EXCERPTS FROM CHAPTER ONE
CHRIST IN THE CAMP
This book was purchased in 1994 when we were visiting the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park while travelling in the Eastern part of the United States. The copy of the book which I have was printed by Sprinkle Publications, P. O. Box 1094, Harrisonburg, VA 22801. The book contains photos of men such as Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis and others which make the events even more real and enjoyable. Hopefully, these short excerpts will whet your appetite for more. A downloadable pdf of this book may be obtained at http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6918752M/Christ_in_the_camp. Sadly the pdf does not have the photos.
The book was written by J. William Jones, former Chaplin in Army of Northern Virginia. J. William Jones was an ordained Baptist minister who was preparing to leave for China when the Civil War broke out. He enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army but in a year he began serving as a chaplain. Christ in the Camp is the result of Jones’ reports of the ongoing revival that he had witnessed among the Confederate troops.
The first Copyright was 1887, by B. F. Johnson & Co. In the Preface the author writes “It may be proper to add that, while the book is written by an ardent Confederate, who does not pretend to conceal warm Confederate sympathies, everything has been scrupulously avoided which could reasonably give offense from either sectional or sectarian bias.” Having said that he goes on to state that he sends forth the book “with the earnest hope that it may prove acceptable to many at the North as well as the South, with the fervent prayer that it may be useful in leading men to Christ and in strengthening the faith and brightening the hope of true children of our loving Father, who, behind the ‘frowning providence’ of war, hid ‘a smiling face’ for those who trusted Him even in the storm.” The book is full of stories relating the preaching of the Gospel and conversions to Christ as Saviour during a time of war.
There are thirteen chapters in total and it is from these that I will draw some excerpts which I trust will help you appreciate what the Lord accomplished through men during this conflict between brother and brother. In the Introduction J. C. Cranberry, former Chaplin in the Army of Northern Virginia wrote “The only triumphs the author records are the triumphs of the cross. That so many soldiers were saved by the power of the Gospel to the praise of the riches of God’s grace is the facts in which he desires all Christians to rejoice.”
Throughout these excerpts the emphasis will be that of this editor. Page 28 begins A LETTER TO A SON IN CAMP. This is a letter from a father to his son and the father outlines his letter in six points. The father’s third point is “Try to maintain your Christian profession among your comrades. I need not caution you against strong drink as useless and hurtful, nor against profanity, so common among soldiers. Both these practices you abhor. Aim to take at once a decided stand for God. If practicable, have prayers regularly in your tent, or unite with your fellow-disciples in prayer meetings in the camp. Should preaching be accessible, always be a hearer. Let the world know that you are a Christian. Read a chapter in the New Testament which your mother gave you, every morning and evening when you can, and engage in secret prayer to God for his Holy Spirit to guide and sustain you. I would rather hear of your death than of the shipwreck of your faith and good conscience.” Oh, how America and Australia need fathers such as this TODAY! What a concern this father had for his boy who was facing death each and every day. This father’s wish was not that his boy becomes a man through fulfilling worldly passions but rather his boy keeps his heart and life right before man and God!
In point four this godly father wrote his son to “…make special associates of those whose influence on your character is felt to be good.” Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” The father wrote “Some men love to tell extravagant stories, to indulge in vulgar wit, to exult in a swaggering carriage, to pride themselves on their coarse manners, to boast of their heroism, and to give utterance to feelings of revenge against their enemy. All of this is injurious to young and impressionable minds. If you admire such things, you will insensibly imitate them, and imitation will work gradual but certain detriment to your character. Other men are refined without being affected. They can relax into occasional pleasantries, without violating modesty. They can be loyal to their governments without indulging private hatred against her foes. They can be cool and brave in battle, and not be braggarts in the absence of danger. Above all, they can be humble, spiritual, and active Christians, and yet mingle in the stirring and perilous duties of soldier life. Let these be your companions and models. You will thus return from the dangers of camp without a blemish on your name.” Oh, to be such a wise and godly father to give such counsel to your son who is living daily in such close quarters among the unsaved and at any moment might be going into the heat of battle.
The father’s sixth point was that “Providence has placed you in the midst of thoughtless and unpardoned men. What a beautiful thing it would be if you could win some of them to the Saviour! Will you not try? You will have many opportunities of speaking a word in season.”
May we who are fathers and grand-fathers read the above words and take them to heart. As the world turns whether it is war or everyday living our sons and grandsons will be facing the wiles of the devil. We ought to be deep enough in the Word and close enough to the Saviour to give such godly and wise advice!
On page 35 we read “We have plenty of men to fight, but not half enough to pray.” 2Timothy 2:3, 4 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
On page 36 this wonderful testimony is given. “Rev. Mr. Hopkins, of Martinsburg, Virginia, sends $5.00 to be appropriated to the purchase of tracts for Captain Robert White’s company, Thirteenth Regiment Virginia Volunteers. It is a thank-offering from a widowed mother, whose son died of fever at Winchester, contracted at Manassas. Up to the time of leaving home he had not made a profession of faith in Christ, although she had long dedicated him to God’s service in the ministry. But her cause of gratitude now is, that during his camp life he evinced so much devotion to reading his Bible, and for some time before his sickness had shown signs of piety, and died acknowledging his love to the Saviour, and supported by this love now ‘sleeps in Jesus.’ – Central Presbyterian.”
On page 38 we read these words “The darker the conflict the brighter the transition.” On the same page and page 38 we read “I lay both my good deeds and my evil deeds together, and flee from them to my Saviour.”
As we finish Chapter One may we purpose to be true and loyal soldiers of the cross so we too will “return from the dangers of the camp without a blemish” on our name or His!