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Sunday-Schools For The Negroes
The Baptist Church and Sunday School Messenger
Elder Tilman R. Gaines, Editor
Yorkville, S. C., 1866

p. 81

      IT is strange to see how prejudice does warp our reason, and blind us to our true interest. There are strange developments of this seen in different sections of our country. We have been taught to regard the education of the negro as wrong. The laws of the State forbid it. But Providence is now speaking in favor of it. Schools for the education of the negro are springing up all over the land.

      Though Providence has so plainly shown what is right in this matter, yet there are men, professing to be christians, who still fight against every effort to improve this unfortunate race. Churches have been known lately to turn off their pastors for advocating the improvement of the negroes. Two churches, within our knowledge, have persecuted their pastors for attempting to establish Sunday Schools for their moral improvement. This is in the highest degree unreasonable and unchristian.

      This conduct shows us to be very inconsistent. For many years, Southern christians have been engaged in the noble work of sending the Gospel to the heathen. Faithful missionaries have been sent to the fields of Africa. Their business was to improve the condition of the negro there. These missionaries felt it to be their duty to teach the children how to read the Bible. This work we have attempted. It is a noble work. But our inconsistency is seen in our neglect to afford the four millions of Africans here in our own country and homes, the similar ad vantages. We have compassed sea and land, to improve this race abroad; but at home - in our very families - we have neglected to educate the negro. This is certainly inconsistent, unnatural and unscriptural.

      It is now, as it ever has been, the duty of every philanthropist and christian to labor for the mental and moral training of the persons who were once our slaves. And he who opposes this work should take "heed lest he should be found fighting against God." We owe it to ourselves, to the negro and to society, to improve them. But how shall this be done? Without means - without the opportunity, the negroes generally

p. 82
can do but little for their own improvement. It devolves on others - on us. Many of these negroes are yet members of our families. They are our servants. Something might be done for their improvement by a system of teaching at home. Many of them might be taught to read by requiring them to use their leisure hours in studying, with some help on the part of members of the family who can read. Some may object, that this would require sacrifice and would not pay. So does every good work of a moral and religious kind. Yet we dare not shrink from the task.

      But the best - the cheapest and easiest plan for the mental and moral improvement of the negro - is the Sunday School system. The great object of this system is the improvement of the morals - the salvation of the soul. Yet as a means of doing this, it cultivates the mind and imparts a necessary knowledge of letters. All this is done on the sacred day of rest and worship, and costs neither time nor money. It is one of those blessings, peculiar to the Gospel, which can be had "without money and without price." - Who can forbid the poor negros to come and buy and be rich? Where is the christian, so dead to the wants of ignorant, suffering human nature, as to forbid them the privilege of reading the Bible.

      Long did God wink at our neglect of the negroes of the South; but at last He thundered in his judgments from Heaven against us. And now He requireth us all to repent, and willingly turn to the work we have so long overlooked. Let us obey the will of God and heartily acquiesce in his purposes.

      Every Church and community should at once establish Sabbath Schools for the negroes. - No one need feel it a condescension to teach the poor African here, while we regard it so honorable for the zealous Missionary to do the same thing in Africa.


[From Tilman R. Gaines, Editor, June, 1866, Volume I, no. 3; via Boyce Digital Repository, SBTS, Adam Winters, Archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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