President Lincoln and the Sin of Presumption
Abraham Lincoln is considered by
many to be one of the greatest presidents of the
Lincoln’s Views on Slavery and African American Slaves
In speeches and private letters quoted below,
· Even with freedom, the black race would never be equal with the white race,
· It would be best if both races were separated because of all the suffering experienced by both whites and blacks,
Abolishing slavery was not a priority of
The answer to separation of the races was the colonization
of freed slaves in a land other than
· Slavery would have gradually disappeared by itself over time.
Inequality of the Races
On August 14, 1862,
“… You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated…
Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoy. The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is still upon you.
I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is a fact, about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We look to our condition, owing to the existence of the two races on this continent. I need not recount to you the effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of slavery. I believe in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present condition – the country engaged in war! – our white men cutting one another’s throats, none knowing how far it will extend; and then consider what we know to be truth. But for your race among us there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an existence.
It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated….” (emphasis added)
Lincoln’s Word Curse
Invisible shackles: “And through covetousness shall they with
feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time
lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2Peter 2:3,
Since Satan could no longer “make merchandise” of the African Americans with the visible shackles of slavery, his strategy was to make merchandise of them with the invisible shackles of feigned words.
Visible shackles: “If a man be found stealing any of his
brethren of the children of
There are many examples to support
The below remarks were made in
October, 2007 by James Watson, co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for his role in
discovering the structure of the DNA molecule.
Watson’s statements were made while on a book tour in
“James Watson, who in 1962 shared a Nobel prize for discovering the structure of DNA, on Friday canceled a tour to promote his latest book after suggesting in a published interview that black people are less intelligent than whites. In an interview in the Sunday Times of London, Watson, 79, was quoted saying that he is ‘inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa’ because ‘all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really.’ … Watson was quoted as saying that although he hopes that various races have equal intelligence, ‘people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.’”
is Chancellor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on
“Bruce Stillman, the president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said in a statement Wednesday that his faculty members ‘vehemently disagree’ with the published comments and that the lab ‘does not engage in any research that could even form the basis of the statements attributed to Dr. Watson.’ … ‘Scientific prestige is never a substitute for knowledge,’ said Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health, in his own statement. ‘As scientists, we are outraged and saddened when science is used to perpetuate prejudice.’” 
In a letter to Horace Greely of
August 22, 1862, nine days after his address to the delegation of free Negroes,
“… I would save the
Colonization of Freed Slaves
In this same address,
Gradual Extinction of Slavery
At one point in time,
following quotes from a book written by Lord Charnwood in 1917 remind us that
not only did
“‘The fathers,’ Lincoln could fairly say, ‘place slavery, where the public mind could rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate extinction,’. The task for statesmen now was ‘to put slavery back where the fathers placed it.’” 
policy, then, on which his whole efforts were concentrated consisted in this
single point – the express recognition of the essential evil of slavery by the
enactment that it should not spread further in the Territories subject to the
According to one of his
“… saw himself more and more as an especially appointed agent of the Almighty, chosen to preside over the worst crisis in American history, and coming to see that the immense loss of life in the war could be justified by one thing alone – complete and permanent freedom for the slaves.” 
As President of the
“These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible and learn what appears to be wise and right.” 
Interestingly, even though
The Church Age and Slavery – Paul’s Letter to Philemon
We are in the Church Age; therefore,
it would seem wise to consult the Scriptures to see how the early Christians
dealt with the issue of slavery. Paul
stated that he is our example as Jesus Christ is his example and it is his
example and how he dealt with the issue of slavery that
In the book of Philemon, Paul writes one of the most beautiful letters recorded in Scripture. The letter was addressed to his dear friend, Philemon. Paul wrote to inform Philemon that Onesimus, his runaway slave, was now a brother in Jesus Christ. Paul informed Philemon that Onesimus was returning to him no longer a slave, but better than a slave, and urged Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would receive Paul himself. Paul wanted Philemon to view Onesimus as an equal to both he and Philemon - as a man and as a brother in the LORD:
“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the LORD. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” (Philemon 15-17, NIV, emphasis added))
Paul also expressed his love for Onesimus by referring to him as his son. (Philemon 10)
Paul’s Desire for Onesimus to be Set Free: We know from Scripture that Paul’s advice to anyone in slavery was to gain their freedom if the opportunity availed itself.
