John T Wightman.

The glory of God, the defense of the South. A discourse delivered in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Yorkville, S.C., July 28th, 1861, the day of national thanksgiving for the victory at Manassas online

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Online LibraryJohn T WightmanThe glory of God, the defense of the South. A discourse delivered in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Yorkville, S.C., July 28th, 1861, the day of national thanksgiving for the victory at Manassas → online text (page 1 of 2)
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YORKVILLE. S. C. JULY 28, lS(il,







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Single 'copies hy vvail, J^.'T cents; five copies, $1.00.






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YORKVILLE, S. C, JULY 28, 1861,










'YORKViLLE, S. C, July 29th, 1861.

Rev. John T. Wightman :
DEak Sir, — The undersigned were appointed a committee, in behalf o^ a large number of

the congregation who heard your sermon last Sabbath, at this place, delivered in pursuance, to

the resolution of the Congress of the Confederate States, inviting our people to offer united

thanksgiving and jsraise to the Most High for the glorious victory \vith which he crowned our

arms at Manassas, to request of you a copy for publication.
The undersigned take great pleasure in discharging this duty, and in making known to you

the high appteciation in which your effort was held, and in joining their personal solicitation

in requesting a copy at your earliest convenience.


LiNCOLNViLLB, N. C, August 3d, 1861.
To Messrs. W. J. Clawson, P. B. Darwin, and others :

Gento;men, — Your courteous communication, requesting the publication of the discourse
delivered the Sabbath appointed for national thanksgiving, was received. It would be impos-
sible to reproduce the phraseology, as it was delivered without a written line, yet I will en-
deavor to follow the track of the argument, and with cheerful reluctance yield to your bett«r
judgment by laying it as an humble tribute on the altar of our native land.

Very respectfully,


■^' -'-'" ■ • ^ -


lorn of md, {\\t jjcfcnsc of He $ouiIi.

•* And the Lord will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon her assem-
blies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the
glory shall be a defense." — Isa. iv. 5.

The office of a Christian minister is to preacli repentance. Yet
he has dif ine warrant in overshadowing the nation with the " bur-
den of prophecy." Even He who came to redeem, paused on his
mission to shed patriotic tears over Jerusalem. Tlie ambassador of
tlie Prince of Peace should not needlessly rush into the storm of
battle, or into the angry debates of the forum,' yet he should studi-
ously point the eye of the nation to the cloudy pillar of Providence
distilling blessings on " the dwelling-places of Mount Zion," and
leading the host to " triumph gloriously."

Happy are we in possessing rulers who fear God. One month
since, the nation was invoked to gird itself in sackcloth and to offer
sacrifice to Almighty God. To-day, in answer to that prayer, from
the banks of the Potomac to the waters of the Gulf, the atmos-
phere is thick with the incense of praise. " Happy is that people
whose God is the Lord.

A recognition of the hand of God is a nation's defense. Blind
infidelity ^es nations, as fragments of a dismembered^ globe, dis-
tractedly drifting through history, without common design in their
successive periods of being, or in the objects of their mission. But
Christianity discovers them, as the tribes of Israel, each performing
a distinct office, yet the whole, guided by the light of a common Prov-
idence, marching toward universal civilization. " God hath made of
one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and

hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their
habitations." Nations belong to time, not to eternity, " where there
is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barba-
rian, Scythian, bond nor free : but Christ is all, and in all." We
must, therefore, search the history of present events for the place
and mission of the South. Could we discover these, could we in
our wanderings and our wars folloAv the pillar and the cloud, the
glory of God would be a defense.

