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far as she fails in giving due prominence to all such useful lessons of instruction, she is recreant to her duty in the great commission received from her Lord. But this is to be done by moral suasion; or the clear exhibition of these principles, in their practical utility and beneficial results; and not by arraying the Church against the government; nor yet by excluding from her fellowship persons who, by the operation of a civil power they did not personally create, and cannot personally control, are involved in a great evil; which, in its general character and consequences—aside from the circumstances above named-may be a great sin, without an express or clearly implied warrant from the word of God.
It may be objected here, that, numerically, the individual members of the Church have, as citizens of the State, the control of the ballot-box; and, failing to use it, do, as Christian citizens, become responsible for the cvil; and therefore the Church would now be justified in their exclusion from her pale, and making it in future a bar to communion. This objection, we think, is not well founded, not being sustained by the facts in the case, the statistics of the Church showing that the majority of the citizens of the State are not members of the Church; and therefore, as Christian citizens, they are in the minority, and have not the control of the civil power.
But allowing, for the sake of argument, that they have the numerical strength by which to control the civil power; and having failed to use it, is it not the duty of the Church to excommunicate them? Should we grant this, still it does not follow that the Church would have the right to refuse admission to other applicants for membership connected with the evil, because the individual members of the Church have, as citizens of the State, failed to do their duty.
But it is further objected, that the professing portion of the community, with their influence, that is, the numbers they could bring with them to the ballot-box, have the numerical strength to control the civil power; and not having done so, therefore it is the duty of the Church, so far as the membership who are connected with the evil is concerned, to exclude them; and why not those unconnected with the evil ? who, in respect to the evil, have failed to do their duty at the ballot-box; and thus well-nigh unchurch the Church?
But if we should, for the sake of argument, admit this also; still the former difficulty occurs in all its force, and she therefore remains liable to a connexion with the evil.
We, however, doubt the correctness of this last objection; the moral sentiment of the age is not sufficiently matured to sustain it. And you ask where lies the blame in this matter? Possibly in different directions; partly in the weakness and slowness of the human mind—enervated and clouded by sin--to discover, examine, comprehend, and carry out, in their practical bearings, those great principles which are to work this moral improvement;—and partly on the Church, for not having, as the light of the world, furnished the necessary amount of instruction to form such moral sentiment. But she cannot now consistently atone for past delinquency, by excluding and debarring from her pale those who, by her neglect, are not qualified for this lofty range of moral duty. Now admitting the premises in this argument, namely, the separation of the Church from the State, and the supremacy of the civil power ; the conclusion, as it seems to us, is inevitable, that it is not competent for the Church, under the present condition of organized society, to make the simple act of slaveholding, aside from the abuses of the system, a bar to Christian fellowship. It would be a violation of the great principle laid down in Scripture, “that it is required according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." Thus, we think, by a simple course of obvious reasoning, we have arrived at the conclusion, so far as this view of the subject is concerned, that the Church is not pro-slavery.
This is a subject, at this particular juncture, of superlative importance to the American Church. And the writer feels exceedingly solicitous to be correct in the views he may entertain and advance on a question so momentous. And if, by any species of illusion, he has so far imposed upon his own understanding as to lead him from the path of truth, he is not aware of it; and on being convinced—not by hard words, but by hard arguments—that he is in error, he will immediately renounce it.
But it is claimed, on the principles here laid down the separation of the Church and State, and the supremacy of the civil power--that the Church would be bound to admit to her communion highwaymen, adulterers, drunkards, &c., if such practices were authorized by the laws of the State. The examination of this objection will form the subject matter of our next section.
OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED.THAT THE SAME PRINCIPLES THAT RECEIVE SLAVE
HOLDERS INTO THE CHURCH, REQUIRE THE RECEPTION OF HIGHWAYMEN,
ADULTERERS, AND MURDERERS.
In conformity with our promise, we will now examine the above objection—that the Church being subordinate to the State, &c. This objection, frequently and clamorously urged by many, may, on first sight, appear not only formidable, but really insurmountable. We are not so far intimidated by its supposed Alpine strength, as to be deterred from approaching it with the lamp of reason and the light of truth, to examine its base, structure, and proportions, and ascertain whether there is not more sand than rock, more speciousness than solidity about it.
And, first; when we look fairly at it, there appears on its face what logicians call "a begging of the question;" it being assumed that the laws of the State do authorize all these and like practices, which is not the fact with regard to either or any of them. For they are all taken and held in law to be offences against the State; and all persons so offending are, on conviction thereof, liable to the penalties of the law. The objection thus far is only sand.
But it may be inquired, Do not the laws of the State license houses of drunkenness and debauchery? Facts compel us, in the nineteenth century, to answer, to our great reproach, that such is the law. But granting this, it does not follow that persons guilty of these practices are, on application, to be received into the Church; for this plain and sufficient reason—the license laws merely allow, or authorize, such houses ; but do not compel any person, or persons, to keep
them ; much less do they compel any man, woman, or child, in all the land, to frequent them, and revel in their midnight orgies of intemperance and unclean
Whereas the laws of the State, with regard to slavery, do compel a man to become a slaveholder or
For instance; the laws of many of the slaveholding States run thus : My father may be the owner of one hundred slaves; he is about to die : by his last will and testament he leaves those slaves to me. Thus, by the strong arm of the law, I am made a slaveholder, possibly without my knowledge or consent. For we believe it is the practice, to some extent, for wills to be made privately ; the heirs knowing little or nothing about their contents. Or suppose he dies without a will, and that I am his only heir, or one among many, as the case may be; by the law of the State in this case also, I become the owner of slaves, whether I will or not. So that the cases are not parallel in any rational view we can take of them; and the objection, therefore, totally fails; it being all sand and show, having no rock or solidity about it.
But in this connexion it may be well to look at the subject in another direction. It is urged, if the law has forced me into slavery, I can liberate the slaves, and thus secure their freedom. Should we allow this, for the sake of argument, it does not help the objection
For it does not show how I may keep out of the difficulty or connexion ; but how I may get out when once involved.
And besides, my liberating them is somewhat problematical. I can do it, having the means to remove them to a free State ; otherwise my doing so may not secure their freedom; they being liable, for the want of such removal, to be taken up, and sold the next