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discouraging statement that the chaplaincy was a failure) would have soon resulted in his procuring from among the best and ablest pastors in our country a volunteer supply for those regiments, until methods would have been adopted to render the supply permanent.
We attribute to General Howard no design or intention inconsistent with the sincerest and most devout attachment to the religion of Christ. We cherish his name with affectionate regard; for his life is, and, ever since his entrance into the West Point Academy, has been a standing refutation of the calumny that the life of a soldier is incompatible with a life of earnest devotion to Christ and his cause. But his remark (not as it was intended but as it has been applied) has been made the occasion for renewing in every part of the country the old tirades of abuse against chaplaincy in the army; and thus the spirit of impertinent intermeddling has been encouraged. For it has been so from the beginning, that the earnest, God-fearing, devoted men who occupy this office in our armies, have had not only the aforesaid obstacles to encounter in the performance of their work, and have found but little sympathy with them either in their charge or out of it; but, also, that they have had to stand up against “a fire in the rear," proceeding not alone from atheists and infidels and other despisers of religion, and from such little would-be wits as “Orpheus C. Cur,” but from the thoughtless and inconsiderate remarks of some who are friends of Christ, and who seem to be truly desirous to promote the spiritual and eternal interests of our gallant soldiers. But, to make the whole matter perfectly plain, we shall here adduce a single instance out of many in illustration of our meaning. It is the one first occurring to mind, though others not less forcible can be presented.
At a large and enthusiastic demonstration on behalf of the army, held in St. Louis, Missouri (a report of which may be found in the Daily Missouri Democrat, of March 24, 1863), one of the speakers, a Mr. Brownell (reported as a “Corresponding Secretary and Agent of the Western Army Committee "), who had been spending several weeks with a part of our army in the South, undertakes, in view of such a remarkable experience, to enlighten the community on the subject of army life, duties of Chaplains, and the like, of which he practically could have known nothing at all; and after referring with just commendation to an excellent post Chaplain in Fort Pickering—the Rev. J. Porter-he proceeds in the following strain :
Immediately following the bloody carnage at Shiloh, almost a year since, I was privileged to assist Brother Porter and wife, with others, in unloading the City of Memphis, at Mound City Hospital. Soon after three o'clock in the morning, we went among that seven hundred and fifty, with every conceivable wound. What sights, what sounds, what looks, what utterances ! Till seven in the evening, did that faithful husband and wife bend in almost parental affection over those wounded and dying men. How many times I have wondered why there were so few such Chaplains ! Is it not in large part answered, because they do not labor personally for the salvation of their men ? ”
The only thing which could justify our attaching the slightest importance to such an utterance, is the position occupied by the speaker as connected with an important benevolent enterprise, the respectability of the audience, and the fact, moreover, that the remark, inane and senseless, and uncalled for, as it seems to be, is only an echo of what had been with equal thoughtlessness and ignorance of the facts, repeated substantially many times before. The remark, besides confounding the duties of a hospital or post Chaplain with those of the Chaplain in the field, openly announces that there are but few of the noble band of our faithful and devoted Chaplains who possess the very ordinary humanity to bestow in a like case to the one referred to, equal and affectionate attention upon their wounded and dying brethren! If this be not its meaning, then the remark is without meaning, and is a mere senseless and inane utterance, perverting and misapplying a fact in order to fabricate an occasion for joining in the clamor which ignorance has been attempting to raise against this class of officers in the army. But if, on the contrary, this be its meaning, as it seems impossible to doubt, then it is one of the most unfounded and atrocious calumnies that was ever uttered against a minister of Christ. And on behalf of the faithful and self-denying band of godly ministers who have freely left the comforts of home to minister to our noble soldiery amid the perils and discomforts of the camp and field, we pronounce it an unmitigated falsehood and slander. A spirit which can in this manner either thoughtlessly or maliciously assail these servants of God, overburdened as they already are by toil and care in the discharge of their responsibilities, should not only receive no countenance among Christian men, but should be sternly rebuked out of existence. Many of our men receive and read the published accounts of such proceedings. And though it be true that such statements and declarations can do but little injury among those who are acquainted with the facts, and who sympathize with the Chaplain in his toils and labors; they do immense harm to those whose consciences begin to trouble them on the subject of religion, and who are ever on the alert to find reasons to justify their neglect of its claims, and of the appeals made to them by the faithful minister of Christ. In a like manner, also, it affects the openly impenitent. A general charge is made, as in this case, that Chaplains are unfaithful. These men being willing to think so, do not trouble themselves to inquire whether the charge is true or not, but taking for granted that it would not be made without reason, act accordingly; and from the time that this idea gains possession of them the power of the Chaplain to do them good is gone forever. And thus a slander, thoughtlessly uttered, effects all the injury which it could do, were it to proceed from deep-seated malignity.