“Were you a slave when you were called? Do not let that trouble you. But if you are able to gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.” (1Cor 7:21, Amplified Bible)
However, it’s important to note that Paul did not start an uprising to set Onesimus or other slaves free – nor did he go to the civil government. Rather, Paul appealed to the emotions of a Christian slave owner to change his mindset concerning his slave. Furthermore, Paul was confident that Philemon would do even more than he asked – and I believe Paul’s desire was that Philemon would provide the opportunity for Onesimus to be set free.
confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.” (Philemon 21,
Contrary to President’s
“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on
Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there
is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians
A Modern-day Moses?
President Lincoln regarded himself as a modern day Moses justifying the loss of many lives in order to set the slaves free. However, the actions of Moses did not involve the Israelites fighting a war or starting an insurrection.
An insurrection could have resulted from Moses’ first attempt to free the Israelites from slavery had the other Israelites murdered their Egyptian task masters by imitating Moses when he murdered the Egyptian for oppressing an Israelite.
Instead of an uprising, Moses fled to the wilderness for the next forty years as he felt threatened by his own brethren who didn’t understand that he wanted to free them from slavery. (Acts 7:23-36) His brethren didn’t understand because it was not God’s timing to deliver them, nor was it the way that He wanted to deliver them. God’s timing for the Israelites to be freed from slavery was forty years later and it was at that time that the LORD also revealed to Moses how He wanted the Israelites to be freed from slavery – and it was not through an uprising, but through God’s power (the exodus). In either situation, the LORD did not allow Moses or Paul to start an insurrection to set any slaves free.
New Testament Teachings
Many of the slave owners in
Realizing that not all salve owners were Christians –Scripture still seemed to be the prevailing justification or “excuse”. Nonetheless, if Paul’s approach had been taken, it’s probable that slavery would have died out on its own.
Many believe that Abraham Lincoln
was a Christian, and that may be true, and even though he felt he was doing
God’s will, his behavior did not differ nor set him apart from the unbeliever
during his presidency. According to
Lincoln’s Dreams and Visions
According to Scripture, there are different types of dreams. Some dreams are of the flesh and are a result of some physical condition, such as stress in the workplace or hunger. Others are prophetic in nature, foretelling an event or revealing a condition in our life. Still others are recurring or frightening. Scriptural examples of each are shown below.
Types of Dreams
Dreams of the flesh:
dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by
multitude of words.”(
even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh,
and his soul is empty: or when a thirsty
man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is
faint, and his soul hath appetite: so
shall the multitude of all the nations be, that against mount Zion.” (Isaiah
is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king
Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy
head upon thy bed, are these”(Daniel 2:28,
he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in
a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy
wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”(
warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed
into their own country another way.” (Matthew 2:12,
that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is
established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41:32,
According to Scripture, dreams
serve many purposes, but a recurring dream, such as experienced by
you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of my words’? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though
people do not perceive it. In a dream,
in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on mortals, while they
slumber on their beds, then he opens their ears, and terrifies them with
warnings, that he may turn them aside from their deeds, and keep them from
pride, to spare their souls from the Pit, their
lives from traversing the River [NIV&
“Traversing the River” in
· “And if they are bound in fetters and caught in the cords of affliction, then he declares to them their work and their transgressions, that they are behaving arrogantly. He opens their ears to instruction, and commands that they return from iniquity. If they listen, and serve him, they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness. But if they do not listen, they shall perish by the sword, and die without knowledge.” (Job 36:8-12, NIV, emphasis added)
As the Civil War was raging,
The First Dream
“On Good Friday,
April 14, 1865, with solemn religious service the Union flag was hoisted again
Later that same evening President Abraham Lincoln was shot.
Same Dream – Second Reference:
“Good Friday, April
14, … Grant recounted incidents of his final drive and gave particulars of
Lee’s surrender. He expected to hear
Same Dream – Third Reference:
“At a midday meeting on April 14,
‘I had,’ the
President remarked, ‘this strange dream again last night, and we shall, judging
from the past, have great news very soon.
I think it must be from
It seems strange that
The Second Dream
disturbing was a dream that
‘There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs…..It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me…..I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments…..’Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was the answer, ‘he was killed by an assassin!’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night…..’”
“To the end of his life
Lincoln’s Vision on Election Night
“Just after the election, a circumstance occurred which Mrs. Lincoln interpreted … Mr. Lincoln thus repeated it. ‘It was after my election, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great ‘hurrah, boys!’ so that I was well tired out and went home to rest, throwing myself upon a lounge in my chamber. Opposite to where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it; and looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a second time, plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler, say five shades, than the other. I got up and the thing melted away and I went off, and in the excitement of the hour forgot all about it – nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home, I told my wife about it, and a few days after I tried the experiment again, when, sure enough, the thing came back again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was a ‘sign’ that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the second term.’
