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Academic Affairs Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) A History of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Only One in the United States of America, Styled Bethel Church
Rev. N. C. W. Cannon
Strong & Dawson, Printers
Call Number BY5508 C226h 1842 (Methodist Center, Drew University Libraries, Madison, NJ)
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TO BE HELD FORTH IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE RIGHT REVEREND
RICHARD ALLEN, FIRST BISHOP OF THE CONNECTION.
To the memory of the Right Reverend R. ALLEN, Bishop of our Connection, the first founder of the African Connection; a worthy example for us to pattern after, as ministers of Christ, for piety, wisdom and stability of mind; a brave soldier in due form, yea, when his church and people were surrounded with cruel persecutors, yes, in sincerity of heart, with the little crew which volunteered themselves to go through with him, let the cost be what it might, to rescue the church from the hands of the oppressors, and through the divine wisdom of God, he, with his colleagues, came off more than conquerors. God is to be praised--by which we celebrate with each other in a spirit of union, (Ps. cxxxiii,) in memory of a venerable; valiant, reverend father in Christ, with a sympathetic feeling, the Right Reverend R. ALLEN, who departed this life, in triumph of a greater, to be crowned with an everlasting crown of glory, on the 26th of March, 1831.
In the triumph of victory, he closed his ministerial labors on earth, to heighten the triumph around that superlative throne where the stigmatizers of truth cannot enter--the victory is mine. 2 Tim. iv. 5, 6. Notwithstanding the seven years' war he had at the outset, in order to deliver his church and people, he as a brave general went forth in the spiritual battle that they might retain their rights. By virtue and in triumph he crossed the gulf, the raging sea of his persecutors, while his enemies fell in the rear, as they did in the days of Moses, for which I am moved with a sympathetic feeling towards the rising generation yet to come, that they may have a correct knowledge of the first rise and progress of their ancient mother Church, the only African Methodist Episcopal Church in these United States of America, as these acts were clearly demonstrated by virtue, as I presume that these statements will not in conscience be denied. Then, sirs, judge the matter for yourselves, as here is a brief statement of the rise and progress of our Church, which I sincerely hope will be truly satisfactory to the readers of this narrative.
We, as ministers of Christ, ought always to remember one thing: when we pray or those that say prayers, God sees us. Matt. 7. 21. Therefore, let us show unto those who differ from us in religious opinions, a genuine moderation in knowledge, as it seems to be the most uncharitable act in Christendom to reject a man on the account of churchism. I presume it is not right to punish a man for a mere say so, before he is proved guilty of a violation of law. Sirs, this is a case for you to judge in due form, (Jas. i. 25,) as the knowledge of a genuine moderation is truly needful for individuals of every sect or party, that they may have a just conception of the things of God, which I hope will be truly conducive to your growth and edification in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In November, 1787, the colored people belonging to the Methodist Society, in Philadelphia, convened together, in order to take into consideration the evils under which they labored, arising from the unkind treatment of their white brethren, who considered them a nuisance in the house of worship, and even pulling them off their knees, while in the act of prayer, and ordered them to the back seats. From these and various other acts of unchristian conduct, they considered it their duty to devise a plan in order to build a house of their own to worship God under their own vine and fig-tree; in this undertaking they met with great opposition from an elder of the Methodist Church, (J. M'C.,) who threatened, that if they did not give up the building, erase their names from the subscription paper, and make acknowledgments for having attempted such a thing, that in three months they should all be publicly expelled from the Methodist Society. Not considering themselves bound to obey this injunction, and being fully satisfied they should be treated without mercy, they sent in their resignations.
Being now as out-casts, they had to seek for friends where they could; and the Lord put it into the hearts of Dr. Benjamin Rush, Mr. R. Ralston, and other respectable citizens, to interpose for them, both by advice and assistance in getting their building finished, and it was only through the mercy of God that it was completed in such a time of outward afflictions. They were enabled to proceed with such sympathetic feelings towards their enemies, notwithstanding the great opposition they had to contend with. They gave the case into the hands of God, as they were responsible to him--as they were rational beings--as men capable of investigating the subject of truth for themselves--without any consultation with the devil, as they had to pass through the sea of persecution, the hotter the fight, the sooner the war will be over.
In 1793, the number of the serious people of color having increased, they were of different opinions, respecting the mode of religious worship; and, as many felt a strong partiality for that adopted by the Methodists, Richard Allen, with the advice of some of his brethren, proposed erecting a place of worship on his own ground,
and at his own expense, as an African Methodist church. As soon as the preachers of the Methodist church in Philadelphia came to the knowledge of this, they opposed it with all their might, insisting that the house should be made over to the conference, or they would publish them in the newspapers, as imposing on the public, as they were not Methodists. However, the building went on, and when finished, they invited Rev. Francis Asbury, then Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, to open the house for divine service, which invitation he accepted, and the house was named Bethel. (See Gen. xxviii. 19, 20.)
Then, in the time of their great distress and controversy, ah! none to discriminate between truth and error but God the supreme of all beings, who was their pilot while they passed through the gulf of deception--then forthwith came a friend (as he said) to their relief; but to his shame it was proved, that he was only seeking an enterprise and self-exaltation, the next step to forgery--and just before that he solemnly declared, that he had come forth to facilitate their deliverance: then, sirs, mark the phraseology--when he had laid his plans so prosperously for execution, that he might not be again defeated in his design; but methinks that he had forgotten that incomprehensible fort--the Christian protection, yea, he soon found it to be an insurmountable defence, though great was the trouble; but God fought the battle, (Ex. xiv. 14;) then only see the craft of him and his colleagues, as it was then, yes, as David said, in his distress, so say I, the billows passed over our ancient fathers, while they fought in the battle of deception which was brought on them by men who called themselves Christian ministers; but I leave that for my readers to judge, as actions speak louder than words--as deep calleth unto deep, and when men are in trouble they call on the Lord from the depth of the heart--then comes the answer, (Ps. xlii. 7.) But when men have lost the essence of religion, they then only retain the shadow. That is the reason why they are so well calculated to fight for the honor of this world--God is out of the question, by which the innocent were brought into trouble by infidels, the children of wrath, as our ancient fathers were then placed in a dreadful situation, that is to be in a land of Christendom.
It was then proposed by the resident elder, (J. M. C.,) that they should have the Church incorporated, that they might receive any donation or legacy, as well as enjoy any other advantages arising therefrom; this was agreed to; and in order to save expense, the elder proposed drawing it up for them. But they soon found he had done it in such a manner as entirely deprived them of the liberty they expected to enjoy. By this stratagem, they were again brought into bondage by the Methodist preachers.
In this situation, they experienced grievances too numerous to mention; at one time the elder (J. S.) demanded the keys of the house, with the books and papers belonging thereto; telling them at
other times they should have no more meetings without his leave, and that the house was not theirs, but belonged to the Methodist Conference. Finding themselves thus embarrassed, they consulted a lawyer, who informed them, that by means of a supplement, they could be delivered from the grievances under which they labored. The Society unanimously agreed to sign the petition for a supplement, which the Legislature of Pennsylvania readily granted; and they were liberated from the difficulties which they experienced for many years. They then hoped to be free from any other perplexity; but they soon found that their proceedings exasperated their opponents. In order to accommodate matters they proposed supplying them with preaching, if they would give $600 per year, to the Methodist Society. The trustees with the society not consenting to give that sum, they fell to $100, but the Bethel trustees were not willing to give more than $200 per year. For this sum they were to preach for them twice a week during the year. But it proved to be only six or seven times a year, and sometimes by such preachers as were not acceptable to the Bethel people, and not in much esteem among the Methodists, as preachers. The Bethel people being dissatisfied with such conduct, induced the trustees to pass a resolution to give but $100 per year to the Methodist preachers. When a quarterly payment of the last sum was tendered, it was refused and sent back, insisting on the $200, or they would not preach for them any more; and at the same time they pressed strongly on them to repeal the supplement, but they would not comply with their proposition. The trustees then waited on Bishop Asbury, and proposed taking a preacher to themselves, and supporting him in boarding and salary, providing he would attend to the duties of the church, such as visiting the sick, burying the dead, baptizing, and administering the sacrament. The Bishop observed, "He did not think there was more than one preacher belonging to the conference that would attend to those duties, and that was Richard Allen." They then informed the Bishop that there was some trouble ahead: "Sir, if we pay a minister four or five hundred dollars a year, we shall expect him to do his duty as a minister of Christ, as though we were ever so white, as the substance does not consist only in the color of a man's skin, but it is the character; and as we are acknowledged by you, sir, to be good workmen, therefore we wish to do what is lawful and just between God and man." Matt. vii. 12. The Bishop's reply was this: "We will not serve you on those terms." Shortly after that, an elder then in Philadelphia, the Rev. S. R., declared, that unless they did repeal that supplement, neither he nor any of the Methodist preachers, traveling or local, should preach any more for them; so they were left to themselves. At length the preachers and stewards belonging to the Academy proposed serving them on the same terms, that they had offered to the St. George's preachers; and they preached for them better than
twelve months, and then demanded $150 per year; this not being complied with, they declined preaching for them, and they were once more left to themselves, as an edict was passed by the elder, that if any local preacher served them, he should be expelled the connection. John Emory, then elder of the Academy, published a circular letter, in which they were disowned by the Methodists. A house was also fitted up, not far from Bethel, and an invitation given to all who desired to be Methodists, to resort thither; but, being disappointed in this plan, Robert R. Roberts, the resident elder of St. George's charge, came to Bethel and insisted on preaching to them, and taking the spiritual charge, for they were Methodists. But they informed him, "Sir, before you can preach for us, you must come on some honorable terms, with the trustees;" but his answer was not as that of a Christian minister, and he informed them, that he had not come to consult with Richard Allen, nor the trustees, but to inform the congregation, that on next Sabbath day he would come and take the charge; but they told him, he could not preach for them under existing circumstances. However, at the appointed time he came; but, having taken previous advice, they had their preacher in the pulpit when he came, and the house so fixed that he could not get more than half way to the pulpit; then finding himself thus disappointed, he appealed to those who came with him as witnesses:--"Sirs, that man has taken my appointment"--meaning the minister then in the pulpit. At the same time there were several respectable white citizens present, who knew that the colored people had been very ill used, and treated in a manner as though they were brutes, and not human beings; and their reply was to the colored people, "Fear not, for we will see you righted, and not suffer Roberts to preach in a forcible manner:" after which Roberts went away.
The next elder stationed in Philadelphia, was Robert Birch, who followed the examples of his predecessor, came and published a meeting for himself; but the beforementioned method was adopted, and he had to go away disappointed. In consequence of this he applied to the Supreme Court, for a writ of Mandamus, to know why the pulpit was denied him, being elder; this brought on a law suit, which ended in favor of Bethel. Thus, by the providence of God, they were delivered from a long, distressing and expensive suit, which could not be resumed being determined by the Supreme Court; for this mercy they were unfeignedly thankful.
