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[165] what had been effected by colportage labors among the soldiers.

Rev. Robert Ryland, D. D., colporter for the hospitals of this city gave a deeply interesting narrative of his labors. He had found the inmates of our hospitals eager to receive instruction. Sometimes they had professed to be greatly benefited by the tracts, and often sent for him to come again. An invalid remarked to him, that prior to his entering the army he had enjoyed religion, and had been a member of the Presbyterian Church; but, surrounded by the vices of the camp, he had become a backslider and lost all religious enjoyment. After frequent conversations he became much interested in his soul's salvation, sent for the colporter again and again, and before his death expressed himself perfectly resigned to the will of God. Other facts and incidents of much interest were narrated.

He was followed by John Randolph Tucker, Esq., in a speech of great power and eloquence. Mr. Tucker thought it augured well for the country that such an immense audience had assembled, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, to consider the spiritual wants of our army. We are passing through the most momentous era in the history of this country. The year 1861 was filled with victories and covered Southern arms with imperishable glory; but from the beginning of this year we have met with nothing but disaster. Every message brought over the telegraph but tells of some new defeat. Why is this? Up to the battle of Manassas our whole people were prostrate before God in prayer. The speaker had met with many on the street with prayer trembling on their lips, while tears of penitence filled their eyes. Now, those men have upon their lips blasphemous oaths, and their eyes are never turned to God for His blessing. After the great victory of Manassas we ceased to realize our dependence on heaven; and nothing was more common than to hear such expressions as, “We can whip the Yankees any way.” Greed and avarice have taken possession of the hearts of many, while in every portion of the Confederacy distilleries have been springing up, until now the whole land groans under the liquid poison which is sweeping so many of our soldiers into the grave. Our streets are blocked up with men made drunk by the distilleries. How dare we expect the blessing of God when such things are tolerated? It is the decree of heaven that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach ”

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