love, blood, life
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Tempe, Az USA
Local Time: 08:24 PM
I thought this article would be a timely post in light of Lincoln's birthday:
Modern revisionist historians like to state their case that Lincoln was not a Christian. They say that his belief in God was undefined and even unimportant in the great work he accomplished.
Those New Age attempts to redefine Lincoln could not be farther from the truth. Let us examine Lincoln 's relationship with God primarily in his own words.
It is true that for much of Lincoln 's life, he did not regularly attend a church. Almost all of his youth he lived with his family on the edge of the frontier, often too far from a church to be able to go to Sunday services.
However, after he was elected President, he regularly attended the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just a few, short blocks from the White House. After Lincoln 's son, William died on February 20, 1862, the grief and loss that Abraham experienced brought him closer to God and his attendance at church increased dramatically.
President Lincoln, like Joseph Smith, lived in the period called the Second Great Awakening. One of the few books in his home was the Bible. Abraham, like many of his day, learned to read from the Bible, and he left many records that clearly let us see how he felt about the Bible.
He delivered a speech on April 6, 1858, to the Young Men's Association of Bloomington, Illinois and said this about the Bible: “The written work, the Bible, is the great invention of the world. It is the great invention because it liberates mankind from the bondage of the present.”
The freedmen of Baltimore , Maryland presented President Lincoln with a gift of a Bible on September 7, 1864. In thanking them he said, “In regard to this great book, I have but to say, it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good, Savior gave to this world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong. All things desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”
Joshua Speed of Kentucky , was an old friend of Lincoln . He told about Lincoln 's belief in the Bible in this story. “The summer before he was killed, I was invited out to the Soldier's Home. As I entered the room, he was sitting near a window intently reading his Bible. Approaching him, I said, ‘I am so glad to see you so profitably engaged.'
“‘Yes' said he, ‘I am profitably engaged.'
“‘Well,' said I, ‘If you have recovered from your skepticism, I am sorry to say that I have not.'
“Looking me earnestly in the face, and placing his hand on my shoulder, he said, ‘You are wrong, Speed; take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.'”
President-elect Lincoln began his journey to Washington , D.C. on February 11, 1861. Just before he boarded the train at the Springfield railroad station, he addressed the crowd gathered to see him off with these words: “I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington . Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed; with that assistance I can not fail.”
At one of the first White House receptions held after the Civil War started, a visitor shook the President's hand and told him solemnly that the future of the country depended on God and Abraham Lincoln.
“You are half right” responded the President.
Lincoln declared more days of prayer, fasting and thanksgiving, nine in all, than any President before or since. All of those declarations invoke the name of God.
President Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go: my own wisdom and that of all around me seemed insufficient for the day.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley wrote my favorite description of Abraham Lincoln. “I urge you to see the big picture and cease worrying about the little blemishes. Abraham Lincoln was a gangling figure of a man, with a long and craggy face. There were many who looked only at the imperfections of his countenance. There were others who joked over the way he walked, and kept their eyes so low that they never saw the true greatness of the man. That enlarged view came only to those who saw the whole character – body, mind, and spirit – as he stood at the head of a divided nation in its darkest hour, lacing it together ‘with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gave him to see the right.'”
Lincoln wrote a plea to the people of his time about God. Even though he wrote these words almost 150 years ago, in many ways they were written for us today to help us face the very real challenges that now stand before us. “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power ... But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
Great people are not born that way. They are just ordinary children of God that rise to the occasion. Lincoln was just such a man. In all his greatness, he was a child of God, nothing more and nothing less. We continue to receive the blessings of his faith today.