Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

and visits at the tents (other conveniences being out of reach), and his vain attempts to visit and converse with all who desire it, he finds incomparably more to do than he can perform. And with all his anxiety to do his whole work, he will feel that some are neglected. He must be at his tent at the hours when the men generally are off duty, to receive their calls; he must visit them at their tents; he must be at the hospital, for the sick and wounded can not be neglected; he must prepare for and attend his Bible-class, evening-lecture, and the prayer-meeting. He must likewise prepare for his regimental service on the Sabbath day, and for the services in the hospital ; for a regiment is not the congregation for any man to attempt to address without thoughtful and adequate preparation. Often is the Chaplain compelled to exclaim, “Who is sufficient for these things !” and full often have I felt like sitting down and weeping to find so little accomplished of all that I saw needing to be done, and which I had in vain endeavored to perform.

I have not overdrawn these representations. And now, in view of them, and the multitude of other and not less important facts which I have been compelled to omit, the question comes up before the Christian Church and public, What is to be done in the premises? The army has not only been greatly overlooked by a large portion of the Church as a benevolent field for enterprise, but the nature of the field itself has been greatly misapprehended. The question has to a considerable extent arisen in the public mind, whether the chaplaincy system had not better be abolished, and be made to give place to some other provision which might better secure the desired result. It would, perhaps, have been wiser first to have determined whether there is or can be devised any such substitute. As we are not willing, however, to share the responsibility of those who are attempting to abolish it, we shall in conclusion offer a few remarks on the general question, expressive of our views.

No proof can be derived against the system (as we have sufficiently shown), from the fact that insufficient, incompetent and even immoral persons have been appointed to the office. Such a state of things was perhaps unavoidable at the time of its occurrence, and will pass away with the emergency which called it into being, and it can require but little care hereafter to prevent a recurrence of the like.

One of the worst and most reprehensible suggestions in relation to the matter, and which is the more surprising as emanating from a professed minister of Christ, is that preaching the Gospel is only secondary and of comparatively little account in the army. If this be so, then there is no necessity why ministers of the Gospel should leave their charges in order to occupy the office of Chaplain ; a faithful colporteur would answer as well. But we have not space to enlarge on the point, further than to say that while it is God's plan “ to save men by the foolishness of preaching,” there are multitudes in nearly every regiment, who will pay no heed to religious services which are not conducted by a recognized clergyman. We may regret this, but such is the fact.

We hold and maintain, without the slightest hesitation, that the bare suggestion, come from what source it may, that our noble and gallant army might be on any account whatever left without the regular and authorized ministrations of religion, is criminal in a high degree. Why should it be so left ? Is it because of the expense attending the effort to supply them? The man who, taking all things into consideration, should venture to assert such a thing, would deserve to be branded with undying infamy. Is it, then, on account of the obstacles in the way of properly cultivating the field itself? But this is no reason, as we have fully shown. Will the Church herself, then, plead that she is unable to supply those ministrations ; and that the army, therefore, must be left without them? Nothing would more surely indicate that the spirit of Christ no longer dwelt in his Church, than the announcement of a conclusion like this. What Christian mind could for a moment tolerate the thought that the heroic men who, at their country's sacred call, have so freely stepped forth into the deadly breach to defend her at the hazard of life itself, may be left in such circumstances without the stated and authorized ministration of the means of grace, not because it is really impossible to supply them, but because it would require on the part of the Church some considerable effort and sacrifice to do so? In the name of our gallant army itself, and on behalf of the loved and cherished ones whom they have left at home, and in the name and on behalf of our innumerable wounded, and sick, and dying ; and of the multitude who are yet destined to perish before this cruel strife shall end, we protest against such a thought, and against the lukewarmness with which the whole matter has been in a great measure regarded. And let the precious memory of our heroic and martyred dead put to shame and lasting silence the spirit of utilitarianism which would still attempt to place obstacles in the way.

