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alway, even unto the end,” gird herself to the conflict, and go forth into this black field, “white unto the harvest," and tell these oppressed captives their high origin, vast capacities, and higher destinies through grace, if they will only knock under to the claims and reign of the blessed Jesus, who came “to bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim deliverance to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them who are bound;" and who, in pursuance of this object, laboured, suffered, died, rose; and thus, triumphing over principalities and powers, at last ascended into heaven, to appear in the character of the world's High Priest before the throne of God, making intercession for us and them. We repeat: Let her buckle on the “armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," and go forth, as God commands, “to preach the gospel to every creature." What if, in the onset, a few Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abed-negos, are cast into the burning fiery surnace, or Daniels into the lions' den, or Peters, Pauls, Silases, and their coadjutors, are cast into prison, and finally put to death? The truth will finally triumph. And if the thrones of Chaldea, Babylon, Judea, and Rome, do not tremble to their foundations under the workings of its mighty power--these more notoriously and palpably treasonable insults to God and humanity will soon fall before its onward and conquering march.
And this prediction is virtually already more than realized, in the language of Dr. William A. Smith, of Virginia; who has said in substance, that the Methodist Episcopal Church in that State has power enough to crush the whole system. We are slow to believe it; but would at the same time hope that it is even so; and that she will, in a scriptural and rational way, forthwith harness herself for the battle.
And first, as an organization, if it be necessary, resist unto blood and death, at the post of moral and religious duty, (“committing the care and keeping of their souls to God in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator,') those laws, if they really do exist, which forbid the mental, moral, and religious culture of the slave ; with which, in the days of our boyhood, ourself, in conjunction with others, were threatened, and which operated to break up a Sabbath-school designed for their instruction.
And, secondly; as citizens, having the political power of the commonwealth, by such amendments of the constitution and laws of the State as shall blot forever from the escutcheon of their future history all the ignoble traces of this wretched system, at once their own, humanity's, and the reproach of God.
We feel for and sympathize in its wounded honour. It is our native State. We love its mountains; we love its hills ; we love its rocks; we love its valleys; we love its groves; we love its streams, over, through, among, and along which, we gambolled in all the sportive innocence and gayety of youth; in which we were born, and, with adoring gratitude we name it, “ born again”-and to which, in our expatriation, we have often thought of again returning :and as often as we have thus thought, has the spectre of slavery--this charm and spell of the devil, in which our native State is bound-started up in hideous, frightening, repelling forms before us, in the shape of legal, moral, and social barriers, more unsurpassable and impenetrable than its rivers, groves, and valleys; stronger than its rocks, and higher than its hills and mountains. If he can, may God have mercy, and grant the needful aid.
That the pure and holy religion of the blessed Jesus, taught and enforced in the Holy Scriptures, when properly understood in all its practical bearings, will lead, yea, impel us, from a principle of conscience, to use our influence in a constitutional, orderly, peaceful way, to remove the existing legal impediments, and thus prepare the way of the Lord for the achievement of this moral triumph, is fully believed. And we know not how to reconcile a contrary course on the part of professing Christians, unless it be that they, on this subject, by reason of the dense cloud that hangs over the path of duty, in the shape of conflicting opinions which have darkened counsel by words without knowledge, together with the "ways and means " whereby to make emancipation a boon to them, are so bewildered as only to "see men as trees walking.” We hope, however, before we get through this little work, if we can be pardoned for our seeming egotism, to reflect so much light-or perchance more modestly, as well as more appropriately, so to concentrate on the path of duty the rays of light which break upon our mental and moral vision, from the blaze of God's inspiration, that, to keep up the figure, if we shall not now every man clearly," we may so far prepare the way of the Lord on this subject, that some more able pen may step forward, and so trace it out, step by step, that the “wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein.”
These legal obstructions must first be removed. For, after all the big guns, little guns, and pop-guns, that have saluted our ears, on the duty of the Church
to take high ground, making slavery a bar to communion, in contravention of existing civil law, we repeat, where is your Scriptural authority for so doing? It is answered: Manstealing is forbidden in the Scriptures--slavery is manstealing—therefore to be rejected by the Church. This assumption has already been sufficiently refuted. * Again : oppression in general, and oppression of the poor in particular, are condemned in the Scriptures as unchristian. Admitted. But, as before observed, these terms are of general application to all sorts of oppression ; and, from that consideration, insufficient to determine this controversy, especially in the face of a specific law tolerating it.
But in the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah we are commanded to "unloose the heavy burdens, let the oppressed go free, and break off every yoke.” This is also admitted. But the question here is: Does it, when properly understood, support the doctrine of non-slaveholding as a condition of church-membership? We know it is paraded with all confidence, as decisive of the question. And also, that in some directions a man will risk his reputation for sanity, and be regarded rather as a fit subject for the lunatic asylum, than as an expounder of the word of God, if he questions the soundness of the construction. Nevertheless, we must incur the fearful responsibility, by challenging the correctness of the interpretation, and positively claiming it in support of the doctrine of these pages. The prophet is reproving, in a very severe manner, those addressed, for their mockery and desecration of sacred things. And if the charges brought against them were true, they richly merited the withering rebukes administered. But the question here comes up, who is addressed ? To whom does the language, “ Let the oppressed go free, and break off every yoke," directly apply? Was it to the nonslaveholding members of the Church? This, as it appears to us, as its true and legitimate sense or meaning, should be fairly made out by those who claim it in support of the doctrine that the relation is a bar to church fellowship. But is such its import? Can any man of common sense, with one grain of candour about him, answer in the affirmative ? We think not; and that for the plain and obvious reason, that the context, beyond all controversy, settles it otherwise. It is addressed to the Jews as a nation, as the reader may see, by referring to the first and second verses of said chapter; in which capacity they were guilty of the oppressions here charged against them, and which, as a nation, they were commanded to put away. To illustrate it :-Suppose this government, which has basely (though we hope without due reflection) connived at and lent the weight of its sanction and protection to African slavery and the slave-trade, from which as yet it has not washed its hands, should proclaim a fast, having no reference to humiliation or repentance for its blood-guiltiness in this matter; the language of the prophet—"Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free; and that ye break off every yoke"would apply in all its force. And should the nation hear and obey the language of the prophet, "and bring forth fruits meet for repentance,” by removing all those legal obstructions which it has thrown around the relation, and do all in its power to repair its own wrongs to bleeding Africa, and should the