THE IMPRISONED MISSIONARIES
[The following spirited appeal to the religious public, in behalf of the imprisoned Missionaries, is published at the request of a friend, who is one of the most active, intelligent influential members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of this city. It comes to us in a printed circular.]
The mere annunciation of the fact that missionaries are imprisoned, would awaken the attention of the whole Christian community-and every heart which pulsated the feelings of brotherhood, nay, even of humanity. Common humanity, would swell with anxious solicitude and the question would be asked by thousands, at the same moment--'where? where?'
If the answer were, in pagan lands-among people who yet inhabit the dark places of cruelty-in the distant islands of the sea, among barbarians-what would the Christian do? - fold his arms!-seat himself by his fireside, amidst the comforts of home, and leave those pioneers of the gospel to their fate? The bare question is revolting! No- But from North to South, and from East to West, one noble generous effort would be made and differing sects would be found acting in harmonious concert to find the ways and the means to liberate their captive brethren.
The case is not a fancied on- 'missionaries are imprisoned!' - not in pagan lands-not among a heathen people, not in the distant and barbarious islands of the sea--but in the midst of Christendom; among a people professing to be Christians, and a people professing to be free!
Yes- in the penitentiary of one of the States of this Republic, in Georgia-and in the capital of that state, Milledgeville, may be found two faithful, devoted followers of the meek and lowly Jesus-preaching of his everlasting gospel, classed with felons, wearing the ignominious badges of the loathsome penitentiary, and doomed to the labor and toil of working, day in and day out, and subsisting upon the coarse and unsavory fare of that dismal place!
And for what has this terrible punishment been inflicted? For crimes committed? No.- For any violation of the law? No. Or offenses of any sort, either against the rightful government of the State, or the United States? No-No. Christians, no ye honest men of all parties- no ye freemen of America,-but for being found preaching the gospel to and teaching the Cherokee Indians! For this,and for this only have these good men and brothers in the bonds and fellowship of the Gospel, been dragged from their holy employment, and in violation of the laws and treaties of the land, and in the face of their written authority given by the executive of the United States to go in among these people and enlighten and bless them, has this outrage upon their persons, rights, and their liberty been committed.
And by whom has this been permitted? Who in the first place winked in ignorant prejudice at this daring outrage of Georgia, and then refused, afterwards, to interfere and execute the laws that his oath binds him to execute, and by so doing, liberate those holy men; and who after the case had undergone judicial investigation, and the incorruptible Marshall had pronounced the judgement of the Supreme Court, virtually commanded them to be set free--who we ask, is it, that in contempt of this, still refuse to execute the power vested in him by the laws, and enforced upon him by the Supreme Court, and which his oath demands him to obey-who is he that causes to break those penitentiary fetters, and give back to light and liberty, and society, and usefulness these missionaries? We answer, ANDREW JACKSON.
Is this doubted by anyone? We know the bosoms of the humane- the hearts of the patriots- and the generous and noble feelings of the Christian, may well harbor a doubt whether it be possible that even Andrew Jackson could thus defy obligations so binding in a cause so imperative and so sacred. But we will put those doubts to flight. To do this, we introduce here an official letter from the Secretary of War, which the reader will see, puts the extinguisher upon all hope that while Gen. Jackson remains President, these abused Christians will be released from their bondage.
When Paul and Silas were by unjust judges thrust into the inner prison and when at midnight they lifted up their voices in the solitude of their cells an angel came and delivered them. Those were times when prejudice and ignorance like scales hung upon the eyes of the people; and when the agency of Heaven was employed in a direct was to awaken and enlighten the sleeping and stupid multitude of that day, and establish, by the test of miracles the authority and the truth of God.
But now our angel, to effect the liberations of the Pauls and the Silases of the present day, is enlightened public opinion and virtue. Direct means employed by the master of life, for the accomplishment of such great ends are withdrawn, and He had placed the power in our hands by human agency to accomplish the same ends. It is left to our intelligence and our virtue.
Read this letter-and then judge what hope remains for the liberation of the devoted Worcester and his companion in prison, while General Jackson has the power to keep them bound-and let every Christian heart ask itself what is its duty!
To be Concluded.