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African Colonization in its Missionary Aspects
The Christian Repository
By J. M. Pendleton, 1854

      The missionary enterprise has been termed by the celebrated John Foster, “the glory of the age.” No true friend of missions will question the propriety of the designation. Progress in civilization, in the arts, in the sciences, &c., can be regarded only in an inferior sense, as the glory of the nineteenth century. This progress is not to be depreciated. Far from it. It should excite gratitude to God, under whose providential auspices it has taken place. Still, the zealous execution of the Saviour's last command - “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” - invests the present age with a far brighter glory than that shed upon it by the triumphs of scientific art. The missionary enterprise contemplates primarily the spiritual and eternal welfare of our apostate race. Numberless temporal blessings, it is true, incidentally follow in the train of its operations - but the salvation of the world is the object at which it aims. What a magnificent object! How, in comparison with it, do all the objects of secular pursuit dwindle into paltry insignificance! How inadequate a motive to human exertion appears the accumulation of wealth! How worthless are the brightest honors the world can bestow! While we listen to the Great Teacher, saying, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” - we see the stupendous greatness of the missionary. The value of one soul is so utterly incalculable as to justify the most earnest and upwearied effort for its salvation. Yes, I go farther, and say, that if of the ten hundred millions of people now inhabiting the earth, nine hundred and ninety-nine millions, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine were Christians, the salvation of the one remaining unsaved soul would be a matter of such vast importance, as to call for the combined exertions of those hundreds, and thousands, and millions to effect it. Nor would the expenditure of labor, means, &c. involved in those exertions, be a prodigal expenditure. If any man thinks otherwise, let him listen to what the voice coming from Calvary says of the worth of the soul. Let him rationally account for the fact that the “precious blood of Christ” was shed for the soul's

redemption. Now, if one soul is worth so much more than the world, what shall be said of the millions of heathendom, whose souls are unsaved, and whose salvation the missionary enterprise has in view? The subject excites by its moral sublimity, and overpowers by its oppressive greatness.

      It is not my purpose to explore the field of Foreign Missions, but to direct attention to one part of that field - the continent of Africa. In short, I wish to consider African colonization in its missionary aspects.

      How African slavery found its way into the United States is known to the civilized world. The British government is responsible for its introduction. This statement scarcely needs the slightest qualification, in view of the fact that the first American slaves were brought in a Dutch vessel into the Virginia colony, for England could have prevented it.

      A distinguished lecturer and able writer* gives the following account of of the first importation of slaves into North America:

“As early as 1620, slaves were introduced by a Dutch vessel, which sailed up the James river and sold her cargo. From that period a few slaves were introduced into North America from year to year, until the beginning of the 18th century, when Great Britain, having secured the monopoly of the slave trade, prosecuted it with great activity, and made her own colonies the principal mart for the victims of her avarice. But her North American colonies made a vigorous opposition to their introduction. The mother country, however, finding her commercial interests greatly advanced by this traffic, refused to listen to their remonstrances, or to sanction this legislative prohibition. But in addition to the commercial motive which controlled the actions of England, another, still more potent, was disclosed in the declaration of the Earl of Dartmouth, in 1777, when he declared, as a reason for forcing the Africans upon the colonies, that 'negroes cannot become republicans - they will be a power in our hands to restrain the unruly colonists.'”
      England, it seems, was influenced by two motives in imposing slaves on the colonies - pecuniary interest, and the perpetuity of American allegiance to the British crown. The revolutionary struggle resulted in the independence of the colonies, and therefore devolved on them the responsibility of continuing or abolishing the slave trade. Citizens of the colonies had of course become involved in the traffic, and their supposed interests were taken into consideration in the adoption of the Federal Constitution. Hence the 9th section of the first article says:
* David Christy , Esq.
“The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight,” &c. The slave trade could not, therefore, be constitutionally abolished till 1808, but “Congress, in anticipation, passed a law, on March 3rd, 1807, prohibiting the fitting out of any vessels for the slave trade after that date, and forbidding the importation of any slaves after January, 1808, under the penalty of imprisonment from five to ten years, a fine of $20,000, and the forfeiture of the vessels employed therein.”
      It will be seen that Congress acted as promptly as the Constitution would allow - a fact which shows the anti-slavery sentiment of that period to have been very decided.

      On the 1st of March, 1819, a gentleman from Virginia offered a resolution in the House of Representatives, which was adopted by a large majority, “declaring that any person who should import a slave, or purchase one so imported, should be punished with death.”

