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Shame on any citizen, in these times, who has not a mind too patriotic for partisan strife ! shame on any nominal Christian who has not a heart too large for sectarian controversy! I believe to-day is not the day for any discussion, but how best we can save our country and save souls ; that among citizens there are only two classes, - patriots and traitors ; among believers, only two classes also, those who love God and Christ and man, and those who love them not. This love of the Father and his Son and our brother man, — this is the threefold cord which cannot be broken’; for it is vital religion, — the bond which connects the soul of man to his God, and with all that is goodly or may be made such.
"Every Sabbath, I now preach in the morning at the Hygeia Hospital, just outside the fortress, where I have been appointed as chaplain pro tem.; and in the afternoon, in the encampment of my own regiment, whose service I never make subordinate to any other duty. The attendance by the regiment is nearly, if not quite universal, and a more quiet, decorous congregation I would not ask. The men are mustered into their respective companies, and, led by their officers, march to the parade-ground, where they form a hollow square. In the centre a rude platform is erected, on which the chaplain stands. The officers and soldiers are generally furnished, by the liberality of the Unitarian Association, with the Army Melodies, from which they sing. These simple and cheerful strains are better adapted to the soldier than any
formal tunes. They evidently enjoy them; and from every tent, at night, you will hear the soldiers singing Homeward Bound,' Joyfully,' 'Freedom's Era,' The Star-Spangled Banner,' We are Marching On,' etc. Nothing is more refining and elevating, nothing more religious in its tendency, than good music, when accompanying patriotic or devout words ; at least, this has been my experience among the soldiers here and at the hospital, and in other regiments with whom it has been my fortune to come in contact.
“But the instrumentality which at present seems most potent for good, is the social conference and prayer meeting. This is held in front of my tent every evening, and is as orderly, and more numerously attended than any vestry-meeting in New England.
“We conduct it rather differently from any other with which I am acquainted. The first half-hour is devoted to hearing from the chaplain an account of what is going on in the great world from which we are comparatively isolated. Few soldiers can afford to take any daily papers, or buy those which occasionally are brought to our camp. It seems to me a part of my duty to inform them of any items which come to my knowledge, whether of a national or literary nature. Above all, any news from dear old Massachusetts, and best-beloved Middlesex County, where our homes are, is welcome indeed. Then we spend about ten minutes in conversation as to topics upon which the chaplain can give counsel, — how the soldier can safely transmit money to wife or mother, how break himself of a habit of profanity, or any one of a hundred questions he desires to ask. Perhaps he wants to tell, himself, some news from the quiet town from whence he and his company come. After these few minutes' talk are over, there is a decorous silence, broken at last by the voice of prayer; and then an hour is spent in prayer and conference, and in frequent singing of familiar hymns from the Melodies. Both officers and soldiers participate in these meetings, several of the captains and lieutenants being members of churches."
The discomfort at first experienced from lack of a place of worship was soon obviated. The Chaplain writes :
“Our friends in Boston have just sent to me a beautiful chapel-tent for religious services. It is to be dedicated next
Sunday, and the various regimental and naval chaplains in this vicinity are to take part in the services. The soldiers are preparing wreaths of the holly, with its ruby berries, and live-oak, with its brilliant leaf and delicate acorns. Bouquets of tea-roses, and other flowers still blooming here in the open air, will also grace the tent on this occasion. I have felt that, being set apart for sacred uses, it should be consecrated by a regular dedication service. I assure you that no congregation ever felt more grateful than my army congregation, that they have now a place of shelter from rain or heat or cold, or the unwholesome evening air. We shall not usually need it for day-services while the weather is as pleasant as now; but it will grow colder; the chilly sea-winds will soon sweep over this exposed Point Comfort, and our evening prayermeetings were already impracticable till this tent came.”
This chapel-tent, which the Chaplain, in a home letter, calls “his pride and his joy," was the first Lord's tabernacle pitched among the army tents during the war of the Rebellion, and it was suitably consecrated with exercises which the Chaplain thus describes :
“ Yesterday was a noteworthy day with the Sixteenth Massachusetts Regiment, for on it we dedicated our beautiful tabernacle tent. This tent was presented to us by various patriotic and benevolent citizens of Boston, who desire that religious services may not necessarily be suspended during the sultry heat of summer, or during the fall of the rain, so copious in Virginia, and that our evening prayer and temperance meetings may not necessarily be held in the open air. The subscriptions were secured by a most excellent lady, and she receives the grateful acknowledg. ments of our entire regiment. The day of dedication was also Forefathers' Day (Dec. 22), which was very appropriate
for a Massachusetts regiment, having their tabernacle in the wilderness, as did their fathers. The presence of Hon. Charles R. Train, Representative in Congress from that district of our State from which the entire regiment comes, was most opportune. As his stay could only be for a few hours, and the dedication of an army tent is a patriotic as well as religious occasion, our chaplain cordially invited him to make one of the addresses, which he did in a most eloquent and acceptable manner, and in a spirit every way appropriate to the solemn service.
“ Both army and navy chaplains participated in the exercises. The chaplains were representatives of nearly every sect, including Roman Catholic, but there was entire harmony, and a sweet blending of devout sentiment, and Christian, patriotic utterance. Chaplains from North and South East and West, were there, and from sea and shore, yet no discordant note was uttered. The tabernacle tent was trimmed with holly and live-oak wreaths and crosses, made by the soldiers with a taste which would have surprised our female friends. The ladies of the Hygeia Hospital, who were present, contributed a beautiful cross of mingled evergreen and flowers. Our regimental band played the “Star-Spangled Banner' admirably, and the regimental choir sang the hymns written for the occasion in a manner which elicited, as it deserved, much praise. Rev. Mr. Fuller's dedication discourse was founded on the text in Isaiah iv. 6,— And there shall be a tabernacle, for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge and for a covert from storm and rain.'”*
* The hymns for the dedication are in a vein suited to the occasion. The first is from the pen of Dr. O. Evarts, Surgeon of the Twentieth Indiana Regiment.
“ From home and kindred far away,
Upon this soil we bend the knee,
Thy children still, - we look to Thee!
The house of worship having been obtained, an army church was organized.
“ An Army Christian Association has been formed in the Sixteenth Massachusetts Regiment, at Camp Hamilton, near the fortress, which promises most beneficent results. It supplies the place of our parish and church organizations at home, and gives the chaplain of the regiment some reliable coadjutors in his religious duties. The members of churches scattered throughout a regiment find some nucleus about which they can rally, and thus become identified as Christian disciples. Soldiers also longing to break from the thraldom of sin, and feeling as never before the need of being Christians, find here a home and sympathy and loving watch-care. I look upon it as the most important movement of a moral and religious nature yet inaugurated in the regiment. It receives not only professing Christians into its fold, but all who desire to be guided by Christian principles; nor is
“No love of self, no lust of power,
Nor greed of gold, hath brought us here;
We come to see thy light appear.
And our first love be love for Thee!
May make us, also, truly free!
Nor in this tent, - nor in this field, -
O bear us off upon thy shield!”
“ To Christians in New England homes,
Where sons of pilgrims love to dwell,
Up to your tents, O Israel!'
Nor arm of flesh, nor human skill;