Lincoln’s use of biblical imagery in seven of his works: the Peoria Address, the House Divided Speech, his Address at Chicago, his Speech at Lewistown, the Word Fitly Spoken fragment, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural. Lincoln uses biblical imagery to express the depth of his own conviction, the stature of the founders of this country, the timeless and universal nature of the principles of the Declaration, and the magnitude of our moral obligation to defend those principles. Lincoln persuaded the American people to embrace the standard “all men are created equal” and to make it part of our fundamental law. This goal was formally accomplished as a matter of law in 1868 when the Equal Protection Clause was added to the Constitution as part of the Fourteenth Amendment, but it is approached in fact only through our constant application of this ideal to our society and in our daily lives. The principle of equality is a higher law, but it need not exceed our grasp. As Lincoln called upon us – “let it be as nearly reached as we can.”
Wilson Huhn, A Higher Law: Abraham Lincoln's Use of Biblical Imagery, forthcoming (2011).