We thank God that at length there is on this subject a movement, and in the right direction. And we rejoice that the noble body constituting the CHRISTIAN COMMISSION, whose unwearied toils and sacrifices for the good of the army will ever be remembered as conferring honor upon the age and country, have also taken this matter in hand. The late stirring appeal made to the churches by the New York Committee of that Commission should be deeply pondered by every church and clergyman in the land. The plan which it proposes, though designed only to be temporary in its operation, is yet the very best thing to be done in the present circumstances, for it both admits and calls for immediate action; and while it is in operation, time will be afforded to the Church herself for further deliberation, and to devise means for meeting the requirements of the case, which shall be at least more lasting and permanent. We append the plan itself, in the conclusion of what we can now offer on the subject (for our article is already by many pages longer than we had designed), and trust that its recommendations will receive the prayerful and prompt consideration of all the churches and ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ in our country:

THE NEW YORK COMMITTEE OF THE U. S. CHRISTIAN COMMISSION propose the following plan, earnestly requesting its immediate consideration by clerical bodies, Pastors and Churches, and respectfully urging the promptest action :

1. The voluntary enlistment of at least one minister of the Gospel, of talent, position, and approved adaptation to this special service, for each brigade in the army-gay 300 in all-during a period of two or three months each. Every city or large town can spare one Pastor, at least--and the best one for this noble work; his pulpit being supplied by his ministerial brethren of the same or of different denominations in rotation, or otherwise. Each considerable ecclesiastical body can thus detail a representative for the army.

Each volunteer Chaplain may be accompanied by a layman from his own or a neighboring congregation, under appointment as a Delegate of the Christian Commission, who shall aid in the distribution of the Scriptures, traets, newspapers, and camp and hospital stores, and in holding meetings, or visiting the sick and wounded.

3. The service thus proposed should be gratuitous; but the Chris. tian Commission will defray all expenses of Pastor and Delegate going to, returning from, and while on the field, and furnish all needed publications, stores, and other means of usefulness. On this system :

The Army would have a demonstration of the benevolence of the Gospel, and of its ambassadors. The very presence of a reputable, experienced preacher of Christ in the camp, on the one errand of salvation, with no earthly reward, would be a living sermon. Able and earnest appeals to the consciences of officers and men, sobered by the exposures and disappointments of war, from esteemed Pastors whose congregations have lent them for this mission of Christian charity, and whose motives to effort could not be questioned, must have great power. It would infuse new animation into the army. There is reason to believe that such labors would be universally welcomed by officers and soldiers.

The Pastors and Churches might expect a blessing on their joint self-denial.

The Country needs the example of Christian patriotism and devotion to so grand a spiritual object, as a counterpoise to the selfishness and spirit of faction so unhappily prevalent.

The Christianity of the country needs, for its own invigoration and revival, such a demonstration of unselfish vigor as would be afforded by the simultaneous devotion of three hundred of its ablest preachers to the volunteer chaplaincy service, among half a million of needy, waiting, dying souls.

30 Bible House, New York, March 3, 1863.

ART. V.- The Puritans and their Principles, by Edwin Hall.

New York: Chas. Scribner. 1851.*

This is a volume of four hundred and forty pages, 8vo. In his advertisement, the author says:

" The following lectures were delivered to the First Congregational Society in Norwalk, Connecticut, in the latter part of 1843 and early in 1844. They are designed to set forth the causes which brought the pilgrims to these shores; to exhibit their principles ; to show what these principles are worth, and what it cost to maintain them; to vindicate the character of the Puritans from the aspersions which have been cast upon them; to show the Puritanic system of church polity, as distinguished from the prelatic, broadly and solidly based on the Word of God; inseparable from religious purity and religious freedom.”

In accomplishing this, the author found it necessary to “enter to some extent, and with some minuteness, upon the history of the Puritans and of their times; to trace their progress from the discovery of one important principle to another; to exhibit them in their sufferings; to trace the pilgrims in their wanderings to their landing upon these then desolate shores.” To these lectures is appended a review of “Puritanism," "or a Churchman's Defense against its aspersions, by Thos. W. Coit, D. D., Rector of Trinity Church, New Rochelle, N. Y.The careful reading of these lectures has satisfied us that Mr. Hall has performed, well and thoroughly, the task which he imposed upon himself in their aim, general outline, and execution, and made us feel that it is a pleasant thing to see the light—that it is much more pleasant to see the sun of truth in all his beauty, than to stand in the twilight-upon the dim line which separates between twilight and darkness, so dimly that it can not be perceived where darkness ends or twilight begins. It is refreshing, in the present time, to meet and converse with one who is so intimate with the history of, and so fully in sympathy with, such men and such principles as Mr. Hall here so ably vindicates ;

* OTHER AUTHORITIES.—Neal's History of the Puritans ; Macaulay's History of England; Hodge’s History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States ; Foot's Sketches of Virginia and North Carolina ; Princeton Review, January, 1850.

« ZurückWeiter »