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(title page) God in the War. A Sermon Delivered before the Legislature of Georgia, in the Capitol at Milledgeville, on Friday, November 15, 1861, Being a Day Set apart for Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, by his Excellency the President of the Confederate States
Rev. Henry H. Tucker, D. D.
Boughton, Nisbet & Barnes, State Printers,
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MILLEDGEVILLE, Nov. 16, 1861.
To REV. PROFESSOR H. H. TUCKER:
Dear Sir: The undersigned Committee appointed by the House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, to solicit of you for publication a copy of your able and interesting discourse delivered in the Representatives' Hall on yesterday, have the pleasure to communicate to you the wishes of the House, with the hope that you will comply with the same.
We have the honor to be,
Yours with considerations of respect,
ROBERT H. TATUM,
F. M. HAWKINS,
Nov. 16th, 1861.
Gentlemen: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication, conveying to me the request of the House of Representatives for a copy of my discourse delivered yesterday, for publication.
Hoping and believing that the spread of the sentiments expressed in my discourse will not only do good to the hearts of my countrymen, but contribute to our success in the struggle in which we are engaged, I place a copy of the manuscript at your disposal.
I am gentlemen,
Your obedient servant,
H. H. TUCKER.
Messrs. ROBERT H. TATUM,
F. M. HAWKINS,
"Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh to bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire."PSALMS XLVI, 8:9.
Desolation! Desolation! Thousands of our young men have been murdered. Thousands of fathers and mothers among us have been bereaved of their sons. Thousands of widows are left disconsolate and heart-broken, to struggle through life alone. The wail of thousands of orphans is heard through the land, the Ægis of a father's protection being removed from over their defenceless heads. Thousands of brave men are at this moment lying on beds of languishing, some prostrated by the diseases incident to the army and camp, and some by cruel wounds. Every house within reach of the seat of war is a hospital, and every hospital is crowded. Huge warehouses emptied of their merchandize, and churches, and great barns, are filled with long rows of pallets beside each other, containing each a sufferer, pale, emaciated and ghastly. Some writhe with pain; some rage with delirium; some waste with fever; some speak of home, and drop bitter tears at the recollection of wives soon to be widows, and babes soon to be fatherless. The nurse hurries with noiseless step, ministering from bedside to bedside. The pious chaplain whispers of Jesus to the dying. The surgeon is in frightful practice, bloody though beneficent; and as his knife glides through the quivering flesh and his saw grates through the bone and tears through the marrow, the suppressed groan bears witness to the anguish. A father stands by perhaps, to see his son mutilated. Mother and wife and sisters at home witness the scene by a dreadful clairvoyance, and with them the operation lasts not for moments but for weeks. Every groan in the hospital or tent, or on the bloody field, wakes echoes at home. There is not a city, nor village,
nor hamlet, nor neighborhood that has not its representatives in the army, and scarcely a heart in our whole Confederacy that is not either bruised by strokes already fallen, or pained by a solicitude scarcely less dreadful than the reality. Desolation! Desolation! Hearts desolate, homes desolate, the whole land desolate! Our young men, our brave young men, our future statesmen, and scholars and divines, to whom we should bequeath this great though youthful empire with all its destinies; the flower of our society,--contributions from that genuine and proper aristocracy which consists of intelligence and virtue,--thousands, thousands of them laid upon the altar! And alas! the end is not yet. Another six months may more than double the desolation. Relentless winter may aid the enemy in his work of death. The youth accustomed at home to shelter, and bed, and fire, and all the comforts of high civilization, standing guard on wintry night, exposed to freezing rain and pealing blasts, and having completed his doleful task, retiring to his tent, to lie upon the bare ground, in clothes encrusted with ice, may not falter in spirit in view of his hardships; the fires of patriotism may still keep up the warmth at his heart; when be remembers that he is fighting for the honor of his father, and for the purity of his mother and sisters, and for all that is worth having in the world, he may cheerfully brave the terrors of a winter campaign; but though his soul be undaunted, his body will fail. Next spring when the daisies begin to blow, thousands of little hillocks dotted all over the country on mountain side and in valley, marked at each end with a rough memorial stone, and a brief and rude inscription made perhaps with the point of a bayonet, will silently but ah! how impressively, confirm the sad prophecy of this hour. Thus the work of desolation may go on winter after winter, until the malice of our foes is satiated, and until our young men are all gone. But let us not anticipate. The present alone presents subjects of contemplation, enough to fill the imagination and to break the heart.
These are the desolations of war. Do you ask why I present this sad, this melancholy picture? Why I make this heart-rending recital of woes enough to make heaven weep? In so doing I am but following the example of the Psalmist when he says, "Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth!" If in the midst of victory when the God of Israel had given success to the arms of his people, their leader and king called upon them to forget their successes and meditate on the desolations of war, it must be right for the man
of God now, to call upon his countrymen in the midst of a series of victories such as perhaps were never won in a war before, to forget their triumphs, and contemplate for a little the expense of life and of sorrow which those triumphs have cost.
