An Established religion.
The order of the military commandant of Norfolk
expelling from the pulpits of the churches all clergymen who do not bow the knee to the Federal Baal
, and requiring that their places shall be supplied by supple tools of the Yankee
dynasty, whom the congregations are to be made to support, gives us a slight foretaste of what we have to expect should the Confederacy
be overrun by its merciless invaders.
It is not only our property that is to be taken, it is not only our lives that are to be sacrificed, but when the heart, overburdened with the woes of earth, would turn for hope and consolation to Heaven, it is to be denied that only refuge of poor humanity which never before has the most infamous and accursed of human tyrants denied.
The pulpits of the South
have been heretofore occupied by a body of clergymen who would compare favorably in talents, in purity of private life, and in devotion to their sacred calling, with any in the world.
We speak not of any one denomination.
The remark is true of all. There has been as much zeal and as little fanaticism among the Southern
clergy as among the clergy of any land under the sun. They have never been infected with the thousand isms
which have swept like a whirlwind over Puritan New England
, and yet, whilst New England
and the North
are almost submerged by infidelity, such has been the intelligent devotion of the Southern
clergy to their duties, and such the influence of their virtuous example, that the number of communicates in the South
is larger in proportion to the population than that of any other country, and the number even of negroes introduced into the Christian church larger than the whole number of converts in heathen lands made by all the foreign missions of Protestant Christendom together.
And it is such men who are to be driven from their pulpits and separated from their flocks; who are to be torn from those whom they had taught from infancy the truths of the Christian
religion; whom they had united in marriage, and the dust of whose kindred they had given to the grave, and who had dried the tears of bereavement and affliction with words of human sympathy and heavenly comfort.
These venerated teachers, counsellors, and friends are to be torn from our embrace, and their places to be supplied by howling abolition dervishes, imported from the hothed of New England
fanaticism to bellow forth a religion without either faith or works, a gospel without charity or love, and a morality which recognizes no crime but slavery.
But the Lord
of Heaven dwelled not alone in temples made by hands.
When these temples are converted into Paganshrines, when another Gospel is preached in them than that which more than eighteen centuries have brought down to this generation, we may be compelled to meet for religious worship in woods and caves, but we shall still have access to Him whose presence fills Heaven and earth, and who is a just and righteous God.
If aught were needed to fire our hearts and nerve our arms in this holy struggle for civil and religious liberty, it is found in that crowning act of despotism which has been inaugurated in the churches in Norfolk
, and which is destined to become universal in the South
as soon as our enemies have succeeded in their plans of conquest.
Let us see who will first report this lighting the fires of religious persecution; this effort to plant upon the soil of a free country the rack, the thumb screw, and the stake by the sons of those Pilgrims who pretended to come to America
for " freedom to worship God." If we mistake not the character of the Confederate
people, if indeed they have any of the feelings common to mankind, this last device of despotism will rouse to superhuman and resistless might the burning heart of the country.