Southern Messenger

"The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders - they are atheists, socialists, communists, red Republicans, Jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is a battleground - Christianity and atheism are the combatants and the progress of humanity is at stake." Rev. James Henley Thornwell

Name:
Location: Occupied South Carolina

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Republic of South Carolina

Sometime during the time of Nullification and Secession, a local smart aleck said that “South Carolina is too small to be a republic, and too large to be an insane asylum.” I’ve thought about that. It is now my opinion that his statement is at best only half right. I now take issue with the first part.
Admittedly, the World Almanac and Book of Facts has been my sole research tool to this point. But it has revealed some surprising information. For instance, South Carolina has a geographic area of 32,020 square miles. Now that doesn’t make my state quite as large as Austria (32,383), but it does show that South Carolina is almost three times as large as Belgium (11,690), twice as large as Denmark (16,639), twice as large as the Netherlands (13,082), over four times larger than Kuwait (6,880), twice as large as Switzerland (15,355), over twice as large as Taiwan (12,456), eight times larger than Lebanon (4,015) and almost twenty-five times larger than Monaco. In fact, as a result of a precursory search, I found thirty-one republics, all United Nations members, that were smaller than South Carolina. It would seem that South Carolina would not be out of place among the world’s republics, and would be far from being the smallest.
But size alone does not give authority to a geographic entity. A republic must be economically viable to stand on its own. The World Almanac and Book of Facts also provided me with the following economic information.
South Carolina’s gross state product (2004 est.) was 135.3 billion dollars. In short, South Carolinians produced over 135 billion dollars worth of marketable goods and services. That’s over five times that of Bolivia (22.3), two and one half times that of Ecuador (49.5), over twice that of Guatamala (59.5), over fifteen times that of Iceland (8.4), slightly more that Israel (129.0), six times that of Africa’s largest country, Sudan (21.5), six times that of mineral-rich Zimbabwe (24.37), and three times that of just as mineral-rich Zaire (42.7). In an equally precursory search, I found forty-four republics, among them being North Korea, Jordan, Romania, Tunisia, and Jamaica, who produced considerably less than South Carolina.
It seems that South Carolinians are some pretty hard working people. I read recently that President Bush is sending a gob of money to Kenya for relief. Kenya, once in Colonial days, was the pride of east Africa. At 246,201 square miles, it is over seven times larger than South Carolina, but despite fertile soil, great weather, and a diversity of products which include coffee, tea, corn, wheat, sugarcane, and fruit; mineral wealth including gold, limestone, soda ash, salt barites, rubies, fluorospar, and garnets; and pastures of cattle, pigs, chickens, goats and sheep, Kenya has a gross domestic product of only 34.7 billion dollars (2004 est.), almost one-fourth that of South Carolina.
It appears that South Carolina is not only large enough to be a republic, it could be one of the few republics in the world that would not have to depend on foreign aid from the United States to stay afloat.
As far as South Carolina being “too large to be an insane asylum,”…I actually think it is just about right in that matter.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Significant Difference


'If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." Mark Twain

Friday, March 24, 2006

Meet Frank


Meet Frank. One would say he is too much. He’s too rambunctious, too spontaneous, too forward, too focused, too everything but disciplined. When I exit the house in the morning he meets me at the door, usually at a run. Then he trots alongside me, stares at me, panting, and licking my hand. By now I usually say something like “get away from me, stupid,” or something else. I make a half-hearted effort to swat him away, knowing beforehand that it will not do any good. He escorts me to the barn. He does not just walk along beside me; he walks just to my front right, turned as he bounces along so that he can stare at me while he walks. He pants as he walks, not from physical exertion but from something inside him that we human tend to call “affection,” or “devotion.” I accept that. If I stop just for a second to scratch him behind his ears, he relaxes. That is until the others move in. The other dogs that is. Then he pushes forward in a “me first” drive or “I was here first attitude. He is not aggressive toward the other dogs. He just pushes in making sure I know that that he “loves” me more that the others. If I kneel, I need to assume the solid kneeling shooting position. If it’s not steady he will just roll me over. I don’t usually stop anymore. I just go on to the barn, raise the door, crank my motorcycle and back out. He does not interfere with this work. As I circle the yard and head for the road he runs beside me. On the highway as I speed up so does he. At full gallop he looks very much like a charging buffalo, except he begins barking as he reaches his peak. A few of the other dogs, namely Dudley and Nell, also attend the sending off ceremony but none surpass Frank in speed or enthusiasm. I can see him in the mirror fading back. He then turns and goes back to the house to await my arrival.