Come then my countrymen, and behold the desolation. What emotion does it excite? What passion does it stimulate? To what action does it prompt? Indignation at the fanaticism, folly and sin of those who brought it all about. Rage at the authors of our ruin. Retaliation! To arms! To arms! Let us kill! Let us destroy! Let us exterminate the miscreants from the earth! Up with the black flag! They deserve no quarter! They alone are to blame for this horror of horrors. We had no hand in bringing it on. We asked for nothing but our rights. Our desire was for peace. They tormented us without cause while we were with them. What we cherish as a heaven-ordained institution they denounce as the "sum of all villanies." They regarded us as worse than heathen and pirates; they degraded us from all equality; they spurned us from all fellowship; they taught their children to hate us; their ministers of religion chased us like bloodhounds, actually putting weapons of death in the hands of their agents with instructions to murder us. They made a hero and a martyr of him, who at Harper's Ferry openly avowed his design, to enact over in all our land the horrid scenes of St. Domingo,--thus by the popular voice dooming us to death and our wives and daughters to worse than death; and when after these outrages, we sought no retaliation but besought them to let us go in peace, they still clutched us with frantic grasp, in order to filch away our substance, and reduce us to a bondage more degrading than that which they affect to pity in the negro.
I will not continue to give expression to thoughts which alas! have already taken too deep hold on us all. But in the midst of all the rage, resentment, and fury, which a contemplation of these facts of history is calculated to engender, let me repeat to you the words of the text, with an emphasis which perhaps will lift your minds above the consideration of second causes. "Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth!" If it be important to regard the desolations of war, it is still more so, to be mindful of the source whence they come. This perhaps was the chief object of the Psalmist. If he pointed to the rod, it was that all hearts should be turned towards Him who held it. And this my countrymen it is all important for us to remember,--that GOD is in the war. He brought it upon us. The wickedness and folly of our
enemies may have been the occasion of it, but these could not in any proper sense be the cause. That is but a shallow philosophy which sees a cause in anything outside of God. The idea of cause involves by necessity the idea of power, and what power is there independent of God? Aside from the will of God, what nexus can there be, between an effect and the antecedent which by a sad misnomer we denominate the cause? Satisfied with a slovenly nomenclature, we apply the term cause to that in which there resides no power. That profounder wisdom which we learn from the inspired oracles demands a better vocabulary; it calls for a word to designate the cause of so-called causes. In want of this, it disallows to earthly antecedents even if invariable, a name which describes that which is to be found only in the Almighty. The guilt of our enemies is what we term a second cause, that is to say, it is no cause at all, but only the occasion of a chastisement inflicted by an Almighty arm. God is in the war. God is in everything; in the doings of earth, for "He knoweth our downsitting and our uprising;" in the raptures of paradise, in the flames of perdition. Yea saith the Psalmist, "If I ascend up into heaven Thou art there. If I make ray bed in hell, behold Thou art there! Psalms cxxxix, 8.
In the economy of God the wicked are often used as
instruments for the accomplishment of divine ends. Satan,
when he introduced sin into the world, was the instrument
of preparing the way for a brighter display of God's goodness
than ever yet had amazed the universe, and was as
really the herald of Jesus of Nazareth as was John the
Baptist. Those who cried out "Crucify him! crucify
him! his blood be upon us and upon our children!" all
guilty as they were;--in piercing the veins of a Savior
opened the fountain of eternal life to the millions of them
who shall be redeemed unto God by his blood, out of every
kindred and tongue and people and nation.*
* Many parallel cases might be referred to;
for an interesting one
see Gen. 45. 6.
Thus does God cause the wrath of man to praise him. If there be any possible wrath, such as could not by divine almightiness, be so perverted from its wicked end as to promote the glory and exhibit the goodness of God, that remainder of wrath is restrained. In other words, sin is allowed only in so far as God brings good out of it. Thus every evil is the precursor of blessing. The greatest calamities that ever befel the Universe were but the harbingers of glory.
* Many parallel cases might be referred to; for an interesting one see Gen. 45. 6.
A christian poet has said
We should suspect some danger nigh
When we possess delight.
Thank God it is also true, that whenever evil comes, we may know there is good at hand. In national or in individual experience, when the godless soul sees only a dark cloud, fraught with terror and with wrath, to the christian the cloud resolves itself into a blazing star that guides to the best of blessings. When God says to his children "All things work together for good to them that love God," the heart of the believer makes no exceptions, and thus "rejoices in tribulations, also."
It is also a part of the divine economy to use the wicked as instruments for the chastisement of each other.-- Two individuals indulge in mutual animosity. Each is wrong; and each by a series of unkindnesses, or acts that deserve a harsher name, inflicts upon the other a well deserved penalty. Neighborhoods give way to ill-will.-- Nothing short of a miracle could prevent them from distressing each other; and Providence works no such miracle. Nations burn with hate against nations, and as an appropriate punishment for their crimes God turns them loose upon each other, and their perpetual wars result in mutual ruin. History, profane as well as sacred, is full of examples where "Nation was destroyed of nation, and city of city; for God did vex them with all adversity." 2 Chron. xv. 5.
