(Article for publication week of 4-16- AD 2015)
"O LORD, I have heard Thy speech and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2)
Considering that the Month of April is Confederate Heritage Month here in our dear State, I have been impressed to write this month on the great Revival in the Confederate Armies. My purpose is at least fourfold. First to give glory to God, as must be our first great end in all things. God gets glory in saving sinners and the records indicate that there were possibly as many as 150,000 hopeful conversions in the Confederate Armies during the War; secondly, to encourage the Remnant of truly saved among our Readers to pray for Revival and Spiritual Awakening in our day; thirdly, to urge the unconverted among our readers to seek the Lord while He may be found; and fourthly to vindicate and honour our forefathers who fought to defend their homes and families from a foreign invader. Most of the facts that I am giving you in this series of articles are drawn from two important books which every Southerner and every Christian should read. The first of these is "Christ in the Camp" written by Brother J William Jones who served as chaplain of the 13the Virginia Regiment. The second is "The Great Revival in the Southern Armies" written by Dr. William W. Bennett who was superintendent of the Soldier Tract Association.
One the first things that is noted by these two preachers is that the Great Revival was preceded by, and attended with much prayer, as is always true when God sends a revival. Our sovereign God is pleased to use prayer as a means of accomplishing His will (Philippians 1:19). The Southern Baptist Convention in 1863 adopted these resolutions: "Resolved, That it is the sense of this body, that the field opened in our Army for pious labour is one of the most important that can be opened at present; and that the Providence of God calls loudly on His people to make prompt and vigourous efforts to secure the services of chaplains, and to send forth missionaries and colporters into the field. Resolved, That the pastors of our churches be, and are hereby, earnestly requested to bring this subject prominently and frequently to the attention of their people; and also the duty of constant supplication of the Divine Blessing upon such labours among our soldiers, that we may be obedient to the sacred commandment, 'whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.' " Prayers went up from the churches back home not only for physical safety, but for the salvation of souls.
Next to be noted is the prayer meetings that began to be held in the camps often led by the many Christian officers in the Confederate Armies. The piety of men like General Robert E Lee who professed, "I am but a poor sinner trusting in Christ Alone," and General Stonewall Jackson who was always praying, and was instrumental in the conversion of General Ewell is well known. But there were many other Christian officers in the Confederate Armies. Brother Jones relates this concerning General John B. Gordon of Georgia; "He was accustomed to lead prayer-meetings in his command, and during seasons of special revival I have heard him, with eloquent words and tearful eyes, make appeals to his men to come to Christ, and have seen him go off into the woods with his arms about some ragged private, that he might point him to the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.' " But one of the most wonderful accounts of prayer that Brother Jones relates in his book is an account of some slaves on a plantation in Texas holding a prayer meeting and praying for their master who had gone to the War.
The Great Revival Among the Confederate Armies was, like all revival preceded by and attended with much prayer. Once again I urge the Remnant among our readers to unite in fervent prayer for genuine revival that saints may be refreshed and strengthened, that sinners might be converted, that backsliders may be reclaimed, and that false professors (especially lost preachers) might be saved. "O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years."