Baptists and the American Civil War: September 14, 1863

Confederate Soldiers

Confederate Soldiers

A commentary piece in this week’s North Carolina Baptist Biblical Recorder implores Southern Baptists to pray for the soldiers of the Confederacy:

I conversed with a Lieutenant recently, who was in the bloody battle of Gettysburg. He related many incidents of the horrid strife; told how friends fell around him on every side; spoke of the dying agony of the thousands who were stricken down, of their cries of anguish as the life blood flowed in a crimson tide from their mortal wounds, and of their look of deep despair as our army fell back, fighting as they retreated, leaving them exposed to a double fire. My friend’s heart sunk within him, for he was in constant dread of receiving a missile of death in his own breast, that would number him with his fallen comrades who were left to the mercy of an unprincipled but victorious foe. He raised his heart in prayer to the God of battles for deliverance, and at the same instant the cheering thought came to his mined, “my friends at home are praying for me!” Blessed reflection! It acted like a magic charm; he no longer felt weak, it nerved his arm, and he fought with all of the valor of a christian soldier. “Oh,” said he, “if you could witness a battle and see our danger, you would never forget to pray for poor soldiers; we need your sympathy, but more than all we crave your earnest prayers.”

Christians, we do pray for our dear soldiers; they are remembered in our private devotions, at the family altar, and in the sanctuary of the Most High; but do we wrestle in prayer for them as did Jacob with the angel of the Lord? Do we approach the throne of grace with a spirit of importunity that will take no denial?

Think of their danger; the air is thick with the leaden messengers of destruction; the camp is rife with diseases; death is all around them.

Go into our crowded hospitals and see the suffering of our noble soldiers. The faded check, the sunken eye, the hollow voice and the emancipated form give evidence that the sands of life are fast running out. The seeds of death were sown while in the discharge of military duties imposed by the stern necessities of war. All the hardships and privations of a soldier’s life they have heroically endured to achieve our independence—are they not worthy of our fervent prayers? Should we not humble ourselves in the very dust of humility and entreat God’s blessings to rest on them? Behold the mutilated forms of thousands of nature’s noblemen; soldiers who fell on many a bloody battlefield; the idols of the home circle, the beloved of many aching hearts! Oh! shall not the voice of devout supplication rise daily to heaven in their behalf?

Our “soldiers’ hearts are cheered by the thought that Christians pray for them!”—Then let us be more importunate at the mercy seat when we bear up those who “stand as a wall of defence between us and our enemies.” God has said, ‘ask and ye shall receive,’ but let us remember that it is only by “the fervent prayer of the righteous man that availeth much.”

Source: Stella, “Pray for the Soldiers,” Biblical Recorder, September 16, 1863 (link)