It is quite in place to add here, also, that in most of the voluntary societies of Christain benevolence, the mere official is too often prone to forget his place. He forgets that he is not the society itself, but only its servant for the time it may choose to employ him. Not a few of the Christian enterprises of the age have been impaired in their efficiency and brought to the very verge of ruin, by the attempts of their officials to intermeddle with matters which are quite beyond or beside the scope of the duties assigned to them. The spirit is similar in manifestation to that which so often shows itself in churches; where certain individuals, often the least qualified and most illiterate, undertake to think and act for the rest-pastor and all—so that a pastor's labors must be performed in exact accordance with their senseless notions, or he is denounced as unfaithful; and from that time forth must encounter the full amount of their hostility. In such a case who can doubt that such an intrusion is an outrage ? Every pastor feels it to be 80. The church has intrusted its work to him, and he is responsible for its performance. If he needs counsel he will ask it. And in the exercise of common privilege, he will prefer to seek it of those whom he thinks are really able to impart it. The attempt to force it upon him on the part of those whose ability to render it he can not but regard as more than questionable, is of very little use except to introduce confusion and disorder. So, too, as respects the matter before us.
Much has been frequently said in the same connection, and with equal want of discrimination, about "laboring personally” with the men for their salvation. And rules are not unfrequently laid down for guidance in the matter by those who, on the score of practical knowledge, prudence, or remarkable preēminence in any of the Christian virtues, are the least qualified to advert to the subject at all. But
But any one who will cast his eye over the aforesaid specification of the obstacles in the way of the Chaplain, as he enters upon his field, with ten or twelve hundreds of men under his charge, will not need that we here stop in order to repel such presumption. The gifts of Christ's ministers are various. But every true minister will, on surveying his field, pursue that course in which he believes he can accomplish most good. The matter should be left to him, without subjecting him to the annoyance of dictation and intermeddling on the part of those who, while they sustain no portion of the mighty burden of his responsibilities, are in no way capacitated to offer him either counsel or suggestion. Should a similar intermeddling be attempted in the case of the Surgeons, Captains, Colonels, or of any other officers in the army, its authors would soon be taught, and in a way that would insure the remembrance of the lesson, that it became them to confine their attention to matters which are legitimately within the scope of their talents and attainments. Let us hope that there may be no occasion ever to refer to this subject again.
The aforesaid methods of interference have been long indulged in; and, while they have accomplished and could accomplish no good whatever, have done evil, and only evil, to the souls of men. From the very first call for an army, a considerable class, including all the foes of vital godliness, have opposed the appointment of Chaplains, as they still oppose the like appointment to Congress and to our State Legislatures. Not a few united in the opposition who would not like to be identified with that class of persons, because they themselves profess to have some regard for religion. It will be remembered, also, how, almost from the very beginning of the present war, this spirit showed itself; and how that, to some extent, a portion of even the religious press incautiously permitted itself to become the organ for its utterances. The office was decried, and insinuations thrown out indiscriminately against its occupants. It is a principle with officers in the army, and very extensively acted upon, to pass in silence assaults upon them from the people, whom they are laboring to serve; for they would rather suffer in silence than to give the common enemy possession of the facts which are necessary for their own vindication; and, though this principle does not, to the same extent, apply to Chaplains, and the subject under discussion, we have rejoiced to find that they have so extensively acted upon it. Nor should we have referred to the matter at all, except that it was unavoidable in a full and proper treatment of the whole subject under discussion. But we have been glad to find that in general no notice has been taken of these things by the faithful and devoted band of men who were thus assailed. They have quietly toiled on amid the obstacles which beset them, looking to God to follow their labors with his blessing. Here and there death has summoned one and another from their work, either by disease or by some missile of the foe, while they were animating their compatriots in battle, or ministering to the wounded and dying on the field, while others, through utter prostration from disease, contracted by exposures in the camp and on the march, have been obliged to retire from the work they loved. But, as a class, they have prayerfully borne, in patience and silence, all that this spirit of intermeddling and calumny has brought upon them: regarding the time as not having come when the whole matter would be set right with the Christian community. That time has, perhaps, not yet arrived; but it will come, and, while they patiently wait for it, they ask the