Even in the control of his own children God makes use of the wicked as his instruments of discipline. When Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, the inspired record declares that "The Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian; and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and Israel was impoverished because of the Midianites." Judges vi. 6. Individual experience too, may often make appropriate the prayer of David when he says "Deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword; from men which are thy hand." Ps. xvii. 13.
The sin of the wicked is not diminished by the fact that it is over-ruled for good by a superior power. There can be no interference with the personal responsibility of moral creatures. Thus the guilt of those who wage this diabolical war on the unoffending people of these Confederate States, finds no apology in the providence of God. "It must needs be that offences come but woe unto him by whom they come." Luke xvii. 1. Our aggressors must answer for their awful account before the bar of God.-- There let us leave them. Our text which was written when the death-smell was fresh on the field of battle, makes no reference to the outrages of the enemy, but points only to God, as the author of the desolation. The Psalmist does not confound the cause of trouble with the
occasion of it. He is engrossed, not with the doings of earth, but with those of heaven. He has no eyes to see the wickedness of his foes. He forgets he ever had a foe, and sees only God in the war. Let his example be for our imitation. Surely it is as contrary to religion as it is to a sound philosophy to banish God from the most striking act of his Providence that has occurred within the memory of living man. If it be true then that the hand of God is in this thing (and who can doubt it?) and if we lose sight of that fact, surely a worse evil will come upon us. Among other evils, we may expect to receive in our own souls the consequences of our sin. Resentment, rage, and hate, will be so developed as to take entire possession of us. We shall become blood-thirsty as tigers, cruel as death, and malicious as fiends. Alt that we expect to accomplish by the war, if bought at such expense to our own character, would cost more than it is worth. If we cannot be free without transforming ourselves into devils, it were better not to be free; for any thraldom is to be preferred before slavery to sin. But if we exclude God from our thoughts, and regard the desolations around us as coming only from the enemy, how is it possible to keep from violating the injunction "avenge not yourselves!" Whose blood would not be set on fire, whose soul would not be carried away with fiercest passions, by contemplation of the frightful evils we sustain, if they be traced to no cause outside the wicked hearts of our enemies! Alas, all of us are too prone to confine our attention to second causes. Methinks I see the apparition of the spirit of David rising from the sleep of centuries, as that of Samuel did under the incantations of the witch of Endor. His form is venerable, his beard is flowing, and on his brow rests the crown of Israel. He touches the harp of solemn sound, and peals forth the notes of the sublime ode whence our text is taken. He waves his hand to the scenes of sorrow wrought by the war now upon us, and making no allusion to our foes, says "Come behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth!"
When we regard the evils we suffer as the chastisement of the Almighty, there arises within us no spirit of resentment. The fiercer elements of our nature all subside.-- We humbly submit to the judgments of the Almighty. Our eyes instead of flashing fire, are melted to tears; our tongues instead of curses and defiance, utter words of penitence and contrition. Whatever comes from God we can bear. We acknowledge his authority. We know that at his hands we deserve nothing but indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. We know that he is a gracious
Father as well as a righteous judge; and we recognise his benevolence even in his chastisements; for "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth." We only say "It is the Lord, let him do as seemeth him good." Surely this is a better spirit than results from a view of second causes. Surely this is more likely to secure the divine approbation and the divine aid; and if God be for us who can be against us? This is the very spirit which his chastisements are intended to excite; and when the end is accomplished the means will be laid aside. Thus shall war afflict us no more, and God will not allow "the wicked which is his sword" to harm us further. But that other spirit which instead of forgetting the enemy and looking to God, reverses the order and forgetting God looks to the enemy, and which stimulates to frenzy the worst passions known to human nature, tends only to make us more wicked than we were before, and therefore to perpetuate the very causes which made these chastisements necessary. If instead of profiting by the afflictions which God sends upon us, we make them the occasions of additional guilt, what can we expect but that billow after billow of his wrath will overtake us until we shall be utterly destroyed.
