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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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it tends to disturb the peace and harmony of the body by sowing dissension in the church."
But it may be argued that this gradual defection of the Methodist Episcopal Church from the truth was owing to its connection with the South. It would be unjust not to recognize some force in these remarks. Exactly how much, however, may be seen when we inquire as to their action after the great session of 1844.
Notwithstanding the rule of 1784 had long been inoperative, yet was it allowed to recur in the Book of Discipline. But, in 1860, sixteen years after their severance from the South, in that darkness which immediately proceeded the light, the law of 1784 declaring slave-holding sufficient cause for expulsion, was made to give way to the following harmless expression of opinion : "We believe that the buying or selling of human beings to be used as chattels is contrary to the laws of God and nature, and inconsistent with the Golden Rule and with the rule of our discipline, which requires us 'to do no harm,' and 'to avoid evil of every kind.' We therefore affectionately admonish all our preachers and people to keep themselves pure from this great evil, and to seek its extirpation by all lawful and Christian means."
So much for the Practice of American Christianity in the past. But what of its practice in the present ?
We confess that this is by far the greater question of the two The gauge of man's conduct that tells is not the gauge of yesterday, but of to-day. With this measuring-rod in hand let us proceed to measure the present practice of American Christians. Already do we hear expressions of deepest satisfaction at the suppressed symmetry and beauty presented. And we admit that to the superficial eye there is occasion for satisfaction. What is more beautiful than the action, say, of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church South laying their holy hands on the heads of their late bondsmen and exalting them to the lofty work, not of the ministry in general, but that of the Episcopacy itself ; nor stopping here, but preparing for them a most excellent discipline, and publishing and editing for them a most creditable paper ?
And so likewise the Southern Presbyterian Church. What right is more delectable to the average vision than seeing them lay off a Presbytery for their colored brethren, and give it the sanction and influence of their great names? Remembering that these are the days of Southern men and Southern territory, we are, ready to grant them a phase of beauty most attractive to a phase of vision not uncommon to human eye. But if these be satisfying, how infinitely more so is the practice of the Christians of the North, especially such Christians as operate with the American Missionary Association, and the Methodist Episcopal Church; nor will we be invidious in distinction, but say of all the Christian denominations of the mighty North, Protestant and Catholic : How grand is the work of the American Missionary Association! How Christian is its practice ! Behold the schools and the churches it sustains in the land of the freedmen. Its last report presents the following statistics :
Missionaries at the South, 69. Teachers at the South, 150. Churches at the South, 64. Church members at the South, 4,189. Total number of Sabbath-school scholars, 7.436. Schools at the South, 37. Pupils at the South, 7, 229.
Quite similar is the doing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, as the following summation of its work shows :
Chartered institutions, 5. Theological schools, 3. Medical colleges, 2. Institutions not charted, 10.
In these institutions the number of pupils taught during the year is classified an follows : Biblical, 400; law, 25; medical, 30 ; collegiate, 75 ;
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