George Junkin.

The integrity of our national union, vs. abolitionism: an argument from the Bible, in proof of the position that believing masters ought to be honored and obeyed by their own servants, and tolerated in, not excommunicated from, the church of God: online

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Online LibraryGeorge JunkinThe integrity of our national union, vs. abolitionism: an argument from the Bible, in proof of the position that believing masters ought to be honored and obeyed by their own servants, and tolerated in, not excommunicated from, the church of God: → online text (page 1 of 7)
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President of Miami University,






Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1843.

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the State of Ohio.

Orders for this pamphlet addressed to R. P. Donogu, Pub-
lisher, No. lOG Main Street, Cincinnati, enclosing the Cash,
and post paid, will be promptly attended to.

Pricc^ ^150 per dozen.

To Rev. Joshua L. Wilson^ D. i>.,

Rev. James C, Barnes^

Gen. Robt. B. 3HUi7dn, and C. K. Smith, Esq.


You were among the first of my friends, to solicit the publica-
tion of that part, at least, of my argument before the Synod of Cincinnati,
which went to shew, from the language' of the Bible, that Slavery is tole-
rated therein ; and not made a ground of excommunication from the church.
The copy is now at your service. You will find it not so full as when
spoken. Eight hours were expended in the delivery of the whole, and
the last three parts were crowded into less than half that space. It would
have required three hours more to have done justice to these. But, having
conceived my plan, I adhered to it throughout, giving ray principal attention
to the scriptural argument. I have long believed, that if this nation is to
be saved from a deluge of suicidal blood, it will be through the conserva-
tive power of the word of our God.

You will perceive, that, notwithstanding the argument is upon the
whole contracted, as to space, it is expanded as to matter. I allowed my-
self in writing it out, in a few instances, to work into the proper place,
virtual answers to arguments which were really uttered subsequently to mine :
although, nearly everything had been anticipated. You may notice, for
example, among the omissions, the remarks on the criticism upon 1 Tim.
vi : 2, about the masters who were not masters, and about the corn and po-
tatoes. I really thought pity to put such matter in print; and, therefore,
preferred walking backward, and throwing a mantle over it.

It appeared to me best to retain the form of an address to the presi-
ding officer, because I could call up the matter more vividly to my own
mmd, and I think those who were present will remember it better. Proba-
bly, also, it may increase the vivacity of the whole. Our Abolition breth-
ren will say this is necessary ; for it will, no doubt, be to them a perfect
morpheura. They will be all asleep before they reach the end of the
pamphlet. Close, logical discussion is so unsavory, that they become wea-


ry of it very soon. Loose declamation suits their taste much better. I
have omitted personal reference to arguments, because I wish to avoid dis-
pute with any individual. And some pleasantries, allowable in oral discus-
sion, are also dropped.

Truth requires the public to know my general plan, lest they should
suppose me guilty of not meeting the whole subject. The plan of the
whole speech contained four general heads, besides tlie prefatory remarks
against introducing the matter into ecclesiastical bodies at all.

L The Scriptural argument; which, alone, you have here.

II. An aggressive movement upon the Abolition camp — in whicli I
carry the war into the heart of the enemy's country. Here, very briefly,
I sustained four propositions. 1. The Abolition movement occasions the
riveting of the chains of temporal bondage tighter and more tightly upon
the colored race. 2. It occasions the manacles of intellectual bondage,
and the chains of spiritual and eternal death, to be the more firmly and
durably fastened upon this unhappy race. 3. It is a treasonable movement
against the Constitution of the United States. 4. It tends to, and aims at
a dissolution of this Union ; and there is reason to believe, on this point,
that English Abolitionists and the British government are laboring and co-
operating with American abolitionists in an extended scheme to divide and
destroy the republic, whenever a war with England occurs, by means of
black troops from the West Indies and Canada, co-operating with a slave

III. The question of Slavery, as viewed by the eye of political phi-
losophy, and of moral and municipal law.

IV. Tlic Divine plan of restoring man universally to his freedom —
first, in fact ; then, in form : and the application of it in the splendid
scheme of African Colonization. This topic 1 did but toucli ; and tiie great
question which ought to come in here, why God permitted the introduction
of Slavery into this republic ? and what His wise designs were concerning
it? — this most important question I did not touch at all. In regard to
African colonization, I hastily referred to the successes in Liberia as evi-
dencc of its practicability; and especially since the noble, philanthropic and
eminently succesful experiment of John McDonogh, of New Orleans, has
demonstrated the easy practicability of universal emancipation to-real freedom.