The sweet singer of Israel having depicted the desolations which God sends by war, devotes the next strain of his inspired verse to the announcement of the truth that "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth." It is He who brings these evils upon us and it is He who takes them away. Nor is it needless for the Psalmist to remind us of what we might have known, that the blessings of peace are from the hand of the Almighty. Here too as in the former case, we are prone to be satisfied with second causes. We are anxious for wise legislation and for skillful generalship. We congratulate ourselves on having such able statesmen as Davis and Stephens, such able generals as Johnston and Beauregard. We glory in the belief that our troops are as brave as the bravest in the world, and that our enemies though outnumbering us four to one as they did at Leesburg, cannot stand before Southern valor in the open field for one moment. We exult (alas! our exultation is not unmixed with sin) when we see the terror-stricken fugitives leaping by hundreds over the steep embankment, and like devil-possessed swine plunging headlong into the Potomac. We are making abundant arrangements to supply ourselves with all the munitions of war. We are casting cannon, manufacturing arms, and fortifying our coasts. Hundreds of thousand of us are already under arms, and hundreds of thousands more are ready and anxious to step into the ranks. We feel safe when we
remember that we are so many and so strong, and so brave, and so well prepared to re-enact the scenes of Sumter, and Bethel, and Manassas, and Springfield, and Lexington, and Leesburg, and Columbus. We feel sure that if the enemy will only give us battle once more on the Potomac, our brave boys will again send them shrieking and screaming back to their Northern homes. We doubt not that we shall whip them whenever we come in conflict with them. We shall whip them, and whip them, and whip them again. We shall whip them again and again. We shall whip them until they are satisfied to their hearts' content, that the only safety for themselves is in letting us alone.
My countrymen! it is right for us to resort to all the means of defence which Providence has placed within our reach. It is proper to call into action our best civil and military talent, to strain every energy to the utmost in supplying the material of war. As for that sublime faith which we have in the unconquerable valor of our troops, I admire it, I partake in it. But we are here on dangerous ground. We must not step over the line where God says "Thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." Let us not lean on an arm of flesh. Saith the prophet, "Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is he to be accounted of." Isa. ii. 22. Is our confidence in our success based on the wisdom of our statesmen and generals? That Providence which sustains the flight of the sparrow and numbers the hairs of our head might direct the death-bringing bullet to the vitals of our greatest chieftain. Instead of the horse, the rider might have been slain. "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in Princes." Ps. cxviii. 8-9. Is our trust in the valor of our troops? The same God who struck terror into the hearts of the Midianites when they heard the cry "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" the same God who sent confusion and dismay into the ranks of our enemies when the sword of the Lord and of the South prevailed at Manassas, might send a panic among us which would scatter us like chaff before the wind. He might send his angels in armies to descend upon us, and filling the air with their unseen presence, every heart might quiver with undefinable dread from unknown cause, and they might smite us with invisible weapons, the very touch of which would curdle our blood. Oh! there is no bravery that can stand before the hosts of the living God. The outward appliances of war, the chieftains and captains, the arms and munitions, the shot and shell, the rifles, infantry, artillery, cavalry, all these are useful in their proper places. But let us not put
our confidence in them. They are not to be trusted.-- They all may fail. They never yet have made a war to cease. This is the very sentiment of the scripture which says "There is no King saved by the multitude of an host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him!" Ps. xxxiii. 16. "Battle is the Lord's." 2 Chron. xx. 15. "He shall cut off the spirit of princes; he is terrible to the kings of the earth. At thy rebuke O God of Jacob both the chariot and the horse are cast into a dead sleep." Ps. lxxvi. 6-12. "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth!" So earnest is the Psalmists in declaring that the ending of the war as well as the beginning of it is from God, that he reiterates the sentiment four times in the text. First in literal terms, "he maketh wars to cease;" then in figure of speech "he breaketh the bow;" again in similar figure, "he cutteth the spear in sunder;" and for the fourth time he enunciates the same idea in another figure when he says, "he burneth the chariot in the fire." The destruction of the bow, the spear, and the chariot, ancient instruments of war, was a symbolical way of describing peace. The figurative expressions then, mean the same as that which is literal; and if this portion of the ode were stripped of its poetic dress and expressed in plainest terms, it would be simply a fourfold declaration of a single truth. "He maketh wars to cease! He maketh wars to cease! HE MAKETH WARS TO CEASE! HE MAKETH WARS TO CEASE unto the end of the earth!" Let this tremendous energy of quadruple emphasis, be for the rebuke, and discomfiture and silencing of those who look to earthly sources for the power to stop this awful war. Ye worshippers of human Deities, who by supposing that the efforts of mortals can terminate the bloody strife, exalt the creature to a level with omnipotence, listen to the voice of the Almighty! "Be still and know that I am God! I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth!"
