Clenard Childress
A lesson from President Abraham Lincoln
By Clenard Childress
September 10, 2013

What a man sows he shall also reap...

In President Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, he insightfully delivered a message reminding America of a universal principle which often goes unheeded: "What a man soeth that shall he also reap." He eloquently proclaimed,
    "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."
Both sides – the Union and Confederacy – were crying out for an end to the scourge of war, yet in many ways, both sides were tacitly guilty of the offense which caused the war. No matter; the scale of justice is ultimately in the hands of the Creator whether you believe it or not. Had our nation embraced our Declaration of Independence which stated that "...We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." the Cassus Belli of the Civil War would have been avoided altogether and the restitution required for the offense – "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," – would have never been imposed. But as usual, we fail to recognize the wisdom of our past heroes of social justice and seem always to allow the worst of history to repeat itself. George Santayana said it best when he stated, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it..." I remember the past and truly feel we are on the precipice of something which will ultimately cause more destruction than all of our wars in the past twenty years combined. It is simply due to these universal principles, and the offences of this administration.

Mr. President, I have some questions for you: How can you charge Syria and Assad with crimes of murder against innocent children by the use of chemical warfare, when your nation kills far more with your chemical warfare against innocent children? Instead of Mustard Gas, Sarin, and VX Gas, you sell over the counter 'morning after' pills and distribute ru46 Abortificants to destroy life in the womb. In a sense, Syria and Assad are more sporting. At least the opportunity was given to the children to run to safety, or be protected by a caring parent, in order to avoid the horror of such abuse of power. Yet, you have consistently campaigned and spoken regularly at their fundraisers – with the leader of chemical warfare against the innocent – Planned Parenthood. Where can the child run and hide from your chemical warfare when trapped inside the womb? Who has committed the greater offense? Whose laws are more offensive to life? Who protects the innocent more? And now you are going to lead a coalition into a war due to the use of chemical warfare in the name of international justice... and you're Syria and Assad's judge?

To the intellectually smug who would scoff at these parallels; scoff at your own peril. Were he here, Abraham Lincoln would caution you on such folly, for as he succinctly stated, "The Almighty has His own purposes." Whatever purpose the president has for attacking Syria and Assad – stated or otherwise – a "moral and religious" people (John Adams) must consider that God, The Creator, The Almighty, has His purpose in war also. One should also consider His views on oppression and injustice, and weigh where one stands in light of His perception, for "fools rush in where Angels fear to tread." No, this is not meant to be "An Essay on Criticism" which is one of the first major poems written by the English writer, Alexander Pope, and where the appropriate quote above originates. But there is another portion of that poem I pray will apply to the Commander-in-Chief during these perilous times we are living in.
    But where's the Man, who Counsel can bestow,

    Still pleased to teach, and not proud to know?

    Unbiased, or by Favor or by Spite;

    Not dully prepossest, nor blindly right;

    Though Learned well-bred; and though well-bred, sincere;

    Modestly bold, and Humanly severe?

    Who to a Friend his Faults can freely show,

    And gladly praise the Merit of a Foe?

    Blest with a Taste exact, yet unconfined;

    A Knowledge both of Books and Humankind;

    Generous Converse; a Sound exempt from Pride;

    And Love to Praise, with Reason on his Side?
Let us pray....

© Clenard Childress


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Clenard Childress

Rev. Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr., is the senior pastor of The New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ. He is the founder of the website and president of Life Education And Resource Network, Northeast. LEARN is the largest African-American pro-life group in the US... (more)


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