The race of man, like the river of Eden, " parted, and became
into four heads." The first was the Hebrew ; " unto them were
committed the oracles of God," and they became " the schoolmas-
ter to bring us to Christ." The germ of religion was lodged in the
heart of the Hebrew. But there it was locked up in an unknown
language. If, therefore, its laws be promulgated and its Messianic
prophecies kindle hope among nations, they must be transferred to
a universal tongue. Two hundred years before the Advent, Alex-
ander, by his conquests, took up the meshes of the net of Greek
civilization and spread them from the borders of the Mediterranean
to the banks of the Ganges, giving universal language and litera-
ture to the East. This produced the Greek Scriptures, which an-
nounced Messiah in the most nervous and elegant tongue of the
globe. But the Cross was erected at the confluence of three civil-
izations. The superscription was written in Greek, and Latin, and
Hebrew. Fifty years before the Advent, the victories of Caesar
gathered the nations of the East under the wings of the Roman
eagle. That eagle " seized on Africa at the point of Carthage, and
Greece at the Isthmus of Corinth, and turned his eye still further
toward the sun." Pompey passed into Judea over the same ford
Joshua crossed, and from that hour it became a Roman province. He
swept the Mediterranean of pirates and opened commerce between
every town on its margin. These conquests, by giving civil organ-
ization to the dismembered continent, and by spreading over it the
aegis of Roman authority, introduced and protected Christianity.
Paul exclaimed, " I am a Roman ; " it was a gateway through dun-
geons, and a passport to the pillars of Hercules.

But Christianity was not yet equipped for its mission. The tardy
inachinery of the old world was too cumbersome to cross the heart
of a great desert, or to fly over oceans lying beyond the sun. Thus,
the Germanic, the last great race, sprang into being not only with
the religion, and the literature, and the organization of former
races, but with nerves of fire, and sinews of steel, and a great heart
to throw tli£se energies across the globe. The hand of Providence
placed under the control of this race the compass, the press, steam,
machinery, and agricultural resources in successive periods of time
best calculated to spread Christianity. If the Hebrew be the re-
ligious heart, the Greek the intellectual head, the Roman the all-
conquering arm, then the Germanic race is the feet of humanity —
the restless, winged feet, carrying the ark through a desert world
to illumine man's pathway to IMount Zion above. "How beauti-
ful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things." Eze-
kiel, in his vision of the " four living creatures " that moved the
complex "wheels" of Providence, on which rested the "sapphire
throne " with its "bow of brightness round about," seems to sym-
bolize in the " man," the " lion," the " ox," and the " eagle," the
attributes of four great races mystically united in carrying forward
Messiah's chariot, whose track was to lay the path-svay of truth
clear as crystal, and whose flight was to spread a rainbow over the
gloom of the world.

From this general survey fix your eye on one spot, the belt of
cotton States, and inquire what position they occupy in the inter-
play of the wheels of Providence ? As a family of the Germanic
race, they have a mission in common with the other branches, each
in its own sphere. Germany, England, and the North move each in
an independent, and in a common circle of labor ? What, then, is
ours ? Is the South to play a subordinate part to one of these pow-
ers ? or does she possess independent attributes qualifying her for
an independent office ? Here are inexhaustible agricultural treas-
ures which the world demands, and which are deposited in no other
spot from pole to pole. True, it were a benign office to be the com-
missariat of mankind ; true, on the temporary suspension of these

supplies, processions of mothers and children stagger through the
streets of New York howHng for bread ; true, ships are rotting in
the sea-gates of commerce, and milHons of operatives in Europe are
clamoring for work, with hungry graves before their eyes more
clamorous to receive them ; true, the splendid capitol of the United
States already begins to fulfill the prophecy : " the cormorant and
the bittern shall possess it ; the owl also, and the raven shall dwell
In it ; and he shall stretch out upon it the line of confusion and the
stones of emptiness ; " true, the crown heads of civihzation are in
dismay, the foundations of two hemispheres shake with the death
throes of commerce, and ancient cities stand aghast at the prospect-
ive picture of a naked and hungry winter ; yet I rise to a sublime
aspect of our position. What are the civil and the moral influences
created by five hundred millions of capital, annually produced and
kept in circulation by cotton alone ? What other people throws in-
to the channels of trade, for the benefit of mankind, so large a con-
tribution? Here is the chief source of commerce, which carries
along with it civilization and Christianity, adorning nations with
splendid cities and giving growth to institutions of letters and of re-
ligion. Our labor interpenetrates the heart of civilization. " Cot-
ton is king." It balances the powers of nations and adjusts liberty
with sovereignty. No elective government can cohere without it
(or an equivalent), .because it keeps power in the hands of the till-
ers of the soil and preserves the purity of the ballot-box. The
workmen of the North are driftins; into agrarian licentiousness, and
their rules are forced, as a check, into centralizing despotism.
There is no reserve power in the hands of conservative masses to
check and balance these extremes. Tariff and taxation are becom-
ing the strength of government rather than the products of in-
dustry and the morals of the people. In this the South is superior.
Her agriculture has sliaped her policy of government and consti-
tuted the States not the fractions of a unit, but the units of an inte-
gral. This adjustment of power happily allies the liberty of the
people witli the strength of government.