With his “Here I am! Here I am!” attitude, I suppose Frank would do better if he were an only dog. We have accumulated six. My wife or I did not plan it that way, but we’re a little weak on this point. If a dog comes to us hungry, we feed him. Once we’ve fed him, that sort of establishes ownership or responsibility. We can’t seem to help it. We live in the country on twenty-five acres and it’s not too much of a problem. We don’t like his sloppy hand kisses but we’ve come to grips with a lot of abnormality in our lives and Frank’s behavior (or lack of it) doesn’t really seem to be the number one problem just yet.

Sometimes I come outside, and just sometimes, Frank is the only dog at the door. If I stop and take time to show him a little attention he sits almost quietly. Sometimes he’ll carefully lay his head against me and look up and I’ll scratch and pet along his neck below his muzzle and he’ll close his eyes. Sometimes he’ll begin a little soft grunting with his eyes closed like he’s reached some state of doggy peace and I find myself briefly tuning in to that peace. Times like that are special and rare because when another dog begins to walk up, Frank changes gears as if he’s saying “here comes ______ but just ignore him, no, really ignore him…PLEASE IGNORE HIM!” and as the distance closes between dog #2 and us his demeanor elevates to obnoxious once more.

When I come home in the evening, downshifting to the driveway, he evidently hears me because he is the first one to meet me at the road and escorts me trotting, twisting, wagging, barking, to the barn. I lift the door, push Hurricane Victoria into her berth and begin the gauntlet to the house. Wagging, twisting, staring, panting, and hand slobbering.

My son is a sheriff’s deputy and when the animal control officer was out sick did a little double duty. One evening he took me over to the “holding cell” to show me the accommodations made for the unfortunate pooches who were getting ready to cross over the doggy river. It was a rectangular concrete pad, circled on four sides with chain link, sub-divided inside into chain-link cells on the end of which was a plywood shelter. It was Friday. On Saturday the dogs are taken down to Aiken where the unadoptable ones (most) are given a shot to the heart. My son visited one set of executions. He said that correctly done it puts them down rather quickly. Sometimes in the rush, the executioner misses the heart and it takes a little more time for death to come.

While he was hosing down, cleaning out the dishes, scooping out a little dog food, I met Frank. I walked up to his cage. He came up to the gate and jumped up, with both front feet on the gate, so that his eyes were a little closer to mine. I pushed a few fingers, as much of my hand as I possibly could, through the chain link and he laid his head against my hand and stood really still with his head against my hand. That was it.

We busted Frank out that night. He rode home with us in the cab of the truck. His exuberant behavior got old really quick. My son who did not seem to have much of my affection for dogs, spoke disgustedly of him and threatened periodically to shoot him (or worse). A few months (maybe a year, I don’t really remember) later my wife called animal control about a stray wild dog. When he arrived the stray was gone. He said, “Well is there anything else I can do for you?” She said, how about taking that yellow dog over there.

I came home that day and Frank was gone. We had both expressed our displeasure with him and his rowdy ways and I didn’t say anything when she told me what had transpired. For a couple of days I could not get used to walking solo to and from the barn and I kept thinking about the passage of time. I knew Saturday was coming and Frank would be taking the long trip. Saturday came and went.

On Monday I came home from work and pulled in next to the house. I don’t see too well (and probably ought not to be on a motorcycle) so when I pulled in next to the house it seemed odd to see a yellow dog laying out beneath the pecan tree closest to the house. I started walking toward him and in surprise said, “Frank?” He left the tree and came up to me laying his head against my leg with his tail wagging, a little subdued but the same old Frank.

My son, bless his lying little heart, had called ahead, (prior to Saturday) went down to Aiken and paid, yes PAID, his bail and got him out. I laughed, relieved a little, and told my son, “now that’s one saved dog!”

He has long since gotten back into his old rowdy obnoxiously affectionate, hand slobbering ways, but as my wife often reminds me he only behaves that way toward me. Not anyone else. “He knows better than to act that way with me!” she says with great assurance that she has the relationship exactly where she wants it.

