November 15, 1862: Lincoln Enjoins Observance of the Sabbath



Well this would give the ACLU fits today!  On November 15, 1862 Lincoln sent out the following general order:




The President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military and naval service. The importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the divine will demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.

The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the cause they defend be imperilled by the profanation of the day or name of the Most High. “At this time of public distress,” adopting the words of Washington in 1776, “men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended:

“The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”


Sometimes there is an effort to portray Abraham Lincoln as some sort of unbeliever.  That is completely mistaken.  Lincoln struggled throughout his life to understand God, and in the agonies of War he achieved a profound faith in the Almighty.  Like Saint Augustine, Lincoln could say, “Late have I loved thee!”

Published in: on November 15, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Don,

    One place you and I differ (I had to look hard!) is in our evaluation of Lincoln. Maybe it was living in Richmond all that time, seeing Jeff Davis quoted in Times-Dispatch editorials on a regular basis. Who knows? But at any rate, Lincoln, despite the fact he was a regular attendee of the Presbyterian Church at the end of his life, also remained unbaptized at the end of his life.

    Commend him to the mercy of God, I’m sure, but we’re not talking invincible ignorance here.

    • The mercy and justice of God are both infinite Jon. I believe there is such a thing as the baptism of desire. As to the ultimate fate of Lincoln after death, I think these words may have stood him in good stead as he came before God for judgment:
      “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

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