dear; and mutiny by his own followers, for `the people spake of stoning him'.
Yet 'David encouraged himself in the Lord'.
(1 Sam. 30. 6; 2 Tim. 4. 17)