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[314]

After preaching on Sunday morning, 12th inst., at Dr. Boyd's church, and watching, when we came out, the passage along the street of nearly 400 prisoners, I stopped to speak to a wounded soldier. They were occupying the basement of the church as a hospital, and the men, disliking the close room, were lying everywhere, in the enclosure before the church, and on the steps, and in the vestibule. So it is at all churches, and one never goes in or out among these poor fellows, lying on their pallets or blankets, wounded or sick, without thinking of the Pool of Bethesda. The one mentioned I simply happened, as we say, to pass by and notice. He was from Georgia. In response to my inquiry, he said he was not a Christian, but wished he was. His parents were pious, but mighty hard “(Hard Shells);” for his part, he liked to hear all denominations preach, and he had for a long time been trying and laboring to be a Christian. I sought to explain to him the way of salvation, and he listened most earnestly. Presently I was interrupted a moment by one of the ladies who were waiting on the wounded, and then turning to this man, I gave him my hand to take leave. But he held my hand hard, and said: “Stop a little. Pray for me, won't you? I want to be a Christian. My dear mother died two years ago, after I entered the army. She had six sons that enlisted; four of them are dead, a fifth was wounded at second Manassas, and is a cripple at home; and here am I, and I remember the last words my father spoke to me: he said, ‘My son, I want you to be a praying boy.’ I've tried to do it, but I'm very wicked, and deserve God's wrath. You seem to care something for me—now pray for me, won't you?” He sat up on his blanket, drawing his wounded foot toward him, and I sat by his side. There were soldiers lying all around, and people passing in every direction, and noisy confusion in the street close by, but I never in my life felt more deeply that prayer is a living and precious reality. And when I arose, he took my hand himself, and said, “Now you have prayed for me once—won't you remember me and pray for me still?” There had been nothing remarkable in this man's appearance; he was a hale, heartylooking soldier; and I walked away thinking how many there doubtless are of these poor fellows whom one sees everywhere by hundreds, that would in like manner reveal to an enquirer an anxious concern for their salvation, retained in some cases for months and years. There is no mistake about it that a


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