Monday, January 7, 2008

Lincoln's Second Inaugaral Address

Saturday, March 4, 1865

Weeks of wet weather preceding Lincoln's second inauguration had caused Pennsylvania Avenue to become a sea of mud and standing water. Thousands of spectators stood in thick mud at the Capitol grounds to hear the President. As he stood on the East Portico to take the executive oath, the completed Capitol dome over the President's head was a physical reminder of the resolve of his Administration throughout the years of civil war. Chief Justice Salmon Chase administered the oath of office. In little more than a month, the President would be assassinated. ...

...Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." 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."
President Lincoln's wish has seemilngly been granted. America no longer has legal slavery. Does this mean that Republican principles, or the Republican God have achieved victory?
Nay, there are still bastions of those who claim, "God is on our side!" There still remain politicos, lobbyists, and beureaucrats who claim, God is for us; who can be against us? All the while trampling the clear edicts of love your enemy, do good to those who despitefully use you.

When the kingdom is fully manifest, none of the above will endure. Theocracy, not demoncracy will prevail. This will be the restoration of all things as scripture proclaims. This will be the time of weeping and gnashing of teeth our Lord spoke about. For all earthly rule will have proved its utter dispondence.

As followers of Christ, we must recognise that ours is not a citizenship with this world. We are called out as ambassadors of the sure and coming kingdom. As such we must not become encumbered with the affairs of this world. We must obey our King. We must proclaim the Good News of salvation to all people, and we must not be sucked into the prevailing acceptance of political or military service in homage to the land or its temporal governors.

Rather, let us pray not only for those in authority, but also for our perceived enemies. Thus fulfilling the commandments of Christ.

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