About this time the colored people in Baltimore and other places were treated in a similar manner as those in Philadelphia, who, rather than going to law, were compelled to seek places of worship for themselves; this induced the people in Philadelphia to call a general convention in April, 1816, to form a connection; delegates appointed to represent different churches, met those of Philadelphia, and taking into consideration their grievances, and in order to secure their privileges and promote union among themselves, it was
resolved, "That the people of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and all other places who should unite with them, should become one body under the name and style of the 'African Methodist Episcopal Church.' "
As we believe, that it was the design of our supreme head in this act, in thus uniting us together as a people, in order to mark out a sublime way, by which the despised race of Africans might have an opportunity of receiving the light of truth from their own brethren, in their religious instruction, from which they had been kept by their superiors, brethren in the ministry, and by thus uniting themselves together as a body of Christians, might have the glorious privilege to sit under their own vine and fig-tree, without respect to persons, though greatly opposed by the prejudices of the times, and persecuted by the tongues of ignoramuses, the calumny of the world, yea, as we had been a long time desiring for the day to come when union might prevail throughout the church, without our being buffeted or stigmatized by professors of Christianity, in doors or out doors; then we thought that this was a good time to prove the strength of our faith, by showing to each other our acts of benevolence, by the principles of Christianity, that the world might judge for themselves, and that the rising generation might know what kind of tribulations their forefathers passed through, in the formation of this connection, in order to breathe free air in the church of God; (Matt, vii. 12;) yea, instead of being buffeted by the great adversary of God and man, we have had the happiness of seeing the pleasure of the Lord prospering in our hands, to whom we appeal for our good conscience in Christ Jesus. The work of God has spread, through our instrumentality, from Philadelphia to various parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Canada, the barren shores of Africa, and the Island of Hayti, and "Ethiopia is seen stretching out her hands to God." Ps. lxviii. 31.
We esteem it our duty and privilege, most earnestly to recommend to our church, our Form of Discipline, revised and improved, which has been founded on the experience of a long series of years; as also on the observations and remarks we have made on ancient and modern churches.
We wish to see this little publication in the houses of all our members; and the more so as it contains the articles of religion, more or less, maintained, in part or in the whole, by every reformed church in the world.
Far from wishing you to be ignorant of our doctrines, or any part of our discipline, we desire you to read, mark, and inwardly digest the whole. You ought next to the word of God to procure the canons of the church to which you belong. This present edition is cheap, and we can assure you that the profits of the sale of it shall be applied to charitable purposes.
As the evangelical co-workers with God, the preachers and members of our church having become a distinct body of people, by reason of separation from our white brethren of the Methodist Episcopal Church, found it necessary at their first General Conference, in April, 1816, to elect one from their own body, who was adequate to be set apart in the holy orders. To superintend the connection that was then formed, the Rev. Richard Allen, being seventeen years an ordained minister by the Rev. Bishop Asbury of the Methodist Church, was unanimously elected to fill up that office; and on the 11th day of April, 1816, the Rev. Richard Allen was solemnly set apart for the Episcopal office, by prayer and the imposition of the hands of five regularly ordained ministers, one of whom was the Rev. A. Jones, a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church in good standing. At which time the General Conference in Philadelphia did unanimously receive the said Richard Allen as their bishop, being fully satisfied with the validity of his Episcopal ordination.
The connection having considerably increased, in the course of twelve years, the General Conference sitting in Philadelphia, in 1828, found it expedient to have another bishop to travel through the connection as joint superintendent. The Rev. Morris Brown, being twelve years an ordained elder, was duly elected to fill up that office, and on Sabbath morning, May 25, 1828, Morris Brown was solemnly set apart by prayer, and the imposition of the hands of the Right Rev. Richard Allen, first Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and five regularly ordained elders, as a joint bishop of the said church. After the decease of the Right Rev. Richard Allen, which took place at his residence in Philadelphia, March 26, 1831, the labors involving upon the Right Rev. Morris Brown, (his successor in office,) became so great, that the General Conference, sitting in Philadelphia, in 1836, deemed it necessary to appoint a junior bishop, as joint superintendent, to assist in attending to the business of the connection; when the Rev. Edward Waters (being a regular ordained elder for many years) was duly elected to fill up that office, and on Sabbath morning, May 15, 1836, Edward Waters was solemnly set apart by prayer and the imposition of the hands of the Right Rev. Morris Brown, (second Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church,) and five regularly ordained elders, as a joint junior bishop of the said church.
Therefore, we go forth by principle instead of interest, in order to establish a principle of order and equal rights in religion among ourselves, believing that nothing short of a united effort in truth will save us as a people from that awful dilemma or gulf which we should otherwise fall into, and probably fall to rise no more. Thus they felt this to be a subject of such vast importance which deeply concerned every candid mind, that with a view of generations yet to come, they arose with a sympathetic feeling, and called upon their brethren to come up to the standard of truth, in one solid
phalanx--for the truth is mighty, and it must prevail; and they were assured that nothing else but a union of action among themselves was able to move the wheels of the mighty car of a general reformation, while they viewed their mother church delighted with the love of the world, which caused them to weep. Yea, fanaticism, superstition and confusion seems to have reigned predominant over her subjects, who ought to have been their waymarks to virtue and purity; but seeing no fruit after waiting so long, they became hopeless of seeing any change for the better, or any amelioration of their condition, as it seemed in all probability that we should never realize that blessing from that source, and that is for them to judge.
We therefore, in view of the solemn duty that we owe to God, and to ourselves, and to the rising generations yet to come, feel resolved by the grace of God to show the difference to the world at large that exists between truth and deception, by a holy life which will clearly discriminate where the virtue is; for the fruit will be seen, yea, it is the life of man by which truth will appear in behalf of the innocent, when facts shall be clearly demonstrated to public view, that principle has been the chief desire of the heart, instead of interest. Mark the phraseology.
A DISCRIMINATION BETWEEN TRUTH AND ERROR.
It is with great pleasure and joyfulness of heart, for the consolation of the rising generation, that I set before you a small treatise for your investigation, that you may have a perfect knowledge of the first rise and progress of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, called Bethel Church, under the direction of the Right Rev. Richard Allen and his colleagues. 1 Tim. v. 21.
The public are called on to judge for themselves in answer to the discriminator, by which the sublime light lightened up our dark understandings. In due form we were made strong, while those ignominious persons that chose darkness rather than light were left in darkness, by refusing to come to the light. This is a subject of vast importance. John iii. 18--21. Yes, such men as these always expose their ignorance to the world at large, while truth with its magnificence and splendor opens a door of liberty unto all. Ah! men of folly often try to shut the door of truth by their ignominious principles. 2 Tim. iii. 8, 9.
I leave the subject now under consideration for you to judge, as you are called on to discriminate between truth and error, in due form; therefore, put all your thinking powers into execution, and notwithstanding the peculiarity of the subject, proceed permanently without prejudice, which is the duty of all judges; and if so, you will be fully prepared to answer.
I write these lines above to give you a just conception of the proceedings of a discrimination, that you may judge for yourselves, as I
wish truth to prevail in your discriminations, in answer to Mr. John Forty and his colleagues.
N. C. W. CANNON.
I am indebted to a brother in Baltimore for
But the final separation of the wheat and the tares we must leave until the judgment of the great day.--Matt. xiii. 38.
WE, the undersigners, representatives of the African Methodist Bethel Society in the city of Baltimore, who have recently been charged (in certain handbills bearing the signatures of John Forty, George R. M'Gill and Samuel G. Weares) with being schismatics; which society can justly adopt the language of the Apostle, 2 Cor. vii. 2. "We have wronged no man; we have corrupted no man; we have defrauded no man." For, notwithstanding this society hath peaceably withdrawn from under the charge of the Bishops and Conference, yet they left behind their church property for the enjoyment of those of our African brethren who do not yet see as we see; so that we have done wrong to none, (unless we have wronged ourselves.) But to return to the charge brought against us, of being schismatics, by those novices in speculative divinity who have quoted for their authority, "St. Ireneus, and other celebrated writers," whose names they have not mentioned, now on the testimonies of these authors, they rest satisfied as to the accuracy of what constitutes us schismatics, for they ask and answer the question, "What is schism? A causeless separation from such governors in the church as have received their authority and commission from Jesus Christ." Now whether we have as much veneration for Methodism as our opponents profess to have, yet we are conscious that we have more respect for the founder of Methodism than they have manifested. For while they quote the authority of "St. Ireneus, and other celebrated authors," we shall quote the authority of the celebrated Mr. John Wesley. And in so doing we shall not give offense, or incur the censure of the connection to which these men have the undeserved honor of being attached, (viz. the Methodist Society.) We shall refer the reader to the 6th volume of Mr. Wesley's Sermons, page 151, 1 Cor. xii. 25: "That there might be no schism in the body."
If there be any word in the English tongue as ambiguous and indeterminate in its meaning as the word Church, it is the word schism. It has been the subject of innumerable disputes, for several hundred years; and almost innumerable books have been written concerning it, in every part of the Christian world. A very large share of these have been published in our country, particularly during the last century and the beginning of the present. And persons of the
strongest understanding and the most consummate learning, have exhausted all their strength upon the question, both in conversation and writing. This has appeared to be more necessary than ever, since the grand separation of the Reformed from the Romish Church. This is a charge which the members of that Church never fail to bring against all that separate from her, and which consequently has employed the thoughts and pens of the most able disputants on both sides. And those of each side, secure of victory, supposing the strength of their arguments was so great, that it was impossible for reasonable men to resist them.
But it is observable that exceeding little good has been done by all these controversies; very few of the warmest and ablest disputants have been able to convince their opponents. After all that could be said, the papists are papists, and the protestants are protestants still. And the same success has attended those who have so vehemently disputed about separation from the Church of England; those who separated from her were eagerly charged with schism, they as eagerly denied the charge; and scarce any were able to convince their opponents, either on one side or the other.
3. One great reason why this controversy has been so unprofitable, why so few of either side have been convinced, is this: they seldom agreed to the meaning of the word concerning which they disputed; and if they did not fix the meaning of this; if they did not define the term, before they began disputing about it, they might continue their dispute to their lives' end without getting one step forward; without coming a jot nearer to each other than when they first set out.
4. Yet it must be a point of considerable importance, or St. Paul would not have spoken so seriously of it. It is therefore highly needful that we should consider, the nature "of schism."
1. It is the more needful to do this, because among the numberless books that have been written upon the subject, both by the Romans and the Protestants, it is difficult to find any that define it in a scriptural manner. The whole body of Roman Catholics define schism a separation from the Church of Rome; and almost all our own writers define it a separation from the Church of England. Thus both the one and the other set out wrong, and stumble at the very threshold. This will easily appear to any one that calmly considers the several texts wherein the word schism occurs. From the whole tenor of which it is manifest, that it is not a separation from any Church, (whether general or particular, whether the Catholic or any other National Church,) but a separation in a Church.
2. Let us begin with the first verse, wherein St. Paul makes use of the word. It is the tenth verse of the first chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians. The words are, "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of the Lord Jesus, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schism [the original word schismata]
among you." Can any thing be more plain, than that the schism here spoken of was not a separation from, but a division in the church of Corinth; accordingly it follows, "but that ye be perfectly united together in the same mind and in the same judgment." This consequently was not a separation from the church or Christian society of Corinth, but a separation in the church; a disunion in mind and judgment (perhaps also in affection) among those, who, notwithstanding this, continued outwardly united as before.
3. Of what nature this schism at Corinth was, is still more clearly determined, if any thing can be more clear, by the words which immediately follow. Now this I say: This is the schism of which I speak. You are divided into separate parties; some of you speaking in favor of one, some of another preacher. Every one of you saith, ver. 12, I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas. (or Peter.) Who then does not see, that the schism for which the Apostle here reproves the Corinthians, is neither more nor less than the splitting into several parties, as they gave the preference to one or another preacher? And this species of schism there will be occasion to guard against in every religious community.
