Sin of Slavery

The Church in Fault; The Sin of Slavery (1838)

The great sin of slavery and caste as they exist in this country, do more to neutralize the means of grace, and block up the way of salvation, than all other things combined. Slavery is THE SIN of the nation and caste, THE SIN of the Church; and if these sins need not to be prayed and wept over – if they need not to be repented of an removed, then may all sin be tolerated.

If it be not the business and duty of the ministers of Jesus Christ, to set themselves at work, to convince the world, and especially the Church of these sins, then have the ministers nothing to do in the church militant; the sooner they go home to heaven, the better.

If we were to judge from the silence on these subjects, of ministers in the northern sections of the church, and the practice of these evils by ministers in the southern sections, we should conclude that oppression, the most cruel and unreasonable oppression, was no crime. But, alas! we cannot judge ;by this fallible standard; God has in his word, and by his providence, told us to the contrary. Oppression is the antipode of Christian charity. No sin in the history of the church nor world, has so readily provoked the wrath, and brought down the vengeance of God upon the nations, as oppression. In all ages, Jehovah has seemed, without the semblance of pity, to pour out his judgments upon oppressors. And yet do the clergy of our land SLEEP over this sin!!!

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Do not these ambassadors of Jesus, who came to preach peace on earth and good will to men, know that colored people of these Republican, Christian states, are deprived of all their rights, and trampled into the very dust? Do they know, that in many of the states they are denied the Bible, the word and testimony of God? And do they know that the schools and seminaries of learning throughout the country, in the north as well as the south, are shut against them? That all the moral and mental institutions of the nation, proscribe virtuous colored citizens; and that even the church of the lowly, impartial Jesus, has drawn her cords and set up her separating walls? Truly, they know all these things. And, verily, they know all these things are sinful – that they are forbidden of God, and are contrary to the character and example of Jesus Christ.

Why, then, we ask, do not they SINGLE OUT, and preach against these ruinous evils? Why, then, do they not, with their churches, come down into the dust and BREAK THEIR HEARTS before God, on account of the prevalence of these great evils in the land, and in the church?

We cannot account for such blindness and neglect. Our soul is grieved, and our eyes gush out in weepings at this awful state of things.

Slavery, THE SIN of the nation; and caste, cruel caste, THE SIN of the Church – cruel, because of the many wounds it inflicts – the many hearts it makes to bleed, and the many souls it drives to infidelity and rain. And the ministry aware of ALL THIS, and still hold their peace!! Great God, to what a state the fear of man and the love of the world, have reduced they servants. The gold has become dim, the fine gold is tarnished, and the lights of the world are shrouded in blackness, and refuse to shine. Hast thou not, O Lord – hast thou not other prophets in reserve, who have never bowed the knee to these idols? SEND – O, SEND THEM – that thy Church may live, and the world be saved.

It is a mockery and nonsense to talk about revivals of religion and the conversion of the world, while the Church winks at, and practices the great sins of the nation, and the ministry is the slave of public sentiment. Until the Church in HER CHARACTER, and the ministry in ITS OFFICE, take a stand against oppression and slavery – against persecution and caste, the Church in America will barely live in name, a corrupt and corrupting, putrefying body – an offence in the eye of God, and a curse to the nations of the earth. In vain will it be that we organize societies and plant churches – in vain that we establish institutions and print Bibles and abstracts – and in vain that we give our goods to the [ ] and our bodies to be burned, while we regard [ ] in our hearts. We shall be but as sounding brass and tinkling cymbols. God will not hear us nor the Holy Spirit sanctify us.

Source: The Colored American, February 3, 1838

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