The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Charles Stuart
27 June 1836
[MS in Finney Papers # 1223]
William Green Jr., wrote to Finney on July 2, 1836 (in an addition to a letter of 28 June):
I have had a conversation with Chas Stuart, at his request about not letting the Cold people sit promiscuously in the Church. He took the ground that God laid down a specific law on the subject in James. I asked him whether if a man went to preach the gospel in a place where there were 50 white persons & 1 colored, & the white would not sit in the same house with the Cold whether he would insist upon urging that point and preach to them except they would yield it - he said yes - there we differd & could not come together. He wanted to open a correspondence with you on the subject thro' the Evangelist, but Benedict refused to publish it.
Extracts of Finney's letter of 27 June were copied by Charles Stuart in his reply to Finney:
Whitesborough 19th Augt 1836
My dear Finney
I cordially thank you for your frank & friendly reply
dated 27th June - My absence in Canada until the close of July retarded my reception of it --
And now dear Brother, I feel imperiously called upon again to address you - give my letter, what attention & leisure you can -
You say, justly as I deem it, that the great point before us, is "the sin of slavery, and the duty and practicability of Immediate emancipation"- and to this point strictly, you would have Abolitionists confine themselves & others - but you blame some or many of them, for "in one form or other, for constantly dragging "before the public, the question of Amalgamation"- Here you seem to me to err.
If you mean by Amalgamation, any thing really objectionable in the intermingling of the colours, you have fallen into a mistake or are guilty of a misrepresentation -
I utterly deny the charge -- but if you mean by Amalgamation, the tendencies[?]
God's equalizing principle of loving your neighbour as yourself, & that impartial & voluntary intercourse of holy respect & affection, which si[?] sinner's alone abhor or despise, you join with sinners in mutilating God's law -; and you attack, not the sin of slavery, but some parts of the sin of slavery only - you plead not for immediate emancipation, but for immediate mitigation - and the loathsome consequences of this management, are mournfully exhibitted to us, by the art[?] horrible fact, that revivals so conducted, often place the converts, on some of the most fundamental points of moral rectitude, on ground more determinately corrupt & wicked than ever --
What is the sin of slavery?-- Is it the physical act merely, of
outward violence?-- or is it, the state of mind which induces & perpetrates that act? I argue that it is undeniably the latter! Take away the outward act only, and will the sin of slavery be abolished?-- Certainly not - Witness the whole of the United States, where, in relation to nearly four hundred thousand persons, the outward abomination is variously removed; but where the state of mind, which constitutes the sin, remains in points of moral & eternal moment, as alien to God.
& its brother as ever - Slavery indeed - that is, the outward act - has been abolished in New York -- but the sin of slavery, the corruption of mind, the alienation of heart from God & its brother, which constitutes the sin of slavery, is so far from being abolished, that it is scarcely mitigated -- Witness the astounding fact, that
even serious men, can blame Abolitionists for producing, by dragging before the public, the question of Amalgamation -- nearly all the opposition, mobs, &c
which they have encountered -- while nothing is more notorious, than that the Satanic & passions which prejudices so forming a fundamental feature of the slave system of this nation, have been the sole cause of that opposition & of those mobs - and that the only amalgamation or equalization for which the Abolitionists have ever pleaded, or do plead, is the Amalgamation or equalization which God commands, in the Old & New Testaments alike "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" and which thro' James [2d Chr], He so beautifully & emphatically addresses to the very point before us, 2d Chr!
You say "Our friends will insist upon an equalization of intercourse, irrespective of "color - this exasperates the multitude, & we cannot get a hearing - .... and nearly all sympa-
"thy for the slave, which might otherwise be aroused in the free States, is lost" That is, Our friends will insist, just upon what God, insists, adding & abating nothing! this exasperates the multitude, and we cannot get a hearing - and nearly all sympathy for the slave which might otherwise be aroused in the free states is lost - that is, all the sympathy which might be aroused in the free states for the slave, would you were you to assail the wickedness of the slave states alone, while you comp deliberately let alone the congenial sin of the free states, is lost by the sacred love & impartial integrity of your procedure. This you blame & Iwonder, how you could better argue, for fighting God's battles with Satan's weapons - How utterly & eternally different indeed, is this management, my brother, from that glorious fidelity, which made you as an angel of light to me in former years.