4. The second place where the Apostle uses this word is in the eighteenth verse of the eleventh chapter of this Epistle: "When we come together in the church, (the Christian congregation,) I hear that there are divisions (the original word here also is schismata schisms) among you." But what were these schisms? The Apostle immediately tells, (verse 20,) "When you come together, professing your design is to eat of the Lord's Supper, every one taketh before another his own supper as if it were a common meal." What then was the schism? It seems in doing this, they divided into parties, which cherished anger and resentment one against another, even at that solemn season.
7. The third, and the only remaining place in this Epistle wherein the Apostle uses this word, is the twenty-fifth verse of the twelfth chapter, where speaking of the church (he seems to mean the church universally, the whole body of Christ) he observes, "God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that which lacked, that there might be no schism in the body." 24, 25. He immediately fixed the meaning of his own words: "but that the members might have the same care one for another: and whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it." We may easily observe, that the word schism, here means the want of this tender care for each other. It undoubtedly means an alienation of affection in any of them toward their brethren: a division of heart. And parties springing therefrom, though they were still undoubtedly united together; though they still continued themselves of the same eternal society.
8. But there seems to be one considerable objection against the
supposing heresy and schism to mean the same thing. It is said, St. Peter, in the second chapter of his second Epistle, takes the word heresies in a quite different sense. His words are, ver. 1: "There shall be among you false teachers, who will bring in damnable (or destructive) heresies, denying the Lord that bought them." It does by no means appear, that St. Peter here takes the word heresies in any other sense than St. Paul does. Even in this passage it does not appear to have any reference to opinions good or bad. Rather it means, They will bring in, or occasion, destructive parties or sects (so it is rendered in the common French translation) who deny the Lord that bought them: such sects now swarm throughout the Christian world.
I shall be thankful to any one who will point to me any other place in the inspired writings, where this word schism is to be found. I remember only these three. And it is apparent to every impartial reader, that it does not in any of these mean, a separation from any church or body of Christians, whether with, or without cause. So that the immense pains which have been taken both by Papists and Protestants, in writing whole volumes against schism, as a separation, whether from the Church of Rome, or from the Church of England, exerting all their strength, and bringing all their learning, have been employed to mighty little purpose. They have been fighting with shadows of their own raising: violently combating a sin, which had no existence, but in their own imagination, which is not once forbidden, no, nor once mentioned either in the Old or New Testament.
Now, if the above definition of the Rev. Mr. Wesley is to be relied upon, we are clear from the charge of being schismatics; and if his definition is not correct, it follows of course, that all who have separated from the Church of Rome, or the Church of England, are schismatics, and we shall not bear this detestable application alone. As to the exaggerated statement of the effect produced in this city, in consequence of our withdrawing from under the charge of the Bishop and Conference, it is not true.
We are sorry to say, that there has been some little coolness between some of the members of the two societies; but this, thank God, is greatly on the decline, and our prayer is, that the time may speedily come, when even this coolness shall be swallowed up in brotherly love, and we see the two societies sweetly united in the bonds of Christian affection; and then shall it be exemplified, by both societies, that Christians may differ in opinions, yet love like brethren. And this we think, would soon be experienced, were it not for such men as J. Forty and S. G. Weares, (who will be known in the sequel of this "Discriminator," by the appellation of the disturbers of the peace of Israel,) and when they write again we shall try to give the public a portray of characters, though well known to the generality of the people of color; and as they know
that they live in glass houses as to character, we hope they will take care how they throw stones.
The next thing to be noticed is the handbill of March, 1815. They ask a question, "Did Stop and Consider charge Mr. Coker of being the framer of that Constitution, termed the Union Society? It did." But this charge is false, for we can prove by the testimony of Mr. David Bristor, Nelson Roberts, David Duffin, Alexander Murray and Frederick Jakes, that Mr. Coker did not frame the constitution of the Union African Society.
The next thing to be noticed is the statement of the quarterage given for the support of the white ministry by the African Society. These disturbers of the peace of Israel say, that "the collection for 7 or 8 years, never amounted to more than $50 per ann., the year 1814 excepted; that year it amounted to one hundred and thirty odd dollars." As to the correctness or incorrectness of this statement, we are not able to decide, (although we very much doubt its being no more.) For if the sheep yielded so scant a fleece, why was it said in "Stop and Consider" of the Rev. Mr. Coker, "money appears to be his object, and money he will have," &c.? We should like this problem solved. Now it will be observed, that ever since the establishment of the African Church, the white friends have kept the books, and no account of the quarterage money (that we know of) was given to the members of the African Society, no, not even to the official members: but now these disturbers of the peace of Israel have got into the cabinet, and can tell us all about the secret, of which we believe we should have remained profoundly ignorant had it not been for this separation, so that it must be self-evident, that this much good the Rev. Mr. Coker and the separation have done for the people of color in this city, viz: putting them into the possession of the knowledge how their money goes.
The next thing to be considered is, that these disturbers of the peace of Israel tell us, that "this money was for the traveling ministry." True; but what says the Rev. Mr. Coker in his celebrated sermon? "Again, why, I would ask you, my colored official brethren, have you not been sent to carry the news of salvation, (at least to those of your own color, that would have gladly received it from your lips?) for there are scores of you, that have been thought worthy of obtaining licenses as local preachers; and yet not a solitary instance of one of you being sent on this important mission, notwithstanding your colored brethren in the different African Churches, have contributed their mite for the support of the Gospel." But we hope that the provision for colored men to travel and preach to the people of color, will now be made by the Conference, for something we believe they must do to keep their people quiet.
The next thing to be considered is, these disturbers of the
peace of Israel charge the Rev Mr. Coker with duplicity; for, say they, "the Rev. Mr. says, that the colored preachers had to baptize; this is a notorious falsehood, for it will be observed that none but himself was authorized to baptize." We answer, the Rev. Mr. Coker could not have meant to deceive, by saying that the colored preachers had to baptize, &c.; for it would have been no disparagement to that Rev. gentleman, to have acknowledged that he was the only colored minister in this city that was authorized to baptize; but we think it rather a mark of his humility, like St. Paul, for while he informs us, that he knew a man who had the honor of being distinguished from his brethren by being caught up in the third heavens, yet the Apostle did not possess arrogance enough to say, I was the man. But no doubt, had these disturbers of the peace of Israel been the only men authorized to baptize, &c. they would have proclaimed it upon the house top. So that the Rev. Mr. Coker, in concealing his superiority over his brethren, rather shows the spirit of the humble Christian.
The next charge brought against our Rev. Pastor, by those disturbers of the peace of Israel is, they propose the question: "We will ask Mr. Coker, whether he did not positively enjoin and enforce it on all the official colored members, and that not only once, but several times, (we mean those of them who were of his way of thinking,) that if they should be asked to bury any one, not to do it?" &c. Now this charge we can prove to be false by our brethren.
But here we will disclose the whole matter. About three years ago the colored preachers belonging to the African society, imbibed an opinion that they were imposed upon, by being called off so repeatedly from their work, (seeing they were all laboring men,) to bury the dead, visit the sick, &c., seeing the whole of the money raised in the African societies, for the support of the Gospel was received by the white elders. This is acknowledged by these disturbers of the peace of Israel. The Rev. Mr. Coker, who was the organ for the official body, asked the presiding elder, in one of the quarter conferences, whose business it was to perform those services. The elder acknowledged the question was important, but he evaded an answer, by saying, "Brother Shinn, who is the ruling preacher, is not present;" so that no satisfaction was obtained from that court.
Shortly after this, the Bishop arrived in Baltimore. A committee, (the Rev. D. Coker, Mr. William Moore, Mr. Richard Russell, Mr. Jacob Gilyard, Sen., and others,) had an interview with the Bishop, to obtain the information which was sought at the quarter conference, but it could not be obtained. The Bishop did honor to himself, and the important station he filled in the church. For he promised that at the conference, that was then about to set, he would appoint an elder, to take the charge of the African church, and that in future the society would apply to him, but observed to the Rev. Mr. Coker, that as he was the only ordained colored preacher, it would be well for him to give the elder what aid he could, to which he cheerfully consented. But it will be observed that he could not aid the elder much, as he had charge of a large school on which he had to depend for the support of a growing family. The Bishop appointed the Rev. Mr. Stansbury.
Shortly after this, Mrs. Baily, an old member of the African society, lost a relation. She applied to several of the colored preachers to attend the funeral, but could get none, seeing they were all at their labor. She then went to the Rev. Mr. Coker, and he could not leave his school; so he referred her (as the Bishop had directed) to the Rev. Mr. Stansbury. She went and asked him; he told her in plain terms he would not, but referred her to the colored preachers, and shortly after this told Mr. Jacob Gilyard, Sen., who was then a trustee of the African church, that if the Bishop of the conference was to tell him to attend the funerals of the colored people, he would not do it. And at this very time, the colored society was contributing every three months for his support. The Rev. Mr. Coker spoke to him about it, but he still persisted to refuse to discharge this duty. And at the next conference it can be proved that the official members unanimously went forward and met the Bishops, at Mrs. Deckin's, to state their grievances. Mr. Coker was again chosen by the official board to be their organ, and none spoke but him, except Jacob Forty, the father of one of these disturbers of the peace of Israel; he contended that the colored preachers ought to do these duties; but we would ask this intruder among the sons of the prophets, how many afternoons he has ever deprived Mr. Lindenburger of his services, by discharging this last kind office to a deceased friend. The Bishops, however, heard their grievances, and undertook to redress them by appointing the Rev. Mr. Gruber successor to Mr. Stansbury.
Now although we confess that Mr. Gruber did much to keep the society quiet, yet we would ask, had Mr. Gruber his foot inside the African burying ground, during the whole year he was stationed in this city, in the capacity of a minister of the African society?
Again, we would ask, can it be proved that ever one elder has (except Mr. Kingston) headed a colored funeral in the streets of Baltimore, until a few weeks ago, the Rev. Mr. Hagerty (whom we
hold in the highest esteem) attended the funeral of Mrs. Crawford, a colored woman? and it excites astonishment in us that this Rev. gentleman has been a resident of this city so many years, and we know not of his ever doing the like before; and we are ready to ask whether it would have been the case if the separation had not taken place.
The next circumstance we would notice is--these disturbers of the peace of Israel have endeavored to criminate the Rev. Mr. Coker by charging him with ingratitude; for observe their language: "and we do say that his liberty was effected by the Methodists of Baltimore, ungrateful man for favors past." Now as to the circumstance of the Rev. Mr. Coker obtaining some aid from his colored brethren, towards effecting his liberty, he acknowledges it with thankfulness; but this is no secret, for it was done in the colored society publicly, by the Rev. Michell Coats, who we believe is now receiving his reward in glory, of whom the Rev. Mr. Coker always speaks in the highest terms, and the Rev. Mr. Coats spoke of him in the same. Hundreds in this city can witness, and we believe that the aid given at that time by our friends was done with pleasure from a belief that he would be useful; and if these disturbers of the peace of Israel gave any thing and are now needy, let them inform us and it shall be reimbursed, for he has friends enough, both in Sharp-street and Bethel church, &c. But have we been disappointed in his usefulness? No; and this every unprejudiced man must acknowledge, though it may be said of him, "he hath labored and other men have entered into his labors." John iv. 38. Now we would ask by what means was a lot of ground, now held and enjoyed by our brethren in Sharp-street, obtained? Through the instrumentality of Mrs. Nicholas Norris, Mr. George Collins, the Rev. D. Coker, Jacob Gilyard, Sen. and Mr. Richard Russell. For it will be remembered that these friends begged from the benevolent citizens of Baltimore upwards of one thousand dollars, to purchase said lot. And who were the projectors of this plan? Mrs. Norris, who gave the first five dollars towards it, and the Rev. Mr. Coker. Again, two dwelling houses on said lot, worth $14 per month, are owing to the indefatigable labors of that Rev. gentleman. In a word, upwards of three thousand dollars improvements were effected, during his connection with this society. And ask old brother Russell, and brother J. Gilyard, Sen., who we believe will give the credit of devising the plan for raising the money to accomplish the same to the Rev. Mr. Coker. Add to this, when he came to this city to take charge of the school, he had to begin with seventeen scholars, and when he left the school, he left about one hundred and fifty scholars, under the charge of his worthy friend, Mr. Crawford; and should the cause of his leaving the school be demanded, it will be with pleasure that we shall give a statement to the public. Add to this his ministerial labors in this city for more than six years, and
we believe that there are hundreds that belong to Sharp-street society, that will in spite of all that can be said by the disturbers of the peace of Israel, ever hold this our Rev. brother in the highest esteem; for he often speaks with pleasure of his Sharp-street friends, and in his pulpit he breathes the same language. Now we would ask the question, If he is this useful man, has he not long since made compensatory returns for all that has been done for him? We believe that the majority of the citizens will answer in the affirmative.