While it is true that we need constant admonition to wean us from trust in human resources and lift our thoughts to a higher Power, yet it is also a fact, and one most gratifying to the christian, that thus far in the war, there has been a wonderful turning of the hearts of the people to God.-- When Col. Hill wrote to the Governor of North Carolina that the Lord of Hosts had given us the victory at Bethel, he spoke the sentiment of the whole army. Our soldiers, from the highest officer to the humblest private in the ranks, habitually ascribe our victories to God. Even the irreligious
seem to pause for a moment when they speak of Bethel or Manassas, and reverently acknowledge God in the battle. So universally does this feeling pervade our troops that it excites the wonder of all who have had an opportunity of observing it. When Mr. Memminger introduced into the Confederate Congress the ever-memorable and sublime resolutions ascribing the victory of the 21st of July to the King of kings and Lord of lords, a thrill of acquiescence and hearty appreciation flashed over the whole Confederacy, and the hearts of all the people were melted together. When the news reached this Legislative Hall only day before yesterday, that the Providence of God had brought across the ocean to our shores a ship laden with weapons of defence, and shoes for our feet, and other articles of necessity and comfort, the Representatives of the people here assembled, almost unanimously and simultaneously fell to their knees, and while tears of gratitude streamed from many a cheek, and amid a wide spread murmur of scarcely suppressed sobs, their presiding officer as the spokesman of the Assembly, offered up to God a tribute of prayer and thanksgiving!-- Oh! that was a thrilling spectacle, and on which doubtless angels looked with beaming eyes and a new delight. Surely such a scene never occurred before. The record has been entered on the Journal and is now a chronicle of the times. Posterity will read it centuries hence with moistening eyes. Heartstrings will quiver and bosoms will heave with emotion all over the world on perusing this sublimest page in history. It is cheering to believe that the record is copied in heaven, and that this outburst of gratitude which thrilled the breasts of men and angels with such sweet and strange emotion, was not unacceptable to Him, to whom the tribute was paid and whose goodness was the cause of it. And now that His Excellency the President of the Confederate States has set apart this 15th day of November as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, calling on all the people to flock to a throne of grace, as a father calls on his children to surround the family altar, the whole people respond; all business has ceased, and the nation is prostrate before God.
The scoffer and the infidel may question the sincerity of the christian, or if not, they will perhaps be surprised to learn that to his mind the most cheering evidence of our success in this war is this acknowledgment of God so wide spread in the hearts of the people. This pious and reverent feeling is not the natural offspring of the human heart. If it comes to us from external sources it comes from none that are bad. Satan never turns the heart to God. None but God himself could have inspired this confidence in himself: and he never inspires confidence merely to betray it.--
This then is the chief reliance of the christian patriot in this emergency. It is gratifying to see that this devout and proper spirit so generally prevails, and it should be the great aim of all who love God to cultivate and cherish it. The very best of us though we acknowledge God with one breath, are prone to forget him at the next; and while we ascribe the victories of the past to him, we are apt to trust for future victories to our own strong arms and stout hearts, and abundant preparations. No greater calamity could possibly overtake us than to yield to this disposition to forget God. If I were to say that it would be the certain precursor of overwhelming defeat, I should be only repeating what the prophet Isaiah said three thousand years ago, but which like all other truth is not impaired by time:-- Woe to them that stay on horses and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord."--Is. xxi, i. Woe to you then ye people of Georgia! Woe to you all ye people of these Confederate States! if you are engrossed with outward preparations for battle, and seek not the Lord nor put your trust in the Holy One of Israel, and in the King of glory! Who is this King of glory? "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle!"--Ps. xxiv.8.
Many of the ways of God are past finding out, for "his thoughts are very deep," but in regard to the matter before us, it is not surprising that high and unfaltering faith in God should be the precursor of success. On the contrary it can be shown to be in keeping with all the dealings of his providence with us.
Of course when faith is spoken of, reference is had to real faith, not to counterfeits. Real faith either in God or in anything else is never an inert and unproductive principle. There is in its nature an element which prompts to action. Faith in God prompts to obedience, and if to obedience then to repentance, to reformation and to every virtue. The apostle not without reason places faith first, and hope and charity afterwards. For though charity be the greatest of the three, yet faith is the seed-virtue from which the others spring, certainly without which the others could not exist.
Now let us remember the point already made, that God is in the war. Let us further remember that he has not brought these calamities upon us without a purpose. Without presuming to know any of the secrets of Infinite wisdom, the Almighty has revealed himself to us sufficiently to warrant us in saying, that these afflictions must have been brought upon us either as a punishment for sins that are
past, or as a means of making us better in future, or for both these ends. Suppose the object be the first of these. Then such faith in him as prompts to repentance and reformation while it might not logically remove the chastisement, would at least prevent further occasion for it from accruing; and there is reason to hope, that the divine benevolence would not be bound by so strict a logic as not to remove the penalty when the sin that occasioned it is repented of and abandoned. Suppose the object be to make us a better people. When the object is accomplished, there will be no further use for the instrumentality which brought it about. Suppose the object be both retrospective and prospective. The same reasoning that applied to the cases separately will apply to both together; except that the former case being coupled with the latter would receive strength by the connexion, and we should have still better reason to hope that if we cease to sin our Heavenly Parent would cease to chastise.
