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through the influence of this adventitious support it has found favour among good men.
1. On the phrase—“the blessings of personal liberty"-listen to Thomas Nott, whose “ Slavery and the Remedy" you so highly commend. “ Unhappily, this question of well-being, is kept out of sight amidst the earnest discussions of the times. Personal freedom is assumed as an absolute good, and in this “petitio principii' the great question of practical well-being is altogether overlooked. Admit the evil to be such that no man can rightly reduce another man to slavery, any more than to poverty, sickness, or broken bones; admit that slavery as it is has more woes than belong to a merely servile condition, and demanding the speediest possible remedy; it does not follow hence, that the whole condition of the enslaved requires to be changed, without discrimination of the evil and the good. You must remove the evil, but you must not remove the good; you must remove the injurious and destructive, but you must not remove the beneficial and conservative. A Christian State, philanthropic and patriarchal, is bound to abolish just so much of slavery as it is, as is injurious, and no more; to retain just so much as is beneficial, and no less; seeking in very deed the wellbeing of the enslaved race, and that common good in which alone their welfare can be found.” (pp. 24, 25 )
2. On the phrase—“ when Providence shall open the way for it"-I remark, Providence never does “open the way”-in the sense in which you use that expression—for any change, unless well-being is to be promoted thereby. In writing, then, in terms which imply that Providence will open the way for the slave's recovering his personal freedom—for you write, “ when Providence shall," and not, if Providence shall-you are assuming a second time the controverted point, “that personal freedom is an absolute good.”
Strip your proposition of this double petitio principii, and it will stand, - We regard the Christian instruction of the slaves, as a means to an end, and that end is their emancipation before very long.
Here I take issue with you. I affirm that the question of the emancipation of the slave is one with which “ Christian instruction," i. e. the instruction of the Church-for so the “higher end" you mention requires me to understand that phrase—has nothing directly to do. The Church has no right to set before herself such an end, as an end either higher or lower, of her labours.
You and I hold one opinion respecting the nature of the Church. The Church is no Voluntary Society, constituted by man, and therefore, liable to be modified and fashioned at his will. It is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. From him it derives its charter. His word is its law. By his instructions the Church is to abide, teaching all that he has commanded; and where he has given no command, placing her hand upon her lips.
On this matter of emancipation, Christ has given no command to his Church. The Word of God contains no deliverance, either express or clearly implied, respecting it. Hence, I affirm, the Church has no right to make a deliverance respecting it; much less, to set it before herself as an end of her labours. For an examination of 1 Cor. 7:21, “if thou mayest be made free, use it rather"-I refer you to the “ Chn. Doc. Slav.,” especially the remarks on pp. 71-74.
The question of emancipation is a question concerning civil rights, and the relations of capital and labour, and is therefore essentially a political and not a religious question. And the Bible treats it just as it treats all other questions of the same kind-it makes no deliverance on the subject--but leaves it to be determined by the State, in view of her responsibility to God for the well-being of the subject; the Church having no right to interfere.
So important does the observance of this distinction between the proper province of the Church and the State appear to me, especially at the present time, that I have discussed the subject at some length in the “ Christian Doctrine of Slavery.” Let me apply the principles there laid down to the two points in which we differ. Christ requires the Church to teach that the relations which slavery establishes are not sinful relations; and to teach the duties which grow out of those relations, to masters and slaves alike, and by her discipline to enforce the discharge of those duties, in so far as her members are concerned. Here her duty ceases. member of the Church believe that slavery is a political evil?-as a teacher and ruler in the Church, I have no difference with him. Does he teach this his faith, but teach it somewhere else than in the pulpit ?-I have no difference with him. Does he, availing himself of the rights which belong to a citizen in a republic, act and vote in accordance with this, his faith ?-I have no difference with him. And on the other hand, Does another believe that slavery is a political good, and teach and act upon this, his faith ?-I have no more difference with him than I had with the former. So with respect to emancipation. Does any Christian citizen believe that he ought to aim at the ultimate or even speedy emancipation of the slaves in our Southern States ?-I have no difference with him on this account. Does he teach and labour to carry into effect these his views, in a lawful way?-I have no difference with him. And on the other hand, Does another believe that he ought to aim at the perpetuation of slavery, and teach and act upon this his faith, provided he does it lawfully ?-I have no difference with him therefor. These are all questions which lie outside the province of the Church. Anti-slavery and pro-slavery men, if the terms antislavery and pro-slavery be understood to refer to the question of expediency, or political good and evil, may all be alike worthy members of the Church. Differences on such points as these should no more interfere with their hearty co-operation in building up the
kingdom of God in the world, than differences respecting the tariff, or the distribution of the public lands. But does any man, anti-slavery or pro-slavery, attempt to bring these matters into the Church, that he may get from the Church a decision, or enlist the Church in the cause he has espoused, I meet him at the threshold with the Master's command: “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's," as well as "unto God the things that are God's.” (Matt. 22 : 21.)
The commission Christ has given his Church, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," requires her to preach that Gospel to the slave as well as the master. The inevitable effect, an effect which God designed, of this preaching, when faithfully done, must be the elevation of those to whom it is preached. But this truth no more necessarily implies the disappearance of slavery than it does the disappearance of poverty from among men. If, in time, the well-being of the slave-well-being in the highest and most comprehensive sense of that phrase-requires his emancipation, his emancipation will just as certainly take place as that God rules. And just as firmly as I believe this, do I believe, that when it comes, if come it does, as national independence came to our country, it will come without any violation of that order which God has established in the world; and hence, through the agency of the State, and not that of the Church.
