Meditation on the Divine Will

February 15, 2010

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English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

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I stumbled across a short piece written by Abraham Lincoln which was not published until after his death. I find his skill at presenting a complete idea in such a concise manor to be both daunting and refreshing. It is daunting because it is timeless and so much better than anything I have ever written. It is refreshing because it outlines his feelings, beliefs and concerns without resorting to accusation or derogatory sentiment.

Meditation on the Divine Will
Abraham Lincoln

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present … war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party; and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose. I am almost ready to say that this probably true; that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By His mere great power on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed … without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun, He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.

I have modified the Presidents statement just slightly. I have removed the word ‘civil’ fifth sentence and the words ‘the Union’ seventh sentence. I feel that this brief statement expresses both a sincere desire to do what is right, while facing the horrors of war. Although I am not a pacifist, I too dream of a world where war does not exist. What is most impressive about this meditation is that it was apparently written as an inspiration late in the evening after returning from the Gettysburg battlefield. It is a single draft, in ink with no edits, intended only for himself.

The only way to be this good at writing is continuous practice. If you write everything you think, concentrating on message, your ability will increase. I cannot promise the genius of the best writer through history, but I can promise better writing than before you practiced.

KEEP WRITING

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One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. claire
    Oct 04, 2010 @ 08:55:58

    Mr. Kelly,
    Googling the passage you quote, I stumbled across your post this morning and am not one of your regular readers. Your editorial omission of ‘civil’ and ‘Union’ intrigued me. Why did you do it? and having omitted them, why, then, immediately state the fact without offering an explanation for your decision? By removing Lincoln’s references to the (very broadly stated) historical events that prompted his musing did you think to universalize his words? to give them a greater accessibility to your contemporary audience? Or was the omission related to your own pacifistic beliefs?
    Confused,
    –and admittedly somewhat concerned for the integrity of Lincoln’s great words,–
    C

    Reply

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