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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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And here we dare not touch upon any disputed dogmas; for the moment dispute occurs, necessity for belief ceases, and the matter passes over from the realm of Christianity to the realm of ecclesiasticism. In the Christian realm men see eye to eye : "Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion."
What is the theory of Christianity, that theory in regard to which men, indeed, see eye to eye, and because they do, gives us the plain guarantee of its divinity? Brief, indeed, is this divine theory; so brief that it may be given in less than a dozen words. It is with the sequence which logically follows—God your Father, Christ your Savior, Man your Brother. More than this is ecclesiasticism ; nothing less than this is Christianity. Herein is that theory about which there is not, as there must not be, any contradiction. With it upon their lips, the Latins and the Greeks, with upturned eyes, repeat together the glorious "Pater Noster; " with it upon their lips both Greek and Latin cry out: "All hail, Luther! All hail, Calvin !"
How eminently worthy is such a theory as this to be called Christian, after the glorious Christ. Until the Christ revealed it the world was all astray. None could tell the relation man bore to the God whom even the heathen recognized; none could tell the relation man bore to his neighbor. Nor was any found to point unerringly to a Saviour sufficiently potent to take away the sin of the world. But the Christ broke the silence of the ages, and symphonies of music were heard all around. The Christ dispelled the clouds and floods of light poured down from the upper realm. The problem was solved—the enigma made plain. God is Father, Jesus is Saviour, man is brother. In this consists the soul, body and divinity of the theory of Christianity in general, and of American Christianity in particular; for it is to be asserted without fear of contradiction, that in no portion of Christendom has louder and longer paeans of praise been sung to this revelation than in America. And so great has been the influence of the agencies recognized, we might say that God as Father, Christ as Saviour and man as brother are the very bulwarks of our American theory of religion. Upon these have been builded that spiritual temtle which to-day is the glory of the Republic.
Leaving this, therefore, we approach the subject of the Practice of American Christianity, and we could but wish its treatment afforded the same high pressure as did the treatment of its theory. But alas, alas, a defection, as it relates to the four millions of Africo-Americans in the land, greater than that the world ever before witnessed, with brazen eyes, is seen to stare truth in the face, and with a spirit akin to that of the Malachian age, asks: "Wherein have we despised Thy name? Wherein have we polluted Thee?"
The tameness with which we spoke of the nation's enthusiasm for that theory of Christianity which presents not only God to us as Father and Christ as Saviour, but man especially as brother, was doubtless observable; and yet abundant room was given us for exhibiting what the bohemians of to-day call " gush," but we did not. We failed to enter into particulars; failed to tell how the fathers engrafted it into the very Constitution itself ; aye, made it the corner-stone of the political structure they built; failed to tell how it was the inspiration of the days that tried men's souls; failed to tell how our poets have so attuned their harps to its music that it is the one key recognized by the world. Especially, did we fail to tell how the agencies of the continent, physical, political and social, ministered to it, as did the angels minister to him who was tempted in the wilderness. But in the practice of all this they have fallen infinitely lower than has man ever fallen from so high and glorious an ideal ; lower than did the Jews fall in the wilderness; lower than they fell in
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