Recognition of God's Providence

11 April 1865

But suddenly a change came. On April 9 General Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. The war was virtually over. Some activities remained to be quelled farther south and to the west, but on April 11, two days after Lee's surrender, Editor Smith of the Review and Herald, recognizing the visible answer to prayer, wrote:

They see in the prospect not only the immediate effects that others see, the cessation of slaughter and bloodshed, . . . but they see in it a fulfillment of prophecy, an answer to prayer, a bright token that the great Shepherd of Israel is going before His flock. We therefore thank God for the visible manifestation of His hand in our national affairs (RH, Apr. 11, 1865.).

A week later Smith referred to the wide acclaim of God's providential hand in the affairs of the nation:

It is right and appropriate that God should be recognized in the national gratitude; for He it is who has given the victory. But to see so general an acknowledgment from the official under his seal of authority, to the humblest citizen, is more than could have been expected (ibid., Apr. 18, 1865).

The recognition of God's providence in the speedy closing of the war was quite generally accepted. The readers of the Review were treated to a significant item in the American Missionary for April, calling attention to the strong religious element in the rejoicing over our victories. The ascription of our great successes to God was all but universal. In the high places of the land and on the busiest marts of trade, as well as in churches and around the domestic altars of Christian families, the same pious recognition was manifest. The brilliant transparency on the Capitol at Washington, "It is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes," and the uncovered multitude in Wall Street joining reverently in prayer and singing the Christian Doxology were rare but representative facts (ibid., June 6, 1865).

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