Mr. Lincoln regarded the vision as an optical illusion, caused from nervousness, ‘yet, with that tinge of superstition which clings to every sensitive and deeply thoughtful man, in a world full of mysteries, he was so far affected by it as to feel that ‘something uncomfortable had happened.’ Viewed in the light of subsequent events, Mrs. Lincoln’s prophetic interpretation of the vision had almost a startling import.” (emphasis added)
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways…. But be ye doers of
the word, and not hearers only, deceiving
your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a
man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way,
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1:8, 22-24,
First of all, the double image of
James was also saying that people
who study the Bible (hear the word), but do not apply the Scriptures to their
lives, are like a man who sees the imperfections of his image in a mirror
(glass), yet walks away without correcting the imperfection.
If Lincoln wanted to know God’s
will concerning the civil war, then he needed to use Scripture to discern and
understand what was happening in the natural realm – not the other way
President Lincoln’s approach to
setting the slaves in
1. The sin of presumption, and
2. The great transgression of self-sufficiency and spiritual pride
Lincoln’s Sin of Presumption
“Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous
sins; let them not have
dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the
great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13,
The Old and New Testaments, which are divinely inspired writings, reveal the true nature of God as well as His will for all mankind. To please God, our conduct, thoughts, and how we carry out His will for our lives are to conform to His Word. How we represent God to others should always agree with what Scripture reveals about Him and His nature. Therefore, when someone represents God to others based upon a mindset that does not agree with Scripture, then that person is misrepresenting God. His relationship with the LORD is based on who he determines the LORD to be – not who Scripture reveals the LORD to be. This type of mindset can easily lead someone to “sin presumptuously” and commit “the great transgression of self-sufficiency and spiritual pride”.
The sin of presumption is to sin arrogantly or proudly. When someone regards their personal opinions as God’s will, then they are overstepping the bounds of reverence for the LORD. Spiritual pride can mislead someone to believe that God has called them to a duty to which God has not called them. When someone has spiritual pride – their own self-sufficiency is all that is needed.
1. View himself as a modern day Moses,
2. Justify the immense loss of lives in the war in order to abolish slavery, and
3. State that all black people, whether they were enslaved or free, were inferior to white people.
It was presumptuous of
The Sin of Presumption can Lead to Death
“But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in
the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord; and that soul shall be
cut off from among his people.” (Num 15:30,
“Why do you contend against him, saying, ‘He will answer none of my
words’? For God speaks in one way, and
in two, though people do not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep
falls on mortals, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens their ears,
and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn them aside from their
deeds, and keep them from pride, to spare their souls from the Pit, their lives from traversing the River
Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and
commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend
their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge. (Job
As noted above, the NIV Study Bible note indicates that
Keep the above verses in
In a recurring dream, the LORD forewarned
President Lincoln was mistaken that
he could expect no direct revelation from the LORD
concerning the issue of slavery in
In addition to direct revelation
On the other hand, the unbeliever or carnal Christian would have studied the plain physical facts of the case, ascertained what was possible and then learned what appeared to be wise and right. In other words, the civil law, laws made by man, would have a greater bearing than the Word of the LORD. By depending on his abilities as a lawyer, President Lincoln misrepresented God and God’s Will concerning slavery.
A Great Man does not mean a Righteous Man
The word “transgression” in
The word “exceeded”, also in
John Brown was another man who was presumptuous. There were times when Abraham Lincoln thought of himself as being prophetic. Therefore, taking into account, that Abraham Lincoln and John Brown both felt they were doing God’s will in setting the slaves free and both died in doing so, Lincoln’s perspective of John Brown and his death seemed to be prophetic for himself as well:
“Lincoln, who regarded lawlessness and slavery as twin evils, could only say of John Brown’s raid: ‘That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts related in history at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little else than his own execution. Orsini’s attempt on Louis Napoleon and John Brown’s attempt at Harper’s Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same.’”  (emphasis added)
Other Spiritual Openings:
Necromancy is a pagan practice and
is forbidden by the LORD (Isaiah 8:19,
“‘The pale face of
her dead boy threw her into convulsions’.
Try as she might, Mary never fully recovered from the shock and
loss. ‘I feel rebellious,’ she exploded.