Whether ever this plan shall be filled up is yet a contingency.
Very respectfully, your humble servant,


Miami University, Oct, 10, 1843.




Mr. Moderator : —

Ever since modern abolitionism developed its
true character, it has been my policy to avoid all public discus-
sions of the subject. The anger, and wrath, and bitterness, and
distraction, and alienation among brethren, which have so
generally attended its agitation, early convinced me, that pru-
dence for peace's sake, required the exclusion of this exciting
controversy from our church courts : and this policy has actuated
the brethren generally ^vith whom 1 have been called to act in
my former field of labor. When it pleased God to locate me
in a new field, I saw, or thought I saw additional reasons, con-
firming the wisdom of this course. It was early impressed upon
my mind, that this brand had already kindled up a fire which
had well nigh consumed Miami University. To such a ruinous
degree did the fire burn within her bosom, that the Trustees
took up the subject and passed strong resolutions condemnatory
of this wild-fire ; and commendatory of a more prudent course.*
Hence, I felt myself called upon, the more earnestly to labor for
the suppression of a class of disputations that result in evil, and
only evil. The consequence is, peace and kindly feeling be-
tween young men from all the States indiscriminately. And
hence my opposition in Presbytery to all attempts (and they
have not been few) to agitate and agitate and agitate on the
subject. And hence the pertinacity with which, as a member
of the Committee of Bills and Overtures, and as a deliberating

* See Annual Catalogue for 1840.


member on this floor, I have opposed every movement of the
kind. And it appears, even yet, to me, that this opposition is
not so feeble, and this reluctance to discuss Anti-slavery in this
Synod is not so small, as the vote to take off the table the paper
of my venerable colleague would seem to indicate.

Sir, we have been hankrcd, into this subject. We have
been told that we are afraid of the light — afraid to meet the
argument — that it would soon be seen, upon the vote to take
up, who were afraid of the truth. Sir, '• Let not him that gird-
eth on his harness boast himself as he that'putteth it off." It
may appear hereafter who will flinch from the truth — who will
shrink away from the sword of the Spirit. But what was the
effect of this banter upon the house ? A young brother, who
felt that he was ready to discuss the subject; but who, before,
had no wish to agitate, caught the fire; he would not be dared to
a controversy and yet shrink. I saw his blood warm, I saw the
fire kindle in his eye, I saw his generous bosom heave with
indignant emotion at the insinuation of cowardice ; and you
observed how he threw back the charge in tones of firm defi-
ance, and declared his readiness to meet the question. I
admired the indignant emotions and the firm tones of the decla-
ration ; and yet, I must be permitted to think there Mas a
mixture of feeling not entirely holy. That anotlicr man ban-
ters and dares mc to a conflict, of whatever kind it may be, is
not a just reason why I should enter upon it. A man should
have better reason for battle, than that another has asserted his
superior strength. But so it happened here. Immediately the
blood of age began to course its long-worn channels, with a
quicker pace ; and the reverend father on my left could no
longer look down with indifference upon the gauntlet at his feet.
lie would no longer be bantered by the boys. Thus the fire
passed from bosom to bosom, and thus the present speaker was
left in the lean minority of four, against taking up the slavery
resolutions. He had been threshing his wheat by the wine
presses to hide it from (he Midianites, and being often urged to
go forth to battle in this war, he had still declined ; nevertheless
he had put a fleece of wool upon the floor, to obtain a sign


