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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, Held in the State Capitol at Nashville Tennessee, May 6, 7, 8 and 9, 1879.
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regarded as abuses in the two theories named above. But while it is thus largely negative, there is a still larger vein of the positive in it, in that it exalts the written word of God to a supremacy never before given. The Protestant theory of ecclesiasticism may be defined as the theory that accepts the Bible as the one rule, and the only authoritative rule for life and practice. What it commands is to be done ; what it forbids is to be let alone.
We have given here, briefly, the theories of the three leading ecclesiastical organizations of the world—theories, as we have said, largely distinct from the theory of Christianity. And yet, according to the world's usus loquendi, they are often regarded as one and the same, while there is the very gravest necessity for recognizing the distinction. Failing therein, white men in Europe have voted, in so far as they were able, both out of existence. Failing therein, both white men and black men in America, while they have not gone to the mad length of those in Europe, have stumbled as upon a rock. Referring to this sad subject as it relates to white men, the Independent, ( N. Y.,) has said:
"Among all the earnest-minded young men who are at this moment leading in thought and action in America, we venture to say that four- fifths are skeptical of the great historic facts of Christianity. What is taught as Christian doctrine by the churches claims none of their consideration, and there is among them a general distrust of the clergy as a class and an utter disgust with the very aspect of modern Christianity and of church worship."
Referring to this subject as it relates to black men. Bishop Payne writes:
"Rev. B . T. Tanner:
"Dear Doctor: In answer to your query as to my personal knowledge of the effect of American caste upon the most thoughtful of our race, time will only allow me to mention two examples: Mr. R. F., one of the most gifted young men of the city of P., born and reared in it—born and reared in the bosom of the P. E . Church, had prepared himself for confirmation. But within a week or ten days of the Sabbath when that rite was to be performed by Bishop Onderdonk, he (the Bishop) made a speech in favor of African colonization, in which lie uttered sentiments so adverse to the interests of the colored American that Mr. R. F. said : 'No such bishop will I allow to put his hands on my head.' Then he gradually drifted into such bitterness against the "church " that he subsequently said to me, 'I will just as soon go to a brothel to be taught morality as to go to any one of your churches.'
"Another member of the same family, who, like her gifted brother, was born and reared in the bosom of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and lived in it till she was the mother of a half dozen children, in reply to my exhortations for self-consecration to Christ, said to me: 'Show me the black man's God, and I will serve him ; he is not the black man' s God, he is the white man's God.'
"This lady belonged, like her brother, not to the ignorant classes of colored people, but to the highly intelligent and wealthy class. She was independent in her circumstances; kept her servants and a white governess in her homestead.
D. A . PAYNE."
In what consists the mistake of these chivalrous souls? Verily it is that they failed to recognize the fact that churchianity is a thing as distinct from Christianity as the servant is from the master, as the dry tree is from the tree that is green, as the light of the moon is from the light of the sun, as man is from God.
We have seen the theories of the church, let us see what is the theory of Christianity, especially the theory of American Christianity.
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