Monday, January 05, 2009

Gospel in the Hospital

Since my boys are studying the War Between the States I have read a number of books on the subject this past Fall to supplement our discussions. I came across a book published in 1957 by Broadman Press titled, Chaplains in Gray, written by Charles Pitts. It was a fascinating look at the work of pastors and chaplains in the war.

In one place Pitts quoted at length from A Letter to the Chaplains in the Army by James O. Andrew, a Methodist Episcopal bishop from Georgia. This letter contains much good advice from an aged minister. The following excerpt is a good exhortation for all of us on the importance of ministering in times of sickness and death.

It may be that the circumstances which surround you may offer but few facilities for public preaching, but remember that the pulpit is not the only place where the faithful pastor will preach—in private, by the wayside, in the tent, in the hospitals by the bedside of the sick or wounded soldier; there especially is your place.

Be much with the sick, wounded, and dying—there, while life is ebbing out, when the past is painfully remembered, and the future looms up gloomily before the vision of the dying patriot, when he thinks of home and loved ones there, and feels that his earthly mission is almost ended, then preach Jesus to him, talk to him of the cross and pardon, and of heaven, and kneel beside him, and in the language of pleading, earnest faith, commend his departing spirit to the God who made him, and the exalted Redeemer who died for him, rose again, and ever liveth to intercede for him, and then, when the vital spark is extinct, give him Christian burial. (50-51)


Denny Burk said...


That looks like a fascinating read. Does James Boyce appear anywhere in the book?

Also, my wife just finished reading Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, and I am just starting it now. The book came highly recommended by Mark Dever, so I thought I'd pass on the title to you.


Ray Van Neste said...

Hey Denny,

Yes Boyce and some other SBC worthies appear. I have read in another piece an item Boyce wrote for other chaplains.

I listened to Manhunt earlier this year and really apprecaited it. I just saw that Swanson (the author) has another book on a related topic.


Matthew Lautensack said...

The War Between the States, I believe that's called the American Civil War.


Ray Van Neste said...

Another fun and lesser known book on this general topic is Wolf of the Deep: Raphael Semmes and the Notorious Confederate Raider CSS Alabama, by Stephen Fox

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, wonderful excerpt, Ray, both moving and challenging. Thanks.

Brian and Cara said...


Great quote! Have you read "Christ in the Camp" yet as you study with your boys?

Brian Croft

Ray Van Neste said...

Hey Brian,

I have a copy of that book but have not read it. It is referenced in this book though.