Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/360

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354
Southern Historical Society Papers

work. Such a call, coming with the potential authority-of a church of God. would doubtless decide many of the ablest ministers in the country to cast in their lots with us. We cordially and earnestly invite the venerable fathers of the church to visit the army and preach for a few days or weeks in the regiments. Such voluntary labors, in many instances, have been signally blessed. The churches should be willing to spare their pastors for this work, and seek temporary supplies from neighboring ministers; or, at least, all congregations might allow their ministers to visit the army for a time and labor for those who have gone forth in their defence. Have not the soldiers, who are away from their homes and churches, the right to claim a part of the time of their own pastors? But especially do we call upon the younger men in the ministry—and we call upon you, young men, because you are strong—come, take part in this sacred cause and this holy fellowship with us.

If the ministers of the gospel, below the age of forty, are exempted from ordinary military duty, are they not bound to serve their country and the army in the capacity of chaplains? Have you a right to stay away while this destitution exists? We urge no extreme or fanatical view. Let all the regiments be supplied, and still the vast majority of ministers will remain at home with their congregations. We plead only for that which is just and equal. And we feel that we but do this when we maintain that congregations should assist in the support of the families of chaplains while laboring in the army. Such an arrangement would give hundreds of excellent men to the work.

Brethren, pray for us. To know that we are constantly remembered at a throne of grace—in the churches and in the families—in the public and in the private devotions of the people of God—will greatly encourage our hearts and strengthen our hands. Prayer should be made without ceasing to the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in behalf of our cause, our country, our officers and our soldiers. Pray for us, that we may be faithful, and that our labors may be blessed in the conversion of souls.

We ask these things of you, dear brethren, because we believe that the final success cf our arms is intimately connected with the fidelity of the church in fulfilling its duty to the army, and closely related to the religious character of the army itself It was remarked by one of our distinguished and Christian generals, that "the only ground of apprehension to be felt is from the want of piety in the army. Were all the soldiers sincere Christians and praying men, in