Thus adapting Christianity to Slavery, instead of requiring that Slavery be made to square with the requirements of Christianity.
And this is a fair specimen of what has passed for religion at the South
for the last thirty or forty years.
In full view of these facts, the Northern
and Southern Baptists met for thirty years in Triennial Convention, over which slaveholders usually presided, and wherein the righteousness of slaveholding could not, therefore, without seeming rudeness, be questioned.
Abolition might be freely stigmatized; slaveholding was tacitly admitted to be just and proper by the very constitution of the body.
And by no sect or class have anti-Slavery inculcations been more virulently reprobated than by the Baptists of the South
The Free-Will Baptists, several bodies of Scottish Covenanters, and other offsets from the original Presbyterian stock, with certain of the Methodist
dissenters or seceders from the great Methodist Episcopal organization, have generally maintained an attitude of hostility to Slavery.
So, of late years, have the greater number of Unitarian
and Universalist conventions.
But all these together are a decided minority of the American People
, or even of the professing Christians among them; and they do not at all shake the general truth that the anti-Slavery cause, throughout the years of its arduous and perilous struggle up from contempt and odium to respect and power, received far more of hindrance than of help from our ecclesiastical organizations.
And this fact explains, if it does not excuse, the un-Orthodox, irreverent, and “infidel” tendencies which have been so freely, and not always unreasonably, ascribed to the apostles of Abolition.
These have justly felt that the organized and recognized religion of the country has not treated their cause as it deserved and as they had a right to expect.
The pioneers of “modern Abolition” were almost uniformly devout, pious, church-nurtured men, who, at the outset of their enterprise, took the cause of the slave1
to the Clergy and the Church
, with undoubting faith that it would there be recognized and by them adopted as the cause of vital Christianity.
Speaking generally, they were repulsed and resisted, quite as much to their astonishment as their mortification; and the resulting estrangement and hostility were proportioned to the fullness of their trust, the bitterness of their disappointment.2
It would have been wiser, doubtless, to have forborne, and trusted, and reasoned, and remonstrated, and supplicated; but patience and policy are not the virtues for which reformers are apt to be distinguished; since, were they prudent and politic, they would choose some safer and sunnier path.
No insurance company that had taken a large risk on the life of John the Baptist
would have counseled or approved his freedom of speech with regard to the domestic relations of Herod