I thought of President Lincoln this morning over coffee and scriptures. I pondered about how much the Bible played a role in shaping him, both during childhood and his final difficult years.
He was self-taught, and his primer was the Holy Bible. It is easy to see its influence in his writings. Practically every thing he wrote exudes the wisdom found in the scriptures of truth. That is why his words still move us, still inspire us, still cause us to stop and shake our heads and say, “That’s the stuff of greatness.”
His words are great, for their truths are mined from the Rock of Ages. He quotes Christ’s very own words in the “house divided against its self” speech. He alludes to the themes of forgiveness and reconciliation and mercy—universal concepts that the Great Teacher taught.
Style and Themes
His literary style was simple, yet elegant. His word choice often was plucked from the pool of Elizabethan English the King James translators provided, illuminating a clear path of expression.
Themes of brotherly love, unity, fairness, faithfulness, and hope that President Lincoln employed came straight from the “Good Book”—words he read from childhood, words contained between black leather covers, words inspired by God and carefully preserved for all to study and spiritually prosper thereby. To get to the heart of Lincoln, one must go through the mind of God contained in the Bible.
Reading his speeches and letters, one’s heart soars. Yet he himself would tell us that this phenomenon is not because of any craft or genius that he possessed, but rather because of all those lonely hours by candle and fireplace light, reading the words of the patriarchs, prophets and the apostles.
But Some Have Turned Away
But now in this modern age, many powerful and influential people in government and the media have turned away from the scriptures Lincoln read. The same Book sits there on their shelves collecting dust, gilded pages never turned. They have shied away from it, tossing it into the pile of other “politically incorrect” positions. And for this, they rarely quote it, nor allude to its glorious stories of mortal man triumphing against all odds through the mercy of its God.
I dare say that if Lincoln were raised from the grave, he would shake his head in disgust at our leaders’ lack in taking “the counsel of the LORD.” I’d like to think that he would upbraid them as Christ did the hypocrites, who paraded in their pharisaical robes, while inwardly clothed in the filthy garments of deceit and greed. I believe that Lincoln would be heartbroken and grieved that we, the descendants of a once thankful and humble people, inhabiting the choicest lands on earth, had become “fat and had forgotten God.”
So let us not be ashamed to read and savor the same inspired words that guided President Abraham Lincoln. If those precepts were good enough and fine enough to steer him through our nation’s roughest seas, surely we of a less noble intellect can harvest from the Bible’s fruited fields, spiritual food able to sustain us during “the perilous times” that lie ahead–the “time of the end,” spoken of in President Lincoln’s school book, the Holy Bible. Kenneth Wayne Hancock