      Thus the legislation of Congress became more and more stringent, till in 1820 the slave trade was declared piracy, and this law is still in force. The government of the United States was the first government of the world to pronounce its emphatic reprobation of the slave trade, by identifying it with piracy. This is now the sentiment of the civilized world.

      The historical facts of the case require it to be said that while the slave trade was tolerated in the United States, New England had the chief agency in its prosecution. This was, no doubt, owing to the fact that the greater portion of the shipping belonged to that portion of the Union. Northern men imported slaves and sold them in the south; and, therefore, it is not in very good taste for either section of the country to say to the other, “I am holier than thou.” It may be said, however, with much plausibility, that states as well as individuals should be allowed to avail themselves of “statutes of limitations.” Nor should children be held responsible for the doings of their ancestors, especially when they disavow those doings.

      In the early part of the present century, the free people of color had become sufficiently numerous to engage the anxious consideration of philanthopists, and statesmen. They were seen to occupy an anomalous position between the white and the slave population - not willing to be put on a level with the latter, and not allowed to rise to an equality with the former. The sagacious philanthropists and statesmen referred to, saw clearly, that colored people in the United States, whether born free, or

emancipated by a their owners, could never here enjoy more than a semi-liberty. And all that has occured since, proves the remarkable sagacity of those great men. The two races, the white and the black, are distinct. They are distinct in the free, as well as in the slave states.

      Where is any thing like social equality? Do they eat at the same table? No. Do they occupy the same houses? No. Do they sit promiscuously on the same seats in the sanctuary of God? No. Religion itself does not overcome the inequality of the races. They move in separate paths to the grave, and when they reach its silent mansions they are still considered two races. They are distinguished in burial as well as in life.

      What grave-yard perpetuates a joint remembrance of the white and the black, because they are promiscuously interred? Not one. Buried in the same enclosure, they may be, but it is in different parts of that enclosure. These are facts. Abolitionists say they ought not to be facts. They cry out “foolish weakness,” “sinful prejudice,” &c. They pour out torrents of vituperative rhetoric and wrathful eloquence on the heads of the white population, but what does it all amount to? Nothing. Facts, are facts still. There is something in the black, which operates repulsively on the white race - prevents social equality, and forbids matrimonial alliances. Hence, I insist, as I have ever done, that colored people cannot enjoy real liberty in the United States. And hence the emancipationists of Kentucky in 1849, with Henry Clay at their head, were wise in coupling colonization with their plan of emancipation.

      But to return to the philanthropists and statesmen of the early part of the present century. The condition of the free people of color caused them much anxious deliberation. They saw that this species of the population of the country, would continue to augment both by natural increase, and by acts of emancipation performed by benevolent masters; and the question with them was, what can be done? As the result of their united counsels, it was resolved to form the American Colonization Society. The formation of this society bears date the first of January, 1817, though the arrangements preliminary to its organization were made before. It was thought by some that a suitable territory for colonization purposes might be procured somewhere in the southern portion of North America; but it was finally resolved to plant the colony on the western shore of Africa. It is proper to say that the formation of the American Colonization Society contemplated no interference with the relation between master and slave. That relation was to remain intact. The only object of the benevolent originators of the scheme was, to provide

an asylum of liberty for the free colored people of the United States. It is quite evident, however, that the success that has attended the operations of the American Colonization Society, has had an incidental influence on slavery. Many slaveholders seeing the practicability of colonization, have emancipated their slaves and sent them to Africa. This incidental, indirect influence of colonization will probably be much greater in years to come. When not only the practicability, but the triumphant success of the enterprize, is fully demonstrated, there are many slaveholders whose humane feelings will prompt them to emancipate. The most generous impulses may exist in the bosom of a slaveholder. Abolitionists will of course deny this, but it is true. And while the evils of slavery are such, that “Uncle Tom's Cabin” contains very little exaggeration, and “the greatest objection to the book is, that there is too much truth in it,” as a slaveholder has said - still there are masters and mistresses who are ornaments of humanity, and exponents of the benevolence of Christianity. “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” is a good motto. Indiscriminate abuse and indiscriminate laudation of slaveholders are equally censurable. Let praise be given to those who merit it - let condemnation rest on those who deserve it.

      The portion of territory secured on the western coast of Africa was called by the American Colonization Society, LIBERIA, to indicate that it was the land of freedom, and its chief town was named MONROVIA, in honor of President Monroe.

      A great deal has been said and written in disparagement of the colony of Liberia. The enterprize has been pronounced chimerical, cruel, and atrocious. The right to die in the land of one's birth, has been defended as earnestly as if it had been denied. The sinlessness of color has been expatiated on, as eloqently as if the sentiment prevailed that sin had its origin in a black skin. Liberia has been termed a grave-yard, and a thousand other things have been said and written.

