On Presidents Day, I went to my Lincoln file and found an article written in 1994 by a teacher at Central High School in Columbia, TN. Bill Murphy wrote, "As a classroom teacher in one of Tennessee's largest high schools, I see our young people falling victim on every hand, engulfed and sometimes destroyed by our 'national sins.'" He added that as the effort to rebuild character in our younger citizens goes on, Lincoln left us words "that could lead us back to the crossroads where we took the wrong turn that led to the present conditions." Murphy said, "Few modern history books have recorded these words."

In March, 1963 Lincoln wrote, "Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the president to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation;

"And whereas, it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the over-ruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon;

"And to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that these nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;

"And insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us;

"And we have faintly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

"It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

"Now therefore ... I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.

"And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

"All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace." (Signed: Abraham Lincoln)

Teacher Bill Murphy closed with the suggestion, "Have we become, as Lincoln said, 'too proud to pray to the God who made us?' Let us now praise leaders who will call us, as the mighty Lincoln did, to fasting, prayer, humiliation and healing."

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Dorothy Copus Brush is a Fairfield Glade resident and Crossville Chronicle staffwriter whose column is published each Wednesday. She may be reached at ebrush@frontiernet.net.

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