Baptists and the American Civil War: September 24, 1862

African SlaveryWhile the world now knows of U.S. President Abraham’s Lincoln plans to emancipate African slaves in the South as of January 1, Baptist newspapers of the South continue publishing commentaries praising African slavery as God’s will and the hope of the Christian world.

Today’s North Carolina Biblical Recorder prints just such a commentary, a piece originally published in the South West Baptist and now (at least in part) making the rounds of the Baptist press of the South.

I am sorry to have to say, in candor, that the Christian owners of slaves here do not seem yet to be awake to their obligations, (spiritual,) to their servants. But God is caring for them, even while he is sending leanness into the souls of their masters.–How long will God have to chastise us for this dereliction of duty ere we repent, and fulfill our duty to these heathen committed to our Gospel culture? How inconsistent do we appear, to go to God’s word for the justification of our slave institution, and hoard up the proceeds of their labor, while we fail to do them the spiritual service, which alone gives a Christian title to their works? We rightly defend the institution by Christian law, to hold slaves; but O! how sadly we have erred in setting up our temporal interests, over their spiritual welfare. I believe honestly, that the elevation of the banner of Jesus Christ, over the slaves of the South, is the only gospel hope, of the success of the Confederate States. God will not be mocked by us. If we take his word to defend slavery, we must submit the institution to its government. This proposition cannot be denied by any Christian.

We have around us here a pious slave population. And I will say, that a more loyal set of negroes can not be found, unless among a more godly race. God binds the Christian conscience of the slave in obedience to his master as service to him. Christian brethren, god will save us from abolition misrule, if we allow Him to regulate and rule us in connexion with our domestic slavery institution. But none can yet portray the horrors of Almighty wrath if we practice, or endorse the continued rejection of His authority over this institution. I have no doubt but God holds us accountable for all that His providence and word require at our hands, both as States and Churches, as well as families and individuals. If they (the slaves,) should fall into the hands of the abolitionist, God knows they are ruined, soul and body, and we shall have to account for it, to our ruin. God help us to do our whole duty to them, and then he will fight for us, and the world can not harm us.

Source: “Our Slaves,” Biblical Recorder, September 24, 1862 (link)