      In opposition to all this, and fully aware of what I say, I affirm that remarkable success has attended the colony of Liberia. The colonists have, no doubt, had some difficulties and discouragements as all colonists have; but the difficulties and discouragements of the Jamestown and Plymouth settlers, were ten times greater. There would now be no Anglo-saxon population in North America, if such reverses as have befallen Liberia had terminated the efforts of our ancestors to settle this great country.

      Our fathers were men of perseverance, and they prosecuted, with unfaltering energy, their purpose to plant the standard of civilization and

Christianity in the New World. They laid broad and deep the foundations of the most glorious Republic earth ever saw. Who now despises the humble beginnings of Jamestown and Plymouth? Who does not know that “Plymouth Rock” has a notoriety co-extensive with civilization? Kingdoms, and empires, and republics, are often, in their origin, as was the kingdom of Christ, like a grain of mustard seed, which, though small, becomes a tree, in the branches of which, the fowels of heaven lodge.

      And why may not the colony which has now become the Republic of Liberia, be referred to, in years to come, as the nucleus of African civilization, African liberty, and African Christianity? I see not why the Liberian Government may not become one of the mightiest governments of the world. Already is its independence acknowledged by England, France, Belgium, and Prussia; nor is it creditable to the United States, that the acknowledgment has not been made here. Already does the Liberian star sparkle in the constellation of nations, and what is there to prevent its light from irradiating the broad area of the land of Ham? Why may not Africa become celebrated for its statesmen, philosphers, orators, and poets? The day may come, when English and American travelers, in listening with transport to some magnus Apollo of an African senate, may say - if the contemporaries of Chatham, and Fox, and Clay, and Webster were now alive, they could form a better idea of the perfection of eloquence. Who will, in this connection, mention the inſeriority of African intellect? The intellect of any race is susceptible of indefinite improvement. And, on this point, it is needless to say more.

      But African colonization, in its missionary aspects, claims special attention. The command, “Go, teach all nations,” includes the nations of Africa, and the question arises, how can missionary labor be most advantageously bestowed on them? The appropriate answer is, through colored missionaries. It is a well established fact, that white men are short-lived in Africa. The climate does not suit them, and it is, doubtless, providential that it does not. For they would soon take possession of the country, if the love of life was not stronger than the love of territory. It is unwise to send white missionaries in any great number to Africa. They would soon fall victims to death. The stroke of mortality would in a short time arrest their operations. Colored men are needed for missionary work in Africa; and it is to be hoped that the Republic of Liberia, will yet supply them in great numbers. The influence of the colonists on the natives is already beneficial. The superiority of educated over uneducated mind, is clearly seen.

      There is probably no way in which missionary effort can be made more available, than in connection with African colonization. Every man who aids in the transportation of free people of color from America to Africa is doing something for the cause of missions. He is putting into operation trains of influence which will be felt till the last trumpet sounds.

      It is estimated that the population of Africa consists of about one hundred and fifty millions. These numerous millions are divided into various nations, and the nations into various tribes. There is great inequality in their condition - some being able to lay a plausible claim to an incomplete civilization, and others involved in the darkness of perfect barbarism. They are all, however, human beings possessed of rationality, and therefore, accountable moral agents.

      They are susceptible of elevation, from their various degrees of degradation to the dignity of the sons of God. They have immortal souls, and are in perishing need of the gospel of Jesus Christ - that gospel, which brings life and immortality to light. They are included in the comprehensive embrace of the last commission of the risen Saviour - “Go, teach all nations.” For the reason already indicated, English missionaries can do but little for their evangelization, and the same reason is operative in the case of white American missionaries. There is, therefore, no cheering hope of Africa's reclamation from heathenism and idolatry, but in the labors of her own sons.

      These sons are, some of them, in Liberia, and many more in the United States. Among their number are hundreds of respectable preachers. They are not, with few exceptions, learned men, but they understand the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. They can tell - and it is the best news that ever was told - how sinners can be saved, because the Saviour died. They can dwell with great power on the experimental topics of the gospel, and inculcate its practical teachings, though they are unable to unfold the mysteries of its profounder doctrines. Now, I insist that such colored preachers may be of immense service, in carrying the glad-tidings of salvation into Africa. Some now in Liberia have been greatly useful among the natives. They have told the story of the cross with happy effect, and numerous converts are seals to their ministry. The simple-hearted savages have promptly responded to the claims of the gospel - have wept over their sins - believed in Christ - and African waters have been consecrated by the administration of the ordinance of baptism.

