Posted by Gary on December 10, 2011
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy…
…I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. (Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation 1863)
As we celebrated Thanksgiving recently, I found myself thinking about President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation. This led me to ponder Lincoln in a broader sense and led to asking myself if we would like to have Lincoln as our President today.
“Are you kidding?” I can hear the gasps. “Would we like to have Lincoln as our President? He was one of the greatest Presidents we have ever had!” Yes, I know our estimation of Lincoln is quite high. We call him one of the greatest probably second only to George Washington.
Sentimentally we look back and would quickly say that we would love to have Lincoln as our President today. I doubt it. Would the America of today be glad for a President who spoke of God as often and pointedly as Lincoln did? We flipped out over George W. Bush! Bush? Lincoln was Bush times ten, Bush on steroids as it came to God.
First of all, let’s just consider the Thanksgiving Proclamation, it was a… proclamation. To proclaim is to state loudly and boldly. Lincoln did not consider that perhaps atheists would be offended by such a proclamation. How politically incorrect President Lincoln was.
Perhaps most of all, did you note in the quote at the head of this post that Lincoln declared that we as a country were guilty of sins? What are sins? Do we even know anymore? You mean the problem is us? Can you get more accurately religious than to speak of offenses against God? Would this be borne today? Who is the last President who spoke of our national sinfulness? I couldn’t hazard a guess.
Here are some other excerpts from the Thanksgiving Proclamation:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Excuse me but did Lincoln just tell us to repent? Did he just call us perverse? But we would want him as our President today right?
How about this from his Second Inaugural:
“If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’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.’”
Lincoln as our President today? His proclamation with all its focus upon God could not even be read in our schools. Follow this link to all past Presidential proclamations. You will note that President Obama’s 2011 proclamation does not even make reference to God. President Obama calls us to give thanks but apparently to no one in particular. To whom should we direct our thanks? President Lincoln knew.
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