A Church going into business.
Yes, and such a business!
None of your vulgar huckstering!
your small barter of such insignificant commodities as rice, cotton, corn or tobacco!
Had the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which met at Evansville, Indiana
, on the 28th of May, A. D. 1859, speculated in steamboats, or sold plantations, or played bull or bear with dubious stocks, somebody might have protested against making God's house a house of merchandise; but the Assembly, jealous of its dignity and emulous of ecclesiastical decorum, traded in nothing meaner than men, and thus preserved from the scandal of a censorious world the respectability of Cumberland Christianity.
This is more pleasing to the fastidious mind, because, as we perceive, a decent demeanor before the world is rigidly inculcated by the Cumberland
creed, the professors of which were warned by the Moderator
, just before
the adjournment, “to walk circumspectly before the community in which they were sojourning.”
might, indeed, have used the spirited words of General Bombastes Furioso
: “Adieu, brave army!
Don't kick up a row.”
He did, indeed, with charming modesty, remind the General Assemblers, that they were “the light of the world,” and he, we presume, may be regarded in some sort, as a pair of snuffers, charged with the responsible duty of keeping the wicks clean from death's-heads and climbers.
We suppose that his advice was heeded, and that the reverend members smoked their cigars and took their toddies discreetly; for we do not hear of any of them in the calaboose — and now for the mercantile speculation of the Cumberland Church!
It seems that Brother Davis, late the Treasurer
of the Assembly, is no more, he having yielded to the Great Extinguisher sometime ago. The Cumberland Christians could have borne their bereavement with tolerable equanimity, if Brother Davis, in the hurry of his departure, had not forgotten to settle his accounts, and had remembered to leave money enough behind him to discharge a balance against him. To speak plainly, although it is painful so to speak, Brother Davis died a defaulter; and the Trustees, as became faithful stewards, forthwith took out that carnal weapon called a writ; secured that worldly result, a judgment: and, finally, obtained against Brother Davis's Administrator that persuasive document styled an execution.
But an execution against a dead Treasurer, even of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, is of small value, unless the sheriff can find something satisfactory where-upon to levy.
So that officer, casting about, discovered a small lot of “niggers” formerly the property of Brother Davis, which the Administrator had put out of his possession by some kind of hugger-mugger, but which he disgorged, so to speak, upon receiving a bond of indemnity.
Then the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church went into market overt, with its little flock of niggers, and did, with many invocations, we suppose, of God's blessing on the transaction, dispose of the same at public vendue, and receive the consecrated cash therefor.
The affair, however, is not yet comfortably settled.
The Administrator threatens an action.
The Widow Davis
threatens another action.
So that the purchase-money remains in the ark of the tabernacle, nor will it be safe for the Assembly to spend a dime of it until all manner of courts of common law and eke of equity, have passed a great variety of decrees, issued a large assortment of injunctions, received various verdicts, listened to many a long-drawn pleading and prosy argument, and increased the sheaf of rebutters and rejoinders, sur-rebutters and sur-rejoinders, to gigantic proportions; and as these luxuries of the law are expensive, it is not improbable — we say it dolorously — that every individual “nigger” will be used up in fees, retainers and other costs, before the affair is terminated.
And what then will become of the missionary work
of the Cumberland Presbyterian Assembly?
For, be it known to the reader, that, when the Assembly had completed this small transaction, and run off its stock of human beings at tolerably high rates, it solemnly dedicated the net proceeds to the missionary cause.
We do not know in what particular part of the world it is proposed to oblige Heaven and favor Christianity, by the noble expenditure of this money; but for once, we hope that the obdurate King
of the Cannibal Islands
will be left to his fate, and that the Cumberlander will remember that charity begins at home.
As these fortunate “niggers” have been permitted, by the wisdom of the Cumberland Church, to devote themselves to the work of extending the arena of the faith, they should at least have the chance of reaping some benefit, personally, from the transaction; so that, when Kentucky
has been thoroughly Christianized and converted, at their personal expense, they may receive, as the result of their devotion, fewer floggings and fuller fare.
But, we ask with great deference, must it not be to each of these favored bondsmen a source of pure and proud satisfaction to know that, in the providence of God, they, the lowly, the oppressed, and the degraded, have been permitted to become living sacrifices upon the altar of the Cumberland
When one of them shall see a new pine steeple glittering with fresh and radiant paint, as it shoots into the air, he may take off his hat, if he have one, and exclaim: “That is my leg!”
When a precious pentecostal season arrives, and the crop of Cumberland
Christians is fast ripening for a glorious harvest, how pleasing it will be for one of the Presbytery
's negroes to cry: “Behold the work of these ten stubbed fingers and of these brawny arms!
I am Paul
and Apollos — behold the glorious increase which God has given!”
Here, then, is another evidence of the unnumbered blessings of Slavery!
Which one of all of us, fervid as may be our devotion, and tender as may be our sympathy with the benighted and gall-embittered world, will do for the Great Cause what these Kentucky
negroes will do?
When the clinking boxes are going up and down the aisles, and with much fervor and noise we deposit our sixpences and shillings, we undoubtedly experience a thrill of satisfaction at our own generosity, and are much soothed by the calm approbation of our own consciences.
But who of us would be willing to mount the auction block, and to listen to the “going, going,” until we finally heard that we were “gone” ? Where is the pious and portly pillar of some prosperous Cumberland church who, as the doxology ended, would not feel uncomfortable upon being told that the missionary cause required his sale, incontinently, and that he must, instead of going home to the piping-hot joint and subsequent pudding, be disposed of to the highest bidder?
Would he not protest?
And if he should swear a little, do you think the Recording Angel
would use indelible ink?
So selfish, so shrinking from self-devotion, so mindful of our own ease, so careless of the souls of our brethren, does this
pernicious freedom make us!
Whereas, we suppose that these poor negroes submitted to their fate without a murmur, and blessed the pious hands which felt their muscles and saw the light of Christian love in the eyes which examined their teeth.
Some natural tears, perhaps, they shed as they marched from home, or from all of home which they had possessed; but a couple of prayers, or a hymn or two, made everything serene, and they submitted to their destiny with all the sweetness of religious resignation.
But, as we have said, the final disposition of the sacred funds is yet uncertain.
General Assembly is holding on with faithful tenacity; but the heirs of the defaulting Treasurer are still active.
If, then, holy negroes should by and by learn that they have not so much benefited the church as the lawyers, the information may cost them a pang.
We are afraid that they will be apt to consider them-selves selves wasted and squandered.
If we ever hear of the end of this matter, we shall take the liberty of informing our readers.
June 13, 1859.