‘[I] almost believe that our
heavenly father has forsaken us.’
Desperately seeking solace, answers, anything to stem her overwhelming
despair, Mary turned to the spirit world.
With much of
Notice that Mary felt “rebellious”. According to Scripture, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and that is exactly what Mary did in her rebellion – she became involved with necromancy – one of the practices of witchcraft.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as
iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath
also rejected thee from being king.” (1Sam 15:23,
Interestingly, one of the reasons that King Saul lost his kingdom was because in his rebellion he sought counsel from a woman who had a familiar spirit (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Like Mary Lincoln, King Saul sought a woman with a familiar spirit because he felt the LORD was no longer speaking to him (1 Samuel 28:6-7).
The manifestations that Mary did experience were not those of her dead son - they were demonic manifestations of a familiar spirit. The following account is taken from the same reference as above and is from the diary of Mary’s half sister Emilie while visiting Mary at the White House.
“‘After I had said good night and had gone to my room’, Emilie recorded in her diary, ‘there was a gentle knock at the door, and [I heard] Sister Mary’s voice…She was smiling though her eyes were full of tears…’[H]e lives, Emilie!’ she said with a thrill in her voice I can never forget. ‘He comes to me every night, and stands at the foot of my bed with the same sweet, adorable smile.’”
The Mindset as a Stumbling Block
The Apostle Peter is a good example of how reasoning apart from God can be a stumbling block. There is no doubt that Peter loved Jesus with all his heart. He gave up his profession, fishing, to follow Jesus, was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, was one of the three to go to the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and in his heart, was willing to go to prison or even die for Jesus. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, “He said, Lord, you know all things; You know that I love you.” (John 21:17, NIV) There was just one problem: Peter had the wrong mindset. Peter’s mind was on the world and the world’s ways, not on the thinking and ways of the Lord.
When Jesus told His disciples once again that He would have to suffer and die, Peter took Him aside privately and rebuked Him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! (Matthew 16:22). Here is how Jesus responded:
“But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him. Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men.” (Matt 16:23, Amplified Bible)
“But turning around [His back to Peter] and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have a mind intent on promoting what God wills, but what pleases men [you are not on God’s side, but that of men].” (Mark 8:33, Amplified Bible)
As a result, Satan could try to tempt Jesus by working through Peter’s worldly opinion/earthly point of view concerning Jesus’ destiny. Jesus did not fall into this trap. Instead, He bound Satan from interfering – Get behind me, Satan! – and simultaneously rebuked Peter regarding his worldly mindset.
For a more detailed article on the “mindset” – see the separate article entitled “Testing, Trials and Temptations”.
© Gwen Thomas, November, 2007
Ashland University Website (Teaching American History). “Reply
to Emancipation Memorial Presented by
Charnwood (Lord). Abraham Lincoln. Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing, 1917
Holloway, Laura C. The
Ladies of the White House.
Kunhardt, Jr., Phillip B., Kunhardt III, Phillip B. and
Kunhardt, Peter W.
Parish, Peter J. ed. Abraham
Lincoln: Speeches and Letters.
Thomas, Benjamin P. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952
Washington Post Website. “Scientist’s Remarks on Blacks Cause Furor”, Robin Shulman. 20 October 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/18/AR2007101801693.html
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.
Scripture quotations taken from The AMPLIFIED BIBLE, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
 Peter J. Parish, Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Letters, p.213-214
 Washington Post Website, “Scientist’s Remarks on Blacks Cause Furor”, Robin Shulman, 20 October, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/18/AR2007101801693.html
 Peter J. Parish, Abraham Lincoln Speeches and Letters, p.214-215
 Benjamin P. Thomas, Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, p.362
 Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln, p.125
 Ibid, p.127-128
 Phillip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Phillip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt, Lincoln: an Illustrated Biography, p.336
 Ashland University Website (Teaching American History), “Reply to Emancipation Memorial Presented by Chicago Christians of All Denominations, http://www.teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1080
 Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln, p.449-450
 Benjamin P. Thomas, Abraham Lincoln A Biography, p.516
 Phillip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Phillip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt, Lincoln: an Illustrated Biography, p.346
 Ibid, p.334
 Laura C. Holloway, The Ladies of the White House, p.532-533
 Lord Charnwood, Abraham Lincoln, p.152
 Phillip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Phillip B. Kunhardt III and Peter W. Kunhardt, Lincoln: an Illustrated Biography, p.284