contained in the Expression of Views in 1818, and in 1849 proclaimed that
there has been no information before this Assembly to prove that the members of our Church, in the Slave States, are not doing all they can (situated as they are, in the providence of God) to bring about the possession and enjoyment of liberty by the enslaved,
it is as certain as that “fine words butter no parsnips,” that slaves continued to be bought, held, and sold by members of the “New,” as well as of the Old school Presbyterian Church, and that, while Abolitionists were subject to continued and unsparing denunciation in the common as well as the special organs and utterances of these rival sects, slaveholders often filled the highest seats in their respective synagogues, and Slavery regarded their aimless denunciations and practical tolerance with serene complacency.
With the Baptists and Methodists--two very numerous and important denominations — the case was somewhat different.
Each of these churches was originally anti-Slavery.
The Methodists, in the infancy of their communion, were gathered mainly from among the poor and despised classes, and had much more affiliation with slaves than with their masters.
Their discipline could with great difficulty be reconciled with slaveholding by their laity, while it decidedly could not
be made to permit slaveholding on the part of their Bishops; and this impelled the secession, some twenty years since, of the “Methodist Church South,” carrying off most, but not all, of the churches located in the Slave States
The General Conference held at Cincinnati
in 1836 solemnly disclaimed “any right, wish, or intention, to interfere with the civil and political relation between master and slave, as it exists in the slaveholding States of this Union,” condemned two ministers who had delivered Abolition lectures, and declared the opponents of Abolition “true friends to the Church
, to the slaves of the South
, and to the Constitution
of our Country.”
The Baptists of Virginia
, in General Assembly, 1789, upon a reference from the session of the preceding year, on motion of Elder John Leland
Resolved, That Slavery is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with republican government; and therefore we recommend it to our brethren to make use of every measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land; and pray Almighty God that our honorable Legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy.
But no similar declaration has been made by any Southern Baptist
State Convention since field-hands rose to $1,000 each, and black infants, at birth, were accounted worth $100. On the contrary, the Southern Baptists
have for thirty years been among the foremost champions of slaveholding as righteous and Christian
, and the Savannah River
Baptist Association in 1835 gravely decided that slave husbands and wives, separated by sale, should be at liberty to take new partners; because
such separation, among persons situated as our slaves are, is civilly a separation by death, and they believe that, in the sight of God, it would be so viewed.
To forbid second marriages, in such cases, would be to expose the parties not only to greater hardships and stronger temptations, but to church censure for acting in obedience to their masters, etc., etc.