But if Frank could talk, I think it would go something like this: “Hey! Let me tell you about my master! He saved my life! Really he saved my life! He’s a great guy! Really! He loves me! I know he does! He stops sometimes and scratches me just below my chin and it is so heavenly! He actually takes time to notice me! He feeds me the neatest stuff! And did I tell you he saved my life! I was once almost dead – I could see the dark side before me – and he saved me! Just when I thought all hope was lost there he was! He saved my life! I really love him! Really!...” He would talk your ears off – really.

I love dogs. Always have. I have come to see a spiritual aspect in man’s relationship with dogs. Adam’s sin created a great gulf between us and God’s creation. Deer flee as we walk through the woods. Squirrels scurry and birds scatter as we get near. I don’t like it that way but I understand. Humans are tainted. We’re rotten, and God’s creation flees the rot. But God loved us enough to leave us dogs and horses, and I think He teaches us big lessons though these relationships if we’ll just take the time and listen.

As a part of my Bible study this week I read the story of Hezekiah, a good king who though slated for death, was given a reprieve by God. The story is told in Isaiah XXXVIII & XXXIX. God spoke to Hezekiah and said, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not liue.” Isaiah XXXVIII. 1

Hezekiah’s plea to the Lord is immediate: “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in trueth, and with a perfect heart, and haue done that which is good in thy sight: and Hezekiah wept sore.” v. 3

God heard his plea, allotted to the king fifteen more years of life and even gave him a sign: “Behold, I will bring againe the shadow of the degrees which is gone downe in the Sunne-diall of Ahaz ten degrees backward: so the Sunne returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone downe.” v. 8

In Chapter XXXIX, we learn that “Merodach Baladan the sonne of Baladan king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for hee had heard that he had bene sicke, and was recouered.” v. 1

When the emissaries of Babylon came to visit, Hezekiah took them on a tour “…and shewed them the house of his precious things, the siluer, and the golde, and the spices, and the precious oyntment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not.” v. 2.

When Isaiah came to Hezekiah afterward, he asked, “What have they seen in thine house?” v. 4. The king replied in truth and Isaiah explained to him how badly he had messed up and how disappointed the Lord was and that “the dayes come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers haue laide vp in store, vntill this day, shalbe carried to Babylon: nothing shalbe left, saith the Lord.” v. 6

When Hezekiah had the chance of a lifetime to witness to these pagan leaders of the goodness of God, why, we wonder, did the king not first, foremost, and enthusiastically say, “I was as good as dead, going down for the count, could see the scepter of death hovering over my bed, and my Lord saved my life!...Really!” Frank would have.

How does this apply to us? What lesson can we learn from Frank and Hezekiah?

Well…every last one of us was dead. Born in sin in a sinful world patrolled by Satan and his angels (Iob II.2) Lost in the dark, with devils all around, without a chance and God loved us. He lifted us up and saved us. We have life eternal in Heaven with him because he answered our prayers and saved us. Why then when friends, neighbors, and disinterested parties of various sorts visit our humble abodes do we show them our new camera and the cool pictures it takes, or our latest woodworking project, or the new detailing job on our car’s engine compartment, or whatever gizmo is the distraction of the day. Why do we not say something more like, “Hey! Let me tell you about my master! He saved my life! Really he saved my life! He’s a great guy! Really! He loves me! I know he does! He stops sometimes and scratches me just below my chin and it is so heavenly! He actually takes time to notice me! He feeds me the neatest stuff! And did I tell you he saved my life! I was once almost dead – I could see the dark side before me – and he saved me! Just when I thought all hope was lost there he was! He saved my life! I really love him! Really!...” Frank would. Are we stupider and less grateful than him?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thornwell's Prophetic Analysis

Before the War, the Reverend James Henley Thornwell, a South Carolina Presbyterian minister and theologian, observed that “The parties to this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders – they are atheists, socialists, communists, red Republicans, Jacobins, on the one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is a battleground – Christianity and atheism are the combatants and the progress of humanity is at stake.” The use of these terms might be considered by some to be mere “name-calling,” by a Southern minister attempting merely to deflect attention from his people. However, Doctor Thornwell, referred to as “one of the ablest men that the south has ever produced,” was not only able, but astutely intelligent and attempted to draw people’s attention to the war between good and evil coming down around them.
http://www.jquinton.com/archives/000186.html
http://docsouth.unc.edu/thornwell/thornwel.html

The nomenclature applied to the South’s adversaries by Dr. Thornwell were not mere names but ideologies embraced by small groups of people willing to do most anything to achieve their ungodly goals. Unfortunately for the South, these nests of evil found each other, a leader and a cause. This cause was not “slavery” except as the war against it promoted their goals, but that of a strong central government through which “utopia” could be rammed down the throats of the unwashed, uneducated masses.