The next charge is that he was not free when he was ordained. (Did we not know that these men wrote under the influence of prejudice, we should be much astonished.) Now we would ask, Is it a secret just disclosed, that the Rev. Mr. Coker did receive ordination prior to his purchasing himself? No; for the collection to aid him was made in the colored society, publicly as before stated. Again, was it thought in him a crime, that he received orders before the purchase? No; for the elders then spoke of him in the highest terms. But should it be said that the elders did not know at that time of his concealing his situation from the Bishops, then this would go to criminate the Bishop; for it would follow that the Bishop did ordain him, notwithstanding he knew he was not free. But the truth is, the Bishop did not know his situation, and this the elders knew when the aid was given him; yet they did not view it as a crime, for the Rev. Mr. Bun read his ordination license in the African church and explained his situation, and then recommended him to the society, and he stood high as a minister until he withdrew, and would have done till this day had he staid.
The next charge brought against our Rev. brother is, that the Bishop received a letter, informing him that he had ordained a slave, and that he received a letter from Mr. Coker, &c. We would like to know when these letters were received, for if they were received any considerable time before the separation, we shall then wonder that the Bishop had not made these things known before. But it is said that the Rev. Mr. Coker has been guilty of ingratitude. In what? for withdrawing? Then Mr. Wesley, George Fox, Martin Luther, and every other dissenter and nonconformist have been guilty of ingratitude; for all that Mr. Coker has done is, that he has withdrawn and is now worshipping God with his brethren, agreeably to his own conscience; (and he is not ashamed to own us as his flock, in the street, in the garret, in the kitchen, in the quarter, in sickness or in death; and such a shepherd we think suits the descendants of Africa best.) We are almost compelled to say, that there could not be more clamoring and grumbling about Mr. Coker's withdrawing, if he had been Suffragan, Bishop of the Methodist connection; and if he was such a useful man, we would ask, would it not have been better had those disturbers of the peace of Israel applied to the legislative body to pass an act on purpose to confine him to the connection, whether he would stay or not? The next thing
is his confuting the malicious slander, by Certificates. Now it will be observed, that it is not denied, nor dare not be denied, but that he obtained those certificates from Mr. Thatcher, and the Hon. Mr. Clinton, and that he obtained them at the time of his leaving that city. "This is to certify to all whom it may concern, that Daniel Coker is a Deacon of acceptable standing, in the African Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, in the City of New York, and as such he is hereby recommended by William Thatcher, ruling elder, in the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the City of New York. New York, March 27, 1809." "I, De Witt Clinton, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby certify as my opinion that the within certificate is entitled to full credence. DE WITT CLINTON.
"Dated 6th of April, 1809."
Now it only remains to refer to the minutes of the Methodist conference, to know what station the Rev. Mr. Thatcher then filled in the church, and it will be found that he was ruling elder, (as his certificate certifies,) and that with the presiding elder he had a seat in the African quarter conference; and all that are acquainted with the discipline of the Methodist church know, that at every quarter conference there is an examination made of the standing of all the preachers, so that Mr. Thatcher must have been acquainted with the Rev. Mr. Coker's standing, and if he gives a false recommendation, (as the above must be, if Mr. Coker was not a deacon of unexceptionable standing,) it will prove this much, that the elder and conference kept within the pale of their church a man that was not of acceptable standing, which we believe the Methodist church would not do knowingly, if the man had the talents of a Grecian orator, or the Archbishop of Canterbury.
As to the circumstance of our purchasing our church, &c. without the knowledge of the elder, we can prove it to be untrue, by a quotation from the memorial sent to the Bishops and conference; for say the petitioners, "Should we establish another church, will the Bishops take us under their direction?" Again, as to the rumor of our trying to get another African church, founded on a different basis, it is not without foundation. Now it will be observed that this petition was handed into conference, and we can prove by the articles of agreement between us and Mr. Carmel, of whom we purchased the church, that we did not purchase the church till some time after the adjournment of the conference. There are several other things said as to the purchase of the church in the handbills. But we think them not worth an answer.
Again, these disturbers of the peace of Israel say, "Mr. Allen and some of his official members, disagreeing in consequence of Mr. Allen's improper conduct." Now we wonder that he had not been charged with ingratitude also; but we suppose they were deterred from this, knowing that he was a rich man, and that scores of the servants of God, now in the traveling ministry, (who before the separation
held the Rev. Richard Allen in the highest esteem,) found his house and table like that of the Shunamite woman, 2 Kings iv. 8. "And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to cat bread. And so it was, that, as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to cat bread." And that these heralds of the Most High, on the principle of gratitude, would have remonstrated against such a charge.
The next thing to be considered is, that these disturbers of the peace of Israel deny that the African church in Philadelphia was gained from the Bishops and conference; for they ask the question, "Who did they gain their church from? from the Bishops and conference, or from their colored brethren?" Now the validity of this evasion will be shortly tried, and to satisfy the public that it will be, we shall here insert an extract from a letter recently received from the "self-created Bishop Allen," so called. But we would ask, did the celebrated Rev. Ezekiel Cooper, one of the greatest luminaries in the Methodist church, in conversation with the Rev. Mr. Shinn and the Rev. Mr. Neal, one morning at the breakfast table, in Light-street, consider him so? or rather, we would ask, did not this distinguished divine, who was well versed in the controversy as to what constitutes a bishop, say in the most positive manner, that properly speaking the Rev. Richard Allen was the Bishop of Bethel church? "Dear Brother, as soon as possible we intend giving a true and full statement of the whole of the trial." Now we think that when the document to which Mr. Allen refers shall appear, the public will take up the language of the prophet, Isa. xxviii. 20: "For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it." Now Robert Green, (a colored man,) was the tool with which the elders worked. In a word, Green is the bed and the covering to which we allude, in the text just quoted.
Now the last thing that we shall notice is, that after the proof-sheet of the handbill that gave rise to this answer fell into our possession, the press was stopped for some days that they might make the following addition in the handbill. And we know not at which to be the most astonished, whether that it should take three scribes three days to make this addition, or the falsehood of the same. But why do we speak thus, when we believe that the main body of their handbill had bestowed on it five or six months' labor, whereas we, like our celebrated minister at Ghent, have bestowed but one or two days on this discriminator, and have not had recourse to Light-street library neither? Now that it may appear what those men were laboring for three days to bring forth, we will here insert it, and then confute it: "Mr. Coker says that the colored members in Philadelphia and Baltimore, though withdrawn from the society, are Methodists still. But it will be observed that they were legally tried according to the discipline, and were excommunicated, and of course
they are not Methodists." Now to confute this statement, we will observe that when the Bethel church in Philadelphia was established, notwithstanding the members of that church had not the advantage of a classical education, and although they had at this time the utmost confidence in their spiritual rulers, yet they took good care to secure to themselves in their deed and charter a power which we wish our Sharp-street brethren had this day, viz: the trying of their brethren by a committee of the members of their own society; for this and this only saved our brethren in Philadelphia from being ex-communicated as above stated. It is a fact not to be denied, that agreeably to the charter of that church, the elder could not try one of the members but by a colored committee; for observe what says the elder, the Rev. Mr. Emory, in his circular, published in 1814, on account of the African society being dissatisfied.
Philadelphia, July 17, 1814.--"But you have not acted according to that declaration, (viz. the charter,) and therefore, after long forbearance, we must tell you, that we cannot serve you any longer.
"In saying this, I have the sanction of Bishop Asbury, and of the trustees and quarterly conference of the Union church; we hope you will take this subject into serious consideration. We pretend not to dictate to you, nor do we mean to attempt any harsh measures. JOHN EMORY."
But nine months after this, the Rev. Mr. R. Roberts went to Bethel church, and insisted on preaching, and nothing but the aisles being stopped up by the congregation prevented him, and here a disturbance began.
Now we would ask, why did not Mr. Emory try them?. We answer, because he knew that he was bound by the charter to try them by a colored committee. But why did he not try them by a colored committee? Because he knew that the society was so united that they would not turn each other out, for contending for their rights.
We will give you another extract from the Rev. Richard Allen.
"We called the society together on the 13th April; there were one thousand and fourteen met; and they were unanimously of one mind;"so that you may see that they could not have been excommunicated; for the discipline makes no provision for excommunicating members without giving them a trial first; and we would ask, have the fourteen hundred and odd members belonging to Bethel church in Philadelphia, been tried and excommunicated according to discipline? No; and no man that regards his standing in society will say it. The truth is, they withdrew, as did the members of Bethel church in this city, and are almost daily withdrawing, and are coming to us; and to them we would say, "to you who are troubled, rest with us." 2 Thess. i. 7.
For had the elder had to try all that have left Sharp-street, and joined Bethel, we will venture to say he would have had but little
time to study his Bible, unless he had tried them in the aggregate. And after all these disturbers of the peace of Israel can say, we are still Methodists, and will sing,
"A Methodist, it is my name,
I hope to live and die the same;
Oh may I always live in this,
And die a faithful Methodist."
Our pens must now become stationary, and when we take them up again, we shall expect it will be to answer men of better character than John Forty and Samuel G. Weares. And should we have to answer them again, we will venture to say the public shall know who they are.
We must conclude in the words of our much beloved pastor:
"And my [or our] prayer is, that we, the descendants of Africa, may enjoy, and not abuse our glorious privileges; and always retain a high sense of our obligation of obedience to the laws of God, and the laws of our land; 'For who are these uncircumcised Philistines, that they should defy the armies of the living God?' "*
* To be innocent in all our proceedings, by which we prove to the world our sincerity, that we work the works of righteousness, by which we intend to conquer our enemies by love; yea, this is the sublime knowledge that we desire to retain in heart; then truth will cut its way through the world, by which the enemies of the cross will lose the skirt of their robes, which will strengthen the cause of the innocent; and we say--Amen, Christ will save his own. Yours, in the bonds of affection. 1 Sam. xxiv.
* To be innocent in all our proceedings, by which we prove to the world our sincerity, that we work the works of righteousness, by which we intend to conquer our enemies by love; yea, this is the sublime knowledge that we desire to retain in heart; then truth will cut its way through the world, by which the enemies of the cross will lose the skirt of their robes, which will strengthen the cause of the innocent; and we say--Amen, Christ will save his own.
Yours, in the bonds of affection.
1 Sam. xxiv.
DON C. HALL,
NELSON L. ROBERTS,
WILLIAM H. GRIGGS,
Men of color.
Since the above went to press, we have received a letter from the Rev. Richard Allen, now pastor of the African Church in Philadelphia, which we think will be proper here to present, as it will go to confirm the above statements.
