One of my favorite presidents is Abraham Lincoln. Not only is he acclaimed as one of the greatest presidents of the United States of America, but also most historians think he was also a Christian. In most of his speeches, this great orator mentioned God, or the Bible, or quoted Scripture.
Abraham Lincoln was president during one of the times of greatest turmoil in this nation—the Civil War. And from what I have read, he was a man prepared to stand up for what he believed was right and true. He certainly wanted to uphold the Constitution of this nation the way the founding fathers meant it to be.
I was fascinated by an address he gave before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield (one of the leading forces in the cultural activity of Springfield), Illinois, on January 27, 1838.
This address was given in the context of the problems of mob law, where people were taking the law into their own hands and meting out punishments of hanging and burning. He warned of how the innocent can be victimized in such a system where people's opinions determine the law. He saw this as a direct attack on the Government and the Constitution, which had set the basis for right and wrong and determined procedures for determining whether someone was guilty or innocent.
As Lincoln stated, "When men take it in their heads today to hang gamblers or burn murderers, they should recollect that in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn someone who is neither a gambler nor a murderer. The innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law."
Lincoln went on to say, ". . .the lawless in spirit are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much as its total annihilation."
Abraham Lincoln was basically telling them that when people's opinions decide the law, they would destroy this nation and destroy the government that was set up to allow freedom for all.
Lincoln could very well give the same address today, with minor changes. No, we don't usually see people lynching others in the streets, but we do see an increasing disrespect for the laws this nation was founded on, and an increasing belief that anyone should be free to decide whatever rules they want in regard to their behavior.
During the address, Lincoln made a powerful statement, which we all should read carefully as we think about the future of this nation.
"How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
"At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction were our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
What a profound statement! If America is to be destroyed, it won't be from without, but from within. And that is exactly what is happening today. No, we don't have the mob law problem that Lincoln saw, but we do have a VERY SIMILAR problem.
Sadly, in this nation, our generations are being educated by a humanist education system, with the underlying philosophy that we are all animals in the struggle for survival. Prayer and the Bible have been all but removed from public education. No longer are students taught that there is a Creator who made the world and everything therein and therefore owns the creation, including us.
People today, by and large, no longer believe in the absolutes of right and wrong that come from the foundation of law in the Holy Scripture. No longer do most people understand sin and thus the rebellion in human hearts. No longer do they understand our accountability to the One who created us.
As the Scripture states in Judges 21:25, "In those days there was no king in Israel: Every man did that which was right in his own eyes." In other words, when there is no absolute authority, no basis for right and wrong, then people use their opinions to determine how to live, and thus they do that which they believe is right in their own eyes.
I was interested recently to watch a news program on television, where a school principal said that students today seem to have no concept of right and wrong, so the education system needs to start teaching ethics. From what he was saying, he was really meaning Christian ethics, but how can a system teach right and wrong—Christian morality—in a system where there is no basis for it? Students will see this as someone's opinion, so why shouldn't they still have their own opinion?
Proverbs 29:18 states, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." This literally means that where there is no revelation, e.g., prophetic vision—word from the Lord, there is no restraint. Notice that this verse finishes with, "but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." People will not be happy until they are obeying God's law.
Another interesting aspect of this phenomenon (man's opinions pervading society) is the increasing anti-Christian sentiment that is growing with it. I recall watching a television program on a pro-abortion rally, at which one of the first speakers (a Hollywood actor), put up his fist and shouted, "When you see the sign of the fish on a car, remember, they are the enemy!" The atmosphere was such that you could almost see this mob deciding that they must get rid of these Christians who oppose abortion. Maybe mob law is not so far away in our society, and perhaps it will be directed against those who say that there is a God and that His laws must be obeyed.
Lincoln obviously saw that this opinionated philosophy was destroying the nation from within—that nation was committing suicide. How, then, did he propose to deal with this situation?
In the same speech, he asked, "How shall we fortify against it? The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.... Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap—let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation."
But what sort of law was Lincoln talking about? He was talking about the laws based on the Constitution that obviously had a Biblical foundation—in other words, God's laws. In reference to these laws, Lincoln said, "Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest as the rock of its basis: And as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'" He saw the church as on a higher plane than the government, and thus God's rules as the ones the country should abide by.
Sadly, today, even the courts, which are supposed to uphold justice, have abandoned these laws upon which this country was founded. Judges' opinions determine right and wrong. People on juries use their opinions to determine innocence or guilt. In fact, I have heard of many instances where in jury selection, as soon as lawyers or the judge discover that a prospective juror is a Christian, they consider him or her biased, and thus unfit to stand.
How could such a situation have arisen? A pagan philosophy—an anti-god religion—the religion of evolution has pervaded our society and is destroying it from within. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. . . . We must ourselves be its author and finisher."
America is committing suicide, and with it, individual Americans are also committing suicide at a rampant rate. The highest cause of death amongst teenagers today, other than by accident, is suicide. Why? If you teach young people that they came from slime and that there is no purpose and meaning in life, then all they see is hopelessness, and want out. People are committing suicide; the nation is committing suicide.
A sad but practical outworking of evolutionism in this nation can be seen in the following real-life example: A doctor friend of mine, who was treating a prostitute who was into drugs asked her this question to get a conversation going so he could witness to her: "Do you believe in evolution or creation?" She replied, "We are just like all the other animals, and we have to scratch and claw our way to the top." This is what evolutionism is doing to this nation.
Oh, how, as a nation, we need to recite Psalm 19:7-11: "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever: The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: And in keeping of them there is great reward."