It is not irreverent to suppose that the divine proceedure would be governed by the same principles which control us in the discipline of our children. What father ever continues to use the rod when he is convinced that his child is so heartily sorry for his fault that he will never commit it again? What master would chastise his servant if he knew the servant's grief for his fault to be sincere and profound enough to prevent him from repeating the offence? We are God's children. He is chastising us. Let us acknowledge him; and say"though he slay me yet will I trust in him." Let us confess the sins that brought these evils upon us. Let us repent of them, and so repent as to abandon. Let us do all this, and this war will come to an end. "He maketh wars to cease." He will make this war to cease. When we become what we ought to be there can be no motive in the divine mind to continue the chastisement, and the war will cease. The skeptic may ridicule this conclusion. Let him ridicule. "A brutish man knoweth not neither doth a fool understand this."--Ps. xcii.6. He who is enlightened from above, without stopping to ask the opinions of politicians, soldiers or philosophers, and preferring higher authority, goes straight to the oracles of God for a solution of the problem, and is satisfied when he reads: "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he; breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire." The caviller may object, and talk about military and political necessities, and physical and moral impossibilities, and philosophic difficulties. But while he is prating, the providences of God will go right on, and will say to him in due time, "Be still and know that I am God."
How strange that we should ask men to predict what the end will be, without asking God who knows all things from the beginning. How strange that we should rely on our puny efforts to bring this dreadful strife to a close, when we know that God only can stop it. For is it not He who makes wars to cease? We have been trusting in horses and in chariots. Let us rather remember the name of the Lord our God. Let us pay our vows unto him, and we shall have no further use for these dread instruments of war.-- Here then is great good news for the people of these Confederate States! These desolations may be stopped! The red tide of life that flows from the veins of your sons may be staunched! Prosperity may again be established!-- "What," exclaims one, "can we entice the enemy from their entrenchments into open field? Then indeed we shall soon destroy them and the remainder will sue for peace!" No my friend, there is no certainty that that would close the war. "What then? shall we cross the Potomac, deliver Maryland, push on to Philadelphia and still farther North until we conquer a peace?" No, no. There can be no assurance of success in such an enterprise. "Shall we then court the friendship of foreign powers, and thus reinforce our army, and re-supply our wasting resources?" Yes! Let us court the friendship, not indeed of a foreign power, for the God of our fathers is not foreign to us, but let us court the favor of heaven, and verily an alliance with the Almighty will make us omnipotent!
My countrymen, before God! in my heart and from my soul, I do believe that if the people of this Confederacy were to turn with one heart and one mind to the Lord and walk in his ways, he would drive the invader from our territories and restore to us the blessings of peace. I wish I could express myself with more plainness and with more force. Let me say again, I believe that the quickest and easiest way to terminate this war, and that favorably to ourselves, is for us all to be good. We imagine that the only way to get out of our difficulties is to fight out. There is a more excellent way. Let us by faith, obedience and love, so engage the Lord of Hosts on our side that he will fight for us; and when he undertakes our case we are safe, for "he maketh wars to cease," and he will break the bow of the enemy, and cut his spear in sunder, and burn his chariot in the fire, and say unto him, "Be still and know that I am God!" Call it superstition if you please ye men of the world. Say that we are deluded by a religious enthusiasm. But know ye that faith in Israel's God is not superstition, and that confidence in an over ruling providence is no delusion. Enthusiasm there may be, there is, there ought to be, we avow
it, we glory in it. The heathen may rage and the people imagine a vain thing, but we rejoice when we can say,-- God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof, Selah! The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge, Selah!"
Lay what plans you will, and set what schemes you please in operation, and at the summing up of all things at the end of the world, it will be found that God ruled and overruled all things according to the working of his power; and that the great statesmen and great captains who figure so largely in history, were but the unwitting instruments of accomplishing his purposes. We look back over the past and see God in history. We look forward and see him bringing generation after generation upon the earth to work out his designs and not theirs, for before they existed they could have had no designs. Why should the present be an exception? Let us then do justly, and love mercy and walk humbly before God, and by thus falling in with his plans, we shall be on his side and he will be on ours, and those who make war upon us will either see their folly and cease, or if they continue will do nothing more than work out their own ruin.. They have no power to harm us. We have no power to make ourselves safe. "Once hath God spoken, yea twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God."--Ps. lxii.ii. Let us fly to that Power and engage it in our behalf, and he who smote great nations and slew mighty kings, Sihon king of Amorites, and Og king of Bashan for his people's sake, will smite the hypocritical nation that wars against us, and will give to us and to our children the heritage of our fathers forever.
I have said that the way to enlist this almightiness on our side is to make the law of God the law of every man's life. Perhaps these terms are too general to convey the idea with power. What then more particularly is to be done. What specific duties must we discharge? What special evils must we forsake? All, all! The whole head is sick, the whole heart is faint, the whole body is corrupt. How small a proportion of our population are disciples of Jesus!-- Counting out avowed unbelievers and false professors, how few are left! Here is the place to begin. A pure Gospel is our only hope--I repeat it, a pure Gospel is our only hope. If the Kingdom of Christ be not set up in the hearts of the people no government can exist except by force. All you then who have no personal experience of the grace of the Gospel are so far, in the way of your country's prosperity.