Atheists
“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.” A. Lincoln
“Mr. Lincoln had no hope and no faith.” Mary Todd Lincoln
"He was without faith in the Bible or its teachings.” Chicago Herald, 1892
http://www.humanismbyjoe.com/Lincoln's_religion.htm

For some reason, Lincoln was the man of the hour for atheistic Socialists, Communists, Red Republicans and Jacobins, the core of the newly formed Republican party. The party had made few inroads into American politics until Lincoln. This dirty-joke telling, atheistic Midwestern lawyer proved to be the unlikely glue that held the various factions of the new party together enough to win what victory they could claim (40% of the popular vote) in 1860.

Socialists
"This revolution has a feature new to history, that of socialism." Ralph Waldo Emerson
http://www.codoh.com/newrevoices/nrandom/nrand48ers.html

Communists
Augustus Willich, for example: “A member of the Communist League, Willich took an active part in the Revolution of 1848-1849. After the suppression of the rising he emigrated to London.” Despite their inepitude as commanders, Willich and fellow-communist, Franz Sigel, rose rapidly through the ranks, Willich becoming America’s first Communist general-grade officer.
(A much greater understanding of the tremendous influence of the socialists/communists in crushing the South may be realized by reading the article, “The Lincoln Putsch: America’s Bolshevik Revolution” by George McDaniel. This is the URL mentioned above. The ‘48ers, expelled from Germany in mass, and who fled to America’s Midwest, were not mere political dissidents seeking asylum. They were born-again Communists with their violently revolutionary goals unfulfilled but intact. Their new “cause” came quickly.)
With the correct spin, these “immigrants” have become a great blessing to the United States. “The enormous amount of knowledge, idealism and activity, embodied in these political exiles, made them the most valuable immigrants America ever received. As they accepted positions as teachers and professors at the schools and universities, or filled public offices, or founded all sorts of newspapers and periodicals, learned societies and social clubs, these men inspired the hitherto dull social life of America, that it gained a much freer and more progressive character.” Communists go for the minds of the young and what better way than to infiltrate the education system. They did it then and are still at it.
http://www.germanheritage.com/Publications/cronau/cronau12.html


Red Republicans
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CHrepublican.htm
The Red Republican was a “Chartist” newspaper printed in the United Kingdom in 1850 and was the first English newspaper to print Marx’s Communist Manifesto. Chartists, as a group, believed in taking the land of the “haves” (in this case, wealthy Southerners) and dividing it into parcels and given to the “have-nots,” (slaves) thereby promoting a utopian society for the future. This was promoted strongly during reconstruction, but fortunately was, due to Southern resistance, implemented weakly.

Jacobins
The reference to “Jacobins” usually identifies an attitude of tyrant government rather than to the actual leaders of the French Revolution. Jacobins exist in many forms, even today.
“Many were imbued with the Liberal ideas that had come into prominence in Europe with the Jacobins in the French Revolution, and had remained around in various guises ever since.”
http://www.codoh.com/newrevoices/nrandom/nrand48ers.html

“The iron dictatorship of the Jacobins was evoked by the monstrously difficult position of revolutionary France.”
It is easy to seen in Lincolnian reasoning “…the terrorism of the Jacobins, acknowledging that they had no other way of saving the republic.”
http://www.gnostics.com/trotsky1.htm

There is an excellent article by Dr. Clyde Wilson posted on the Lew Rockwell site entitled “Jacobin Yankees.”
http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/wilson9.html

A small bit of written historical evidence appears to justify Dr. Thornwell's observations, completely absolves him of childish "name calling" and in restrospect actually places his astute observations in the realm of prophecy.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Knightly Duty


You may not find a child within your sphere of influence who has read or has knowledge of Howard Pyle’s The Story of King Arthur and His Knights. And that is a shame. It is a treasure of tales of heroism and nobility that makes modern media heroes seem contrived and trivial. These are not mutated reptiles or faceless plasticized rangers. These are men, real men and one comes away with an elevated impression of God’s creation.

