Must Eternity Be Lost?
- Monday, February 03, 2003
Rev. Lacy was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and had pastored churches in Virginia and Kentucky before coming to Fredericksburg in May 1861. Within a year after coming to Fredericksburg, Rev. Lacy found his town and church in the middle of the fighting between North and South.
The Union soldiers occupied Fredericksburg in May 1862, and many of the citizens fled the town in fear. During part of the fighting, Rev. Lacy took refuge in the basement of a house, leading others there in praying Psalm 27: "Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear." Preaching from Scripture, "Lo, I am with you always," Lacy reassured the people that God had not forsaken them during this time.
Rev. Lacy's family home of Chatham was on the Rappahannock River and was occupied by Union soldiers in the fall of 1862. Clara Barton even stayed there for a time, ministering to the wounded Union troops. She later went into Fredericksburg itself and ministered to the wounded in the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches. The horrible memories of the suffering in Fredericksburg remained with her until her death. It was during such suffering that the spiritual awakening in the Southern army began.
Rev. Lacy joined Jackson's Second Corps at Moss Neck, near Fredericksburg, in March 1863, and shared a room with Jackson. Lacy immediately started regular family prayers and devotions at breakfast for Jackson's staff. On March 16 he called all the chaplains together at Round Oak Baptist Church near Moss Neck to establish a "Chaplain's Association of Jackson's Second Corps." Weekly, for eight weeks, the chaplains met together for prayer and Bible study, with Rev. Lacy keeping Jackson informed of all the meetings.
Lacy developed for the chaplains a description of their duties and defined what relationship they should have with their men. He discussed with them the types of messages the men needed. Comparing the duties of a chaplain to those of commissary officers, he said:
If the commissariat neglected its duties because of some derangement in its usual routine, the army would starve, although victorious. Yet even with its deranged system, the army must have its bread, if not the full supply, yet how valuable is the dry crust or hard biscuit! Brethren, we are appointed to carry the spiritual bread of life to the men. We draw from a never-failing supply . . . . In the fighting many of these men must fall. One sermon more, brethren, for the love of souls, for the glory of God. Let us devise means to get this bread to them . . . . Don't desert the men because they are in the trenches. Go speak a word to them if only to say, "I know you were ready to die for your country; but were you ready to meet your God?" The Gospel hurts no men at any time under any circumstances. Ernest prayer by the camp fire makes men rest better, and march better.
At its first meeting, the Chaplain's Association issued a paper written by Rev. Lacy as an address to the churches of the Confederacy on the needs of the army. In it, Lacy challenged the churches to send more ministers to serve as chaplains among the soldiers:
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