Thursday, April 24, 2008

God's will among men

Hands reaching in

Before the Civil War, before his presidency, Abraham Lincoln was known to be a scoffer toward Christianity. I have read elsewhere that when Lincoln went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to deliver his most famous address, his commitment to Christ was cemented. It was about the time he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, over a year before the Gettysburg Address, that a change began to come over him. Below is a brief meditation by Lincoln, written around the time of the Proclamation. I am posting it here because it reveals a maturity in thinking about the will of God that is rarely heard.

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party; and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true; that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power on the minds of the now contestants, he could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun, he could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.

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