Subject: Methodist view of slavery and abolition
(Date: 12/06/98 19:21:01)
Group: NonBaptist Records
Transcribed by: Allan Burns
Proofed by: Whitney Goodwin
S.C. Methodist Episcopal Church annual Conference minutes, S.C. Historical Society, United Methodist Church, Wofford College, (1835-1872)
1. We regard the question of the abolition of slavery as a civil one, belonging to the State, and not at all a religious one, or appropriate to the Church. Though we do hold that abuses, which may sometimes happen, such as excessive labor, extreme punishment, withholding necessary food and clothing, neglect in sickness and old age, and the like, are immoralities, to be prevented or punished by all proper means, both of Church and discipline and the civil law -- each in its sphere.
2. We denounce the principles and opinions of the Abolitionists,in toto, and do solemny declare our conviction and belief, that, whether they were originated, as some business men have thought, as a money speculation or as some politicians think, for party electioneering purposes, or as we are inclined to believe, in a false philosophy, overreaching or setting aside the scriptures through a vain conceit of a higher moral refinement, they are utterly erroneous, and altogether hurtful.
3. We consider and do believe that the Holy Scriptures, so far from giving any countenanceto this delusion, do unequivocally authorise the relation of master and slave. 1. By holding masters and their slaves, alike, as believers; bretheren and beloved. 2. By enjoining on each the duties proper towards the other. 3. By grounding their obligationsfor the fulfilment of these duties, as of all others, on their relation to God. Masters could never have had their duty enforced by the consideration, "your MASTER also, is in heaven," if barely the being a master involved in itself any thing immoral.
Our missionaries inculcate the duties of servants to their masters, as we find those duties stated in the scriptures. They inculcate the performance of them as indispensably important. We hold that a Christian slave must be submissive, faithful, and obedient, for reasons of the same authority with those who oblige husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, to fulfil the dutiesof these relations. We would employ no one in the work, who might hesitate to teach thus, nor can such a one be found in the whole number of the preachers of this conference.
We advise the bretheren to go on in their work, without regard to political discussions of any kind. They have no time, and we trust no inclination, for any thing aside of their grand aim, the salvation of souls.