A Firm Foundation
The Secret of Lincoln's Steadfastness in the Midst of Tremendous Trials.
THE LESSON—That the Bible teaching of childhood fortifies manhood.
If it is not your custom to observe Lincoln's birthday, you will find this illustration valuable for Mother's day and other occasions.
"Probably no public man in America has ever been so severely assailed, so mercilessly scourged through the public press, as was Abraham Lincoln. Yet, through it all, while thousands were dying on the field of battle, while pestilence and want stalked through the states, and while the finger of hatred and scorn was pointed at him as the man who had brought devastation and death upon the nation, he stood steadfast, with a firm, unimpassioned face, never swerving an inch from the path of right and duty. Warring factions all about him, who tried in many ways to sidetrack him, failed in every attempt. To them he said, 'Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us do our duty as we understand it.'
"In his memorable second inaugural address, he said, 'With malice toward none, with charity to all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work.'
"In those tumultuous times, he often seemed to stand almost alone, like a lighthouse away out from the rock-bound coast, lashed by the fierce waves, driven by furious winds. [Draw the lighthouse in brown and the waves in blue, completing Fig. 35.]
"But the fiercest storms never moved our human lighthouse! Nor did the light which was to finally guide the Ship of State into a safe and peaceful harbor fail to send out its clear, pure rays.
"The lighthouse which we have drawn must stand upon a firm and solid foundation to endure the force of the storm. Abraham Lincoln must have stood upon a firm and solid foundation in order to endure the fierce storms of the darkest years of the nation's history. Let us see what this foundation was made of.
"We must go away back to the early days of his life until we come, in 1816, to a little cabin in Gentryville, Indiana—a one-room log cabin with a dirt floor and with no glass in the windows. Here lived Thomas Lincoln and his wife and two children, Sarah, aged ten years, and Abraham, eight years old. They had recently come from Kentucky.
"Although Thomas Lincoln could neither read nor write, the mother taught her children to read the one book which they had, a Bible. The sweetness of the character of this gentle mother was reflected in the lives of her children. For three or four months, Abraham managed to attend the rude school of the neighborhood. He soon learned to know much of the Bible by heart. When he was ten years of age, the greatest calamity of his life occurred; his mother, always frail and delicate, passed from earth. Abraham Lincoln never recovered from the shock. The rude casket was placed in a grave near the cabin. Nine months after that sad day, Parson Elkins, whom the family had known in Kentucky, answered the repeated appeal of Abraham to come one hundred miles on horseback to preach a funeral sermon at the grave of Mrs. Lincoln.
"Many years afterward, when the cares of state weighed heavily upon him, President Lincoln spoke the words which tell us the secret of his wonderful calmness and steadfastness. Listen to them: 'All that I am and all that I hope to be, I owe to my mother. Blessings on her memory!'
"Do you understand, boys and girls, that it was the thing which this mother put into the life of her boy that made him a great and a good man? Do you now understand what Paul meant when he said that there is no other foundation on which to build your life 'than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ?'
"Let us, then place the word, Christ, upon this rock, the unseen foundation upon which this great life stood so steadfastly. I leave with you the picture as a memory of the secret of a wonderful life. [Draw lines of rock and lower portion of the lighthouse; add the word "Christ," completing Fig. 36.]
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