Stonewall Jackson's Faith In Divine Providence
( Originally Published 1902 )
STONEWALL JACKSON was always noted for his personal piety. He was a strict Presbyterian and a rigid Calvinist of the extreme old type, believing that he would not die until his time should come, and that when his time should come he would die. One reason why he was so brave and efficient in the field was because he felt that he would not be hurt, and that he was bound to win, believing that his will and the Divine Will were united in the purpose. At the battle of Chancellorsville, General Jackson ordered General Hill to arrange his men on either side of the road, and not to fire unless cavalry approached from the direction of the foe; then he went beyond his own picket lines to get a view of the position of the enemy. He was warned of the danger he was in. " The enemy is routed; the danger is past," said he to his orderly, " Go back and tell A. P. Hill to press right on." He, riding his " Old Sorrel " at a trot, surrounded by his staff, started back in the direction from which he had come. His own men, mistaking them for the cavalry of the enemy, fired into them, killing or wounding almost all of them. Jackson, himself, received two wounds in the left arm and one in the right hand. The enemy pressed so closely behind him that they charged over his body as he fell from his horse, but as they were driven back again his body was recovered and borne from the field. As they were carrying him away one of the litter-bearers was shot, causing the general to fall from the men's shoulders to the ground. His arm was amputated, but the shock of his injury was so great that he could not rally, and amidst the universal lamentation of the Confederate army, and the people of the South, the great soldier passed away. In the terrible trial of being shot by mistake by his own men, and of being cut off from a cause which he loved so intensely and for which he fought so desperately, he manifested the calm faith in Divine Providence that he had in the hour of his most brilliant victories. During the anxious days when the result of his wounds was in doubt, he said, " I consider these wounds a blessing; they were given for some good and wise purpose, and I would not part with them if I could." When it was evident that he had but a few hours to live, his wife notified him that his end was near, and calmly and tenderly he answered her, " Very good, very good; it is all right."
It is not very hard to believe in Divine Providence when the sun is shining, the flowers blooming, the birds singing, the prospect pleasing; not very hard to trust God when our victorious battalions drive the enemy from the field, and the laurel wreath is placed upon our brow. But it is not so easy to recognize the Divine Providence when the clouds gather, the flowers are spoiled, the song birds hushed, the prospects blighted ; not so easy to count God's will our will when our battalions are beaten hack by the enemy, and we ourselves wounded, and sent to the Shades. Yet every true soldier of the Cross should be able to say, in adversity as well as prosperity, " Not my will, but Thine, O Lord, be done."