The cotton States occupy a position still more commanding.


Across them runs the breakwater to Papal and Pagan aggression.
The trade-ship, freighted with their weahh, becomes a winged sanc-
tuary carrying Bibles and missionaries to every land ; the manufac-
tory, propelled by their profits, weaves the web of the social fabric ;
and the cylinder of the press, turned by their springs of industry,
throws off churches, and colleges, and colossal intellects. The cot-
ton trade keeps the Bible and the press under the control of Protes-

Discovery and conquest, language and literature, have added do-
mains to the kingdom of Christ, but the fields of the South have
built the bulwarks of Zion, equipped missionaries, evangelized Afri-
ca, touched a thousand springs of benevolence, and gathered within
the bosom of the church inexhaustible reservoirs of wealth and
power. Blight the South, and Christianity falls paralyzed on her
altars. Enrapturing visions break on the gaze of the prophet, and
strangely does he connect the triumphs of the gospel with the
products of the soil. " The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the
rose. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of
the deaf shall be unstopped. The parched ground shall become a
pool ; in the habitation of dragons shall be gi-ass with reeds and
rushes ; and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion
with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads." If the prophecy
be symbolical, yet it applies with the wonderful fitness of truth to
the redemption of our " wilderness," " desert " islands and river
swamps, to our rice deltas covered like a " pool," to our meadows
of " grass " and our fields of " reed "-like cotton. The South lays
her " first fruits " on the altar of Christianity, and her institution is
" the garden of the Lord."

I These elements of power were not accumulated by fraud or strat-
agem in trade, policy in congress, or even by the device, or wis-

] dom, or prowess of her sons. They are the gifts of God. The
pillar of cloud dropped fertilizing dew on our soil, and the pillar of

I fire brought across the ocean the only tillers who could survive pes-
tilence, and wring from the sod the blooms of silver and harvests of
gold. God blessed our land, and gave to Ham the privilege of mit-

igating his " curse " by spreading Christianity with the labor of his
hands. Simon of Cyrene bore the cross of Jesus.

If this be our mission, " the glory of God shall be a defense.'"
No invader shall wrench from Christianity her happy laborers, no
tread of armies turn into dust and ashes the " bloom of the wilder-
ness " and the turrets of Zion, without breaking the scheme of uni-
versal Providence, and wounding that Almighty Hand, the shield
of our happy people.

But the links of Providence are cycle within cycle, events mov-
ing events. In searching for traces of the finger of God, the stu-
dent will often discover in a single event the germ of a nation's his-
tory and a hint of the eternal mind. Like the geologist who gathers
a pebble on the sea-shore, and from its wave-cut hieroglyphics deci-
phers the great laws at play in the bosom of the mighty deep, so
the student of Providence may trace a single touch of the finger of
God in the history of a nation back to the one all-pervading mind.
In discovering this in the dramatic movements of present history,
we assume an axiom, Providence never violates law. If natural law
be broken, God governs the world by miracle, — if moral, by sin.
In vain do we attempt to discover the guidance and defense of
Heaven in the abrogation of immutable principles.

