Lincoln penned these words in a pensive moment, not intending for others to see them. John Hay, one of President Lincoln's secretaries, found the discarded note and preserved it, fortunately for historians. A portion of these thoughts reappear in his Second Inaugural Address.
Ashes of soldiers South or North, the will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party; and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say that this is probably true; that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere great power on the minds of the now contestants, he could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And, having begun, he could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.
Lincoln's Best Known Speeches