Pyle’s Foreword begins, “After several years of contemplation and of thought upon the matter herein contained, it has at last come about, by the Grace of God, that I have been able to write this work with such pleasure of spirit that, if it gives to you but a part of the joy that it hath afforded me, I shall be very well content with what I have done.” This is a strong suggestion of what is to come. Rare is the author who considers “God’s Grace” in any project.

Each of Arthur’s knights has his own following, I suppose, to those rare folk who follow the Arthurian legends. Much is heard of the heralded Sir Lancelot; more should be heard of the noble Galahad, but I find a hero in Sir Gawaine, the dark, brooding Welshman who is, in my opinion, the noblest knight, and is worthy of emulation far more than any hero considered such by most youngsters (and adults) today.

A useful apology may be found in the last section of the book, a section called The Book of Three Worthies, Part III. This is divided into three chapters. “Chapter First” is the story of Gawaine and the White Hart, a story of a tragic misunderstanding, a wrongful accusation from the Queen, and Gawaine’s noble acceptance in silence of the Queen’s censure.

In “Chapter Second,” Arthur and his squire become lost in the woods and take lodging at a dark castle. While there the dark Knight of the Castle challenges Arthur to a game of “courage,” a duel that goes against the king and finds Arthur ready to forfeit his life. The Knight, in an admitted mood of cruelty, gives Arthur one year to find the answer to a riddle. Darkness attends Arthur throughout the year as he questions one and another of his people, none who seem to have an adequate answer. Finally, at year’s end, Arthur leaves to his appointment with death and on the way discovers, in a dark part of the forest, an old cabin almost blended into the oak next to which it stands. Within is an “old woman sitting bent over a small fire that burned upon the hearth. And King Arthur had never beheld such an ugly beldame as that one who sat there bending over that fire, for her ears were very huge and flapped, and her hair hung down over her head like to snakes, and her face was covered all over with wrinkles so that there were not any places at all where there was not a wrinkle; and her eyes were bleared and covered over with a film, and the eyelids were red as with the continual weeping of her eyes, and she had but one tooth in her mouth, and her hands, which she spread out to the fire, were like claws of bone.”

When she greeted him as “King,” although he was not in kingly attire, he was taken aback, and engaged in conversation with her in which he confessed the events of the preceding year. She told him she could provide him with the riddle on one condition, that she might be wed to one of his knights. “Ha!” said King Arthur, “how may I promise that upon the behalf of anyone?” Upon this the old woman said, “Are not the knights of thy Court of such nobility that they will do that to save thee from death?”

She had him there. He agreed. She provided the answer. The King proceeded to his rendezvous with his nemesis at which time he foiled the plans against his life with the correct answer.

He went straight to the hag’s hut. “Thou has holpen me a very great deal in mine hour of need, so now will I fufil that pledge which I made unto thee, for I will take thee unto my Court and thou shalt choose one of my knights for thy husband. For I think there is not one knight in all my Court but would be very glad to do anything that lieth in his power to reward one who hath saved me as thou hast done this day.”

He not only carried the woman behind him on his steed, he “comported himself to that aged beldame in all ways with the utmost consideration as though she had been a beautiful dame of the highest degree in the land.” As the knights gather around, she “pointed with her very long bony finger unto Sir Gawaine, saying, ‘Yea, I would marry that lord…’.”

When Arthur asked Gawaine if he indeed was willing, the noble knight said, “Yea, lord, whatsoever thou requirest of me, that will I do.” The wedding is held, and we learn that in truth, Gawaine has pushed his noble spirit to a breaking point; in seclusion for the day he feels “shame” and “great humiliation,” but gathering his strength and fortified with duty, he strides to the bedchamber. When in the dimly lit room he was reprimanded by his new wife for his remonstrance, he declares, “Lady, I could not help it, for I was very sore oppressed with many cares. But if I have disregarded thee this day, I do beseech thy forgiveness therefore, and I will hold myself willing to do all that is in my power to recompense thee for any neglect that I have placed upon thee.” At length, his new wife mentions that “it is very dark in this place; let us then have a light.” “It shall be as thou dost desire,” said Sir Gawaine, “and I, myself, will go and fetch a light for thee.”