The first step for you to take is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, confessing your sins and giving him your heart. But aside from this, let us look at our public morals. Passing by profanity, for we are a nation of swearers; passing by drunkenness, for we are a nation of drunkards; passing by Sabbath-breaking, for our cars thunder along the track on the Sabbath as on any other day, and our convivial gatherings are too often on the day of the Lord; passing by covetousness and lying, for two many of our citizens alas! will for the sake of defrauding the public out of a few dollars make false oath in giving in their tax returns; passing by neglect of our children, for too few of them receive that religious instruction and training which is their due; passing by injustice to servants, for while their physical wants are in some cases unsupplied their moral wants are too generally neglected; passing by all these things, and each of the sins of private life which ought to be exchanged for its opposite virtue; let me call especial attention to three things of more public nature, and which are fairer samples of the average of public morals.
In the first place, how is it that in the State of Georgia it is almost impossible to convict a culprit of crime? The most atrocious murders and other outrages are committed with impunity, in the very face of our so-called Courts of Justice. Is the Bench prostituted? Is the Bar prostituted? Or is it the Jury box? In either case it is clear that public virtue is at fault; otherwise these evils would not be tolerated. So notoriously defective is the administration of justice, that in many cases fresh within the memory of us all, citizens have felt it necessary in self-defence to execute criminals without the forms of law. Is not this a step towards barbarism? The example of disregarding the law being set by reputable citizens, will be followed by others not so reputable. When this system is inaugurated where will it stop? Whose life will be safe? This reign of the mob, this lawless execution of men which is little short of murder, will become the rule and not the exception, unless a more healthy public opinion shall correct the evils in our Courts of Justice.
The second evil is kindred to the first. How is it that in all the history of this Legislative body pardon has been granted to every criminal, almost without exception who has ever applied for it? Can it be that all who have been pardoned were innocent? If so there must have been horrid injustice in the Courts which convicted them. The bloodthirsty Jeffreys would scarcely have sent so many innocent men to the gallows. No; under the loose administration of justice already referred to, none but the most glaring cases
(with possibly a rare exception) could ever be convicted.-- How comes it then that our Legislators turn loose these culprits upon society? It is because they are more anxious to secure a re-election than to promote the good of the State. How comes it that a vote adverse to pardon would endanger their re-election? It is because public opinion is rotten. The fault lies in the low standard of public morals.
But for the third item. Without meaning to indulge in wholesale denunciation of any class of my fellow citizens, it may yet be pertinent to inquire, how is it that so few of our public men are good men? Is it to be supposed that all the talent, and all the learning, and all the wisdom, have been vouchsafed to the bad rather than to the good? Does Satan claim a monopoly of all the intellectual power and administrative ability in the world? Perhaps it is not surprising that he should; for he once offered to give to their rightful owner"all the Kingdoms of this world and the glory of them" on condition of receiving his homage in return. But it is preposterous to suppose that there are no good men to be found capable of discharging the highest public trusts.-- Why then are they not oftener found in eminent position? It is because the public in estimating a man's fitness for office, throw his morals out of the account; and because popularity can be obtained by means which bad men freely resort to, but which good men eschew. How sad a comment on public virtue! Every voter who allows personal interests, or preferences, or prejudices, or party zeal or anything to influence his suffrage in favor of a bad man in preference to a good one, if the latter be capable, is doing what he can to banish virtue from our councils and God from our support. It might be a fair subject of inquiry, whether he or the outbreaking felon whose place is in the Penitentiary inflicts the greatest injury upon society.
It is time that the preachers of the Gospel, who ought to be if they are not, the great conservators of public morals, had made way upon these monster evils; and I rejoice that I have the opportunity on this public day, before this Legislative body, and before the people of the whole State, to bear my testimony against them.
The three evils just specified are only outward manifestations of an internal distemper, the mere efflorescence of evil deep seated in the public heart. The disappearance of these would indicate a radical change. Suppose public justice to be rightly administered, suppose the influence of virtue in our councils to be predominant; and this is to suppose that thousands upon thousands of individual men have grown wiser and better, that myriads of private faults have been exchanged for corresponding virtues, that the whole
complexion of society is changed, and its whole nature improved. Suppose that the Gospel of Christ which alone can work these changes, should continue thus to elevate, refine, ennoble and sanctify, until every heart were brought under its sacred influence. How much like heaven our earth would be! Can any one suppose that in such a state of society as this, the heavenly tranquility would ever be disturbed by the clangor of war! Let our whole people at once renounce their evil works and ways with grief, and follow hard after God, and I confidently declare that he would with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm deliver us from our enemies and restore peace and prosperity.-- Think you that I ought to modify this positive declaration into a mere expression of opinion? I reiterate the same sentiment in words which no man will dare to question:-- "When a man's ways please the Lord he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him."--Prov. xvi.7. And again. "Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and unto our God for he will abundantly pardon."--Is. Iv.7. Is it said that these words refer to individuals and are not applicable to States? The same conditions of mercy that would suffice for one man would suffice for two, and if for two then for any number, for nations and for all.
