Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

pro-slavery minister who writes Bible arguments in favor of slavery.

Second-he is a pro-slavery minister who shields such an one from ecclesiastical discipline.

Third-he is a pro-slavery minister who belongs to the old or new school General Assembly, or to any one of the great ecclesiastical bodies.

Fourth—he is a pro-slavery minister who knowingly invités a slave-holding minister into his pulpit.

Fifth, he is a pro-slavery minister who holds fellowship with one of either the the third or the fourth class.

Sixth, he is a pro-slavery minister who holds ministerial fellowship with the fifth class,

We need not pursue the series further-suffice it to say there is no end.

To numbers first, second, and fourth, we yield assent. To all the rest we demur. We specify only the third class those who belong to the old or new school Presbyterian church, and these are our objections. A body composed in part of slaveholders, is not therefore evidently pro-slavery; that is, it is not so manifestly a pro-slavery body as one constituted wholly of slaveholders. For example, the Methodist Episcopal church, prior to its recent division, was not so obviously pro-slavery as the church south is, and consequently, to belong to the former would not afford as much evidence, to say the least, of pro-slavery character in a minister, as to belong to the latter. It must be borne in mind, that in order to convict a particular minister of guilt, it must be proved that he knows or may know that the body of which he is an integral part is pro-slavery, that it is wilfully so, in spite of light and of "remonstrance reiterated with such frequency as to satisfy a reasonable mind that further remonstrance will be futile. Unless it can be proved that the minister in question knows this, we have no right to adjudge him guilty. He may with the purest fealty to antislavery principles retain his connection so long as he conscientiously believes that by so doing he can best promote the cause. Ecclesiastical connection will never, in a sane mind, be construed into sympathy with the body on the question of slavery, or any other, when sympathy is distinctly disclaimed, and the avowed and known intent of the connection is to effect a change in the sentiments and action of the body upon that particular question. It may even be admitted temporarily that the policy of remaining in a body in order to reform abuses in it, can be proved to be unsound, yet it is nevertheless only a question of policy, and every minister has a right to presume the policy sound, and to act accordingly, till the contrary is clearly demonstrated. The presumption is in favor of the course, since mankind universally pursue it, and since especially it has been the uniform policy of the most distinguished and judicious reformers of every age, the exceptions, if any, being very rare. We add, that we do not believe it possible to disprove the correctness of this course.

We have never heard a come-outer attempt it. They find it more convenient to assume its unsoundness. Again, we will suppose it susceptible of proof, not only that such a connection is wretched policy, but positive immorality -sin. We will suppose that the ground may be sustained that the relation is a malum in se, an intrinsic wrong as much so as slavery itself, from which it must follow that it cannot be sanctioned or tolerated on the score of policy. We will not be asked to grant more than this.' But can we argue hence the pro-slavery guilt of a minister, who has acted or is now acting on this policy, and who is sustained by the universal admission that the course involves no wrong? If it is to be hereafter demonstrated to be inherently sinful, it will be time when the new light comes, or rather when it has been generally diffused, to arraign individuals who may then pursue a course in violation of the light. test against all ex post facto laws. It would be the grossest injustice to condemn a minister in advance-before he had so much as heard that the moral rectitude of his course had been called in question. Nothing could be more unchristian. Slavery itself, is not more cruel or inhuman. the most favorable supposition that our friends can ask, the ministers in question stand acquitted of pro-slavery guilt, and their reputation as friends of the slave, (for we have spoken only of the avowed opponents of slavery,) bears not a single stain.

We now add, to obviate any misunderstanding, that we are far from admitting that the connection of an anti-slavery ministers with a so called pro-slavery ecclesiastical body, is in itself a wrong. It is never wrong till all hope of redeeming the body thereby is extinguished, or more properly until it is manifest that the desired end could not be attained without an expenditure of effort which the end would not warrant, or which would accomplish more good if bestowed in some

But we pro

Thus, upon

other way.

[ocr errors]

Thus we have shown, that the minister of the gospel, himself being the friend of the slave, may hold an ecclesiastical connection with a body which admits slaveholders, without being in any way responsible for that wrong, or implicated in it. Before he can be justly held responsible, he must consent to the wrong or connive at it, neither of which, according to the showing, he does. Both his principles and his practice are a loud rebuke of the wrong; for he not only condemns it and remonstrates with his brethren in his place in the body, but in his own church he will neither admit a slaveholder to his pulpit nor to his communion.