The sad and noble knight goes for a light and upon returning to the room and drawing close to the old woman he is struck dumb, shocked and amazed, because before him in the light of his torch stands “a lady of extraordinary beauty and in the very flower of her youth. He beheld that her hair was long and glossy and very black, and that her eyes were likewise black like to black jewels, and that her lips were like coral, and her teeth were like pearls. So, for a while, Sir Gawaine could not speak, and then he cried out, ‘Lady! Lady! Who are thou!”

With kindness, grace, and gentleness the lady of great beauty reveals the curse that has been broken by his noble sense of duty. As the truth unfolds between them, relief turns to love and adoration. “And indeed there was not one knight there of all that Court who would not have given half his life to have been so fortunate in that matter as was Sir Gawaine, the son of King Lot of Orkney.”

The lesson drawn from this tale of noble self-sacrifice is this, written into the last three paragraphs of this great book by Howard Pyle.

“Such is the story of Sir Gawaine, and from it I draw this significance: as that poor ugly beldame appeared unto the eyes of Sir Gawaine, so doth a man’s duty sometimes appear to him to be ugly and exceedingly ill-favored unto his desires. But when he shall have wedded himself unto that duty so that he hath made it one with him as a bridegroom maketh himself one with his bride, then doth that duty become of a sudden very beautiful unto and unto others.
“So may it be with ye that you shall take duty unto yourselves no matter how much it may mislike ye to do so. For indeed a man shall hardly have any real pleasure in his life unless his inclination becometh wedded unto his duty and cleaveth unto it as a husband cleaveth unto his wife. For when inclination is thus wedded unto duty, then doth the soul take great joy unto itself as though a wedding had taken place betwixt a bridegroom and a bride within its tabernacle.
“Likewise when you shall have become entirely wedded unto your duty, then shall you become equally worthy with that good knight and gentleman Sir Gawaine; for it needs not that a man shall wear armor for to be a true knight, but only that he shall do his best endeavor with all patience and humility as it hath been ordained for him to do. Wherefore, when your time cometh unto you to display your knightness by assuming your duty, I do pray that you also may approve yourself as worthy as Sir Gawaine approved himself in this story which I have told you of as above written.”

Would that we all might say to our Saviour, "Yea, Lord, whatsoever thou requirest of me, that will I do."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I have just discovered (through a link from Harry’s board) The Welshman. The current post is a wonderful article on “Ruth.” He tops off his webpage with the following:

The land we currently know as Wales was once known as Cymru. These people who were the original Bretons, called themselves the Cymry, which means “kin” in their tongue. Genetics tells us that these people were the Neolithic inhabitants of that region. Eventually invaders came: the Celts, the Romans, the Saxons, the Norsemen, and the Normans all pushing the Cymry further and further into the corners of their land. In this process, their remaining corner of this fair land once name for kinship was renamed Wales, a word meaning foreigner. The Cymry were called foreigners in their own land. This same process is occurring in our homelands today, by different invaders, pushing, provoking, trying to make us foreigners in our own lands. In that sense, my European brothers, we are all Welshmen now.”

Brother, as you can see from the top of my page, I live in “Occupied South Carolina.” There are many of us who are strangers in our own home. Amen and amen!

Visit the Welshman at;
http://www.thewelshman.us/ee/index.php

Friday, December 30, 2005

Duty

One of the most quotable quotes from one of noblest Americans to have ever lived has to do with our “duty.” Robert E. Lee’s letter to his son dispensing some of the greatest fatherly advice ever ends with the admonition, “Do your duty.” On the front wall of my eighth grade history class is my poster (homemade of course) with the quote and a picture of the General. You might be interested to know the background that motivated Lee’s advice.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those dayes, shall the Sunne be darkned, and the Moone shall not giue her light…” S. Matthew XXIV.29
“…and the Sunne became blacke as sackecloth of haire, and the Moone became as blood.” Reuelation VI.12

In the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew we find Jesus and his disciples looking from the heights of the Mount of Olives at the temple, the disciples looking at its earthly grandeur, Jesus foreseeing a sad and desolate future. In response, Jesus told them that a day was coming in which there would “not be left heere one stone vpon another, that shall not be throwen down.” v. 2. His disciples, a little surprised at his revelation, asked, “Tell vs, when shall these things be? and what shall be the signe of thy comming, and of the end of the world?” In their surprise and spontaneity, they wound up asking him three separate and unknown to them unrelated questions.