      Thu African harvest is great, but the laborers are few - Ah, how few! Surely it becomes Christians to pray the Lord of the harvest send laborers

into this portion of the ripened field. And while they pray, they should act. There are many free colored preachers in the United States, who could probably be induced to emigrate to Liberia, with a view to labor as missionaries among the native tribes contiguous to the Republic. From the contiguous tribes they would, under the guidance of Providence, make their way into others more remote, and deposit in the central regions of the continent the “leaven” which would ultimately “leaven the whole lump.” And, who does not say, that this is a “consummation devoutly to be wished?”

      If the writer had access to the free colored preachers of America, he would say to them - consider profoundly and prayerfully, whether it is not your duty to go as missionaries to your fatherland - whether the love of Christ should not constrain you to do this - whether the prospect of greater usefulness should not prompt it - whether sympathy for the perishing millions of your own color should not move you - and whether the prospect of perfect liberty, and equality for yourselves and your posterity, is a motive unworthy of your consideration. Thus would I address the free colored preachers of the United States, and would hope the appeal to be effective.

      There are those among them who, on account of advanced age and other circumstances, ought to remain where they are; but there are many who might go, and ought to go far hence to their kindred, with the love of God in their souls, and the word of salvation on would they refer to the sacrifices to be made as preliminary to all this? It might be argued that heavier sacrifices will be incurred if they remain where they are. But suppose there are sacrifices; - who can be a Christian without making sacrifices? Who does not know that self-denial is one of the initial regulations of the kingdom of Christ? And then, what are these sacrifices compared with those made by the Saviour, when he relinquished the glory he had with the Father before the world was - resigned his scepter and his crown - exchanged the praises of angels for the insults of men and exemplified that most amazing of all transitions, from the occupancy of a throne to the occupancy of a cross?

      Who, after this, will refer to sacrifices, except to blush that a thousand times more are not made for Him whose life was one continued scene of sacrifice, resulting in the sacrifice of his death?

      There is another view of the matter under consideration: Many of the colored preachers of this country are slaves. They, therefore, preach only as their masters give them opportunity. Their masters, however, are generally indulgent, and often allow them to preach at other times

than on the Sabbath day, which is considered their own. It will be said that some of these preachers - many of them - are ignorant men. Yes, this is true, but all ignorance is not confined to colored preachers. Many of them are men of good common sense, and very intent on self-improvement. They learn with great facility. The bible is emphatically their book, but their reading is not confined to it. Some of them display a natural eloquence which it would be well, if it could be done, to transfer to some of our theological schools and city pulpits. What I have to say in regard to these preachers is this: If suitable influences were brought to bear on their masters, they would, in many instances, emancipate and place these preachers at the disposal of the American Colonization Society. Their pecuniary circumstances would enable them to do so, without serious injury to their interests. In other cases, the owners of these preachers are not able to set them free. They are poor, and might possibly have been rich, if their consciences would have allowed them to sell into slavery servants, becoming theirs by inheritance, and to invest the price in lands or other property. What is to be done in cases of this kind? Let the benevolent, let the rich, furnish the money and pay the value of these preachers, and transport them to Africa. I know not how gold and silver could be better employed. Abolitionists will object, of course, and say that raising money for such an object would be a recognition of the slaveholder's right, &c. The objection is unworthy of refutation.

      Let those interested in the cause of missions consider this view of the matter. Let them, as they have ability and opportunity, buy the freedom of those who would be useful as preachers in Africa. Let those preachers go to Liberia, and thence set out on their missionary work. Let them proclaim salvation in the name of Jesus, and let the benighted Africans embrace the Christian faith. Let their labors be crowned with the blessing of Heaven. Let all this be done, and if those who procure the liberty of these preachers, and send them forth on their work of mercy, do not experience transports of joy that they would not exchange for gold and silver, then the writer is deceived as to the modus operandi of a philanthropic, Christian heart.

      It is the divine prerogative to bring good out of evil. This God has often done, thereby eliciting the praises of his friends, and clothing his enemies with shame. If slavery in America be so overruled as to promote the evangelization of Africa - if servitude indirectly procure the spiritual emancipation of thousands and hundreds of thousands - if the broad Atlantic, the roar of whose waves has so often mingled with the

groans of the manacled cargo of the slave-ship, shall carry back Africa's exiled children and make them instrumental in regenerating and redeeming the continent of their fathers, we need not trouble ourselves to find language to express our adoring wonder. An apostle has furnished it: “O! the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”

[From S. H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, January 1854, pp. 277-286. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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