from the Lord. And now, that there seems to be no longer any
evasion, he takes it to be the Master's will that he should discuss
this subject ; and being forewarned by others than these last
signs, he has not come up to this Synod wholly unprepared. Nor
is it my intention to skim over the surface of things. If we must
discuss, let us do it thoroughly : "Whatsoever thy hand findeth
to do, do it with thy might," that is, with all thy might. Which
divine aphorism is pithily expressed in another form : " What-
ever is worth doing, is worth doing well." This maxim, I early
imbibed, and generally endeavor to embody it in action, and
shall try to do so on the present occasion. Let the plough run
deep if you expect the corn to rise high. These agricultural allu-
sions please me much — they carry me back to the days of my
boyhood. I was born in a farm-house, and brought up almost
to manhood at the plough tail ; and can assure the farmers
of Miami Valley, that if you would run the plough ten inches
deep, you would gather ten bushels of corn more to the acre,
than you commonly do. Shallow furrows make short corn ; and
shallow discussion yields a light harvest of knowledge. Let
patience have her perfect work : let us take time to dig for the
golden treasure, deep in the mine of Holy Scripture.

Notwithstanding all this, Mr. Moderator, I was opposed to
entering upon this subject here, because —

L Ecclesiastical courts, in a free State, have no jurisdiction
over Slavery. This Synod has no original jurisdiction at all,
when viewed in its judicial capacity. It can try ecclesiastical
causes only on appeal or reference. And having no portion of its
supervision extending over a Slave-holding population, appeals
involving this question of Slavery, cannot come before it : ex-
cept indeed in the case where a person may reside within our
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and yet own slaves in another State.
Should such case occur, let us meet it ; but let us wait until it
come up in due order.

In a restricted sense, Svnod has legislative powers — such
as the division of Presbyteries, and erection of new ones, the
devising and recommending of measures of benevolence, etc.,
etc., which are more legislative than judicial. But here, as


before, Sjnod cannot easily come into collision with Slavery,
provided it keeps within its own constitutional limits. Indi-
vidual ministers, indeed, in course of Scripture exposition, will
treat the relation of master and slave, for it often turns up in
the Bible. But this is no part of synodical business, and
cannot orderly come before this court. As men, we may listen
to lectures and sermons on any subject, and that whilst congre-
gated at ecclesiastical meetings ; but clearly, to hear lectures
on animal magnetism, on municipal law, on geology, on moral,
and political subjects, is not synodical, if common sense and our
Book at all define the duties of a Synod. Why then, should
we spend our time in discussing, in the abstract, a subject over
which wc have no juriidiction in the concrete ? If we have
no business proper to us as a Synod, let us adjourn and go home:
but let us not go out on a voyage of discovery, lest we
encounter something more substantial than windmills or hay-

But some man will say, though all this be true, yet the
moral force of this body is great, and her voice ought to be
heard on great and important subjects. Public sentiment will
be influenced by it.

I answer, is the moral force of this body great ? Then, let
us not diminish it by presenting a spectacle of unkind and hot
discussion. If we have a heavy capital of moral force, let us
not expend it in wild speculation, let us not cast it to the winds
and waves of doubtful strife.

But farther, the moral force of bodies of men is not always
proportional to their numerical force. And besides, what is the
moral force of a body, when equally divided ? If it should hap-
pen that this body, after discussing Abolition for three or four
days, should come to an almost perfect equipoise, then how much
is its moral foice ? Let it go abroad that we are divided equally
in numhcr, talent, piety, how much power for good can we
operate on this subject ?

But we may be told, the discussion will do good — light will
be shed on a dark subject — men's eyes will be opened, and the
truth will triumph.


I say, such a result may follow ; still this is not synodical
business ; it is the business of individuals. There may be a few
brethren here, who have deeply studied the subject and who
may be able to illuminate the synod and the populace with their
light, and to warm them with the flashes of an overpowering
eloquence ; let them do it in their own proper place and time ;
this synod, I contend is not that proper place.