February 18, 1816.
To the Rev. Daniel Coker, Minister of the African Bethel Church,
DEAR BROTHER --I received your kind letter, and was happy to hear that your family is well; and above all, that the work of the Lord prospers among you. The hymn that was composed on the victory of Bethel church came safe to hand. I have given one to Lawyer Binney and one to Lawyer Brown. Mr. Sergeant is gone to Congress; at our trial we got the States Attorney, (Mr. Israel Ingersoll,) in his place. On the 26th of December, the Rev. Mr. Burch, (one of the white Methodist elders,) sent to me a notification that he should preach on the 31st inst., in Bethel church, and requested
me to give notice to the congregation, that he would preach at 3 o'clock in the afternoon: however, for fear that notice should not be given, he came down himself on Thursday evening, and gave out the appointment for himself. But I contradicted it, and told the congregation, that I did not believe he would preach. When the day arrived on which he intended to preach, we began meeting a little after 2 o'clock. The house was crowded, and the aisles all filled with people and benches, so that he could not get half way up the aisle; for observe, he came about a quarter before 3 o'clock. He said, "Jacob Tapsicoe, [who is one of our colored ministers,] did you not know that it was my appointment?" Brother Tapsicoe demanded silence, and said he was preaching in the name of his God, and by the authority of the laws of his country. The elder presently withdrew, together with his company. On Monday, the first of January, 1816, he applied to the Supreme Court, for a writ of mandamus, to restore him the pulpit of Bethel church. Our lawyers repulsed his motion, and granted him a writ to show cause why the trustees should restore him the pulpit. In this our lawyers manoeuvred to try the whole case. On the 11th of January, it was brought before the Supreme Court. Mr. Binney opened the case very copiously; he had not spoken one hour before the Court appeared to be convinced. Mr. Binney, however, took up the whole of the first day in opening the case. Mr. Binney pleaded that the Rev. Mr. Burch, nor any other elder in the connection, had any right to the pulpit of Bethel, contrary to the wish of the society; for any grant that had been made to the elder by the trustees might be taken from him at their pleasure, as there was not a third person's name to the deed, or act of incorporation, and no temporal emolument arising therefrom. Secondly, that he was not a member of the incorporation, nor a party in the deed, and that the congregation had a right to take from him what the incorporation had given him. This was also the decided opinion of the judges, and the judge further asked, what profit he expected it would be to them, by forcing himself upon them, contrary to their wishes; and that they held too high a hand over the colored people, and they would drive them all from them if they continued to carry so high a hand over them, and he perceived that he had no right to the church, and that the whole of them could be expelled. Now, had not the church there been sold, we should have gained our cause; for the court was of the opinion, from the above assigned reasons, that they had no right to preach for us, contrary to our wishes, or to impose themselves upon us. As to a libel that I see in circulation, (in your city,) bearing the signature of John Forty, about the sale of the church, I will here observe, I have had a judgment bond and mortgage against the church, ever since 1803, for fourteen hundred and sixty-four dollars, and a judgment bond for three thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine dollars.
With regard to the sale of the church, the elder authorized a man to come forward to bid for it; he run the church (and the adjoining lot) belonging to the church up to ten thousand five hundred and twenty-five dollars; the elder then proposed to the sheriff not to make out a deed, till the overplus of the money was paid, but in that he failed; the elder then applied for a writ of mandamus, (as before stated,) but in that he failed. But he got an execution for us to shew cause why the trustees should not deliver him the pulpit, and upon this the whole case was tried.
Please to let me know who that John Forty is, and what he is; for what he has asserted is nothing more than a libel about Bethel church, which we can make appear. I am in haste, as I have to preach. No more at present, but remain your loving brother in Christ.
N. B. Since writing the above, I have understood who this John Forty is, and I think him beneath my notice; for I had made up my mind to prove his assertions false, in every respect, by a bill to be laid before the public, or by a daily advertisement; for what does this man know about the dockets of our Supreme Court? At the first sight of his bill, I found him to be a man of deceit; yea, I found him worse, viz., a man of untruth, in saying that the decision of the Supreme Court authorized him to say that you had told what was not true. As to what he says about the society's being opposed to the sale of the church, and of my being overbearing, the union of Bethel society will prove it to be false. There was but one man who opposed us, and he had been a fractious member and was disowned for his improper conduct. In 1812 he appealed to the quarterly conference; the elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church was then president of the conference; the judgment of the committee was confirmed in his expulsion; but when Mr. Roasell was stationed in this city and could not get one single member of Bethel church, he made a tool of Robert Green. I shall get the decision of the Supreme Court, and forward it to you. You will excuse my not sending our church deed, as we are now getting a new deed formed and a new law. No more at present, but remain your loving brother in the bonds of a pure Gospel.
Rev. R. ALLEN, with his other colleagues.
(Read this letter in your church, as often as you may think proper. Now it will be observed that the property of Bethel society in Philadelphia is worth between twenty and thirty thousand dollars.)
THEREFORE, "without holiness no man shall see God" in peace, without any respect to character, or this world's wealth; then, of course, purity is demanded of all mankind, which denotes that the motto of such is holiness; therefore, their victory is sure; the meek are the pure in heart; they shall see God in due form. Matt. v. 3, 8. All such characters are truly blest in the sublime matters of divine
truth, which will show the principles of their faith, by which all such expect the sublime continuance of God's divine favor with them, yes, by an act of obedience in compliance with God's divine law, as we know of a truth, the mighty God of Jacob has been with us for the last twenty-seven years, in a particular manner: yea, punctuality in obedience is the life of Christians, the art of which I have learned, to trust the Lord for his grace, (Matt. vi. 33,) which has caused an increase of knowledge among us as a people, the ingathering of thousands of precious souls into the fold of Christ.
Yes, the work of the Lord is still going on among us--spreading rapidly far and wide, from east to west, from north to south--six annual conferences this season: the Baltimore conference, in the city of Washington, on the 23d of April; the Philadelphia conference, on the 21st of May; the New York conference, on the 11th of June; the Canada conference, on the 2d of July, at Hamilton; the Indiana conference, on the 25th of August, at Vincennes; the Ohio conference, at Columbus, on the 17th of September, 1842.
My prayer is to God, to increase the number two to one, that truth may abound among us; as I have been blest to see seven General Conferences of the African Methodist Episcopal Society. The seventh one met in the city of Baltimore, May, 1840, which is great joy to my soul, while I am conning these lines, when I reflect on the joyful triumphs of this connection. I was one among the first in the itinerant service, about four years after the death of my father, BEAVES CANNON, who died Jan. 6, 1813. I left my esteemed mother in the State of Delaware, Sussex county. I got religion before the death of my father, as near as I can tell, in July, 1806, at a camp meeting, conducted by the Rev. Dr. Chandler, between Laureltown and Salisbury, in the State of Delaware. After the death of my father, I worked about home nearly three years. I then left my esteemed mother, two brothers and a sister, and saw them no more until fourteen years had past over my head. I had then left the Methodist Episcopal Church, where I had been in society for twelve years, without a charge. After the time above mentioned, I had the pleasure to meet with my esteemed mother and sister, at a camp meeting near Lewistown, Delaware. The meeting was conducted by the Rev. Lewis Cork, about the year 1820. Great joy was truly manifested by them on seeing me, mine being the same, after being absent so many years, which caused our love and affections to increase to such a height, that neither they nor myself were able to express our joy in returning thanks to God for his divine favor, which is natural for a mother to do, on seeing her children who have been long absent, when thus permitted through the divine mercy of God to see each other in the flesh.
In June, 1840, I saw my esteemed mother in the flesh for the last time. While I was going forth sounding the gospel trumpet, I received a letter giving an account of her illness; but it was not in my
power to reach the city of Philadelphia in time, therefore I shall see her no more until the sound of that glorious trump when I expect to see her on that joyful morning, according to her joyful testimony which she left behind. ROSE ANNE CANNON, she is gone hence, about one hundred and six years of age. She died on the 22d of February, 1841.
My father was between sixty and seventy years of age, and in like manner he gave us all a strict charge to be faithful until death, as he had been before us. He then said--"Amen, my work is done, my warfare is accomplished." In triumph he crossed the gulf of death. Oh, may that be my happy lot! 1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.
The Rev. SAMUEL TODD, my esteemed colleague in the itinerancy was a faithful brother, a sincere friend, a consistent, uniform Christian, an exemplary minister, a husband indeed, an affectionate, tender parent, which I presume will not be denied by any that knew him. At home or abroad, in his various appointments, he discharged the sublime duties of a zealous, pious, faithful minister. He was truly esteemed in his different stations, by small and great, wherever he had any acquaintance, particularly in and about the city of New York, where he spent many years of his ministerial labors in triumph; but at last he was sorely attacked with the dropsy in the chest, in January, 1837. In the spring he left the city of Washington with me to go to Baltimore to convalesce; but his afflictions seemed to increase very rapidly. However, he made out to preach an ordination sermon of two deacons, which was about his last exercise in the ministry. He then returned home to his family in Philadelphia. In the month of May his afflictions increased so rapidly, that his case became hopeless; but he still continued striving for the victory, saying "All within is well." Just before his departure I had to leave the city for a few days. When I returned, he had closed his royal commission, in full triumphs of faith, in the sublime hope of gaining an everlasting crown of glory. In June, 1837, he departed this life. The answer of a good conscience makes up the whole man in time and in eternity. Amen. 2 Tim. iv. 5--8.
Oh! the sublime results of obeying the divine command of our Supreme Master, the joyful triumph over the world, by which we retain a knowledge of our sins being forgiven--a knowledge of which is denied by thousands! but it is still the same; hark ye, philosophy.
In ancient times, men which were distinguished for their superior learning and knowledge and their correctness in judgment, were called sophia, that is, Pythagoras and Socrates, two of the most eminent men of their city, although that was thought to be too high a title to be given to any one but God himself; and from that time of controversy, they were known by a more modest name, the lovers of wisdom--philosophæ, or philosophers. St. Paul answered some of that kind of men in his day, and informed them of better things,
that though they were the wisest of the wise of their day, yet they had first to become fools, before they by any means could be wise; that is, to become a fool in the eyes of the world; then there is a hope of such becoming wise unto salvation, by faith in the Son of God; and if any man lacketh the knowledge of repentance, he is just as wise as the devil desires him to be; if he will only continue so unto death, never mind about his knowledge of the Bible, or his philosophical knowledge of the world, if he only dies unregenerated, he will remain a fool through all eternity. 1 Cor. iii. 16--19.
But my prayer to God is, that I may fight the good fight of faith; yea, that I may in full triumph overcome my last enemy, in the strength of victory, the love of Christ in my soul, which covers the whole man from the charms of the world, the only wisdom that conquers the world, like unto the Rev. JEREMIAH MILLER, a soldier of the cross, who departed this life on Wednesday, the 8th day of April, 1840, in the 73d year of his age. Yes, he fought his battle in the triumph of victory, over him that has slain millions of millions of the world as heroes, but when they saw their end they trembled for fear. Rev. vi. 12--17. But it was not so with the Rev. J. Miller, but in full faith of the happy results of an everlasting life in that sublime world above, (yea, this is the result of being obedient to the divine law of God unto death,) there to enjoy an eternal inheritance, which is now incomprehensible to mortal eye, which is only to be discerned by a spiritual eye--the eye of faith. Oh! what a sublime knowledge is this, which the obedient possess while here on earth, (Matt. v. 5--9; 1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.,) to know that they will be sure to dwell with God and Christ, when they go hence, in a world without end, which was the sublime prospect of my reverend father in the ministry, as he said, when he was about to enter the vale of death. "Oh death! where is thy sting?--all is well--amen," said my beloved father in Christ. He was an itinerant minister of the gospel about 23 years, and among the first of the pioneers in laying the foundation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this country. The Lord blessed him abundantly in his labors in the ministry. He was a man very peculiar in his manners and deportment, and by many of the more refined, objections were raised against him as a man unsuited for the polished societies of the day. Yet wherever he traveled, like the apostles of our heavenly Master, he possessed but little of earthly wealth and talents; however, as a minister of Christ, the observer could always identify in him the marks of the dying and suffering of his Lord and Master, which he, as the apostle of the Gentiles always bore about him even unto his last moments, glorying in the cross of Christ, preaching and declaring in his old age and infirm state of body the truths of the gospel, to those both far and near, inviting all poor, weary, wandering sinners to take shelter under the great Rock of our salvation. He was at this time about to close up his affairs for the year, among his people
at Albany, N. Y., over whom he was sent by the bishop to preside. His labors among that people were attended with great success, particularly in the latter part of the year--the Lord having visited and blessed them in a wonderful manner, adding, at a protracted meeting which he had just closed, as a seal to his ministry, about 64 souls to the church. On the closing of this protracted meeting, he was about to take leave of his people, for his family at Philadelphia, and for the general conference which would then sit in a few days at Baltimore; being conscious that he should see their faces no more in this life, he called the church together and preached to them his farewell and final discourse from the 11th chap. of the 1st Corinthians; after which he administered the Lord's supper to the communicants of the church, and on the next evening he held a love feast with all his members, shewing his last token of filial love and fellowship to them. He was now ready to take his departure to join with his family and brethren in conference, having to all appearance completed his mission, but the Lord's superruling hand was in the appointment, He always working as seemeth him best. He went home from the love feast, which was on the evening of April 6th, and was taken sick. He soon found in this afiliction that he should not see his family and brethren again in this life. His sickness was of short duration. He, therefore, placed himself wholly upon the beneficent arms of his Lord and Master who he was confident would not desert him in his last and most trying season. His mind was calmly and serenely fixed upon the Savior during his struggles with death; and on the second day of his illness, he closed his earthly career in the triumphs of faith, "having fought his way through and finished the work that was given him to do."
Amen, complete is the work of a wise master builder, in the sublime degree of victory. "I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men," by an act of obedience in compliance with the divine will of my Lord--amen. Then lot us follow the example of the Rev. J. M. Acts xx. 23--28.
Therefore, with joy I now close my history, with a sublime hope, a glorious hope of enjoying the same triumph of victory in my last expiring moments--and so be it, Lord, unto me--amen. I now remain your beloved and esteemed brother in the bonds of peace, by wishing you to follow my example. If I were disappointed by one that I thought was a friend indeed, it was by lies and deception, therefore the Lord will forgive the debt, as it is far better for me to be deceived by persons, than for me to deceive others, as principle is my only object, for which I shall receive a supply of interest. Rom. viii. 1--28.
But when interest is the only motive in hand, it will eat up the principle; the person then becomes bankrupt in a spiritual sense, and the soul must die because their case is uncontrollable. Therefore, my advice to you is, to flee from these things, that heaven may
be yours in the end, as truth is the life of Christians. 1 Tim. iv. 13--16.
As this was the sublime practice of the ancient ministers, let us now hope for better things, that truth may be our theme, that God's name may be praised, for which I offer these remarks, by saying, the Lord is my Strength, the God of my salvation, my Deliverer when in trouble. His works are sublime, his knowledge is the same by which his children are preserved from the power of the wicked one and his crew, by an act of obedience; they are blest with a knowledge of discrimination, by being subordinate to his divine will. The sovereignty of his government is sublime in its nature, substantial in its magnificent appearance, insurmountable, not to be invaded by human skill, by which I expect to enter his superlative abode, there to investigate three wonders.
First, how I overcame this evil heart of mine, when surrounded with the beauties of this world which are so enticing to human nature, and in triumph to conquer them all, there to live with Christ in his kingdom forever, amen. Then I with the rest can say, I am here, amen. Matt. vii. 12--14.
The second wonder will be, to see millions of millions that once bowed around their splendid church altars, who we supposed were Christians indeed; but hark ye for a moment, they were unconverted, strangers to virtue, had no knowledge of a change of heart; oh! what a mistake! no resemblance of Christ. I John iii. 5. My beloved readers, think on this subject before you go hence. Matt. xxiii. 23--37. These are they who on the account of riches forget the things that belong to their peace, which clearly proves to us that it is an awful thing to neglect the salvation of our souls, Luke xix. 41, 42, by which we become enemies to our souls as well as to each other in time and in eternity. Heb. ii. 3.
The third wonder of all the sublime scenes will be, to see millions of millions join the innumerable company that were rejected by ministers of different orders in their splendid churches, as not being fit for their society, nor for heaven, not thinking that all Christians belong to one family, the church of the first-born, which will go up with shouts of victory, crying "Victory! our suffering time is over," to range the ample regions of endless bliss. Amen. Heb. xii. 23 24. We have overcome once for all. Amen, my heart replies--all such will then be at rest. Rev. xiv. 13.
Yes, my beloved readers, it will be great wisdom in us to follow the sublime examples of such, as our end is drawing nigh. Let nothing but truth stimulate us to duty, as the great concern of our welfare. Acts xvii. 30--33.
I still remain yours respectfully, in the bonds of peace. 1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.
N. C. W. CANNON.
The sublime instructions to be received in prayer, which is the strength of our souls, the knowledge of our sins being forgiven by experimental acts of obedience, were taught by Christ to his disciples, by which it was not possible for them to be mistaken.
"After this manner, therefore, pray ye:" Matt. vi. 9. "Our Father," that is by adoption, "which art in heaven;" the Redeemer of our ancient fathers, thy name is from everlasting. Isa. lxiii. 16.
"Hallowed be thy name." Lord, my Father, I presume to address thee as my Father, from experimental knowledge of thy holiness through faith, as thou art my chief object, the desire of my heart, as thou knowest that it is my heart's delight to praise thy holy name, as one Father, one God, the sublime Creator of us all. Then I ask the question, Why do men deal treacherously, every man against his brother? "Sir," said Mr. D., "I cannot answer that question." Well, sir, it is because such are lacking in grace, by which they profane the covenant of our Father. Mal. ii. 10. Heaven is thy dwelling place, that all the people may know thy name, (as Solomon's house was called by thy name,) as being the conqueror of thine enemies. 1 Kings viii. 43.
"Thy kingdom come." That is, prevail over us all supremely, throughout soul and body, as the only promise of prosperity to them which do believe in Christ.
"Give us this day our daily bread." As our wants, if faithful, are daily, which demand a daily supply of his protection, that our strength and knowledge may continue to increase as we advance in years, that we through faith may have a just conception of his divine character, that we may know when we need a supply, then to ask in faith accordingly. Matt xviii. 19.
Then, with propriety, we can practice as well as say, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Amen, so be it. Ps. cxlv. 16.
Therefore, be it remembered, that public prayer is no more a duty than private devotion. Therefore, those who never give alms or pray but in public, may be assured that neither their prayers or alms will be acceptable to God. Private prayer, in particular, is the true essence of vital piety, a life of personal devotion, by an experimental knowledge of the truth as it is in Christ. As Christ was their example, so let him be ours. As next to privacy, he truly urged simplicity, in all its branches, that his clergymen and followers might not be corrupted by the love of this world, which was calculated to destroy both soul and body; therefore, let us as Christians, be wise unto salvation, and not use vain repetitions, like the heathen, as we have some of their examples in the worshippers of Baal and of Diana; and we have thousands now of such heathen, vain hypocrites, which glory in their shame. 1 Kings xviii. 26: Acts xix. 34. Let us have the truth in knowledge, virtue and wisdom, by which we may be enabled to avoid the evils of repetitions,
and at the same time we will guard against the omission of our petitions, which are essentially necessary, by which our knowledge increases. As being a proper medium to bring light to the meridian, our Lord gave his disciples a prayer, containing holiness within, which was both as a model and form of their devotion. As hypocrisy and deceit were to be unknown among them as ministers, they were to be distinguished by their sincerity and plain dealing, which was sufficient to secure them against all danger, by which the world might discriminate between its inferiority and the superiority of the disciples, in their sublime qualifications, the knowledge of pardoning love, as no man is fit to preach without that knowledge, and all that are lacking of that virtue are unable to discriminate between truth and error, and in consequence of which they use vain repetitions instead of truth. Matt. vi. 7.
A sincere prayer is the desire of the heart, offered up through simplicity of obedience, by which we are taught to address the Almighty as our Father, in a superior sense to any other, as in one respect he is the Father of all his creatures, but we being sinners, can therefore only approach him through a mediator, through whom we can presume to address God as our Father of mercy, as we can only be heirs of God by being joint heirs with Christ. 1 Pet. i. 4, 5.
The knowledge of prayer is truly a sublime understanding. As to the first petition, with regard to his divine glory and magnificent splendor, it certainly ought to be a primary object with us as Christians; yea, when we reflect how intimately his divine glory is connected with our salvation, by which mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
"Thy kingdom come." That is, prevail over us, the pure in heart for the advancement of his kingdom, as his children grow in grace, which may be understood, as I comprehend the meaning, the glorious progress of the gospel through the world. The sublime light of Revelation, the Gospel of the kingdom, first announced by John, secondly by Christ himself, and afterwards powerfully proclaimed by his disciples as the kingdom of God, is within us, which is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Rom. xiv. 17.
"Thy will be done in earth," that is in us, by an act of obedience, "as it is in heaven," as the earth is his footstool, the dwelling place of his children at present, where they shall gain the victory, to go hence in triumph. Isa. lxvi. 1: Matt. v. 35.
Oh! how sublime is prayer which unites us in one band, so close is the connection between temporal and eternal blessings; yea, that which death cannot rescind. Faith and holiness, the love of God in us, complete the whole, in our daily wants, by which our fellow creatures are incited to duty, the sublime exercises of divine worship in adoration and praise to God, which are the great constituents of real happiness. As these principles are truly sublime, springing from the exercise of obedience, which exalts believers
above the children of the world, so they, the heirs of salvation, will derive the greatest portion of their felicity in the world to come from them. As thy name is glorious, our bread is sure. Ps. cxv. 1. Man shall not live on bread alone, but he shall feed on truth, as truth will abide forever. Matt. iv. 4.
Oh! the sublime enjoyment that these first three petitions contain! the superiority of their employments, as well as the present enjoyment, which enable them to hope with confidence for the future reward of an everlasting life, which is so intimately connected, which makes the promise sure to them that endure to the end. Ps. lxxxvi. 11.
The three following petitions are rather more confined to our present state, but when we are in the world to come, these petitions with us will be over, because we shall not need prayer there; it will be praise for the past blessings of our sublime labors, which will entitle the faithful to a crown of life. Amen. Jas. i. 12.
Then to you that wish to stay behind, for the sorry favor of custom, I bid you adieu.
I know that, said the Rev. J. C., but I am compelled thus to do, because it is the custom of our country.
Well, sir, said the oppressed sons of Africa, truth will decide the case between us all, whether we as ministers of God, as professors, are disposed to do by others as we would that they should do by us or not, as though the age or size, or the color of the skin were a crime in the sight of God, of which we leave you to judge, as you profess to judge with a theological judgment: whether it will be by the things abovementioned or by the principle of moderation, as now is the only time for a farther consideration to regulate the ministry of Christ, as genuine co-workers together in moderation, that we all may make a wise improvement of all other Christian graces, which will show to the world that our knowledge is genuine. Yes, sir, the moderation that is here recommended is sublime, which lies at an equal distance between an indifference to truth, and the merciless spirit of uncharitableness. But charity is truly sublime in its nature, a virtue that is much talked about among many theological ministers, and many eminent discourses (so called) have been delivered on that subject, without an experimental knowledge of the true meaning.
Why so, sir? said Mr. J. S.
I answered, Sir, charity is truly sublime in its nature, without any respect to persons; principle is its only object; therefore, those who make so much ado about charity, they themselves prove to the world by their actions, that they understand not its principles; and the worst of all is, it is so little practiced among the professors of religion, on account of the deception which is continually practiced in the house, which is called the church of God. Heb. xii. 23. Yea, such as these, I suppose, call this doing by others as they wish others
to do by them; but this I leave for you, my readers, to judge. Matt. xxii. 39. If we are all created anew in Christ, (2 Cor. v. 17.) hark ye, mark the phraseology, the answer of the Rev. Mr. J. S.
Sirs, it is only for the peculiarity of your color that we are compelled to reject you in the church, and not that of prejudice.
Well, sir, I must tell you, that the devil knows better than that; for do you not know, sir, that when you reject the Ethiopian, you reject your friend? (Ps. lxxxvii. 4;) and if I were such a fool as that, I should have the same right to reject you and yours, on the same ground of argument. Well, sir, I say more pity for you; for I thought from some of your past conduct, that you were one of Satan's ministers, but now you yourself have proved the fact, by an act of your own in keeping back a part of the price. Ah, sir! let me say unto you as a friend, unless you and all such repent, and that speedily, your fate will soon be like that of Ananias. Acts v. 2, 3, 5.
Oh! ye rejecters of truth, and you who call in question that which God himself approves--ah! sirs, I am not the author of my complexion; therefore, you must judge me by my conduct, which is calculated to show the principle that is within, as those ministers do who say that the slaves cannot be free here where they were born, but they must go to the hot shores of Liberia, and then they can be free there; but how can that be possible, when they are continually bringing them to this country to enslave them, and yet these that are here must go back to Liberia before they can be free?
Yes, sir, said Mr. J. C.
Well, sir, I perceive that is the logic of your ignominious arguments which you have premeditated; but, sir, your work will be accomplished before that day, according to the word of God, (Ps. lxviii. 31,) because these theological ministers are only saying prayers which are truly injurious to themselves and to their hearers, by which truth has been brought forth to the light. Therefore, no man of color ever need to expect to receive equal rights in any such churches, where deception is practiced in the extreme. Isa. xxxiv. 8, 9. But, sir, it may not be too late yet; if we as ministers have done that which was wrong, that is no reason we should continue in wickedness in order to make our case better; but as ministers let us return and repent, and that speedily, and come to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy in due time and in due form. 1 Tim. ii. 8.
We therefore pray, that God may enable us as ministers of his word, to live a life of holiness as we preach unto others, which will show that we have a pure principle at least, instead of interest; as I have learned that God will accept of nothing but truth, as an ancient writer once said to his colleague. I often perceive by the inferior actions of some men, that interest often diverts judgment, because they esteem interest to be superior to truth, which denotes
that such do not understand the subject of charity. I speak unto you that follow the examples of your forefathers. Matt. xxiii. 25--33. There is a mist which covers the eyes of such; then they are calculated to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, for the want of knowledge, yet holding themselves to be wiser than their Creator, by rejecting their own kindred, by calling in question the age and the size and complexion of men; they thus say to God, Why dost thou make man so?--by which they charge their Creator with an act of injustice; but in all the points of their objection, the character is not once mentioned, and that is the only thing to be considered after all that is said and done: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God," which denotes the time is nigh at hand, according to the signs of the times, when all things like deception or prejudice, which now so powerfully exist in churches of a superior taste, or in the stages or cars in traveling the highway, will be done away, to die with their advocates, and I say amen, let love prevail. Ps. cxxxiii. But wo to those theological ministers of deception, who will continue to misinterpret the word of divine truth on account of the abovementioned things--they must abide the consequences. Therefore, judge ye for yourselves, before ye go hence, (1 John iii. 16--20,) for now is the time, and the only time, for the ministry to unfold the mystery of godliness, as the Christian world, so called, is now divided into different denominations, each of which seems to be distinguished by sentiments which seem to be peculiar to itself. And for me to presume to delineate the true nature of these points, and point out the only course or foundation, and appreciate the tendency of every individual opinion, would surely be an endless task, if I were in possession of the wisdom and talents of a Solomon; therefore, my only design is briefly, to enumerate a few leading points of the several parties, which have attracted my notice, and to make this variety of religious opinions a subject of inquiry among the numerous throng, the groundwork for the exercise of moderation, which is greatly wanted, the knowledge of doing to others as you would that others should do to you, which is the very essence, the life of religion. Ah! what say you to this subject, ye theological ministers? Now, sirs, judge and discriminate for yourselves the difference between truth and error, as God will soon decide the case, let us be right or wrong in our opinions. He will decide the case by the purity of the character, (Matt. v. 8,) and by the love of equal rights in truth, (Matt. vii. 12,) by which interest will never be able to force the Christian from the pure principles of Christianity, (Rom. viii. 14--28,) unlike those that are lifted up so high by the love of this world's honor, that they have forgotten the world that is to come, for the sake of gain, which has caused the excitement of interest to completely overrule the principles of Christianity; then they can carry on their clandestine objects, in order to confederate with the world, which is the standard of evil doers, only in the way
to seek objects of enterprise, not for the good of the souls of men, but the wisdom of this world. 2 Tim. iii. 4.
SIR--In answer to what has been done in order to elevate my colored brethren in these United States, the enterprise seems to grow smaller; the current of prejudice runs so strong, the light is almost gone out, and in a great measure the church is in darkness, which is the cause of the heavy yoke of oppression remaining still in the church on our necks, and of the heavy drag, the wheels being clogged with deception, which causes the elevators to look around themselves in due time, lest they themselves become castaways. But the Lord was with them here and elsewhere, to bless and to give success to the gospel labors, wherever the sound was heard, in which cause I bid them God speed, the true Israelites indeed, as our sad condition has been truly a subject of great consideration with me, although much has been done to ameliorate it.
Yes, sir, said Mr. A. S., we of the American Missionary, or rather of the Colonization Society have done much to heal your maladies.
Yes, sir, but the scab is still on the place that was sore, and of course the flesh is yet tender if not sore. Although thousands of dollars have been spent in order to carry this project into execution, yet they seem to lack of aid by millions of dollars, while millions of us still remain at home in a state of ignorance, by which their proceedings in many cases seem to be unsuccessful; but perhaps they know the cause of that.
Sir, said Mr. A. S., what is the cause of our defeat?
Sir, I answer, your zeal is greater than your knowledge; secondly, you lack the art of holy living, which is the substance of life. Matt. vii. 12. "United we stand--divided we fall." When prejudice creeps in, then sir, adieu to the light of the royal throne, for union is the strength of any nation, by which they retain knowledge, the sceptre of peace. Heb. iv. 16.
Well, sir, that is the impression of my mind, and I acknowledge, said Mr. A., that we, as a society, have not done justice to you and yours.
Well, sir, is it too late now?
I hope not.
Well, sir, commence, and we will meet you more than half way. Matt. xviii. 21, 22.
Well, sir, I must confess that your argument is a logical one.
Well, sir, without this kind of knowledge, every thing will move dry and irksome, let the knowledge of science be what it may. Truth will surely prevail, and in consequence of which we may suffer a little here; but we had better suffer a little here, where we
can find a remedy for our suffering, than to suffer hereafter, where there is no remedy for pain.
Yes, sir, said Mr. E., that thought is worthy of our attention.
Then, sir, let truth by the light of virtue, arouse us up to duty. As the light has come, hark ye to the trumpeters, while the sublime sound of the gospel echoes through the horizon, and I say amen; and in consequence of which, a few of the brethren thought it advisable to call a Convention, at Hartford, Connecticut, on the 18th of August, 1841.
This meeting was truly designed in its arrangement, so as to embrace all evangelical denominations of color, that we, as ministers of Christ, might meet together, and calmly deliberate on the subject with simplicity, without an eye to sectarianism. As prejudice heretofore has been the great stumbling block long enough, now let truth come in, by which virtue may be retained, that we may be enabled to enter into ways and means, in time to come. God willing, so as to be able to send forth colored missionaries to the land called Africa, (but the right name is Ethiopia, Gen. ii. 13,) or elsewhere if need be, but there in particular; and believing that this idea will meet with a favorable reception, by which we hope to gain great strength of both soul and body, that we may be enabled to carry our object into execution. Then let us be continually united in prayer, three times a day, at the throne of grace, yes, that is the holy spot for us to meet, (1 Tim. ii. 7, 8,) that we may learn the art of holiness in all our interesting studies, which is the most sublime thing in the whole circle of science, to be united together in heart, by the sacred tie of love; then we can with faith press onwards, with an unyielding perseverance, in the sublime path of duty, with virtue--the knowledge of true religion, which is the sublime art of holiness, (Matt. vi. 33,) as knowledge from any other source will fail in time to come, on account of its inferiority. 2 Pet. iii. 17, 18. Then let us in triumph retain the joyful theme of a real pleasing study, one which will directly tend to adorn and dignify human nature with knowledge of a substantial utility, which will meliorate the condition of man, and go directly into execution to unfold and mature our mental powers, and elevate us as a people to our proper rank in society. Yes, sir, this is the only thing to set us in the sublime scale of intellectual existence. Yea, while I am seeking after this kind of knowledge, I see a beautiful scenery of science, which is superior to any other object, which will enable the faithful to converse with a thousand worlds. As they advance in these sublime degrees of knowledge, they will discover the truth of these remarks, and feel the sublime force of its application to the heart. As this is the only knowledge that will answer in a dying hour, let us, my brethren, obtain it now, by an act of obedience; then we can say that Christ is ours, and we are his. Amen. John xiv. 1--14.
SIR--Before I close my address, I wish to offer a few thoughts on the subject of matrimonial proceedings, as to the legitimate rites of scripture, and the great responsibility that persons take on themselves, as it is to be feared, without due consideration of the consequences that follow.
First, Let it be remembered, that the contracting of new debts will not rescind the old bond.
No, sir, said Mr. Breaker.
Well, sir, I take this course of reasoning, as I wish to have tangible ground to work on. Sir, do you believe that it was the design of God that human laws should ever have power to rescind a marriage bond, if it was given for a definite period?
No, sir, says Mr. Breaker.
Well, sir, I say the same. As Christ sanctioned the marriage bond as being a divine appointment, by the authority of God, and his decision was, that persons may be separated on account of adultery; yet he left nothing on the page of truth, that I have seen, for either of them to marry again; and for this cause, I think that it is not a proper subject for human legislators to do much with, unless they are able to rescind the old covenant, or else they and the parties concerned will be found fighting against God. Acts 5, 38, 39. Sir, I presume that a marriage covenant is for a definite period of time.
How long, sir?
I answer, sir, Mr. Breaker, this period of time holds its undeniable legitimate claim until death rescinds the act; then, sir, the other is at liberty to marry the next day, according to the declaration of the divine law.
But Mr. Breaker said, Nay.
But, sir, you cannot alter the word of God, as you took Miss S. A. for better or for worse, from that day, henceforth, until death doth you part.
Yes, sir, that was my obligation; but, sir, she is so bad and devilish, that I cannot live with her.
Yes, you can, sir, for you have not lived faithful as you ought, and this affliction is to bring you to your duty; then your wife must repent or die, as she is then in your hands; then ask for her salvation, and if she refuse she shall die, (Matt. xviii. 19, 20,) only ask in faith, (John xiv. 13, 14.) Therefore, be it remembered, sir, that the rejectors of truth will at last tremble for fear, because God will take them at their own words. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee." Luke xix. 22. Mr. Breaker, sir, remember that. Therefore, sir, if you proceed any farther, you will commit yourself.
Yes, sir; unless the first divine institution of marriage be rescinded, you will be found guilty.
Well, sir, what am I to do in this case, as you by your argument have cut off all my hopes? (Matt. v. 31, 32.) Where is the remedy for my malady?
Sir, I answer, repent and forsake your evil doing, and Christ will receive you. By getting religion, the love of God will be your theme, as you never knew a man and wife to separate that were both religious.
Well, sir, this is the effect of love, while faith is in exercise, by an act of obedience to God, by which every stumbling block is quickly removed either by a conversion or by death. Yes, sir, such is the sublime effect of a sincere prayer, when offered by a sympathetic feeling of sincerity; yes, sir, confidence in God that he will hear and give answer to the case in hand. And my prayer to God is, that these proceedings may be the theme of the rising generation to come, that all things may work for their present and future prosperity; and so be it Lord, as this enterprise is of such vast importance, as Christ has emphatically forbidden any person to go contrary to his word, but to come to his word and there is a balm for every wound. Matt. xviii. 19. Therefore, if any person will be so presumptuous as to take such responsibility on themselves, after being thus forbidden, by forcing themselves into such unlawful measures against light and knowledge, they must abide by the consequences, that awful judgment which will be sure to follow such. Sir, God is not like man in these cases. No, sir, he is not; for man will deny his word--his own children in some cases, when he ought to acknowledge them; but God will do no man injustice, and all those that will so presumptuously speak or act against Christ or contrary to the demands of divine justice, God will judge them according to their works. Then these cases will be decided, (Matt. xii. 32,) without the failure of one jot or title of the law. Matt. v. 18.
Mr. Breaker says, that a man has an undoubted right to put away his wife, if she commit adultery; for she is then dead to him.
Well, sir, I admit that for the sake of argument. Then, sir, Mr. Breaker, please to show me within the Bible, where you are authorized to marry again to another.
Mr. Breaker says in Matt. v. 31.
No, sir, our Lord says not, (Mark x. 11,) because they both become one flesh; and the only safe way that I can see for you to do is, to do as a man does when he meets with the misfortune to lose an eye or a leg. When you see any symptoms of such danger, it is for you to look out in time for a remedy for such diseases; for should it so happen to a man after he has done the best he could, that he should lose an eye or a leg, then it would be time enough to seek for another, for it would be impossible to put another leg on until the other was amputated; and it is the same in this case. When the
husband and wife are amputated from each other by death, then, sir, there is hope for such, for they are free; the wound is healed by Christ, the great Physician of soul and body. The only method of restoring health in such a critical case is to apply to Christ, who is the great Physician, as sincere prayer will enable you to stand fast, with stability of mind, and take Christ at his word which will relieve your mind; then you in faith can pray for the conversion of your wife or husband, and my soul for yours, the answer will come, (John xiv. 13,) the work will be done, either by a conversion or by death, the stumbling block will be removed, the word of God must prevail, if you only proceed by faith; yes, by conversion or death; therefore, only use the means, the victory will be sure; take God at his word, then the battle is won, without any doubt. What say you, Mr. Breaker? Ah! are you silent? No wonder a man of science, sir, you must return and try it again when you get converted. Ah! sir, you and your crew who profess religion must have a better knowledge of God's love than that, or you will never see God in peace. Ah! sir, such as you and your crew are only a pest to a religious society. Yes, sir, you and your crew are such as Christ emphatically pronounced to be adulterers, by putting away your wives; there are no ifs nor ands about it; you are violators of God's law. Mark x. 6--12: 1 Tim. iii. 2--12. These sublime rules were for examples for the church, and you are a great minister to preach the gospel with two wives! Sir, where is your example for preaching the gospel which the ancient Christians were to set forth, the sublime example which was held forth by the church to the world, that the church might retain her purity, as a Christian example to the world at large? Therefore, when the word of God points me to a rule for ministers to have a plurality of wives, then, sir, I will go along with you; but, sir, it is contrary to the word of God now. Such ministers and members of churches as these are on a speculative scale in order to gratify their own lust, for the time being; but the worst of all is, their holding themselves for an example for the church of God. And yet they are without piety, with no symptoms of humility, the very things by which the Christian church has retained her purity. James ii. 8--10. These characters lack virtue! Oh, that sublime subject! the leading traits of the true minister's character, virtue being the substance through faith, of a well grounded hope, the life, the consolation of a bishop, as being an example for the church, for all young ministers to pattern after, as being the husband of one wife, and ruling their children well. But since that period, the devil has enlarged his sway, and some men have become so wise through his medium, that they can in these days have two or three wives, as they call them.
Ah! Mr. Cannon, your sentence is too hard.
Well, Mr. Breaker, it will be a harder one to be turned into hell, with your brother Antichrist. James iv. 3--5.
Ah! for such as you and your crew, Mr. Breaker, I have no sympathetic feeling to think that any such are Christians; and no man that is a Christian will pattern after such characters.
Therefore, unto all who work in due form, I bid God speed. When you read these lines, rejoice in hope of victory, as the crown of the faithful is sure. Farewell; and to fare well, is to do well. I Tim. iv. 15, 16.
By which I hail the sublime characters, after their initiation into the ministry, the royal brotherhood of the clergy, in three links--faith, hope and charity. Ps. cxxxiii. Oh, brothers! we must stand in due form, which is a perfect rule of faith and practice of that sublime degree of religion, which distinguishes the characteristics for their universal benevolence and unbounded charity. Therefore, these cannot but be found in due order, zealous for the interests of the free and accepted ministers, which ties the knot with the strong cord of love, by which they inculcate the same charity and benevolence. Yea, that is the kind of religion which will always encourage every moral and social virtue; yes, sir, which introduces peace and good will among mankind, which is the centre of union among those who otherwise might have remained at a perpetual distance unto this day.
Therefore, whoever is warmed with the spirit of charity, the sublime substance of Christianity, will esteem, will love the free and accepted ministers. Yes, such is the sublime nature of our institution, union is truly cemented by a sincere attachment; sir, mark the phraseology, hypocrisy and deceit are unknown among such. Sirs, punctuality is the life of business, for the present and future; the consolation of pleasure is reciprocally communicated by the cheerful observance of every minister that feels the weight of his responsibility in his filling that sublime office of the ministry, as he is responsible to God for his conduct.
Yea, we are bound by honor and duty, to keep truth and virtue in view, as the only grand object in life; yea, luminous as the meridian sun which shines forth in his refulgent ray, in the highest degree on the mind, enlivens the heart, and converts the cool approbation into a warm sympathy and cordial affection, which will pass through the heart of every man who will carefully listen to the divine dictates of reason.
Oh! may this be my lot, to arrive at a clear persuasion of that beauty, as I see the great necessity of such virtue, both public and private. Yea, that, and that alone is truly a full recommendation of any society. Yes, sirs, these are the pursuits for us as ministers to keep continually in view, which will bring around every other point in our favor.
As truth is the sole object of our association, sirs, this is the sublime path for us as ministers to walk in, the laudable bonds which unite us together in one indissoluble society, in the temple of God, which is sublime beyond that of Solomon's superstructure, because God is and will remain the same. Amen. Heb. iv. 16.
Yours, respectfully, in due form,
N. C. W. CANNON.
A COMMENTARY ON THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS--A work which I trust is well calculated to expand and strengthen the intellectual faculties, as a knowledge of the arts and sciences is marching onwards so powerfully, with such gigantic strides. In the midst of greater science, I being a hero venture to put in my claim for truth, that my successors in office need not fear to join the royal ranks, that they may possess the land of liberty, on which the smile of Heaven has beamed forth with its glorious light of Revelation.
Brother Clergymen in the Lord--follow the example by which I catch the healing stream of knowledge. Matt. vi. 33. Let obedience be your theme, and your souls will remain in a state of health; yea, press onwards with truth and justice, and virtue will continue, yea, knowledge will increase with uncommon refulgence of light, while we press forward with an unyielding perseverance in well-doing, in the path which leads to honor and renown. Therefore, come on--press forward, ye rising generations--liberty, virtue, truth and peace are for all that are obedient. Jam. i. 25.
Then study to show yourselves approved of God in due time--as workmen that need not be ashamed of the truth, by your honesty in rightly dividing the word of truth, by which we shall be enabled to gather the laurels on the hill of science, and there to dwell among her unfading beauties; then we shall drink deeply of her crystal fountain, which will enable us to join in the march of fame, in proclaiming salvation to the fallen world of mankind. Then we will not be unmindful of our duty to our Creator, nor to ourselves, nor to our country, nor to the succeeding generations, as knowledge is power, and understanding is the greatest of wisdom. Then let virtue be our object, that we weary not in well-doing. Therefore, mediate on these things in due form. 1 Tim. iv. 15, 16.
Now proceed, and as you read on, understand that truth is justice, by which we must measure, and all things will be beautiful, and work systematically together for our present and future happiness. Matt. vii. 11, 12.
This work will be put to press as soon as we can procure a sufficient number of subscribers to sustain the work.
N. C. W. CANNON.
As the little ship Bethel, in triumph launched into the deep sea of deliverance, "Behold her sails expanded around her towering masts," in wisdom's path she was enabled to stem the tide through beating storms of persecution and tribulations deep and heavy; but union was her motto. Ps. cxxxiii. A victory so brilliant, so unexpectedly achieved by our Rev. father, R. A. and his little crew, a brave patriot of Christ--the Lord will protect all such. Jam. i. 25.
"And on her deck in order her joyful sailors stand,"--a loud cry of victory. 1 Tim. iv. 15, 16. "In harmony and love," "O, here we go, to Immanuel's happy land."
Now let us sing the Mariner's Heavenly
1 The people called Christians, how many things they tell
About the land of Canaan, where saints and angels dwell;
But sin, that dreadful ocean, encloses them around,
With its tides still divides them from Canaan's happy land.
2 Thousands have been impatient to find a passage through,
And with united wisdom have tried what they could do;
But vessels built by human skill have never sailed far,
Till we've found them aground on some dreadful sandy bar.
3 But when the King of Heaven a glorious plan devised,
Of which the world by nature had never been apprized,
He built a ship for sailing around the world with me,
And all true hearted Christians may have a passage free.
4 The Everlasting Gospel has launched the deep at last,
Behold her sails expanded around her towering masts,
And on her deck in order her joyful sailors stand,
Crying, O, here we go, to Immanuel's happy land.
5 To those who stand spectators, what anguish must ensue,
To hear their old companions bid them a long adieu
The pleasures of your paradise no longer can invite;
While we sail, you may rail, but we'll soon be out of sight.
6 We are now on the wide ocean, we bid the world farewell,
And where we shall cast anchor no human tongue can tell;
About our future destiny there need be no debate,
While we ride, on the tide, with our Captain and his Mate.
7 The crew are all united in harmony and love;
The wind is in our favor, how sweetly we do move:
Let tempests then assail us, and tow'ring billows roar;
We will sweep thro' the deep, till we reach that happy shore.