My thoughts on the bio of Stonewall Jackson, by Robert Dabney, Chapter IV – Life in Lexington
I’m enjoying this excellent biography, the Life and Campaigns of Stonewall Jackson, written by his Chaplain, Robert L. Dabney (a Confederate States Army chaplain, and reformed Theologian). The following are some excerpts, as well as my thoughts and applications.
Chapter IV – Life in Lexington
Jackson now professes faith in Christ and has been baptized.
During the cold winter of 1862 “when prudence forbade the use of fire,” Jackson became so cold that his medical attendant was “in real alarm for his safety.” But they did not have anything to give him except “ardent spirits.” Though Stonewall abstained from alcohol consumption, in this case “he consented to take some.”
When Jackson seemingly “choked it down,” he asked Jackson if the drink was “unpleasant.” Jackson replied “No,” I like it; I always did; and that is the reason I never use it.”
That’s one of the reasons I repented from drinking alcohol. I loved it too much, and it caused me to sin even more than I already did when sober.
In another recorded incident, Jackson was offered a glass of brandy. Jackson replied “No,” obliged, but I never use it; I am more afraid of it than of Federal bullets.”
Oh, how today’s graceaholics or greasy gracers who boast and flaunt their “liberty” to drink, would benefit greatly from fellowship with men like Jackson. Jackson’s discipline goes beyond his sobriety.
Jackson studies other churches & Roman Catholicism, his reverence for the Lord & the Sabbath Day
Orthodox reformed churches practice a regulative principle of worship (aka RPW). And it is expected for congregants to give their undivided, non-distracted attention and affection to their Lord. I suspect Jackson desired the same in the sanctuary. Today’s churches that practice a normative principle of worship are too horizontal.
One “Sabbath morning” while walking to church, Jackson’s close friend asks if he had read the letter that he received the night before. Jackson replied, “No, I shall make the most faithful effort I can to govern my thoughts and guard them from unnecessary distraction; and as I do this from a sense of duty, I expect the divine blessing on it.”
I appreciate Jackson’s devotion to the Lord’s Day, reverence in the sanctuary, and self-discipline.
Jackson studied many denominations in the Christian faith. He even examined Roman Catholicism. With the Lord’s discernment, he concluded the following about Rome. “That Popery lie had examined under the most favorable auspices, and had been constrained to reject it as an apostasy from the system of Holy Writ..”
After studying the catechism and confession of faith of the Presbyterian church, on November 22nd, 1851 he was received as a member. As the Lord sanctified Jackson, “he became one of the firmest though least bigoted advocates of the Calvinistic as distinguished from the Arminian scheme.”
Jackson valued and held “his conviction of the sacredness of the Sabbath.” But the author was not clear on “his interpretation of the exceptions made for “works of necessity.” I can understand this. As a Sabbatarian myself, I have told my former congregation that I believe there can be reasonable exceptions. Let us remember Jackson was an integral part of the art of war and military warfare, and they did not generally take days off in times of war. After all, the Lord saved me, in a shootout, at a church, on the Sabbath Day. And the Lord used me to thwart an active shooting in that church. Let us not forget America was attacked on the Sabbath Day. Which has become known as Pearl Harbor Day.
Being punctual not tardy
Another quality of Jackson was his reputation for being responsibly punctual. He saw that especially important for the church and church-related meetings, and being “the most punctual of attendance on these meetings.”
During a Sunday School class that Jackson taught, in an attempt to encourage congregants to be on time, he actually “locked the doors” and proceeded immediately to the duties of the school.” And that solved their tardiness problem. Today’s Evangellyfish would wrongfully call Jackson too rigid or legalistic, or they’d run to another church.
Punctuality is an important quality of a man’s character. At the previous church I pastored, I struggled with and was troubled by the tardiness of others. At times some would ask me to start late. Though the clock said go, because they saw one or two of our families pulling into the parking lot some would ask me to wait. But I would not make those that were on time, have to wait for those that were consistently tardy. In other words, I refused to enable or acquiesce to the tardiness of others.
It’s not uncommon for secular employers to write up or terminate employees who were habitually late. So, it baffles me why being habitually tardy is unrighteously accepted in the ministry or church. One of the many ways of keeping the Sabbath Day holy is being on time and not making others wait. For an article on tardiness click here.
Jackson the Evangelist & Deacon
As Jackson matured in Christ, he understood the command to evangelize. When he experienced the “infidels’ opinions of the world,” “he was anxious to do something to remedy this evil, but knew not what was best. He held private conversations with some, and gave tracts to others, but this only increased his anxiety to attempt something on a larger scale.”
At that time at public gatherings, he became a “public speaker” on the subject of “the evidence of Christianity.”
Evidently, Jackson became somewhat of a Herald of the Gospel or open-air preacher. Jackson continued to grow in faith, and on December 26th, 1857 he was “unanimously elected a deacon of his church.”
For more of my observations of this biography, click on my Stonewall Jackson tag. Semper Reformanda!