Columbus T., age 22, P.O.W. in Ohio


Attended preaching Sermon by an old Methodist minister, on a text in Revelation. Two officers asked an interest in the prayers of the church. Episcopal service in the evening. The minister I understand does not associate with those of other denominations. A bad principle. My reason and better judgement has constantly taught me that, if possible, I should flee from the wrath to come. I have long observed a beauty in holiness and the importance of serving that God, to whom all adoration honor and praise is due. Every hightoned principle, whether of the righteous or of the wicked, is derived from or is a portion of Christianity. Christianity exerts a great influence upon the wicked whether they accept it, or not. Many wicked although they revel and swear, yet they will not steal or lie. A man in this civilized and enlightened country cannot be what is termed a gentleman unless he have some Christian principles. A man, it matters not how wicked he be, if he be honorable has to rest his honor upon some maxim of Christianity. If we find a man that regards none of the maxims or principles of religion, we behold what even the world would term a brute. He is not better than filthy swine. He is unprincipled, without honor and not to be trusted. He has no integrity of character.  A dog is more than his equal.

How much greater then and more substantial must be the character of the Christian. How noble, how excellent must be religion? Even among a band of robbers there must be justice in the division of plunder or they cannot thrive together in the despicable, shameful way of life. How much more then should it be desired than riches, “yea, than much fine gold!” I have often desired it, and been “almost persuaded to be a Christian,” but conflicting doctrines, false pride and timidity, have stoutly opposed it. Many passages / of Scripture / discouraged me. They seemed to indicate the certainty of election for ordination and predestination, of some, to the exclusion of the remainder, from life eternal. It seemed that those who were to be saved were elected from all eternity whilst others were reprobated. I could never fully believe this doctrine. Again it seemed that God was the author of repentance, and yet the sinner himself is warned to repent. How could he repent unless God saw fit that he should. The spirit must “draw him.” His reason may tell him that it would be well for him to repent, but how can he, unless God cause him to feel a sense of his guilt, — how can he have Godly sorrow?

The following dream / which took place / on Sunday night will show. /Explained it to myself during my sleep, mind becoming active and reproducing former impressions/ In my dream I saw two men. One held between his fingers a nail, and said to the other can you light this, and he sad, no, — Then he took a lamp with a wick and said, “Can you light this?,” and he /said/ yes — which having lighted the first said, Behold “fruits meet for repentance,” and the smoke went up from the wick as if the fire were burning oil, and he said, “This represents / (The following blotches occur because of a change of views, but the analogy corresponds to my present belief — Faith before repentance)/ a sense of the guiltiness of sin.” Then the first said to the other, “Are there any persons in your church who have foul breath?” and he said “yes” — and he then said that, that represented the guiltiness of sin, whereon I awaked fixed it in my memory, and set about the explanation, which came up very naturally. The nail represented faithlessness, because of which no one will act. The wick oil represented true faith, upon which a man will act and do as commanded by the word of God. Thus showing that the sinner must come to christ in true earnest faith, “believing that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” when the influence of the word of God will be felt about his heart, working in him repentance toward God — a Godly sorrow.

God I now fully believe is the author of repentance / through his own Word/ . The foul breath represents the guiltiness of sin, which will no longer reign in the heart after the purification and sanctification of the Word. Any one who has sound and clean teeth, and is free from all filthiness will not have foul breath. The above analogy Sprung up in my mind during sleep. I had thought a good deal about the subject referred to. I had never made any such similitude during my wakefulness, furthermore I had never believed in dreams. May I make good use of this information which indicates Faith before repentance. Faith first repentance next.

*(Worthy of Record: The Civil War and Reconstruction Diaries of Columbus Lafayette Turner, Ed. Kenrick N. Simpson, courtesy of the State Archives of North Carolina.)