You say, "the questions of Slavery & Prejudice are distinct questions,"- There lies our fundamental difference - I am amongst those who regard them as the same
I do not mean, the same in outward act - but I mean the same, in sinfulness; as to being sinful!! A man may be a drunkard, who never gets drunk - and a thief who never steals & God commissions me to attack drunkenness & theft.-
Shall I assail the drunkard only, & leave the temperate drinker alone? Shall
I assail the robber, and smile upon the principle of theft?-- I may do so - but if I do, I shall certainly not be proceeding in God's way - nor can I have a reasonable prospect of making any thing better than whited sepulchres. This Nation will never have abolished Slavery, in that which constitutes it a sin until [it] repents of prejudice against Gods colour of man's skin, as cordially, as it the
thoroughly abolishes the outward abomination offorced servitude of the guiltless poor.
While it despises its brother, or sides to wickedness in high places from whatever motive, so far as to appoint "Coloured Seats" even in the House of God, it will be a slave mistress still, in its moral attitude, as truly, as the man is
and an adulterer, who looks upon a woman to lust after her. It is as impossible in this country, to attack Slavery in God's way, without attacking the prejudice which arises from & sustains it, as it is to attack drunkenness, without attacking the moderate drinking which is its concomitant & support.
You state 3 reason for your course
1st It would be greatly injurious to Abolition. Of this, I shall be satisfied, when
I am convinced that God's work is best done in Satan's way
2nd It has & will create great persecutions against the free people of colour -
Just as the annunciations of Moses, created great persecutions against the Jews in Egypt or as the proceedings of George Washington & others, created great persecutions against your forefathers - But did this arrest God's propht or ought it to have stayed prophet?
the progress of your Revolution?---
3rd We cannot, if we would, introduce such a thing into our churches, without ruining both them & Abolition together!! That is we cannot obey God as speaking [to us] thro' James, as relating to a much more solemn matter than human garments; even in relation to the dress in which God Himself, has invested the man without the ruining the Churches - What glorious churches they must be which stand, by despising & trampling upon God's authority--? Whose churches,
are such churches?--- And why should Abolition [depend?], upon such churches?
Abolition, if it have any thing good in it, is God's [wor]k, and must have God's blessing - If I believe, that it could only [stand?] by administering to social & ecclesiastical corruption, I should relinquish it [ins]tantly, as I would cast a poisonous serpent from me - No dear Brother, the Churches, as
God's churches, can only stand - and Abolition
as God's work, can only prosper, by introducingg
into them, all that God requires us to introduce
whether men will hear or forbear -- My
Soul could yield more easily to frank idolatry,
than to such a system of church management as seeks to gain the ear in every way, or the heart of the proud & wicked, by companying itin its base & cruel spurning of the guiltless poor--
You say, that you are not speaking here, of the right or the wrong of amalgamation but of "the impropriety, of suffering the pro slavery people to divert us to the present discussion of it, before we have imbued the public mind with the spirit of Anti Slavery["] I am not aware that the Abolitionists have ever been diverted to the present discussion of Amalgamation except, when attacked by the gross slander of their adversaries, they have shewn, that all that is really loathsome & hateful in it, is the actual fruit of slavery - or, when vindicating the Divine Providence & Law, they [have?] shewn the cruelty & hypocrisy which raves against what God commands- And what is the Spirit of Anti Slavery? If good for any thing, it is a spirit of impartial equity & of holy law; a spirit which seeks to bring the guilty-proud to repentance, & to obtain peaceful & righteous deliverance for the oppressed -- It is a spirit, to which the prejudice against colour, especially when being exhibited in the house of God, is as hostile, as slavery itself; itselfa living essential part of slavery - It is a spirit, which can no more wink at any part or support of Slavery, than holiness can wink at corruption, or love can cherish hatred --
You say, "Others are horribly denunciatory, and go so far as to denounce every
"body as proslavery, who will not push the question of Amalgamation, into the public ear & eye
"& face at once --" I know not whom you mean - except you mean those who denounce
every body as pro-slavery, in proportion to the acknowledged support which they give to Slavery or to any of its existing & fundamental features or accompaniments -- God says that if a man keep the whole law, & yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all & this He says in direct connection with His divine reprobation of those who despise others for their clothing -- So, such Abolitionists say, that if a man assail slavery in every other feature, yet countenance the caste of Colour, which is one of th its most hateful, pernicious & contemptible features, he so far is pro-slavery - and I say, to such a man, that he must repent or perish!
You say several other things, dear brother, in conclusion, quite as denunciatory
as the above - or rather let me say, quite as frankly & as kindly expressive of your heart's conviction of a brothers sin, and as solemnly & as faithfully warning him of it, as the above.- I cannot reciprocate your disgust - On the contrary, I cordially thank you for your freedom; & pray to God, that as you once were a great blessing to me, so even I, may now be made of him an instrument of mercy to you, in winning you from a course, which is converting you from a Finney, into in this particular, into a Nettleton or a Beecher --
With love to your noble wife & dear children, believe me,
ever affectionately Yours C. Stuart