Chargrin Falls, March 18th, 1846
Signs Of The Times
Dear Brother Lee — If it will not be an intrusion, I would like to say a few things through the columns of your paper, in reference to our prospects.
While perusing, in the True Wesleyan, the revival intelligence from various parts, my heart has been cheered and my spirits revived, for many assert hereabouts that the Wesleyan (alias Scott & c.) Church is going down. This assertion is more frequent since the northern portion of the M. E. Church is entirely free from Slavery (!!!) as many of its preachers boldly declare. Yes, brother, we have M. E. preachers here, who, with all the sanctity of a Pharisee and under the guise of a minister of Christ, stand unblushingly before the community and maintain that the “M. E. Church North, is as free from Slavery as the Wesleyans,” that “at the last General Conference, the church was divided, the Northern portion left entirely free from Slavery–without a slaveholder–and they are as much anti-slavery as anybody.” But yesterday I heard the E. M. preacher, in charge of this circuit say “he was as strong an anti-slavery man as any in this village” and yet this same pseudo Abolitionist refused to sign a petition for the repeal of the black laws of Ohio, saying that “God had made a distinction on account of color and we could not make it otherwise.”
His colleague S. N. Forrest says “he is an abolitionist as much as John Wesley! that he (J. W.) received slaveholders into the church and gave them the right hand of fellowship, he also declares that he would not turn his land over to free every slave in the Union if they were permitted to come North.” These, and others of the same school are the men who cry out “slander” when we call them Pro-slavery.
We have been favored of late with labors of those champions of liberty Stephen S. and Abby K. Foster, and truly, many who had thought themselves Abolitionists, saw they had taken but the first step. As they held up the torch of truth, and discovered to the astonished gaze of the people the real position of the American Church and clergy, the squirming and writhing that ensued was pretty clear evidence what the consequences would be, if more anti-slavery “Gideons” would break their pitchers and hold up the light. None were accepted but those who were both religiously and politically free from Slavery. Brother Walker of Cleveland added fuel, and we expect brother Winans, of Garrittsville soon, to assist us to keep the fire still blazing.
The question with many now, seems to be, is it true that the “church North, is free from Slavery;” if not, doubtless many will secede. So is it true? Did not the last General Conference agree that in case a division took place, the border Conferences might choose to which part they would belong?
Has a division actually taken place, and have not the Baltimore and other Conferences containing slaves and slaveholding members decided to stay with the “church North?” We answer, they have, and the “church North,” is satisfied with their antislavery. The E. M. minister, who still asserts that they are free from Slavery and thus willfully deceives the people, is basely wicked and undeserving of the confidence of an enlightened community.
But “the Wesleyans are going down.” Yes, they are going down. Go to the head waters of the Ohio, behold the little rills as they issue from the rocks and the mountains–small but clear and beautiful. As they onward move, other rivulets contribute their pure waters, and as they go down, still receiving and still increasing, until they become the Ohio,–the Mississippi,–and irresistibly onward roll to the ocean, thus the Wesleyans are going down. Their tributaries extend from the Eastern, to the Western extremity of the Union. Churches are being organized, homes of worship erected, Sabbath-schools established, and the principles of freedom proclaimed. Within the bounds of the Allegheny Conference in Western Virginia, the land of handcuffs, whips, chains, and blood hounds, the Wesleyans have a tributary. God is blessing our efforts and many are waking up to the subject of equal rights. Judging by the past, what may we not expect in a few years? With pleasure I expect soon to see Zion arise, put on her beautiful garment and come forth “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;” against the “sum of all villainies.” May God hasten the time when oppression shall cease, when all in our fair land shall breathe free air, and we be no longer a hiss and a bye-word among the nations. For this let us pray, for this let us live and labor, and we shall be instrumental in God’s hand in saving our country from utter ruin. But I fear I am too tedious, I submit this to its fate and close by subscribing myself yours for God and the oppressed. John B. Miller. (The True Wesleyan April 4, 1846
, Vol. IV. No. 14)