We have now gone through with all the classes whom come-outism excludes from Christian fellowship-namely, the church ecclesiastically connected with the large denominations--the church not so connected but holding fellowship with those which are—the church holding in its communion persons associated with the political parties—the church fellowshipping such a church-the individual members of the above churches—and lastly, anti-slavery ministers belonging to the large denominations. We think we have in cach case refuted the arguments on which come-outism rests its doctrines. We have brought them to the test of light, and we have seen that they do not abide the test. We speak now only of the positions which are peculiar to the system, for their never perhaps was a case in which the observation of Cecil was more in point—the system embraces “many new things and many true things but the true things are not new, and the new things are not true.” There is not one doctrine original with the come-outers which is not false.

We promised to state the scripture doctrine of come-outism. This can be briefly done. We refer the reader to Rev., 18th chapter, for a full account of the circumstances. It is the case of mystic Babylon. The angel,“ having come from heaven, with great power, cries mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." The angel's cry is a cry of doom and desolation, implying, what is expressly stated in the connection and elsewhere, that the body seen in vision was irredeemably corrupt, “ the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth.” Her cup was full. 6. Her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities." Hence with the most obvious propriety is the command given-Come out of her, my

[ocr errors]

people, that ye. be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” The case is a perfectly plain one. The conditions are explicit, the duty is imperative. The Bible affords us an instance directly in point, that of Sodom. The city being devoted to destruction, because of its awful corruptions, Lot could effect no good by continuing in it, and could, therefore, have no good reason for remaining; come-outism was accordingly in his case a plain duty. Abraham, on the contrary, was in altogether different circumstances, when, a little while before, the Lord said, “Bea cause the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is grievous, I will go down now, and see if they have done altogether according to the cry of it which is come unto me, and if not I will know.” The doom was not yet resolved upon, though it was meditated. God made this known to Abraham, saying, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?" Abraham, therefore, could yet plead for the cities of the plain, and he did so, furnishing a beautiful example of the course which the true servants of God in every age, most love to follow, that of praying and laboring for the good of men as long as there is a lingering ray of hope.

Scripture come-outism then, is just this. From churches whose cup of iniquity has long been full, which have been wept over and labored with, and entreated, and interceded for in profound humility before God, but which have killed the prophets and stoned them that were sent unto them," whose peace is now forever hid from their eyes, whose doom is determined, and “their damnation slumbereth not,” from such churches let the few righteous who may remain, whether they be forty, twenty, ten or five, come out and be separate. We have seen that the state of the churches, generally, in the free states, by no means meets the conditions upon which the duty of come-outism is predicated in the Bible, therefore come-outism is not, in these cases, a duty. It will be remembered that in the early part of this discussion, we stated that there were cases different from that specified in the 18th of Revelations, in which secession or separation might be called for. This we fully admit, but the warrant in these cases is not found in the command, “Come out of her, my people.” Modern come-outism, on the contrary, draws its warrant directly from that command; --therefore it is proper to apply to it strictly the conditions, upon which the command was given.

We have now done with the doctrines of come-outism. They are sustained neither by reason nor by scripture. Light saith they are not in me, nor I in them. We have reserved to this place some remarks upon the course which come-outism dictates towards men or bodies, upon the discovery being made that they are, unconsciously to themselves, involved in some sinful relation. An example will illustrate the case:-A church or a minister is in the practice of Christian fellowship with some other church or ecclesiastical body which admits slaveholders. The church or the minister is decidedly anti-slavery, and openly hostile to extending fellowship to slaveholders, and would, in no case, consent to the measure; but nevertheless, still maintains fellowship with a church or body which does it. Suppose that, entirely contrary to the general opinion of Christians and abolitionists, it should, before the expiration of this year, be discovered and incontestably proved, that such a connection was a virtual sanction of the practice of admitting slaveholders to the communion, and wholly incompatible with the slightest claim to anti-slavery integrity. We ask now what course should be pursued in reference to the church or ministers sustaining such connection? Comeoutism, we have seen, takes this course. It pronounces the church corrupt—the minister a slaveholder. It says, come out from the one-denounce the other. We affirm that a more anti-reform principle could not be advanced. There is not a reform in existence which would not have been strangled in its cradle by the application of such a principle. All reforms originate substantially in the same way, that is by the discovery of a new and unthought of application of some familiar truth. The temperance refcrm, for example, originated thus—the common-place truth that no man ought to indulge in the use of any thing which is hurtful and unnecessary, was applied to the use of ardent spirits. The announcement was accordingly made forthwith that the use of distilled liquors as a beverage was wrong and ought to be abandoned. What if the fortunate discoverer of that doctrine had begun forthwith to flash and fulminate anathemas against all who used ardent spirits ? Every body would have been repelled, and the fellow would have been pronounced a madman or a fanatic; and that probably would have sealed the fate of the temperance reformation. Common sense teaches us to pursue an entirely different course.

In the progress of the great temperance reformation, an

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »