« AnteriorContinuar »
sectional or pecuniary motives; of these as members of the Tract Society, they know nothing. No! they cling to the Society as affectionate children do to a reverend parent, because they love both its Christ-loving character and its soul-saving work. They dwell among a people who are all sinners—many of them great sinners—and many of them ignorant and hardened sinners, equally destitute of "vital godliness and sound morality.” The diffusion, therefore, among them of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Saviour of sinners, and the promotion of the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, they most earnestly desire. They love all who love Christ and this glorious work. They love and honor evangelical christians of every denomination and of every section of our country. It is a joy to them to co-operate with them in this good work, and they have therefore never done anything to render such union impracticable. They are now just what they were when they united in the organization of this Society. Their social and civil institutions are the same only with a growing zeal for the diffusion of the knowledge of Christ as the Redeemer of sinners, and ESPECIALLY AMONG THEIR COLORED POPULATION. They have never proposed an alteration in the constitution of this Society. They have introduced into it no new element. They desire no restrictions, and they are not willing to have any enlargement either of the OBJECT or of the SUBJECTS of the Society's publications. All they ask the Society to be and to do, is to be and to do, what it has been, and has done, from the beginning. They neither wish the Society to know slavery or anti-slavery, to be pro-slavery or abolition, but just to keep to its constitutional and sole purpose. This is what evangelical christians at the South expect and all they desire. This is what the officers of the Society have ever done. They have always acted under a solemn sense of the sacred chartered trust reposed in them and of the constitution under which they act. This is what departed men of God who have labored for the Society, have ever done. “To execute this trust on its true catholic basis, the Rev. Dr. Milnor labored twenty years as Chairman both of the Publishing and Executive Committee; Timothy R. Green, Esq., seven years; Mr. Thomas Stokes eight years; Dr. Marinus Willett twelve years; Dr. John Stearns twenty-three years; Dr. James C. Bliss thirty years, and Rev. Dr. Justin Edwards nearly as long-all till their death; and the venerated Dr. Alexander, who cheered and counselled the Society from the beginning, acted three years on the Publishing Committee. From the lips of these deceased devoted founders and toil worn laborers, connected as they were with five great evangelical communions, no intimation that the Society could rightfully, by any act whatever, give offence to evangelical christians of any name or locality, is known ever to have fallen, nor any such intimation, from the lips of any member of the Committees; and no act of either Committee has ever been carried into effect that was not unanimous.”
And as this course, which is all that evangelical christians at the South ask, is what the officers and venerated co-laborers of this Society have always pursued, they confidently hope and believe that this course will be required by the great majority of evangelical christians at the North and in all non-slave-holding States. Southern christians love and honor these brethren in the Lord, and have perfect assurance that right feelings, right views and right measures will be adopted by them; that whatever may be their personal views of slavery, they will keep to the holy bond which binds them to us and us to them, in the Tract Society; that as the direction and management of this Society has been entrusted to them for the benefit of "all parts of the United States," they will faithfully perform the trust.
That in this confidence we shall not be disappointed, you, Mr. Editor, have given us great assurance. You say: "If the present Publishing Committee were unanimous in their desire to issue anti-slavery Tracts, they could not do it until they were convinced that such Tracts would receive the general consent of their constituency. But it is as plain as the sun at noon-day, that the vast majority of the churches united in the Society, wish the Committee to confine themselves to the specific work for which the Society was made. Does the Episcopal Church wish the Tract Society to engage in the anti-slavery excitement of the times? No. Does the Reformed Dutch Church wish it? No. Does the Old School Presbyterian Church wish it? No. Does the New School? No: some may, but the Church, as a whole, does not. Does the Baptist Church wish it? A portion may, but the whole South, and a large part of the North do not. Does the Congregational Church wish it? A large portion does, but we presume not a majority, even of that denomination, desire the fatal step to be taken. How, then, stands the case? If the Congregationalists and Northern Baptists were unanimous in wishing the Society to publish on slavery, there would still remain the Episcopalians, the Reformed Dutch, and the Presbyterians, who oppose the measure with greater unanimity than the others favor it. At a moderate estimate, four-fifths of the patrons of the Society demand its abstinence from the discussion of Slavery, and its continuance in its accustomed work."
May God grant that it shall be so. May He who has all hearts in His hands dispose to wise counsels and to peaceable and loving determinations. May He avert from this Society the calamity of disruption or of legal contenion. May He secure for its officers who have grown grey in arduous devotion to its interests, the increasing gratitude and confidence of all its friends on earth, and reward them hereafter with a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give to all them who here on earth, for His sake and for the salvation of souls, deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.
And that you, Mr. Editor, and all Evangelical christians who are like minded with yourself, may be animated with the zeal and energy necessary to accomplish what is required, let me, in conclusion, ask you to consider well the alternative. It is truly A MOMENTOUS ALTERNATIVE. IT INVOLVES THE SALVATION OR PERDITION OF COUNTLESS MILLIONS OF IMMORTAL SPIRITS. And this alternative is made clearly and distinctly the issue, and the necessary issue, of this controversy. Dr. Wayland admits that "hundreds of thousands of the slaves in our slave-holding States are our brethren, members of Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches." It follows, of course, that to them, even in Slavery and by slave-holding christians the Gospel is preached, and faith and salvation come by what they hear. Besides these hundreds of thousands of converted slaves, there are some two millions of unconverted slaves, and some seven millions of white people in the slave-holding States, every one of whom has a soul to be saved or lost. And the Tract and Colporteurs of the Tract Society constitute, as all admit, a most efficient instrumentality for diffusing the knowledge of a Saviour and of vital godliness and sound morality, an instrumentality which has, in time past, been beyond all calculations, valuable, successful and popular, and having had in these Slave States among their millions of population, unlimited access to bond and free and to the poor and rich.
Evangelical christians at the South ask of their brethren at the North, that this wide and widening field, extending into new States and illimitable Territories, and boundless population, and whose harvest is perishing for want of laborers—that this vast portion of our common country, embracing hundreds of thousands of evangelical christians, denominationally united with their brethren and sisters in the same church throughout the North, and the East, and the West, shall continue to receive at least some crumbs of the bread of heaven, some mercy drops of the water of life, as for them that are ready to perish! Yea, they claim this by virtue of the sacred authority of the Constitution, the Charter, and the thirty-three years of love and labor and success which we have spent together, and of that seal of heaven by which the witnessing Spirit, witnessing with this Society, that it is of God, has bound us to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. They claim and they expect this because their brethren at the North are, they believe, with few exceptions, wise as well as good, and just as well as generous, and magnanimous as well as manly. And finally, because it will restore to them their beloved Society, and again and forever unite all evangelical christians in all parts of the United States, in promoting throughout the length and breadth of our extended territory the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And now, brethren in the Lord in non-slaveholding States, whatever may be your views on slavery, look prayerfully and conscientiously, and in the spirit of frateral christian association, on the dread alternative which Dr. Wayland admits, and which the universal protest of the South declares to be inevitably before you. Are you prepared, even if allowed by law, to alter the Constitution and national catholic character of the Society, to abandon eleven millions of people, one in every five of whom is your christian brother by evangelical profession, for the sake of publishing Tracts on Slavery to circulate exclusively among those who are already opposed to Slavery? Dr. Wayland answers this question by saying, YES, ABANDON THEM, rather than “withhold any portion of Divine truth because men are unwilling to receive it;" and "our blessed Lord,” he says, “seems to have made provision for precisely this case” when he required his disciples to "wipe off the dust from their feet and retire from any city" where "men would not receive his message." "Does not this example," he adds, "determine for us the rule of our duty!"
Strange infatuation, that can blind the mind and harden the heart of a man .so wise and good and christian as Dr. Wayland! What answer will he give, and what answer, Mr. Editor, will all evangelical christians give, when I point them to a field covering fifteen States of this Union, and some eleven millions of souls, who with one heart and voice say, “Give us THE BIBLE, and the WHOLE BIBLE, AND NOTHING BUT THE Bible,” who hail with welcoming joy the feet of every herald of the Redeemer of sinners, who bringeth salvation and publisheth the glad tidings; who open their doors, their hands, their purses and their hearts to the Tract Society and say, “Come over and help us,” by diffusing to the very utmost of your power among the bond and the free, among white and black, "the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of sinners and promoting the interests of vital godliness and sound morality."
Let conscience and every christian feeling answer, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O Lord.” Let the Society at its next anniversary answer and "say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come,” that every one throughout this widely extended country "who is athirst,” may come, and "whosoever will take the water of life freely." Amen and amen.
P. S.-The writer need hardly repeat the assurance of his high regard for the character of Dr. Wayland, as a man of genius, as a profound scholar, an able professor, an author of world-wide celebrity, and a christian of deep-toned piety and tender charity. To his discourse on missions, the writer owes much of that enthusiasm which has become a master passion even in the death of manly vigor; and although unknown personally he is loved in spirit. And even if disowned and cast out as abominable by him on the earth, the writer will indulge a humble hope that as a sinner saved by grace, justified by faith, sanctified by the spirit of holiness, and made perfect through the perfect righteousness of the Lord our Righteousness, he may know and love him in the kingdom of heaven, and then unite with him and with all of every name, denomination, and kindred, who love our Lord Jesus Christ, in ascribing glory, and honor, and blessing, and praise unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and hath made us kings and priests unto God.