Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reverend Silas McKeen to Thomas C. Stuart, August 20, 1839

Belfast, Maine, Aug. 20, 1839.

To THE PREsBYTERY of TombEcBee, IN THE STATE of Mississippi.

Christian Brethren, Your letter of the 9th of April last, in answer to one from a Committee of the General Conference of Congregational Churches in Maine appointed to correspond with Southern Ecclesiastical Bodies on the subject of Slavery, was duly received, and on the 27th of June following, communicated to the Conference at its annual meeting, at Brunswick. On hearing it, the Conference voted, we believe, unanimously, that the communication, in compliance with your request to that effect, should be published entire, together with the scriptures to which you have referred, for the benefit of our churches, and also appointed the undersigned a Committee to reply to the same in their behalf, and respectfully to request, you to publish both articles entire for the consideration of your churches, and others similarly situated.

In performing the duty, thus assigned us, we would express to you high satisfaction, on the part of the Conference, that you did not, as some others have done, leave them uninformed of the reception of their former communication, or return it in a blank envelope, or with a mere note of rejection, but had the magnanimity to give it a candid hearing; and to return an open-hearted, courteous answer. In this we rejoice, not only on account of the intrinsic worth of your communication, but because it furnishes another evidence to the world, that it is possible, after all, for men in different sections of the country, and entertaining extremely different views in regard to slavery, to discuss the subject freely, without personal asperity, or infringement on any of the established laws of civility and christian courtesy. The Conference were also gratified with the desire which you expressed that your defence of slaveholding should be published here, as they wish the churches of their communion to be favored with the ablest articles which have ever been written on both sides of this deeply interesting subject, that they may have the whole matter, in all its facts and bearings, fairly before them; and in the exercise of unbiased judgment, form their own conclusions. An honest mind, seeking after truth, turns with instinctive joyfulness towards the light, from whatever source it may emanate; or by whatever process it may be elicited,

[This response is continued under the headings below and spreads over 125 pages . . . I will post them separately and link them below when they are posted.]
SILAS McKEEN, for the Committee.

To the Rev. Thomas C. STUART, Pontotoc, Mississippi, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Tombecbee.

SOURCE: Cyrus P. Grosvenor, Slavery vs. The Bible: A Correspondence Between the General Conference of Maine, and the Presbytery of Tombecbee, Mississippi, p. 23-152

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