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Thus at this time spoke the Nation. The Church also joined its voice. And here, amidst the diversities of religious faith, it is instructive to observe the general accord. The Quakers first bore their testimony. At the adoption of the Constitution, the whole body, under the early teaching of George Fox, and by the crowning exertions of Benezet and Wolman, had become an organized band of Abolitionists, penetrated by the conviction that it was unlawful to hold a fellow-man in bondage. The Methodists, numerous, earnest and faithful, never ceased by their preachers to proclaim the same truth. Their rules in 1788 denounced, in formal language, ‘the buying or selling of bodies and souls of men, women, and children, with an intention to enslave them.’ The words of their great apostle, John Wesley, were constantly repeated. On the eve of the National Convention the burning tract was circulated, in which he exposes American slavery as the ‘vilest’ of the world— ‘such Slavery as is not found among the Turks at Algiers;’ and, after declaring ‘Liberty the birthright of every human creature, of which no human law can deprive him,’ he pleads, ‘If, therefore, you have any regard to justice (to say nothing of mercy or the revealed law of God), render unto all their due. Give liberty to whom liberty is due, that is, to every child of man, to every partaker of human nature.’ At the same time, the Presbyterians, a powerful religious body, inspired by the principles of John Calvin, in more moderate language, but by a public act, recorded their judgment, recommending ‘to all the people under their care to use the most prudent measures consistent with the interest and the state of civil society, to procure eventually the final abolition of Slavery in America.’ The Congregationalists of New England, also of the faith of John Calvin, and with the hatred of Slavery belonging to the great non-conformist, Richard Baxter, were sternly united against this wrong. As early as 1776, Samuel Hopkins, their eminent leader and divine, published his tract, showing it to be the Duty and Interest of the American States to emancipate all their African slaves, and declaring that ‘Slavery is in every instance wrong, unrighteous and oppressive—a [130] very great and crying sin—there being nothing of the kind equal to it on the face of the earth.’ And, in 1791, shortly after the adoption of the Constitution, the second Jonathan Edwards, a twice-honored name, in an elaborate discourse often published, called upon his country, ‘in the present blaze of light’ on the injustice of slavery, to prepare the way for ‘its total abolition.’ This he gladly. thought at hand. ‘If we judge of the future by the past,’ said the celebrated preacher, ‘within fifty years from this time, it will be as shameful for a man to hold a negro slave, as to be guilty of common robbery, or theft.’

Thus, at this time, the Church, in harmony with the Nation, by its leading denominations, Quakers, Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists, thundered against Slavery. The Colleges were in unison with the Church. Harvard University spoke by the voice of Massachusetts, which had already abolished Slavery. Dartmouth College, by one of its learned Professors, claimed for the slaves ‘equal privileges with the whites.’ Yale College, by its President, the eminent divine, Ezra Stiles, became the head of the Abolition Society of Connecticut. And the University of William and Mary, in Virginia, testified its sympathy with this cause at this very time, by conferring upon Granville Sharpe, the acknowledged chief of British Abolitionists, the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

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