The eminence of the South is the result of her domestic slavery,
the feature which gives character to her history, and which mar-
shals the mighty events now at work for her defense and perpetu-
ity. Following the guidance of Providence she was led to the lively
oracles, whence she received her laws and institutions from the
hand of God. Her constitution received the finishing touch of
Christian statesmen, and reflects the accumulated wisdom of ages.
It was not extempore. It was the slow crystallization of truth, jus-
tice, and benevolence into a massive bulwark for the defense of
Christian libei'ty. Her peculiar institution has for its warrant the
examj^le of patriarchs and prophets, the decalogue and institution
of Moses, the approval of apostles, and, above all, the sanction and
smile of the Son of God. In the sixth chapter of Ephesians, Paul
declares it to be according to the " will of God," " servants be obe-


dient to them that are your masters, according to the flesh ; as the
servants of Christ, doing the mil of Grod from the heart." Here
is the defense of the South, " the will of God." Her government
is built on the Bible. Let Pharaoh descend with chariots of Egypt,
the guiding pillar will become darkness and terror to our foes, but
a pathway of glory to Israel. Under the overshadowing wings of
its providence, our people have gathered with miraculous unanimity
to lay the foundation of government, and our broad land of sea-
coast and rice deltas and mountain coves, teeming with millions of
happy slaves, sleeps in unbroken tranquillity amid the shout of can-
non and the tread of advancing legions. God is here. Bayonets
do not legislate for us, nor standing armies crush with the weight
of cannon the uprising of disloyal masses. The pillar of fire is po-
lice and pilot. While government and religion are disintegrating
at the North, deeper principles arc penetrating the heart of the
South, solidifying laws, developing resources, stretching out new
lines of commerce, and throwmg around the land a girdle of man-
ufactories, colleges, and churches. Neither banks, nor merchants,
nor planters are failing, but our heaven-planted land " of wheat,
and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates," waves from
the Rio Grande to the Potomac with better harvests than of gold,
and the clouds are dropping new title-deeds to cities more splendid
than crowned Achaia's brow, and to plains more ample and fertile
than Palestina's vales.

Nor are these splendid prizes to become the spoil of the North
either by conquest or compromise. Two nations struggled together
in the womb, and now the hand of God has severed every cord, —
civil, social, and religious, — and is converting the South into a
financial and national scourge to an infidel, avaricious, and blood-
thirsty North. Our statesmen have devised a scheme to lay
tribute on the world to support the war, and to establish an inde-
pendent government. Our granaries and Avarehouses are under
the key of a policy which will make our enemies lick the dust, and
the sun and moon of Europe do obeisance to the evening star


emerging from the smoke of battle with a brilliancy that casts the
radiance of hope over the whole horizon of Christianity.

If there be a heart not made of stone, if there be an eye not
seared with infidelity, that eye must see the hand of God in the
confluence of events, and that heart must swell with exultation at
the smile of Providence, coA^ering like a cloud the dwelling-places
of our people, and leading the South along the pathway to the
highest culmination of Christian civilization.

But we approach the cause more directly appropriate for this day
of national thanksgiving. No work of God, no reformation can be
accomplished without resistance, revolution, and blood. If we turn
to Moses, Luther, or Washington, we see that hardened supersti-
tions, obdurate vices, and oppressive tyranny only could be revo-
lutionized by the blood of martyrs. Even he who won our liberty
on the cross died in the achievement. It were, therefore, vain to
hope that deluded men, inflamed by ambition or a thirst for spoils,
would permit the South peaceably to assume her sovereignty, and
to gather within her bosom the products of her labors. In vain did
she hold out the olive-branch, in vain offer compromise, in vain
delay, entreat, almost kneel down at the feet of the Republican
President, still a policy was inaugurated to plunder her revenue
by tariff virtually without representation ; her sovereignty was de-
nied, her valor ridiculed, her religion spit upon, and this was made
legal by almost every Northern commonwealth abrogating the
constitution, and by installing into the chief magistracy a blind and
infatuated power that in madness rends the pillars of democratic
liberty, invades the Soutli, confiscates her property, blockades her
ports, burns her cities, insults her daughters by a mercenary and
brutal soldiery, and threatens to subjugate, enslave, and annihilate
her sons. Well might the South spring to arms, indignant that the
foot of a tyrant should be put on her neck. Her cause is holy.
She has not thrown herself into the bloody arena for conquest or
ambition. No ; not a cent of revenue, not an inch of soil does she
covet ; but, with a conviction that her inherent rights are invaded,


