Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America

A 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.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and 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 defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has 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 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 one 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 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 imposition 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.

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.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Join us for one hour of prayer on Thursday, November 26,2009 from 11am until 12 noon at the building of the New Beginnings Grace Brethren Church, Myerstown, PA.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some Reflections

The previous two articles on Revelation 3:10 and First Thessalonians 1:10 attracted considerable interest, both via blog comments and private emails. Permit me, please, just two reflections.

When it is all evaluated, there was no disagreement over the two pertinent verses themselves. All of the disagreement related to the application of those verses, especially regarding Revelation 6. While not wanting to minimize at all the importance of the Revelation 6 discussion (there are real issues involved), I do want to point out that the discussion only strengthened the concept that the use of Revelation 3:10 and First Thessalonians 1:10 in the FGBC Statement of Faith is valid. Further, the discussion proved that the conclusions are not arrived at by the imposition of a pre-supposed system upon the biblical text, but through an honest attempt to understand the verses themselves. I do still wish that the FGBC Statement did not use the word "tribulation", but instead used "the 70th Week of Daniel", but that is another discussion.

I want to thank David Mohler for his extended explanation of the sovereign grace of God in Revelation 6. I agree that Revelation 6 is a vivid display of the grace of God. There will be a great number of people saved (at first primarily Gentiles, Rev.7:9, Mt.24:14) during the time of the first six seals - some of them will be martyred (Rev.6:9-11) and others will be raptured as part of the 6th seal (Rev.7:14). David applies this to the past and present age, while I put it in the future, so we would have interpretive differences on the meaning of the six seals, but we agree that there is great grace. I would further say that this does not negate the beginning of wrath, sovereign wrath, in the first six seals, but is fulfilling Habakkuk 3:2, "In wrath remember mercy". I trust that I will never be found disagreeing with the sovereign grace of God whenever or wherever it is displayed.