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In the Classroom > African Americans Lessons > Ministers Owned Slaves

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Excerpts from The Negro Christianized.
An Essay to Excite and Assist that Good Work, the Instruction of Negro-Servants in Christianity

by Cotton Mather, 1706

From http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=etas

Truly, to Raise a Soul, from a dark State of Ignorance and Wickedness, to the Knowledge of GOD, and the Belief of CHRIST, and the practice of our Holy and Lovely RELIGION; ’Tis the noblest Work, that ever was undertaken among the Children of men. An Opportunity to Endeavour the CONVERSION of a Soul, from a Life of Sin, which is indeed a woful Death, to Fear God, and Love CHRIST, and by a Religious Life to Escape the Paths of the Destroyer; it cannot but be Acceptable to all that have themselves had in themselves Experience of such a Conversion. And such an Opportunity there is in your Hands, O all you that have any Negroes in your Houses; an Opportunity to try, Whether you may not be the Happy Instruments, of Converting, the Blackest Instances of Blindness and Baseness, into admirable Candidates of Eternal Blessedness.

Let us make a Trial, Whether they that have been Scorched and Blacken’d by the Sun of Africa, may not come to have their Minds Healed by the more Benign Beams of the Sun of Righteousness. It is come to pass by the Providence of God, without which there comes nothing to pass, that Poor Negroes are cast under your Government and Protection. You take them into your Families; you look on them as part of your Possessions; and you Expect from their Service, a Support, and perhaps an Increase, of your other Possessions. How agreeable would it be, if a Religious Master or Mistress thus attended, would now think with themselves! Who can tell but that this Poor Creature may belong to the Election of God! Who can tell, but that God may have sent this Poor Creature into my Hands, that so One of the Elect may by my means be Called; & by my Instruction be made Wise unto Salvation! The glorious God will put an unspeakable Glory upon me, if it may be so! The Considerations that would move you, To Teach your Negroes the Truths of the Glorious Gospel, as far as you can, and bring them, if it may be, to Live according to those Truths, a Sober, and a Righteous, and a Godly Life; They are Innumerable; And if you would after a Reasonable manner consider, the Pleas which we have to make on the behalf of God, and of the Souls which He has made, one would wonder that they should not be Irresistible. Show your selves Men, and let Rational Arguments have their Force upon you, to make you treat, not as Bruits but as Men, those Rational Creatures whom God has made your Servants.

For, First; The Great GOD Commands it, and Requires it of you; to do what you can that Your Servants, may also be His. It was an Admonition once given; Eph. 5.9. Masters, Know that your Master is in Heaven. You will confess, That the God of Heaven is your Master. If your Negroes do not comply with your Commands, into what Anger, what Language, Perhaps into a misbecoming Fury, are you transported? But you are now to attend unto the Commands of your more Absolute Master ; and they are His Commands concerning your Negroes too. What can be more Expressive, than those words of the Christian Law? Col. 4.1. Masters, give unto your Servants, that which is Just & Equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven. Of what Servants is this Injunction to be understood ? Verily, of Slaves. For Servants were generally such, at the time of Writing the New Testament. Wherefore, Masters, As it is Just & Equal, that your Servants be not Over-wrought, and that while they Work for you, you should Feed them, and Cloath them, and afford convenient Rest unto them, and make their Lives comfortable ; So it is Just and Equal, that you should Acquaint them, as far as you can, with the way to Salvation by JESUS CHRIST.

One Table of the Ten Commandments, has this for the Sum of it; Thou shalt Love thy Neighbour as thy self. Man, Thy Negro is thy Neighbour. T’were an Ignorance, unworthy of a Man, to imagine otherwise. Yea, if thou dost grant, That God hath made of one Blood, all Nations of men, he is thy Brother too. Now canst thou Love thy Negro, and be willing to see him ly under the Rage of Sin, and the Wrath of God? Canst thou Love him, and yet refuse to do any thing, that his miserable Soul may be rescued from Eternal miseries? Oh! Let thy Love to that Poor Soul, appear in thy concern, to make it, if thou canst, as happy as thy own!

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