1. “when shall these things be?”
2. “what shall be the signe of thy comming?”
3. [what shall be the signe]of the end of the world?”

They did not understand the vastness of what they had asked, but Jesus in his omnipotent wisdom answered all their questions in one composite answer.

May 19, 1780 marks the fulfillment of one of these signs; the great “Dark Day,” although confined to the New England area, was considered at its time among the followers of Christ to be such.

“In the morning the sun rose clear, but was soon overcast. The clouds became lowery, and from them, black and ominous, as they soon appeared, lightning flashed, thunder rolled, and a little rain fell. Toward nine o’clock, the clouds became thinner, and assumed a brassy or coppery appearance, and earth, rocks, trees, buildings, water, and persons were changed by this strange, unearthly light. A few minutes later, a heavy black cloud spread over the entire sky except a narrow rim at the horizon, and it was as dark as it usually is at nine o’clock on a summer evening…
“Fear, anxiety, and awe gradually filled the minds of the people. Women stood at the door, looking out upon the dark landscape; men returned from their labor in the fields; the carpenter left his tools, the blacksmith his forge, the tradesman his counter. Schools were dismissed, and tremblingly the children fled homeward. Travelers put up at the nearest farmhouse. ‘What is coming?’ queried every lip and heart. It seemed as if a hurricane was about to dash across the land, or as if it was the day of the consummation of all things.
“Candles were used; and hearth fires shone as brightly as on a moonless evening in autumn…Fowls retired to their roosts and went to sleep, cattle gathered at the pasture bars and lowed, frogs peeped, birds sang their evening songs, and bats flew about…
“Dr. Nathanael Whittaker, pastor of the Tabernacle church in Salem, held religious services in the meetinghouse, and preached a sermon in which he maintained that the darkness was supernatural. Congregations came together in many other places. The texts for the extemporaneous sermons were invariably those that seemed to indicate that the darkness was consonant with Scriptural prophecy.”
The Essex Antiquarian, April, 1899, vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 53, 54 (as quoted in The Great Controversy, Ellen White, p. 306, 307)

Skeptics (and there are always enough to go around) say that this could not be a biblical prophecy due to the limited scope of the darkness. Consider if you will that these signs are given as a “wake up call” at pivotal moments in Christian history and are displayed for the growth of Christ’s church. In 1780 a country was busy being born. This country would grow to be the world’s haven for Christ’s last day message. (My fellow Southerners, there is one place in this entire world today known as “the Bible Belt.” Take heart that God has entrusted you with this gift.)

The dark day occurred during the days of debate concerning the type of country we would be. In Connecticut, the legislature was in session when the “lights went out.” Most, in fact all but one, decided to end the day when one of their number, Abraham Davenport, said that if this was a sign of the end, and the Lord was coming, he wanted to be found at his place of duty. The meeting continued by candlelight. What a testimony! Read more at the following site.

http://www.curbstone.org/index.cfm?webpage=82 Abraham Davenport and the Dark Day

In his letter to his son, Lee not only made reference to Davenport’s sense of duty, but to the incident that inspired it, the “dark day.”

“We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only for the best as a matter of principle, but it is the path of peace and honor.
“In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that nearly a hundred years ago there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness -- still known as "the dark day" -- a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse.
“The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that the last day -- the day of judgment -- had come. Some one, in the consternation of the hour, moved an adjournment.
“Then there arose an old Puritan legislator, Davenport, of Stamford, and said that, if the last day had come, he desired to be found at his place doing his duty, and therefore moved that candles be brought in, so that the House could proceed with its duty.
“There was quietness in that man's mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. Duty, then, is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things like the old Puritan. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less. Never let your mother or me wear one gray hair for any lack of duty on your part.”


Good advice to his son and to us as last-day Southern Christians. May "the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty" abide in all of our hearts.