Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 is fascinating. There's so much of current America in it.

On the one hand, he categorizes an abundance unimaginable to most people who've ever lived on the earth.

On the other, he laments the "waste made in the camp" by a nation so polarized as to be at war with itself.

Most magnificently, he ascribes honor to God for the blessings and does not assign blame to one "side" but to all for "the wounds of the nation."

As with Lincoln's great speeches, there is brevity, artistry and an amazing theological depth. I say that last with deep appreciation, because Lincoln's spirituality remains elusive and his views on the church ran from guarded to critical. Yet his statements often had theological insights that even fine preachers would envy, stitched thoroughly with Biblical language and allusions. They are such a contrast with the bland, generic, obligatory, PC and otherwise empty invocations of God that we expect of our politicians today.

May you and yours enjoy an abundant and peaceful Thanksgiving.

"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. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

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.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. 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. 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, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

A. Lincoln"


Keith said...

This always been one of my favorites of Lincoln's. Right behind the Second Inaugural and the Gettysburg Address. Thanks for sharing this and may you and yours have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

TLF+ said...

Thank you, Keith. I agree, this one has some of the qualities of those two great speeches. Blessed Thanksgiving to you as well!