I Prayed have prayed
Lord, heal our division. Show us humility. May we be examples of Your love.
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“At present, the public mind is not prepared to receive the truth.”


Why quote a Confederate general as we watch the country dividing into hostile camps? Because Robert E. Lee tried to calm people’s emotions after the Civil War, and there is evidence he lamented the war at its inception. From the point of view of the vanquished, he saw the limitations of violence. He saw that force can destroy and oppress, but it cannot persuade those who inwardly and steadfastly disagree.

Lee’s letter to Jubal Early (quoted above) is an acknowledgment that the public mind cannot absorb certain truths in real time. People may have romantic notions of what is possible, including notions that are unrealistic to the point of absurdity. According to Richard Weaver, Lee’s statement “denies the principle that the voice of the people is at all times the voice of God. It declares rather that the mind of a people, like that of an individual, may become so deranged with anger that it is simply not receptive to the realities.”

There is a distraught mentality that “cannot interpret objectively” and “does not want to hear reason and may be offended by a proposal in proportion as it is reasonable.” People, he added, “must be in a state of grace to listen to the truth.” According to Weaver, Lee understood the momentary popular passion of the defeated South. He knew that the “syllogisms offered by victor or vanquished served only to increase the prevailing rancor.” Lee’s policy was “to say nothing until reason had a chance to resume sway on both sides.”

It happens that Lee was not an enthusiastic secessionist in 1860-61. In a letter to his son, dated December, 14, 1860, Lee wrote of General Scruggs’s opinion that the Union “will be dissolved in six weeks….” Of this Lee wrote, “I hope, however, the wisdom and patriotism of the country will devise some way of saving it, and that a kind Providence has not yet turned the current of His blessings from us.”

Lee touched on “the aggressions of the North”; yet he offered serious criticisms of the South as well: “I am not pleased with the course of the ‘Cotton States’… In addition to their selfish, dictatorial bearing, the threats they throw out against ‘Border States’ … if they will not join them, argues little for the benefit or peace of [Virginia]….” Further down in the letter he made an even more striking criticism: “One of their plans seems to be the renewal of the slave trade. That I am opposed to on every ground.”

These are striking words from the man who would become the Confederacy’s most famous general. Even more striking was his letter of 23 January 1861, in which his true feelings were eloquently spelled out. Lee had just then received a copy of Everett’s Life of Washington, and wrote: “How his spirit would be grieved could he see the wreck of his might labors!” Lee added: “I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union.” Some lines further he said, “Secession is nothing but revolution.”

The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for ‘perpetual union,’ so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution…. Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.

Some may quibble with Lee’s assertions about the preamble of the Constitution. Yet the purpose of the Constitution, as stated in the Preamble, is “to form a more perfect union.” The principle of Union is embedded in the country’s very name. At the same time, we can all understand Lee’s statement that a Union maintained by bayonets has “no charm for me.”

Richard Weaver, in his essay titled “Lee the Philosopher,” says that Lee did not relish his role in the Civil War. When called upon to write his memoirs, or to help others with them, he found himself unready to remember the war years. He regretted his military education. His oft-quoted statement that “duty” is the most sublime word in the English language turns, at the end of Lee’s life, toward an altogether non-military sense of things.

Lee’s antique greatness, said Weaver, is found in his humility. “He believed that there is an order of things,” wrote Weaver. “That order is providential in the sense that mortal wisdom is not to be compared to infinite wisdom. This truth, however, conveys nothing of fatalism or determinism; the individual is not exempt from exerting his will in the world … according to his light.”

No man’s education is complete, said Lee, until his death. One should, therefore, accept defeat and failure as part of life’s educational plan. Is this pessimistic? The hysterical optimists of our day might say so. The real pessimists, in truth, are those who load everything onto this worldly existence of ours; as if anyone gets out of here alive.

In terms of national reconciliation, Lee knew that we must place our hopes on our sense of justice; that reconciliation is “impeded by protest and controversy.” Lee’s opinion of war as an instrument of national policy is therefore not far to find. Some say that war can settle everything. On the other side, some say war settles nothing. Weaver tells us that Robert E. Lee, toward the close of his life, “began to face frankly the limitations of soldiering as a profession.”

The following testament of faith was found among Lee’s papers in 1887 by Colonel Charles Marshall:

My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them, nor indisposed me to serve them; nor, in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors, which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present sate of affairs, do I despair of the future. The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient, the work of progress is so immense, and our means of aiding it so feeble, the life of humanity is so long, and that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave, and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.

Many Americans, on seeing the present turn of affairs, could take solace from these words. The rage of the moment, and the fear of the moment, does not put men in a philosophic frame of mind. The division of the country today is terrifyingly real. A New Religion has appeared in our midst, secular in its hatred of our traditions and our ancestors. The polarization of the country has reached a fever pitch, where political oppression is openly contemplated by the side that is now coming to power. We do not know what the future holds. We know that the New Religion is kin to the ruling philosophy of Marxist-Leninist China. We know that the Chinese are aiming nuclear weapons at us: that China’s military is poised for war. . . .