II. But again, I object to this course : because, the discus-
sion will most likely degenerate into a mere debate, dispute, or
hot controversy in which more than blood will be spilt. Can
any brother, who takes into view the extreme excitability of the
public mind doubt it ? Is it reasonable to expect that slavery,
abolitionism, and colonization will be discussed here with that
coolness and soul-subdued temper which their importance de-
mands, and Christian courtesy requires ? Does any man, in
fact expect it ? As for myself, I have passed through some
stormy scenes and have learned by experience, that the more
boisterous the elements become, the more perfectly all my facul-
ties are at command. Brethren must not infer from my repug-
nance to this discussion, that individually I fear the heavings of
the billows and the violence of the blast. I hope I shall be
enabled to look the wind in the eye and always to pull the
right oar. He who commands me into these troubled waters
will keep me in safety. No sir ; it is not peculiarly for myself
that I deprecate these agitations : other men and various
interests may suffer in the collision. Let us therefore not
tempt the dangerous way uncalled by the voice of Providence.
" Leave off contention before it be meddled with." " He that
passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is
like one that taketh a dog by the ears." — (Prov. xxvi : 17.)
Let us follow peace with all men — as much as lieth in us.

III. I object to entering upon the abolition controversy
here, because its advocates are an organized political party.

Here permit me to say, there is a sense in which the adage,
"religion has nothing to do with pohtics," is true. That is,
when by politics is meant parti/ wrangling and defamation ;
then, indeed, religion is far off.


But there is also a sense in which the proverb is most
notoriously and corruptly false ; viz., when by it, men mean
that the obligations of religion have and ought to have no
governing influence upon political conduct — that for their acts
and doings in affairs of government, men are not accountable
to God : but only to the people, or rather to the party. This
idea, which I fear is extensively held in practice^ cannot be too
severely reprobated.

All true Presbyterians believe that the civil government
has no power over religious matters : and that religious officers,
as such, have no kind of control in civil affairs. Even protec-
tion to property and persons in religious privileges, I contend,
we do not ask as religious men. We claim such protection, not
as religious people^ but as civil citizens. Christ's kingdom is in
no sense whatever dependant on the civil power. As members
of the civil commonwealth^ we have a right to hold property and
to assemble for any lawful purpose : it is not because we are
religious men that the law protects us this day ; but because wc
are citizens. It is not because we are religious men, that,
associated, we hold property in the form of church buildings,
but simply because we are citizens. Wc are here, to-day, using
our privilege as officers of Christ's church, because He has
granted it and it is not inconsistent with our duties as citizens :
to-morrow wc may be at the polls using our rights of a civil
nature. But still, church and state are entirely distinct ; their
union is anti-christian, and leads to despotism and bondage. I
therefore contend peremptorily, that this synod^ has no right to
intermeddle with political partyism. This is not the place to
discuss questions of party politics. We may not here pass
resolutions for or against banks — for or against a protective
tariff" — for or against the veto power — for or against De-
mocracy or Whigism — for or against Van Buren, Clay or
Birney. The relation of master and slave is a civil relation ;
it is regulated by the civil law and always has been, ecclesiasti-
cal bodies never had, in all the world's history, any control over
it. As citizens we may plunge into the party strife, but as an
ecclesiastical body wc may not do it. Let our church courts


throw themselves into the vorlex of party pohtics, then farewell
to peace and harmony — farewell to respectabiHty and to
public confidence. If individaal ministers feel themselves cal-
led to soil their cloth in this strife — let them bear the responsi-
bility and sink alone, under the ban of public reprobation, but
let not the Synod of Cincinnati commit the suicidal deed.

It is surely unnecessary for me to dwell in proof of the
fact, that Anti Slavery is a public, organized political party.
True, it is a weak and contemptible political party, but assuredly
it has all the paraphernalia of party organization. It has its
meetings great and small — its speeches wise and foolish — its
committees and sub-committees — its candidates for political
office, from the Presidency of the Union, and Congressmen
down, how low T cannot tell. Let the officers of God's church
pause a little upon the margin of this crater, before we take
the leap of Empedocles : let us calculate consequences, before
we take the fearful plunge.

