to see a party playing cards not far from where the preacher stood, and to hear the profane oath or the vulgar jest as you came from the place of prayer, and visitors would be, naturally, greatly shocked at this state of things.
But I suspect that during the most powerful revivals in our towns and cities, now, precisely the same state of things constantly exists, only green blinds or stained glass hide the view, and church walls obstruct the sound.
In the camps all was open, and could be seen and heard.
There is no doubt that many of the professions of religion in the army were spurious.
This has been true in every revival— from the days of Judas Iscariot and Simon Magus
—and it was not to be expected that our army work would prove an exception.
And yet I do not hesitate to affirm—and think that I can abundantly prove—that the revivals in our camps were as genuine works of grace as any that occur in our churches at home— that as large a proportion of the converts proved the reality of their professions as in any revivals which the world ever saw. I content myself with this calm statement, though I believe that the facts would justify my putting it much more strongly.
The very material of which our congregations were composed was a safeguard against undue animal excitement in the meetings.
We had not women and children, but men
to deal with—men who were accustomed to go into the ‘leaden and iron hail of battle,’ and to face death every day, and who could not have been ‘scared into religion,’ even if the preachers had tried to do so.
Besides, there were ministers of every denomination and of different temperaments co-operating together, and if one were disposed to get up any undue excitement, or to use improper ‘machinery,’ another would have restrained him.
The Old School Synod of Virginia
, in its ‘Narrative of the State
of Religion,’ says: ‘The history of the world and of the Church
presents few things more extraordinary than the work of God in the army.
An army has generally been considered a school of vice.
It is the very profession of a soldier to kill and destroy.
How can the sensibilities fail to be hardened, and the moral perceptions to be blunted?
Removed from the happy influences of the Church
, and from the refining, sustaining, elevating ’