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Sixth. The Bible in its principles, spirit, and teaching, manifestly, and, as we think, rationally, supposes that the most wise, good, and holy men who embrace it, will occupy advanced ground, in furtherance of its achievements and moral triumphs, till all earth's jubilee shall be realized and proclaimed.
The laws and usages of Methodism, supposing her general superintendents, or bishops and preachers, to be the most wise and holy of the Church, endeavour to keep them as far as possible from the evil of slavery.
Seventh. The Bible seeks only by the power of moral goodness to subvert the principle, and thus break down the practice, without arraying the Church against the State.
The laws of the Methodist Episcopal Church recognize the supremacy of the civil power, as the ordinance of God. And only by the influence of the principles of moral goodness does she attempt to interfere in this matter. And as the great Master, who, by reason of the 5 weakness of the flesh," or hardness and unbelief of mankind, could not do all the good he would ; so Methodism, in all her borders,* sighs over an evil beyond her power to remove.
Now how any man, with any semblance of truth, can deny her Scriptural position, and represent her as pro-slavery, is totally beyond our powers of con* At the time this was written, the author, judging from the lanception. True, superficial minds, that sean the surface of things, without looking at it as connected with God's moral and providential government of the world, may see that slavery, in the language of Methodism, “is a great evil ;" and from this mere glance at the surface, draw hasty and weak conclusions. But it is only this class that will do so. For, as we have before intimated, which is testimony of great weight in vindication of this last proposition, the Church has never presented a man, of acknowledged reputation as a critic or commentator, that supports the pretensions of these new measures.
of the Discipline, and professions of sympathy for the condition of the poor slave which he had heard in behalf, and read from the pens of Southern Methodists, supposed he was giving utterance to nothing more than truth in this general declaration. Subsequent developments, or developments which have subsequently come to his notice, have led him in behalf of the South to doubt the correctness of the sentiment. Many of their distinguished men claim it to be Divinely appointed, and therefore right. Hence, there is, with those so understanding it, no occasion to "sigh over it.”
We repeat, the laws of Methodism are so fully and entirely accordant with the Holy Scriptures on the subject of slavery, that we have sometimes been tempted to think that more than human wisdom presided in or over the deliberations which brought them to their present maturity, and conformed them so essentially to the pattern given in the “holy mount.”
It is, however, claimed by some, and may be urged by others, that the laws of the Church which, under certain specified conditions, require the ministry to execute deeds of emancipation, should be of indiscriminate application to the whole Church. This objection appears to be of some weight; and as such, is entitled to attention.
There would seem to us to be two reasonable grounds in the premises, why the objection is not valid, and therefore has not the weight or importance attached to it. And,
First. According to the great law of Christianity, “ It is required of a man according to what he hath, and not according to what he hath not." Now, from the very complicated manner in which the subject of
this relation is presented in the Holy Scriptures, and the confusion of thought that has almost universally obtained among statesmen, ministers, and laymen, as to its comparative guilt or innocence, is it fairly to be presumed, that there is abroad in the Church and the world a sufficient amount of clear and discriminating light, to mark and determine the essential sinfulness of the simple relation to be such as to bar a creditable profession of religion in that relation? If the premises warrant the conclusion, such would be the duty, and such should be the law of the Church. But in view of the unsettled state of public and the Church's opinion, and that too among those who have had the best opportunities of arriving at definite and correct conclusions with regard to it, we dare not say, nor do we think any other sane mind will attempt to say, that such is the state of the question.
Secondly. The ministry is the property of the whole Church; and as such, in our peculiar economy, liable to removals from North to South, and from the South to the North, as may, in the wisdom of the Church, be judged best for the general good. And in this feature of Methodist polity, the Church, in view of the “ weakness of the flesh,” or present disordered state, in order the more effectually to carry out the great purposes of her mission, has adopted the great Christian law of expediency, as best suited to the providential circumstances of our existence; a principle that cannot so readily apply to the laity in their permanent locations.
In addition to the above, they, from their vocation as ministers, may rationally be supposed to be more conversant with the Scriptures, and therefore in the possession of more light on this subject, than belongs to the people generally; and hence, on the great law that "it is required according to what a man hath," discriminatingly responsible for a more elevated position. We therefore conclude, the objection is not well founded.
But it may be further urged, that this reasoning is too loose, on so grave a subject; that truth is truth, and duty is duty, arising from that truth; and that if truth is eternal, and slavery a violation of that truth, how can the standard of Christian duty, consistently with truth, be let down to the loose principles above stated ? We reply, that while we admit, on the one hand, that truth is eternal, we claim, on the other hand, that it is also an eternal truth that the Divine administration cannot be carried on, on this or any other question of human responsibility, on any other principle than the one above laid down, that "it is required according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." Now for the providential government of God to determine the bounds of our habitation, in connexion with this evil, and our whole education from infancy to manhood, such as to make the impression, if not of its rightfulness, at least of its comparative innocence; and if, in connexion with this, the revelation of God contains many tolerant allusions to it, which the most intelligent ultra-abolitionist never has and never can explain away, as not bearing on the relation; and, added to this, that the question is so mixed up in the teaching of the Scriptures with the other relative duties of society, thạt (to our knowledge, unless this should be so regarded) no man has as yet attempted to trace it in its connexion with the Divine administration, so as to dissipate the mists and darkness that hang around it, and show
up clearly its true position ;-we repeat, till this be done, and the question be made so clear and outstanding, as to be no longer one of “doubtful disputation," but unequivocally involving a principle of conscience, we cannot, on the great law above stated, be condemned in an- administration of perfect rectitude. And if the principle holds good in the government of God, what sufficient reason have we for departing from it on the subject of this relation ?
True Wesleyanism and kindred movements may, if they choose, return to the dark ages of popery, and revive the claim of Divine right to make void this principle of the law of God through their traditions, and thus set up that essentially tyrannical, proscriptive, and wicked principle, that denies the right of private judgment. But we humbly trust that the intelligence of the community is such as not to be gulled by these false appearances, however plausibly presented.
That the principle involved amounts to the grave charge we have brought against them, is clear from the following considerations :
First. Our Maker has formed us with mental and moral powers, to seek and know the truth. And, ,
Secondly, Has given us a revelation containing the rules of moral duty suited to our capacities, and the circumstances of our existence, and has called upon us to “search the Scriptures,” that we may know and do our duty.
Thirdly. Now if, in searching those Scriptures, after the best reasonings we can bestow upon the subject, aided by the best lights within our reach, we honestly arrive at the conclusion, that the simple relation which was found in existence at the time they