IV. This controversy places the peace party, as we may
call ourselves in the premises, in a false position. It lays us open
to the illogical and unjust, yet plausible inference, that we are
advocates of Slavery. The brethren who urge this controversy
upon us, delight to be called, and are every where known as
Abolitionists — Anti-slaverTj men — men who labor to do away
Slavery from the land and from the world. They wish to be
called " the Liberty Party." O liberty ! what things have been
done in thy sacred name ! And some newspaper editors have
been foolish enough to concede the name liberty to this handful;
thereby intimating that the other political parties are not in
favor of liberty. The popular mind is often charmed and
governed by a word, and the moment, the Anti-slavery men meet
with any kind of opposition, the cry of Pro Slavery is raised: the
mind rushes to the opposite extreme. Here is the Anti-slavery
party. But anti means against ; if then they are against sla-
very, whoever opposes them must he for or in favor of slavery;
— for and against — pro and anti: there it is, clear to a demon-
stration. All who oppose the Abolitionists are in favor of
slavery. Such is the logic that actually does govern many a


human mind. Many good, honest-hearted men do not see how
to escape from it. They never perceive that there are different
kinds of opposition — that men may be opposed in one respect
and yet not in another. Paul was a sound, clear-headed, warm-
hearted evangelical preacher ; but Peter was opposed to Paul ;
therefore Peter was a muddy-headed, corrupt and heterodox
preacher. Here you have the identical argument, by which
opposers of modern ultra abolitionism, are proved to be Pro
Slavery men. Even learned divines, and erudite editors have
been caught in this cobweb, and it is in vain you try to extri-
cate them. The argument is so easy and so popular, they are
unwilling to abandon it ; thus by a pitiful fallacy, many a man
is held in bondage worse than Kentuckian, whilst he glories
and triumphs in his freedom. He swings his manacled hands
around and shouts for libcrt}^, whilst he is himself the slave
of a little false logic. This would be amusing indeed, if we
could cease to pity human weakness and to regard our own
rights and privileges. But as these manacles are waved in
frantic sport over our heads fo their peril, we dislike the play;
and are unwilling to be placed in such a false position. We
are not willing that honcst-hcarted people, by a little false
reasoning, should be lead to suppose that we are in favor of
slavery. We oppose the movements of abolitionists, chiefly by
yielding; therefore, we are deemed and held guilty of Pro
Slavery. Whereas, we are in truth opposed to slavcr3% and are
doing as much in our respective positions to abate its evils, as
our brethren arc. We ditTer from them as to the manner of
doing away these evils, whilst we suppose, we are much more
efficient in the matter of meliorating the condition of the colored
race. No disclaimer will avail. We tell the world — we tell
our less credulous Christian brethren, our objections to Slavery.
Wc point to Fiiberia, the land of the free colored man, as proof
of our success. But all in vain ; — you are opposed to the Anti-
slavery party, and therefore you must be Pro-slavery men.

Such is the false position, in which the brethren know, we
are placed by the shape of the question ; and some rejoice in
it. Nor can our utmost stretch of charity excuse them from


pushing the question with the knowledge of this injustice. The
moment we lift our voice in opposition to their course, some
Siipient editor charges us with advocating slavery and deems
the charge sufficient proof. We hold you to it unless you prove
your innocence. All advantages are fair in war.

Such, in brief, are my reasons for opposing the introduction
of this question into our ecclesiastical bodies. The peace of
this Synod — the happiness and welfare of its members — its
moral force and respectability will be best advanced, by leaving
the whole subject of Slavery to the ecclesiastical bodies and to
the civil governments, within which the providence of God has
thrown that unfortunate class of the human race.

Time and opportunity have not allowed me to study and
prepare for a discussion of the whole doctrine of master and
slave. This relation, viewed either in the light of moral philo-
sophy or of municipal law, is embarrassed with no small diffi-
culties. Ta those who have the learning and the leisure, I leave
the subject in the last named two respects ; mine, at present, be

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Online LibraryGeorge JunkinThe integrity of our national union, vs. abolitionism: an argument from the Bible, in proof of the position that believing masters ought to be honored and obeyed by their own servants, and tolerated in, not excommunicated from, the church of God: → online text (page 1 of 7)