Who benefits if America is divided? Think to yourself what is at stake if our national unity is lost. What happens to us if we fail to uphold freedom, patriotism and a strong military position in the world? I admonish the left, especially, as they tilt toward Bolshevism. We are Americans. We respect freedom of speech. We respect the principles of the Constitution. The Devil take those who would use last week’s events to establish a tyranny. Such a policy would divide us, once and for all time, to the benefit of a deadly foreign enemy.


How can we learn from history?  How can God use the past to show us the way forward?  Share your thoughts and comments below…

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January 17, 2021

At first I wasn’t sure if the article’s thesis of not being ready to receive the truth was directed toward us or the other side. “Lee knew that we must place our hopes on our sense of justice”. I have a very restless state of mind and spirit now in this difficult waiting period that justice and truth would prevail in our great nation today. The election has apparently been conceded to Biden. Either 1. all the evidence I’ve heard is exaggerated or a lie, 2. Those who have the legal power to do something about it are refusing to do anything for some reason. Or 3. The time to do something has not yet come. I hope it’s the 3rd reason. Justice doesn’t always happen in life on earth here and now. Thank God for a Judgement day. I’ve told a Trump hating family member that I just want the truth about the election. He agreed with that but he agrees with the narrative that all the allegations of election fraud are baseless – they were thrown out in court after all. What I’ve heard doesn’t sound baseless at all. May God expose all the election (and other) corruption in an irrefutable way. And may the truth be known about the election and about the January 6th “riot” and may justice prevail!

Darla Smith
January 16, 2021

It appears that Robert E. Lee was a man much like us, in our time. He was caught in the middle of a controversy that turned violent. We cannot erase our past; instead we must acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them in order to make wiser decisions for the future. If we destroy our past, we forget our wrong decisions and risk repeating the same harmful and deadly mistakes. God have mercy upon us!

January 16, 2021

Timely article and excellent example of why it’s important to know history. Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals offers a background for why the public mind today is not ready to hear truth. The ‘rules’ have been playing out for decades in America, and people from the former administration who are influencers today are friendly with them, if not motivated by them. While the adversary is formidable, God is greater. No matter how much ground seems to be taken, here and around the world, the fact that we are still here means God is still completing the part of history that happens after Christ’s resurrection and before his return for the saints. He knows there are still people who will believe in Jesus Christ and join His family before this chapter closes!

January 16, 2021

Yes and amen.

Great quotes from a humble man of a bygone era; may we take heart from his wisdom and move forward together to make this a better nation under God.

Susan C
January 15, 2021

I so agree with this message and just read Hebrews 4. What is the source of wars and fights among us? Unrequited desires. We murder and covet and cannot obtain. We fight and war. We do not have because we do not ask. We ask and don’t receive because our motives are wrong….God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. We must fervently submit to God! By resisting the devil, he will flee from us. If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. We must cleanse our hands and purify our hearts. We must be miserable and mourn and weep. Our laughter must change to mourning and our joy to sorrow. We must humble ourselves before the Lord and He will exalt us.

As Christians, we know “all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,  so that God’s people may be complete, equipped for every good work.” We must know the Word of God, pray for the Word to “turn our hearts of stone into flesh,” and live IT out, boldly. We must not be divided… Jesus Christ died to make us One, undivided for eternity. He said “the truth will make us free.” I believe the truth will keep us free. Amen

ektrna alexandre
January 15, 2021

teach us to pray Your Word Your Will in these hard times
please cause the wicked turn away from their wicked ways! you know very well who they are! cause them to stumble Lord! Bring people to you more and more to find the truth the truth shall set us free!
you said you are the Door! Amin!

January 15, 2021

This is a great article sharing with us many truths.
I find it ironic that the radical left thought it “good” to violently year down statues of General Lee. Two points seem obvious regarding that. The leaders of the left either know full well what Lee said and therefore want to hide the truth of who he really is because it doesn’t fit their narrative driven by hell or they are completely ignorant of factual history. Or maybe it’s both.
We can learn well from those who have gone on before us. Some will learn that actually care about America and the people. And then there will always be a few who could care less what happens to our nation and have no use for history because they aren’t teachable.

    Susan C
    January 15, 2021

    Cole, it seems as if “they” want to rewrite history but we know the truth…it prevails. I heard it said that we should be lifelong learners; I loved it when I heard it and am praying that for us all. Remember, “there is no wisdom, no understanding, no counsel that can prevail against the LORD.” May the Lord’s truth fill you always.

    Proverbs 21:30

January 15, 2021

Thank you for this article. Much wisdom.

January 15, 2021

Jesus said, birth pains would precede the end of time. Can it be long before His appearing? The Arab nations are signing or have signed a ‘peace treaty’ with Israel, Biden is talking of dividing Israel again, we, as a nation are in serious lawlessness so that even our policemen cannot enforce peace! We have opened ourselves to deception because believing a lie is more palatable than acknowledging the truth. We have lulled ourselves into complacency. The baby is birthed thru birth pains, he that endures to the end shall be saved. Long for His(Jesus) appearing. Pray, fast, care for those in need around you as you do your own self and have your lamp filled with oil(The HolySpirit)

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