The American Civil war was a difficult Time for Britain. Relations with the U.S. were often difficult in the 19 century with conflicts arising from time to time and sometimes the threat of war.
When the War Between the States started Britain declared itself neutral, but although violently opposed to slavery it sympathized with the South’s desire for independence. Britain got most of the cotton for its great textile industry from the South and the war would cause great hardship for the mill workers.
This mutual dependence caused the Confederacy to pressure the British government to recognize it and provide support. The fact was Britain had sold arms to them in the past and this was to cause problems with relations with the north.
The north on the other hand expected England to support it and clamp down on smugglers and southern attempts to build commerce raiders in British shipyards.
To make matters worse the general population in the British Isles came down on either side of the struggle and many private citizens went to their favoured side and enlisted. Some foreigners had no choice and were shanghaied into enlisting in the armies of either side and the British government was forever trying to get them released.
As the war see-sawed and the death toll increased there was increased pressure for England and France to intervene and stop the bloodshed. The South especially had agents in Europe seeking to affect public opinion and bring the various governments down on their side. The North had counter agents to undermine their efforts.
In the north there was great hostility to Britain,the British government had grave fears of U.S. invasion of Canada and that if the South was defeated The U.S. would attack British interests and England itself.
When the South was finally defeated, there was a great move to make Britain pay one way or another. Perhaps the reason why there was no war was due to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The outpouring of sympathy in Britain was such that both countries were reminded of their common blood and history and humanity. The horrors of the civil war were such that for a while at least the thought of another war was abhorrent.
For the Christian, finding the right thing to do in a horrible situation is perplexing and bewildering. They often ask themselves “What would Jesus do”? This does not always solve the problem. Jesus was God as well as man, sin excepted. All His actions were as Lord of creation and the Saviour of the World. We are fallible human beings and there is much sin remaining in all our actions.
Perhaps it is a start to look at what motivates us. Is the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ our chief aim in our decisions and actions? We could ask ourself more often,” Am I looking for the easy way out? “What would glorify Christ in this problem and situation”?
In the war we as Christian are waging there are many enemies yet we are taught to love them. There are many belligerents yet we are called upon to bring them the message of salvation and peace. We are not popular for the stance we take but we take it because Christ took it in the first place.
Where was God?
The first things Atheists among others say in the face of terror and disaster is where was God? They make a creed of denyng the existence of God and then blame Him for all the ills of the World. They cannot have it both ways.
The Christian looks at it from God’s perspective. Man’s suffering results from his rejection of God and living only to himself. God has in Christ opened the door but man closes it on himself.
If man perishes the blame lies only with himself and his rejection of salvation freely offered. If man is saved it is to the glory of God who extends grace to the undeserving and ill deserving.
No one wants to see suffering in the world but if it results in people turning to God in contrition and repentance it is not in vain.
The Marble man.
Robert Edward Lee was universally admired during the American Civil war. He was called the “marble man”because many historians could find no flaws in his character.
He was a man of high moral character, who acted from principal and great courage and daring. The Union had offered him command of their forces but he refused to draw his sword against his home state of Virginia. Even many enemies of the confederacy in the North respected him and wished he was theirs.
He never referred to the federals as the enemy but referred to them as “those people”.
When one looks at the slaughter and suffering the war caused on both sides one can only wonder how such a man could be involved in such cause. Had He stood boldly on the cause of peace and reconciliation ,maybe the war would not have occurred or had even been shortened?
Even good men can go astray and do things that they think are based on good intentions and high principles.
How greatly we need God’s guidance to lead us in the correct paths and if we do go astray to lead us back to the path God has placed us on to follow Christ.