April 10: Thomas R.R. Cobb

To Be a Christian Attorney was his Highest Aspiration
by Rev. David T. Myers

Thomas Reade Roots Cobb was born at Cherry Hill, Jefferson Country, Georgia on April 10, 1823.   While still a child, his parents moved the family to  Athens, Georgia and he later attended the University of Georgia, graduating at the top of his class.  From that day forward, Thomas Cobb aspired to be a Christian attorney.

His membership was in the Presbyterian Church in Athens.  As a deeply religious man, he labored during the day as an attorney, and prayed in the church in the evenings.  Whether working on behalf of the state of Georgia through the courts, or laboring in revival meetings, he was the same earnest worker.   He was successful in implementing the reading of the Bible in schools in Georgia.

In the field of law, he was considered to be “the James Madison” of the South.  Not only did he contribute to countless law documents for the state, he authored the Constitution of the Confederate States of America.  It is written in his handwriting.  He was the founder of the Georgia School of Law.

Like the majority of Southerners and even Southern Christians in that era, Cobb looked to the argument of States Rights in defense of Southern secession. Indeed, he wrote a large tome which sought to defend the practice of slavery.  When elected to the Confederate Congress in 1861, he chaffed at the slowness of the legislative branch to prosecute the defense of the South.  So he entered the Confederate army as a Colonel of the Georgia troops, which he called Cobb’s Legion.  His troops fought in the battles of the Seven Days, Second Manassas, the Antietam campaign, and Fredericksburg, Virginia.  At the latter battle, he fought as a Brigadier General.

It was in the last battle that he suffered a mortal wound.  Assigned to guard the Sunken Road, an artillery shell burst near him and wounded him mortally.  Within a few hours, he would die.  There is a monument in that battlefield on the Sunken Road which tells of his death.  Before his death, another Presbyterian military officer by the name of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, or Stonewall Jackson, would visit him and  pray with him.  Cobb is buried in Athens, Georgia.

He was survived by his wife, the former Marion Lumpkin, and four daughters in 1862.  As recently as 2004, because of his stand on slavery, a controversy arose as to whether his home should be restored to a museum.  It eventually was, and today can be visited in Athens, Georgia.

Words to Live By: 
While we would oppose his stand on racial slavery, still we are left with the recognition that in other matters, here was a man who feared God and worked righteousness in his public and private life.  For all of us, our Christian ideals are to be manifested outside the four walls of the church, indeed, into all of life, so that God’s name can be glorified, and God’s kingdom can be advanced.
Perhaps the most searching question in application might then be, “In my life, what sins am I blind to? How am I a creature of my culture? How and where is the Word of God not thoroughly and consistently worked out in my life?”
May God have mercy upon us all. We are, all of us, mired in sin and without hope before a righteous God, but for the grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ alone.

For further reading:
We find that two articles on the legal profession were published in the Southern Presbyterian Review :
1. “Relations of Christianity to the Legal Profession,” by an anonymous author, SPR, vol. 5, no. 2 (July 1859): 249-270.
2. “Morality of the Legal Profession,” by Robert L. Dabney, SPR, vol. 11, no. 4 (January 1859): 571-592.
and two articles published in Princeton Seminary’s Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review :
3. “A Course of Legal Study, by David Hoffman, reviewed by Samuel G. Winchester, BRPR, 9.4 (October 1837):509-524.
4. “Professional Ethics and their Application to Legal Practice,” [review of An Essay on Professional Ethics, by George Sharswood], by an anonymous author, BRPR, 43.2 (April 1871): 286-304.

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