she animates her sons with the war-cry of Nehemiah to oppressed
Israel : " Remember the Lord which is great and terrible, and
fight for your brethren, your sons and your daughters, your wives
and your houses." Think you, " the God of Gideon, and of Barak,
and of Samson, and of Jephtha^ of David also," will permit an
alien foot to burn up the fields that clothe Christianity for the
skies ? Think you, the angel in the cloudy pillar, who scatters the
corn of heaven over our tents and vales, will allow the vermin and
reptile that crawl from the dens and dungeons of the North to eat
up holy bread sent to nourisli the bearers of the ark ? Think you,
any alliance of armies and navies could annihilate the chief agents
of Christianity, the press and steam ; how, then, cut the sinews of
slavery that give life and energy to these agents? Think you, a
just God will allow Northern swords to cut up and despoil the
South, blot out her liberty, paralyze civilization, annihilate inalien-
able rights, and blast the plans of Providence issuing in the univer-
sal triumphs of Christianity ? What would be gained thereby ?
Could the South accomplish her mission shorn" of her strength by
union with the North, or crushed beneath a military despotism ?
She must triumph, and become independent. God will defend his
providence, vindicate his decrees, and blast every attempt to
abolish the institutions of the South that create harmonious inter-
play" and dependence among nations, and equip Christianity for her
celestial mission. His eye leveled the cannon that reduced Fort
Sumter and asserted her independence. And when the invader
with hooting and somersets came to Bethel, exclaiming, " we will
throw down our rifle and meet them with corn-stalks," the angel
in the cloud looked in the face of the foe and a thousand lay dead
on the field. The " grand army " advanced to Manassas, with
bugle and banner and banquet, moving before it walls of iron and
forests of bayonets ; chivalric knights, and cautious congressmen,
and gallant blades, and gay women throngeJ from the capital,,
dancing with merry wine to grace the triumph. Onward it rolled
in the pomp and circumstance of war, with cannon and carriages
and handcuffs labeled " for Richmond." At Sabbath sunrise.


flushed with anticipated victory and bloated with lust, solid col-
umns pusli forward, flanked by artillery and supported by reserve,
but the angel in the pillar of fire flashed the watchword along our
battle fine,

" Strike — for your altars and your fires;
Strike — for the green graves of your sires;
God — and your native land,"

and ere that sun had set veteran columns melted away, batteries
were taken, congressmen captured, flying horsemen and panic-
stricken battalions, and imbecile generals, and terrified women
" fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, even
the camp as it was, and they fled unto Jordan ; and lo, all the way
was full of garments and vessels which the Syrians had cast away
in their haste." "• Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in
power ; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy."
" They said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil :
my lust shall be satisfied on them ; I will draw my sword, my hand
shall destroy them. Thou didst bloAV with thy wind, the sea
covered them ; they sank as lead in the mighty A^'aters."

The ingenuity of the North cannot find a pretext for these disas-
ters. What power overawed a formidable fleet that lay six miles
from Fort Sumter during the engagement? and precipitately
threw back the vain-boasting columns of Butler ? and struck with
causeless panic the steel-clad legions that fled from Manassas?
There is but one cause. Terror seized the enemy in each instance ;
for " the Lord looked through the pillar of fire and of the cloud and
troubled the host."

Need we further proof of God's providence ? that our cause is
just ? that the South shall triumph ? I see through the gloom of
war a nation springing into being, disinthralled, and equipped with
Christianity. I see that nation, with its sinewy arm, moving the
globe, and with eveVy beat of its heart sending out tides of com-
merce, like rivers of life, to bear on their bosoms the hopes and
fortunes of humanity. The triumphs of Christianity rest, this very
hour, on slavery ; and slavery depends on the triumph of the South.


The hand of God has severed tliis nation to perpetuate this institu-
tion, and is inflicting judicial punishment on a people who have
attempted to violate his decree: "Ham shall be a bondsman."
The war is the servant of slavery. As the atmosphere may be-
come so loaded with pestilence that nothing but lightning can
disinfect it, so the sword seems necessary to draw off the bloated


Online LibraryJohn T WightmanThe glory of God, the defense of the South. A discourse delivered in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Yorkville, S.C., July 28th, 1861, the day of national thanksgiving for the victory at Manassas → online text (page 1 of 2)