You cannot be ignorant of the fact that the question of emancipation is a question surrounded with many difficulties—and let me add, difficulties which grow out of the obligation to provide for the well-being of the slave, far more than the master-and is a question upon which good and wise men honestly differ. Bishop Hopkins, of Vermont, for example, in his “ American Citizen," a work which does credit alike to his head and his heart, contends for ultimate emancipation. Rev. Thomas Nott, of Massachusetts (and I purposely take cases from among the inhabitants of non-slaveholding States), of whom you speak as “a returned missionary, one of the earliest of the self-sacrificing band who went forth to the heathen," and who, hence, may fairly be presumed to be a godly man, and one practically acquainted with man in a degraded condition, on the other hand, in his “Slavery and the Remedy,” takes opposite ground; and all his remedial suggestions are predicated upon the perpetuation of slavery in the Southern States. These men, no doubt, honestly differ; and they have a right to differ here, without the Church calling either in question for his opinion.
You will now see clearly the grounds upon which I object to your opinion. They are :
1st. It determines what the Word of God leaves undetermined. In this it is extra-scriptural.
2d. It calls for uniformity of opinion where Christ allows liberty. In this it is unscriptural.
3d. It obtrudes the Church into the province which God has assigned to the State. In this it is anti-scriptural.
You will see, too, why in the “ Christian Doctrine of Slavery,” you could find no expression of opinion on the subject of emancipation. There was no expression of opinion there. I expressly disclaimed the intention of treating slavery as a civil or political question. That had been done by others far more ably than I could hope to do it; and I had nothing new to offer on the subject. A brief and faithful exhibition of what Christ and his Apostles taught, i. e., a discussion of slavery as a religious question, it seemed to me might do good; and to this I pledged myself in the “ Preface.' The responsibility resting upon the preacher, in the pulpit, and the expositor of Scripture—whether his exposition be monographic or general—when writing for the press, is a very solemn responsibility. His duty is clearly set forth in the words: “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me, (Ezek. 3:17.) The mixture of human opinions with God's truth has been one grand source of the evil which the Church has suffered in connection with this very matter; of this, I shall take occasion to speak more fully in my last letter.
Your testimony—“On this point (i. e. emancipation) he is less explicit and full than we could desire. Indeed, his cautious language in one paragraph indicates a timidity and uncertainty entirely uncalled for; and some might even suppose that his views were either indifferent to emancipation, or even opposed to it. This we do not believe; but the paragraph reminds us of the doctrine of the Puseyites, who at times practise reserve in the communication of religious knowledge"-I was glad to receive: and I can well afford to pardon the lack of holiday dress in which the messenger presents himself, for the sake of the tidings which he brings.
In concluding this letter, let me say-Do not confound the cause of Liberian Colonization, with the question respecting the general, ultimate emancipation of the slaves in our Southern States. The ground upon which our ablest Christians, philanthropists, and statesmen have advocated that cause would remain, even if it were determined that a general emancipation would never take place.
On this point, Bishop Hopkins has well written—" That a portion of the slaves will always be found worthy to be emancipated, as being possessed of more industry and talent than the average, is doubtless true, and such cases may safely be trusted to their master's liberality, or to the interest which they rarely fail to excite amongst others. That there is another portion likely to be dissatisfied and refractory is also true, and the number of slaves who run away affords the evidence. But there are exceptions to the general rule, about as numerous, perhaps, as the cases amongst the free labourers of other countries, where a few, possessed of extraordinary energy, are seen to rise up from a very low beginning, and another few prove worthy of the penitentiary; while the vast majority continue where they were, through the slavery of circumstances, which proves to be about as strong as any other kind of bondage, amongst the masses of mankind. For that portion who desire and are qualified for freedom, our Southern philanthropists have provided, of their own accord, the noble colony of Liberia, now advanced so far as to be an object of great interest among the nations." American Citizen, pp. 134, 135.
Here is ground upon which the Christian philanthropist who believes that the general emancipation of the slaves in our Southern States will never take place, may yet consistently advocate the cause of Liberia. And let me add—if we believe the testimony of such men as Dr. J. L. Wilson (see his “Western Africa"), and other judicious pious men who have been in Liberia—that colony is likely to receive accessions from this source alone, as large as she will be able to receive with safety to herself, for years to come: and no more disastrous event could occur to her, at the present time, than the landing upon her shore, not fifty but even five thousand emancipated slaves per annum, as has been proposed in some of the schemes of emancipation which find favour with good men, especially in the Northern States.
GEORGE D. ARMSTRONG.
THREE CONSERVATIVE REPLIES.
LETTER NO. II.
DR. VAN RENSSELAER'S REPLY TO DR. ARMSTRONG, ON
EMANCIPATION AND THE CHURCH.
TO THE REVD. GEORGE D. ARMSTRONG, D.D.:-I certainly did not expect, when I penned the paragraph, which you find fault with in your second letter, to become engaged in a controversy about “ EMANCIPATION AND THE CHURCH.” My stand-point was that of a private citizen, and I gave utterance to a sentiment, which, I supposed, would find a response in the bosom of any Christian slaveholder on his plantation. The idea of expounding the duty of the Church, in its official capacity, was not in my mind at all. I ask you to look at the plain terms of the paragraph:
“We regard the Christian instruction and elevation of the slaves as a means to an end, and that end is the recovery of the blessings of personal liberty, when Providence shall open the way for it. The higher end is the salvation of their souls.'
This paragraph simply declares the Editor's private opinion in regard to the providential antecedents which must necessarily exist, prior to the fitness of the slaves for the blessings of personal liberty. A Christian man ought also, as I supposed, to have the end in view, as well as to keep the means in operation.