From these teachings of Holy Writ, it appears my countrymen, that in carrying on this war which the providence of God has brought upon us, we ought to use a new set of instrumentalities; instrumentalities the object of which shall be not to injure our enemies but to benefit ourselves; to benefit us not in things visible and tangible but in the inner man. Thus shall those faults in our character which made these chastisements necessary be removed, and as matter of moral certainty the sad consequences which we suffer would cease.
Here then is joyful news to thousands of Christian patriots who burn with desire to aid their country's cause, but who know not what to do. All you have to do is to be good, and in being good you are doing good; and in doing good you are securing the favor of God and contributing your share towards enlisting Him on the side of our armies. Joy to our venerable fathers, who bowing beneath the weight of years, are unable to gratify their intense desire to fly to arms! Fathers, learn from the word of God; the sins peculiar to old age. Struggle against them. Fixed as your habits may be, try to improve your hearts and lives; and be sure that every success you meet with in the improvement of your graces will tell upon our
enemies with more power than the missile from the musket. Joy to our mothers and wives and sisters and daughters! While with busy fingers you ply the needle and the loom for the benefit of our brave defenders, remember that you can render aid far more efficient. Cultivate the graces and practice the virtues enjoined in the Gospel; and though no famous report will be made to the world, God will observe it; though no influence be seen going out from it, yet its influence will be felt in heaven and will descend to earth again. God yearns towards them who seek Him; and when His affections are drawn out towards us, He will be more ready to defend and deliver us. Joy to the invalid, to the blind, and deaf and dumb, and maimed, and poor, and all who by afflictive dispensations are seemingly helpless and apparently a burden to their country in these times of peril. You too can help us in the war. Bear your sorrows with patience, receive the attentions of your friends with gratitude, copy the spirit of Jesus, and as little as the world may think of it, you too will help to drive the invaders from our soil. Scoff sceptic if you please, but we rejoice in the assurance that whatever brings God nigh to us will drive our enemies far away; and what brings God so nigh as the exercise of the spirit and the practice of the duties which His word enjoins? Joy, Joy to you ye preachers of the Gospel! Know ye that whatever makes the people better makes them stronger; that in spreading truth and virtue you are supplying the true sinews of war. Your mission is one of love and peace, and yet in more senses than one you are warriors. Your profession may be thought valueless in these times of bloody strife, but in truth yours is the most efficient branch of the service. The influence of the Gospel is a wall of defence against enemies carnal no less than spiritual. Every pulpit is a battlement whence great moral Columbiads hurl huge thunders against all who would harm us. Joy, joy! ye ministers of the Gospel of peace, for you can fight for your country and yet keep your hands unstained with blood.
See what an accession there is here to our forces in the field. We thought we had an army of some two hundred thousand. Here we have added the whole army of the saints, male and female, of every age, and color, and condition;--a motley band whose uneven ranks excite the sneers of men and devils. But on their banner is inscribed, "Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit saith the Lord." Zech. iv. 6. By that sign they will conquer. Each in his sphere moves quietly along, and men of the world think they are doing nothing, but they are the best soldiers in
the war. Their spiritual weapons make no lond report; no blood is seen to follow their stroke; the stroke itself is not seen. The still closet is remote from the scene of battle. But when our enemies rush on a praying people, they rush on their own destruction. Every closet is a masked battery, from whose mysterious depths there goes forth an influence unseen and unheard, but carrying swift disaster to the ranks of our foes. Terror seizes upon them; they feel the dread influence but know not whence it comes, and bewildered and confounded by these assaults on their spiritual nature while yet their bodies are unhurt, they fly, they fly, supposing that they fly not from men but from devils. They know not that they are flying from before the saints of God, from before the armies of the Most High.
My countrymen, we are certain of success in this war if we but use the right means. But those means which are the last that men think of, and the last that they adopt, are the first in order and the first in importance in the Divine estimation. The first and last and only thing that men are apt to do, is to gather together the implements of war and prepare for battle. God forbids not the use of these things; nay, to lay them aside would be but to tempt His Providence. But paramount to this is the purifying of the heart. Let us "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and trust that all other things will be added. Mat. vi. 33. Let our people forsake their sins and practice goodness, so that it call be said of our land, "thy people shall all be righteous," and the sweet prophecy will be fulfilled in us, which declares, "Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shall call thy walls Salvation and thy gates Praise. A little one shall become a thousand and a small one a strong nation. I the Lord will hasten it in his time." Is. xvi. 18. Yes! when this happy day comes it will be of God, for "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire." Suppose every nation were thus to turn to the Lord. Then every nation would secure his blessing. Nation would rise up against nation no more, nor would men longer learn the arts of war. The spears would be beaten into pruning hooks and the swords into ploughshares; the days of Millenial glory would come, and the whole world would be subject to the gentle reign of the Prince of Peace!