Two thousand years ago our Father brought forth into this world, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Now we are engaged in a great spiritual war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on the great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field – our bodies, as an abiding place for Him who here gave His life that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow – this ground. The blood of Jesus Christ, who was dead but is now alive, who struggled here, has consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what He did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated to the Finished work which He who fought here has thus far nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from this precious, cleansing blood we take increased devotion to that cause for which He gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that our Savior shall not have died in vain – that this holy nation, under God, shall realize the new birth which brought true freedom – and that the government of Christ, by Christ, for Christ, shall not perish from the earth.