From “A Mother’s Parting Words to Her Soldier Boy”
Ah, my son, if you have no soul to save,—no sins to be forgiven, if Christ did not die for you,—if there is no Heaven, ho hell, no immortality,—then you may live without repentance and salvation. But you have a soul—you are a sinner—Christ shed His blood for you—you are immortal, and destined to the joys of Heaven or the woes of perdition, and therefore, religion is your supreme necessity. You have motives to piety, not only as a man, but as a soldier. Of all men the soldier has the greater need of piety. . . .
Piety will not make you effeminate or cowardly. Some of the bravest soldiers of the world have been humble Christians. Cromwell, Gardiner and Havelock, thunderbolts of war, were as devout as they were heroic. Our own illustrious Washington maintained the claims of Christianity, amid the demoralizing influences of the Revolution, with a zeal corresponding with the heroism with which he fought the battles of our independence. Why should not the Christian be courageous? He has less cause to love life or dread death than other men. In the path of duty he has nothing to fear. Life and death may be equally pleasing to him. The apostle Paul, in the prospect of martyrdom, could say: “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better,—nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
And now, my dear soldier boy, I must take leave of you. Remember that you have a large share in my love, my sympathies, and my prayers. By day and by night, you are in my thoughts: and often the unbidden tear flows down my cheek when I think of your sufferings and dangers. Let me have joy of you, my son, and I can have no greater joy than to hear that you are doing your duty—your whole duty—to your country and to God. . . .