Saturday, January 31, 2004

Final Reflections on Lincoln...

In Lincoln's Greatest Speech, Ronald White examines the short 2nd Inaugural address given by Abraham Lincoln. While Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is probably his most remembered speech, most historians consider his 2nd Inaugural to be his greatest speech. The Civil War was coming to a bitter end and many people expected Lincoln to sound the cry of victory and coming judgment against the South. Instead Lincoln crafted a speech that spoke of a unified nation that was entirely responsible for the sin of slavery and, therefore, was entirely within the sights of God's judgment. Consider this excerpt from his speech:
"The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences!"... If we suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences{,} which, in the providence of God... He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war... "...if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether[.]""
Yet because of Lincoln's charity he did not limit this judgment to the South alone. In looking to the future he did not announce retribution, for he believed the entire Nation was responsible for the atrocities of the last four years. Rather he looked towards reconciliation and love. The first sentence of the last paragraph exemplifies his position well:
"With malice toward none; with charity for all..."
In reading Lincoln's Greatest Speech one can't help but realize, with utter astonishment, what horrors the country went through during the Civil War. Divine judgment for the offense of slavery? If so then I wonder what may lie in our own future for I can't get away from one simple phrase... Roe v. Wade.

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