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But we are here reminded, that the objection is not to the fact that the gospel was announced to all nations just as it found them, for the obedience of faith, but to its having tolerated the relation. If, as we have seen, and which, when we take into the account the perversion of human nature, must, as we think, so appear to every rational mind, capable of examining the subject in the light of soberness and truth; a contrary course, --one that strikes directly at the evil, by dissolving the civil and social relations of the parties concerned, and thereby arraying them in deadly hostility to each other, involving the world in all the horrors of universal war and bloodshed, -and thus well-nigh, if not entirely, exterminating the race, would have resulted in these consequences; where would have been either the wisdom or goodness, the justice or mercy, of such a measure? In what sense of the word, in view of these natural and inevitable results, growing out of the weakness of the present disordered state, could it be regarded as a dispensation of mercy? In none, we think, whatever. For when we calmly and dispassionately look over the whole ground, taking things just as they were, does it not manifestly appear, that instead of being a just, wise, and good arrangement, or a dispensation of mercy, it would have been one of the most severe inflictions with which the world could have been visited, by the Moral Governor of the universe ? Such it appears to us, and must, as we think, so appear to every rational mind. Alarm may be here taken, that in our exceptions to the objection urged— that the gospel ought to have prohibited it-we have included and implicated the principles of justice ; we reply :-If, as previously observed, it was just for the Divine Being to suffer the existence of intelligent and accountable creatures under such circumstances, the very same justice requires the exercise of a benevolent regard to those circumstances. And for their ultimate damnation to be determined by circumstances as the necessitating cause, which, in view of the general good, it was better to tolerate, than directly forbid by positive precept, cannot be reconciled with any rational principles of justice of which we can conceive.
But, alas ! our world is not rational, nor does it behave rationally. True, this was originally our crowning distinction; but in the pride of our glory we set up for ourselves, forgetting, or not heeding the maxim, " that young folks think old folks to be fools, but old folks know young folks to be fools;" and, as the result, a mental hallucination has “come over the spirit of our dream,”. ma cheat has “crept into our faith," which is ever and anon leading us astray. And our reason, which constitutes the man, and which was originally given us to control our animal nature, is dethroned; and by nature the entire race presents to our astonished and confounded vision the heart-sickening, soul-destroying, and God-dishonouring spectacle of the brute running off with the man. And, like all other crazy preople, “we pique ourselves on our inch of wit," and sit in judgment on the counsels of our Maker, instead of receiving the law at his mouth; and rashly conclude, that if the depths of the eternal and incomprehensible wisdom and grace displayed in the scheme of human redemption had been submitted to our maniacal dictation, the plan would have been finished, adequate and complete.
And if this state of things was confined wholly to the world, among “vain men who would be wise,” it would be bad enough; but, in the Church, and among those who aspire to a leadership of the sacramental hosts of God's elect, we have a fearful exhibition of the sentiment of the poet, that some men
“Would rather reign in hell than serve in heaven."
Thus, we think, we have demonstrably shown, from the settled principles of the Divine government, from the general spirit and character of Christianity, from the teaching of the Scriptures, and from reason, that the Divine character and government, instead of being tarnished by their infinite condescension, in meeting the conditions in which mankind in this revolting province of our Maker's dominions are providentially found, receives an illustration of sublimity, in moral goodness, grandeur, and glory, that may well challenge our babbling earth, from the east, west, north, and south, to triumph with the Psalmist, in the glorious truth, that “The Lord reigneth ; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him;" but "righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne :” and, we will add, in view of the interest and confidence that the inhabitants of other worlds may have in the rectitude of his government, let all the heavenly host respond, Amen! and in one loud, long, and eternal peal of praise, shout, “ Alleluia ; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth," and not sectarian bigotry.
THE PERFECT AGREEMENT OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY OF THE METHO
DIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH WITH THE TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES, ON
THE SUBJECT OF SLAVERY.
As we set out with the object of defending the present position and ecclesiastical law of the Methodist Episcopal Church from the charge of pro-slaveryism, and of showing its strict conformity to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures, in regard to this unhappy question, let us see, as far as possible, how closely they approximate.
To do this to the best advantage, it may be useful, at this stage of the investigation, to recapitulate the important principles elaborated from the Bible that bear directly on this question. And,
First. The Bible lays down the principle, that the incipient movement in this inhuman and Heaven-insulting business, is a crime of the greatest magnitude that a man can commit against his fellow-man, and deserving a corresponding punishment: “He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, shall surely be put to death."
The law of the Methodist Episcopal Church strikes at the root of this business, by declaring that none who buy men, women, (or) and children, with an intention to enslave them, can belong to her communion.
Second. When it has become an element of civil society, interwoven with all the relations of the social state, and hedged about with all the solemn forms and intricacies of law, in the hands of those who did not originate the evil, the Bible tolerates it, as compatible with the Christian character of both master and slave: “And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.” 1 Tim. vi, 2.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, for the same reasons or considerations, allows it in her membership; as her law, declaring it a great evil, and requiring emancipation under circumstances specified in that law, abundantly proves. This is its spirit.
Third, The Bible, in tolerating it, throws all those guards around it which are calculated to make the very best of it under the circumstances.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, by her missions among slaves on the plantations, and her law requiring their religious instruction, and her members to allow them time for the public worship of God, does the same thing.
Fourth. The principles, spirit, and teaching of the Bible all conspire to declare it a great evil.
The laws of Methodism lift their voice in the same general condemnation: “ We declare we are as much as ever convinced of the great evil of slavery.
Fifth. The Bible, as we have seen, manifestly looks to its final overthrow, by the power of Christian principle.
The laws of the Methodist Episcopal Church, that work the forfeiture of the ministerial character of those who are, or become connected with it, where the laws of the State will admit of emancipation, and allow the liberated slave to enjoy freedom, are, on this subject, “ like the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”