A Perpetual Sermon

Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk.

Upon the day appointed — being, by a happy coincidence, the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle — the local military force of Augusta, consisting of one full regiment of infantry, a battery of light artillery, and a company of cavalry, was drawn up on Telfair St., in the rear of the City Hall, at half-past nine o’clock, A. M.  The case enclosing the remains was brought and placed within the hearse by soldiers detailed for the purpose.  The hearse was draped in the flag of the Confederate States, with its broad folds of white and its starry cross of Trust and Truth upon a field of blood, and surmounted with wreaths of bay and laurel, and a cross of evergreen and snow-white flowers.

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Leonidas Polk, Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and General in the Army of the Confederate States.

Who can estimate the influence of such an act as that of our brother upon the cause which is so vital to every one of us? What could invest it with a higher moral grandeur than that a bishop of the Church of God should gird on the sword to do battle for it?  A faction of the Northern Church pretended — some of them engaged in acts infinitely more derogatory to the glory of Christ’s Church — to be shocked at it; but it, nevertheless, filled them with dismay.  They saw in it an intensity of feeling and of purpose at which they trembled, and when they found no echo of their pious horror from the Church of England, they ceased their idle clamor.  And our brother thus became, before even he had drawn his sword, a tower of strength to the Confederacy.  And who can say how much of the religious influence, which has diffused itself so remarkably among the officers of the army of the West may not have reached their hearts through the silent power of his example and his prayers!  Bishop Polk did not think the public exercise of his ministry a proper accompaniment of his military career, and in that I think he acted most wisely; but his dignified and irreproachable life was a perpetual sermon, and his private communion with God was his spiritual power.  It is a very striking fact that every officer of high rank in that army — the army which, in the language of Gen. Johnston, he created, and had always commanded — has become a professed disciple of the meek and lowly Jesus; and that the last act of our warrior-bishop was the admission into the Church of his Saviour and Redeemer, through the holy sacrament of baptism, of two of its most renowned commanders.  He lived long enough to see Christ recognized in its councils of war; and, his work on earth being done, he obeyed the summons of his Master, and passing away from earth, his mantle rests upon it.

— Funeral Address for General Leonidas Polk, Feast of St. Peter, 1864.

Published by Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organised the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Personal queries should be directed to me at eccentricbliss dot com.

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