« FöregåendeFortsätt »
THAT THE SIMPLE RELATION IS NO BAR TO CHURCH-FEL
FROM THE PRINCIPLES OF GOD'S MORAL AND PROVIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT.
HAVING closed our argument against slavery as an institution of God, we will proceed, in the next place, to the inquiry, Does the Bible authorize the belief, that a man in the relation, or in other words, that a slaveholder, can be a Christian ?—the relation being no bar to church-fellowship.
It will have been observed by the attentive reader, that, in the preceding pages, we have assumed, and endeavoured to show, that the Bible does warrant such belief. And if we have not misinterpreted the passages quoted—which interpretation we have sustained by numerous authorities, the best-accredited and most reputable the Church and the world have produced for centuries—the truth of our position is fairly made out, and the controversy should be at an end. For if, according to the best lights we have, such is the teaching of the Scriptures, on their high and unerring authority, the question is settled : and accordingly bere we might let it rest. For if, in the language of St. Peter, there is in the writings of St. Paul, (and others, according to the wisdom given unto him, some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest unto their own destruction, on them be the fearful responsibility. For is it not to be expected that an administration, involving “ the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, whose judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out,” should, in some of its details, elude our utmost vigilance and most enlarged comprehension ? Such seem to have been the views of the great apostle to the Gentiles, who is universally acknowledged to be a man of mind and letters; and our highest reason and sober judgment approve his modesty. But there are some men in whose vocabulary you cannot find the words “I can't," at anything, or on any subject. They are “Northerners," and men of like stripe from all other quarters. Of course, we don't mean the venerable Bangs, the Pecks, or our good Brother Stevens, of the Conference Journal; nor anybody else in all creation, of kindred views and spirit.
But a regard for honest minds in the pursuit of truth, which are perplexed on account of a supposed difficulty in reconciling the relation of slavery with the government and character of God, prompts us to give the subject a little further attention. In doing which, to avoid, as far as we may, confusion of thought in the investigation of a complicated question, we deem it necessary to make the following preliminary discriminations :
1. That we are not contending for the Divine right of slavery, against which we have entered our veto in the preceding pages.
2. Nor yet for the original act of aggression; by which a freeman is reduced to a state of bondage, by whatsoever method accomplished ; but
3. When it comes in as an element of organized society, hedged about with the legal encumbrances that are thrown around it, and has passed into hands, by testament or otherwise, that had nothing to do with the original act of reducing them from a state of freedom to a state of bondage, nor the enactment of those laws by which the relation is created, regulated, and perpetuated,—it is tolerated. For the sake of clearness we repeat, that under the circumstances above stated, all else being right, it is tolerated, without prejudice to the creditability of the Christian profession of those thus connected with it.
The principle before alluded to, here involved, is: that the Divine administration, in tolerating the relation, under the circumstances, and to the extent above stated, connives at and lends its awful sanction to sin; and that thereby its essential purity and rectitude are implicated, and the lovely character of God, as the “righteous Lord who loveth righteousness,” is given up. But we are not satisfied that this conclusion can be legitimately drawn from the premises. Under the Adamic covenant--or a rule of simple, rigid, unbending law-it would have to be admitted. But we are not now under an administration of pure, simple law: and well for us that we are not, “ for by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh [pro-slavery or anti-slavery] be justified in his sight:" for the all-sufficient reason, that pure or simple
—or law in the abstract, only makes known the evil of our condition as sinners, (" by the law is the knowledge of sin,”) and makes no provision for our deliverance. Hence the nervous language of the apostle above quoted, that "no flesh can be justified by its deeds;" and for these good and valid reasons :-
First. That by transgression, the first covenant or law was forfeited; and,
Secondly. As the result of that transgression, " the mind became carnal,—not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ;" and hence absolutely incapable of any obedience, let alone the perfect obedience the law required. Prior to that transgression, and the withering, ruinous, and desolating effects brought in its train, “when our reason was clear and perfect, unruffled by passion, unclouded by prejudice, or unimpaired by disease or intemperance, the task would have been easy and pleasant ;-we should have needed no other rule. But every man now finds the contrary in his own experience, that his mind is corrupted, and his understanding full of ignorance and error.” Hence the alternative was either to suffer the race to perish in that ignorance, error, and corruption, or superinduce on the original plan of government and providence principles to meet the exigency of the case ; which, in their operation, while, by reason of their fitness and moral goodness, they preserve unblemished the character of God, as the Moral Governor of the world, and the essential rectitude of his government; at the same time vindicate the righteousness of the Divine administration in their adoption, as an act of boundless condescension to the wants and weakness of man. To the honour and glory of God be it published and proclaimed, from the rivers to the ends of the earth, that our babbling race may know, that in the sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession of Jesus Christ, his Son, he has made this provision for us. For the apostle, Romans iii, 21-26, tells us : “But now the righteousness of God without the law
is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets : even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time, his righteousness, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” And further; Romans viii, 3-4: “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Several things of importance to the point in hand are here stated :
1. That God has superseded the covenant of works, by making faith in Christ the condition of our justification.
2. That the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ Jesus vindicates the rectitude or righteousness of the Divine administration, in the superinduction of this new feature of his moral government.
3. The object to accommodate his dispensations to the unfortunate circumstances of our fallen condition; or, in other words, a gracious stoop in the divine administration to the "weakness of the flesh," which simple law, or the law of works, by reason of its unbending nature, could neither tolerate nor provide for.
4. That this act of moral goodness, manifested in the gift of his Son for the purposes above stated, is a