A Review of Stonewall Jackson's Book of Maxims

By Byron Snapp
April 09, 2003

James Robertson’s meticulous research for his finely crafted biography of Stonewall Jackson also resulted in the rediscovery of Jackson’s Book of Maxims that had been unnoticed for eighty years.

Jackson completed these maxims by 1853. However, he spent the rest of his life seeking by God’s grace to put them into practice. These maxims were essentially practical statements of how to live as a Christian. They were drawn from Jackson’s reading of Scripture and the counsel gleaned from human authors.

Dr. Robertson discusses each maxim under its appropriate heading such as “Choice of Friends, “Rules of Conversation,” and “Motives to Action.” The editor provides the reader with apt quotations and comments that substantiate each maxim. On many pages he provides anecdotes from Jackson’s life or comments from his peers that illustrate how Jackson sought to regularly implement that particular piece of wisdom.

Dr. Robertson does not hide the fact that Jackson was imperfect. He points out in a number of illustrations times when Jackson failed to heed his own principles for living life.

Jackson’s humble beginnings included many trials and much heartache in his youth that resulted in backwardness. Thus he saw a great need to pen a set of directives to aid him to love and respect others in society and to count others as more important than himself.

This well-written volume is important reading for a number of reasons. It enables us to better understand and appreciate Jackson’s character and the respect he had among his peers and many in succeeding generations.

Secondly, these maxims show us that a proper love for the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners naturally leads to a love and respect for those made in God’s image.

Thirdly, it provides an opportunity for the reader to reflect on his own character. The reader may well ask whether or not the individual has a similar desire comparable to Jackson’s to work toward improving, by God’s grace, one’s own character.

Photographs of pages from Jackson’s Book of Maxims as well as photographs of Jackson and his first and second wives enhance the book.

This volume will be enjoyed by those who respect and appreciate Jackson and by those looking for applicable maxims for character development in our day.

Topics: American History, Biography, Culture

Byron Snapp

Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia.  He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina.  He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren. 

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