Faith in God

Publication Year: 1865


Gurley, Phineas Densmore. Faith in God: Dr. Gurley's Sermon at the Funeral of  Abraham Lincoln / from the original manuscript. Philadelphia: Department of History  of the Office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1940.
PHS call number: PAM E 457.52 .G93 1940b 

Gurley, Phineas Densmore. Faith in God: A Sermon Delivered in the East Room of the Executive Mansion, Wednesday, April 19th, 1865, At the Funeral of Abraham Lincoln, President of the U. States By The Rev. P.D. Gurley, D.D., Pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C. 
PHS call number: RAREDOC G963f

Source note

Rev. Phineas D. Gurley (1816-1868) was pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., which Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln attended. Gurley and his wife were often invited to the White House, and Gurley was by Lincoln’s bedside when the President died. Gurley said a prayer at Lincoln’s death, and gave this sermon at Abraham Lincoln’s White House funeral. Gurley then accompanied the president’s body on its somber journey by train across the United States to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.

Read more
Reading questions

1.    Who is the author of this source? Who is the intended audience?  

2.    According to Gurley, how was Lincoln’s assassination part of God’s plan (page 18  in 1940 printed transcript of sermon)?

3.    Just after page 18 is an 1866 painting of Lincoln’s deathbed scene by John H.  Littlefield. Among those attending the president just before his death is Dr.  Gurley himself. How reliable is this painting as a source of information about the  subject? What other kinds of sources could you use to corroborate the painting?  

4.    How did Lincoln’s faith in God make him a strong leader of the country during  the Civil War, according to Gurley (pages 20, 21)?  

5.    What is the “sad comfort we have lost” at the death of Lincoln, as quoted from  Tacitus (page 25)?  

6.    What language does Gurley use to describe Lincoln throughout his sermon?  

7.    What is not included in Gurley’s sermon? What major legacy of Lincoln’s  presidency, and result of the Civil War, does Gurley not directly address? What  might explain this omission? 

Read More
Source type
Time Period
Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)