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AN ESSAY ON SLAVERY.
PART I.--PRELIMINARY STATEMENTS.
POSITION OF THE CHURCH ON THE SUBJECT OF SLAVERY, AS CONTAINED IN
HER ECCLESIASTICAL LAW, STATED.
The Scriptures not only require us to be “ready always to give to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear,” which is a rational injunction, and worthy of a religion emanating from God; but they also require or enjoin it upon us, "earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” In a world like ours, abounding in free-thinkers, half-thinkers, and no-thinkers, the exhortation cannot but commend itself to our understanding as an important one, and is clearly in evidence that its author regarded the “faith,” or religion, taught in the Holy Scriptures, as capable of a triumphant vindication against the objections of all cavillers, of whatever school. The history of the world, thus far, is in proof, that in this confidence he was not mistaken. For notwithstanding the various assaults which in various forms have been made upon it, it still exists; and instead of suffering harm by passing the ordeal of rigid, scrutinizing investigation, has gathered strength in every struggle, and brightened in
every conflict; so that each succeeding contest in the march of mind serves only to confirm its claims to a heavenly origin, and show its complete adaptation to the weakness, wants, and wisdom of man, in all the variety of his condition. The progress of society, in every stage of mental and moral improvement, proportionately develops its superlative excellency; and warrants the conclusion, that its principles will not only be found suited to the highest possible culture of mind and morals, but also the most, if not the only effectual system, by which the character of man, in these lofty and distinguishing attributes of his nature, can be fully developed. The fact that its ranks have furnished, and still continue to furnish, the most elevated and finished specimens of human greatness that the history of the world presents, is indubitable evidence of the truth of the above proposition. And with this commanding proof before us of its inherent practical utility, that it should have, ever and anon, to be contending with the embattled hosts of determined opposition, would be a problem of difficult solution, but for the light reflected on this and similar questions by the language of the prophet, when he tells us that “the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint;” and that men“ do not know," because they do not consider ;-the want of reflection being the cause of their ignorance; and that ignorance the cause of their opposition. In this, and similar language found in the Bible, is disclosed the true secret of all opposition to the principles and measures of the divine administration. The mind being enfeebled, and the heart corrupted by sin, in our stupid infatuation and heedlessness, though frequently called upon to “hear” and “consider,” we will not give ourselves the trouble to think; choosing rather to walk in the sight of our own eyes, and after the desire of our own hearts, than to hear and receive the word of heavenly instruction, which would redeem us from error, and guide us into all truth.
A recent attack, insidiously made upon Christianity, is in the denunciation of the Church and Ministry the divinely instituted and appointed instrumentalities by which to convert the world, and build it up in the faith of the Gospel : and the reasons assigned are, first, the connexion of the Church with Slavery, in receiving, and retaining in her communion, persons in that relation; and, secondly, that the Ministry, as the prominent actors and messengers of the churches, instead of rebuking and wholly excluding it from the Church of God, connive at and lend their sanction to this state of things.
Other matters enter into, or are embraced in, the general complaint; some of which in an unqualified, and others in a qualified, sense, have our cordial approval; such as intemperance, war, &c. These, we repeat, mainly constitute the reasons for the onset; and form the basis of urgent, inflammatory, derisive, and denunciatory appeals, loud and long, in the public ear, against the Church, and against the Ministry and the Christianity of the present age. Especially in the slavery aspect of the question, does the trump of opposition wax louder and louder; with the cry of “Down with the Church !” and "Down with the Ministry!" as the chief machinations and instruments of his Satanic majesty (if their creed allows his existence) for carrying on, in this sindisordered world, his work of ruin and death.
And in this particular view of the question, profess
ed Christians, in their individual and organized capacities, join hand in hand with infidelity; at least so far as to proscribe, and hand over to the fatherly care of old Apollyon, all those churches, as well as individuals, who, under any circumstances, tolerate the relation as being compatible with a creditable profession of religion. Hence the recent organization of religious bodies, making it under all circumstances a bar to church fellowship; and the untiring effort of those organizations, for opinion's sake, to bring into contempt and infamy all those, whether individuals or churches, who differ from them in the general scriptural view of this vexed question.
We hear it from the pulpit and the platform, we read it from the press, that society would be vastly benefited if the convicts of our penitentiaries were turned loose upon the world, and the ministry, with a few honourable exceptions, (that is, those who embrace their peculiar views) were shut up in their stead; and if any mean or wicked thing has been done in a distant neighbourhood, branded with peculiar marks of atrocity, enormity, and depravity, it is at once attributed to some pro-slavery class-leader, deacon, elder, or preacher. And the churches also come in for a full share of the same exaggerated and denunciatory detraction. They are declared to be the
synagogue of Satan,"—the "mother of harlots," &c., &c.; and are represented by the most coarse and vulgar anecdotes; such as give evidence of a determination the most heated, as well as the most untiring, to heap all the odium that language and circumstances can bring upon her, and thereby bring her into such disrepute as to become, instead of "the praise and glory of the earth,” “a byword and hiss