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Lincoln’s closest associate, William Herndon, while describing the sheer complexity of Lincoln’s religious views, stated that Lincoln was “at times, an atheist”; in describing Lincoln’s unshaking belief in the existence of a form of "providence" of some kind, Eric Hoffer, in his groundshaking book, The True Believer, listed Lincoln as an example of a "positive True Believer"
My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them.
What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.
It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to Infidelity.
The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.
The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.
Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not that we be not judged.
It is an established maxim and moral that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him.
Oh, that [his Thanksgiving Message] is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools.
The United States government must not undertake to run the Churches. When an individual, in the Church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest he must be checked.
If there is no military need for the building, leave it alone, neither putting anyone in or out of it, except on finding some one preaching or practicing treason, in which case lay hands on him, just as if he were doing the same thing in any other building.
When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: "All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure....
There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel.
Would God Show His Will For Me To Others and Not To Me?
I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal His will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed that He would reveal it directly to me ... These are not, however, the days of miracles.... I must study the plain, physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right.
I have neither time nor disposition to enter into discussion with the Friend, and end this occasion by suggesting for her consideration the question whether, if it be true that the Lord has appointed me to do the work she has indicated, it is not probable that he would have communicated knowledge of the fact to me as well as to her.
We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Ingersoll: Ask Those Who Knew and Loved Him
"In making up my mind as to what Mr. Lincoln really believed, I do not take into consideration the evidence of unnamed persons or the contents of anonymous letters; I take the testimony of those who knew and loved him, of those to whom he opened his heart and to whom he spoke in the freedom of perfect confidence."
"Mr. Lincoln's maxim and philosophy were: 'What is to be, will be, and no prayers of ours can arrest the decree.' He never joined any Church. He was a religious man always, I think, but was not a technical Christian."
"Mr. Lincoln had no hope, and no faith, in the usual acceptation of those words."
"When Dr. Holland asked Mr. Herndon about his partner's religoius convictions, Mr. Herndon replied that he had none, and the less he said on that subject the better. 'Oh well,' replied Dr. Holland, 'I'll fix that.'"
"No one of Lincoln's old acquaintances in this city ever heard of his conversion to Christianity by Dr. Smith or anyone else. It was never suggested nor thought of here until after his death.... I never saw him read a second of time in Dr. Smith's book on Infidelity. He threw at down upon our table -- spit upon it as it were -- and never opened it to my knowledge."
"Mr. Lincoln was entirely deficient in what the phrenologists call reverence [veneration].... I was once in Mr. Lincoln's company when a sectarian controversy arose. He himself looked very grave, and made no observation until all the others had finished what they had to say. Then with a twinkle of the eye he remarked that he preferred the Episcopalians to every other sect, because they are equally indifferent to a man's religion and his politics."
"In religion, Mr. Lincoln was about of the same opinion as Bob Ingersoll, and there is no account of his ever having changed. He went to church a few times with his family while he was President, but so far as I have been able to find out, he remained an unbeliever. Mr. Lincoln in his younger days wrote a book, in which he endeavored to prove the fallacy of the plan of salvation and the divinity of Christ."
"While it may be fairly said that Mr. Lincoln entertained many Christian sentiments, it cannot be said that he was himself a Christian in faith or practice. He was no disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. He did not believe in his divinity and was not a member of his Church.
"The pretty little story about the picture of President Lincoln and his son Tad reading the Bible is now corrected for the one-hundredth time. The Bible was Photographer Brady's picture album, which the President was examining with his son while some ladies stood by. The artist begged the President to remain quiet, and the picture was taken. The truth is better than fiction, even if its recital conflicts with a pleasing theory."
"He was very cautious never to give expression to any thought or sentiment that would grate harshly upon a Christian's ear."
"The measure of his difference from most of the men who surrounded him is best gauged by his attitude toward the fundamentals of religion. For all his devotion to his cause he did not allow himself to believe that he knew the mind of God with regard to it. He was never so much the mystic as in his later days and never so far removed from the dogmatist. Here was the final flowering of that mood which appears to have lain at the back of his mind from the beginning -- his complete conviction of a reality of a supernatural world joined with a belief that it was too deep for man to fathom. His refusal to accept the 'complicated' statement of doctrines which he rejected, carried with it a refusal to predicate the purpose of the Almighty. Again, that singular characteristic, his power to devote himself wholly to a cause and yet to do so in such a detached, unviolent way that one is tempted to call it passionless. He retained nothing
of the tribal forms of religion and was silent when they raged about him with a thousand tongues."
The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea
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