Baptists and the American Civil War: September 5, 1862

Civil War States MapThis week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder reprints a summary of a rousing nationalistic sermon delivered during a recent “prayer meeting for the country” at the the First Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia. Ebenezer W. Warren of patriotic sermon fame is the pastor of the Macon congregation. Sylvanus Landrum, prominent Georgia Baptist minister and pastor of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, delivered the sermon now being read by North Carolina Baptists.

Using Psalm 94 as his text, Landrum declares that God is yet in control and will redeem his chosen Confederacy from the “cruelties” and “madness” of the militarily-superior North.

How great the blessings which God has bestowed upon our young nation! We can not yet number years to our existence; we began with nothing; we have been shut out from intercourse with the world; unrecognized by any people, and yet we have been guided wisely, protected from subjugation, and secured against famine and pestilence … When a crisis has come, and our all seemed to hang upon the turn of affairs, God has stretched forth his power and given us the favorable change. Who will now be cast down in spirit when the past so eloquently rebukes every desponding thought?

The revivals which are now springing up over the land, dotting the desert of our distrust with cases, beautiful and glorious in hope, constitute another ground of encouragement for our country’s cause. These are the clearest proofs of God’s favor. Political deliverance is a great boon, but the eternal salvation of Christ Jesus to the souls of our people is infinitely greater. Not only is God graciously blessing the churches and families of the land, but I feel assured he is saving many of our soldiers. Amidst the great wickedness of the armies, there are many turning amidst their trials and sickness, imprisonments and wounds, to the great Shepherd of their souls. From my intercourse with soldiers in hospitals, I am satisfied that should the war close today, many soldiers would return prepared to unite with churches, and give their lives to the glory of the Captain of their salvation.

The prayers for soldiers are not in vain. In hours of affliction especially, they remember the religious influence of home; the family altar, the Sabbath school, the sanctuary. An allusion to these things will frequently bring the tear to cheeks unaccustomed to such bedewing. It has been observed, that when addressing soldiers upon the subject of prayer, and they assert they know not how to pray if the question is asked, “Do you remember the prayer your mother taught you?” their faces will brighten up, and their eyes turn upon you as though you were reading their hearts. Yes, they remember those prayers, and feel that they can pray them. Sometimes in the wildness of delirium, they will call for their mothers or their wives. Under such hallowed memories of the past, and in answer to the prayers of those who plead for their salvation, many are lead to the glorious hope of the Gospel.

Great are the encouragements to pray for our country. I must not detain you in the duty and privilege of this hour. Today our Congress assembles. May God hold them in all their counsels; deliver them from wrong and guide them by wisdom from above. May he hold our generals and soldiers, our President and Cabinet, our people, our cause! Our best army is the army of prayer. Our best artillery and defences, the earnest outgoings of devout hearts to God, that his glory may be brought forth from the wrath of man in this bloody and brutal war.

Like other Southern Baptist ministers, Landrum does not plumb the depths of how a nation defended by an army of “great wickedness” can simultaneously be God’s chosen nation.

Source: “Sketch,” Biblical Recorder, September 3, 1862 (link)