Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/357
Address of the Chaplains of the Second Corps.
If there are discouragements peculiar to our work, there are peculiar encouragements also. We believe that God is with us, not only to own and bless His word to the salvation of men, but that His blessing rests upon our cause and attends our armies. It is a high privilege and a great satisfaction to preach to soldiers to whom God has given such signal victories. The moral influence of a just and righteous cause is a happy introduction to, and a good preparation for the holier cause of religion. The objects for which our soldiers are fighting possess incalculable power in controlling the naturally demoralizing influence of war. We are thankful to God for the large number of Christian officers who command our armies and aid us in our work. The presence of so many pious men in the ranks gives us a church in almost every regiment to begin with. The intercourse and communion of Christian brethren in the army is as intimate and precious as anywhere upon earth. It is an interesting fact, that by this work ministers of the different denominations are brought into closer and more harmonious co-operation, thus promoting the unity and charity of. the whole church, and greatly encouraging each other. Many of the greatest temptations to vice are excluded from the army. There is much time for profitable reflection. The near approach of death excites to serious thought. Religious reading is sought and appreciated. Many opportunities for personal kindness to the sick and the wounded on the battlefield and in the camp bind grateful hearts to faithful chaplains. In preaching the word, conducting prayer-meetings and Bible-classes,
talking-and jesting. On the march, and on an active campaign, the attention is much absorbed, and time is often wanting for religious duties. The carelessness and open apostacy of professors of religion are here, as well as everywhere else—a great hindrance to the success of the gospel. The readiness with which chaplains have resigned their places, or absented themselves from their regiments, is a source of discouragement to the soldiers and to their brethren who remain. In the hasty opinions and sweeping judgments of many in and out of the army, the deficiencies of some have been unjustly attributed to others, and the failure of a few regarded as the failure of all. But these you perceive, brethren, are essentially the same difficulties, in a different form, which the minister of God must encounter every-where in this sinful world. Our chief ground of discouragement, however, is in ourselves. With more faith in God, and more love for the souls of men, with more of the spirit of our blessed Lord, we should behold greater and more precious results.