Browse Items (1 total)
- Text is exactly "For the Southern Watchman.
MR. EDITOR.-I have read in the "Watchman," of the 27th of Nov., an article signed "An Ounce of Preventive," which has "exercised" my mind so as to induce me to believe that it is my duty to take some notice of it. I respect the intelligence of the writer, and concur in much that he has said, in regard to the duties of masters and the importance of keeping slaves under proper discipline.
But whether the writer designed it or not, he has interwoven in his article, what I deem to be grounds of reproach to the Baptist Church of this place. A church of which I have been a member for lo! these many years, and therefore feel bound to defend it when it is improperly aspersed, to the best of my ability. And first, the insinuation that the Baptist negroes of this town are the worst negroes of the place, is what I do not believe to be true. We have good and bad people, both white and black, in the churches of all denominations, and therefore general comparison, in favor of one church and against another are offensive.
Secondly, I deny that the negroes of the Baptist church in this place, or that the Baptists, white or black, any where, believe that by conforming to any regulation whatever, that they cannot afterwards commit sin. Thirdly, if the negroes of the Baptist church hold unlawful assemblies, it is not by the sanction of the church, and is chargeable to the remissness of the civil authorities. Individually, I have taken much pain to instruct the Baptist negroes on this point, and charged them strictly not to violate the laws of the land. Most of the time, since a house has been erected for the special use of the African part of the church, their meetings have been and conducted either by the pastor of the white church, or some leading white man of the church, competent to the discharge of such duties as superintending their religious meetings. The Baptist church in this place have never considered any one of their colored members competent to discharge the duties of a Minister of the Gospel.-Therefore, their permission to engage in religious exercises, has been limited to prayer, exhortation, admonition, &c., in doing which some of them have, to my knowledge, gone so far as to preach to their fellow-servants, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, as the only plan of salvation.-And many of them, I hope, are amongst "those ends of the earth" who are looking to Christ for salvation.
I must cordially approve of the regulations of my Methodist brethren in this place, in sustaining a competent white minister, as a missionary to the negroes, and regret that the Baptist are not able to do the same. But it is known to all who reside here, that the Baptist Church in this place is composed chiefly of very poor people, who are not able to provide properly for the support of one minister. And yet, it is true, as the writer whom I am noticing intimates, that the negroes here, like poor people every where, are strongly inclined to become Baptists. The Baptist Church here has in its membership nearly 100 negroes. A large portion of them are the servants of Presbyterians and Methodists. Yet no special effort of the Baptists have produced this state of things. They voluntarily come to us, seeking spiritual guidance; and we have not felt at liberty to forbid such as we believed were prepared for Church membership.
A number of negroes in this place, have sought conversation with me on the subject of joining the Church; and I have invariably advised such to unite with the Churches to which their owners belonged. When some have replied to me-there are no people of my own class in that Church, and I would prefer being associated with people in my own condition. Others have professed to be conscientious in the matter, and nothing would satisfy them, but to become Baptists. The Church here, in every instance, requires the approbation of the owner, before a negro is admitted to the membership of the Church. But I must confess, that a few instances, the approbation has been given in terms that almost amounted to "An Ounce of Preventive."
Mr. Editor, I am averse to wounding the feelings of any person, ... anonymous writer. But in conclusion, I feel compelled to say from a sense of duty to this community, that I protest against the position of the writer under review, as an alarmist. He warns us of the black clouds, surcharged with thunderbolts, which are hanging over our heads, which he so clearly discovers in the poor ignorant black worshippers, of whom he speaks. The vilest abolitionists of the North, have constantly preached this very same doctrine for upwards of thirty years past. Not for the purpose of shielding us from ..., but for the very purpose of ... to pass, the horrors which they .... Such alarmists may frighten the nervous and timid, and do much ... to our poor negroes. But for my ... verily believe, that our negroes ... our best protection against mobs, insurrections and violent out-breaks of ... kind.
Athens, Dec. 2, 1857"