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

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Location: Occupied South Carolina

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.

1 Comments:

Blogger Scorebored said...

Another great post, brother. It's refreshing to see you posting regularly.

7:01 PM  

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