(Article for publication week of 5-14- AD 2015)
"The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it" (Psalm 68:11).
Although Confederate Heritage Month has passed we have much more to cover regarding the Great Revival in the Confederate Army. I remind our Readers that revival is not a man made protracted meeting, but a genuine work of God's Spirit when he moves in gloriously converting multitudes and further sanctifying the Redeemed. There was such a work of the Lord during the War for Southern Independence amongst the Southern armies. As I have told you, our purpose in this series of articles is to give glory to God (as in all things), urge the lost to seek the Lord while He may be found, encourage the Lord's people to pray for Revival, and to defend the honour of our Southern Forefathers who fought for Southern Independence. In previous articles I have shown that the Revival was genuine as evidenced by its lasting effects, and that the Revival was attended with and promoted by prayer, faithful Biblical preaching, Christian unity and Godly examples. This week we continue by relating the help that was given by the many colporteurs who helped distribute Bibles, tracts, hymnals and other Christ honouring literature.
First of all it should be noted that at the beginning of the War most of the publishing houses were in the North, and the Yankee government declared Bibles and religious literature as illegal contraband and stopped such shipments to the South. But publishers in the South rose to the occasion and the South was supplied with an abundance of Bibles and Christian literature. The blockade runners also helped by bringing such needed spiritual supplies from England. The great desire in the armies for such literature prompted the supply to be met as generally works with the law of supply and demand. My point is that there was such a spiritual desire amongst the soldiers, which led to the Revival.
As somewhat of a side note, Dr J. William Jones relates in his book, "Christ in the Camp" that he met very few Confederate soldiers who could not read and write. Judge Bob Evans' book "The 16th Mississippi Infantry," which mostly contains letters from Confederate soldiers to their families and friends also shows the high literacy rate among the Confederate soldiers, as they represent a good cross section of enlisted men and officers. Contrary to the propaganda spewed forth by the government schools, the Southern people were a highly literate people. And this was before there was much tax supported education. Before Reconstruction, most people educated their children at home or in small community run schools. The early proponents of government supported and controlled education had as their chief motive the brainwashing of the citizenry to think like the government wants them to think, and they have done a good job at doing that (but that is another subject for another series of articles in the future). But I do want to make the point that the literacy rate among the Southern Soldiers blessed them to be able to read and comprehend the Bible and the Christian literature that was distributed among them.
To emphasize the way the Lord used the colportage societies I now quote from Dr. William W. Bennett who was Superintendent of the Soldiers Tract Society: "So important was the work of colportage in promoting religion among the soldiers, that we feel constrained to devote a separate chapter to it. And the pious laborers are worthy of a place among the most devoted chaplains and missionaries that toiled in the army revival. Receiving but a pittance from the societies that employed them, subsisting on the coarse and scanty fare of the soldiers, often sleeping on the wet ground, following the march of the armies through cold or heat, through dust or mud, everywhere were these devoted men to be seen scattering the leaves of the Tree of Life. ....The record of their labors is the record of the army revival. ..The aim of them all was to turn the thoughts of the soldiers not to a sect, but to Christ, to bring them into the great spiritual temple, and to show them the wonders of salvation."
Dear Christian reader I urge you to appoint yourself a committee of one and help us bring the gospel to our lost neighbours and relatives. If you would like to become a nonpaid colporteur and helper in the Cause of Christ, I can supply you with plenty of gospel tracts and booklets that will help you publish the Word of God. We need faithful public preachers, but we also need all that sit in the pews to help us advance the gospel. May the Lord favour the South with another genuine Revival.