Washington Correspondence: April 18, 1863

Washington Correspondence

Christian Recorder: April 18, 1863

Turner refutes the writings of Spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis and writes about happenings in Washington, DC.


Mr. Editor:--A skeptic once in reply to an interrogatory relative to what numerically constituted the Godhead, said: “There are in the Godhead and Godbody, i.e. in the imperishable mansions of Father-God and mother-nature, all the persons that were ever developed on the earth, or any star in the firmament. All men, all spirits, all angels, all archangels, cherubs and seraphs, which people the immeasurable spheres of life and animation, for we live and move and have our being in the divine existence, whose body nature is, and God the soul.”

It requires no mental effort to see that the above is an attempted refutation of the fundamental doctrine of God’s tripersonality, which we as protestant believers, regard as being so lucidly set forth in the guide book of inspiration. But we will not cavil over or make a higgledy-piggledy for all that is objectionable in its different clauses, for a vein of glaring heterodoxy, and attestations backed up by no scriptural responses, miserably contaminates every sentence, yet if considered abstractly, some philosophical truths might be gleaned in its declarative assumptions, but because it is the product of one who disputes the triuneness of God, and would dare to nullify his essential attributes, that part which is worthy, is resolved into a caricature of such abominable absurdities, that whatever part may bear the semblance of truth, is embezzled of its reality by virtue of its bad company.

The way that the order of things is in this world, a little corruption, however minute it may be out-magnifies purity a hundred per centum wherever there is an effort to combine them. A man may seemingly possess the highest Christian attainments, even to a large share of the seven graces, which is the most lofty point he can reach in this life, and yet the discovery of one moral taint will blur all of his other excellencies. A minister may declaim the truths of the Bible, and hand them out before the eyes of his audience in such glowing colors, or paint them by the gift of oratory, so picturesquely, that none could offer a conscientious objection to the subject thus delineated; but if he should through some mental or moral freak, endeavor to theologize a point which is presumed not to have divine sanction, the crown which his anxious admirers built in their enraptured estimation, falls from his brow, and his masterly labors are left a wreck to float and sink in their inexorable disgust. Says a certain medical writer, “In most instances, a particle of small pox, too small to be detected by the most improved microscopes, inflames and prostrates the strongest constitutions that can be found. One thing is certain, truth and error has no connexion, good and bad no unity, friendship and hatred no alliance. No man can love and hate you at the same time. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Now there are certain big men (as we sometimes say) who would run down our throats great regard for the negro race, at the same time are known by all who want to know it, to be an open enemy to our people. If a man tries to hang me, and God in his mercy thwarts his plans, and I should by chance meet him in the street next day, and he should say, Well, my friend, how are you to-day! I am glad to see you! I have always been a friend to you, and hold you close to my heart now. Why have you not been round to call on my family! My wife thinks you are the finest gentleman that ever lived, & c. Would any sane man listen to him, unless he had shown some grounds of repentance, or confessed that he was mistaken in the person! I think not. If he did, however, the next attempt he made for his life ought to be a success.

This class of big men to which I have referred, are men whose pro-slavery principles are notorious, whose moral natures are corrupted, whose love for the colored man corresponds to the love that colored man has for his dog, horse, or hog, whose principles, if established, as politically advocated, would have resulted in converting North America into a theatre of the most abject and deplorable vampirism, so far as the interest of the negro was concerned, of any place that God ever frowned upon. And now as they have seen that all their efforts have been abortive, that slavery is doomed, that the proclamation is in force, and that they are so dead politically, and soon were to be dead so naturally, that it is questionable whether a thousand toots from Gabriel’s trumpet, would toot up a resurrection or not, they are beginning to turn with anxious concern and tearful eyes to the poor colored friends.

And I am sorry to learn that in some cases their miserable sophistry had been effected that the poor colored friends have concluded that Mr. Lincoln is laying a plan to kill them off. The handy shank copperheads wrote, spoke, and voted against the negroes being armed, as long as there was a place found to vote in, and as they could not succeed they are going about preying upon the weak minds of our people, telling them, Don’t you go to war; if you do, you are dead men; for I know the plan of old Abe and his Generals, that it is to get the poor colored men into the war, place them in the front of the battle, so as to kill them all off. But I cannot at this time enumerate their endless quantity of different shaped and colored lies.

But the point I wish to get at is this: if a man would make you a slave, which is really making you a brute, he is entitled to no hearing or confidence from you. He may say something like the skeptic, philosophically true, but what is his reason for saying it! The devil sometimes tries the truth, but he always tells it to make you believe a lie. These pro-slavery advocates may point out the prejudice that exists against the colored man, and comment upon it very truthfully, but with what view! Only to keep you down. But I have been too long on this subject. I must notice it again.

The First Baptist Church has had a great revival, and tomorrow at 2 o’clock, thirty-seven persons are to be baptized. This speaks nobly for the Rev. Mr. Madden, who is pastor pro tempore, while the pastor, the Rev. Mr. Leonard, is on a visit to Liberia. I am informed that a strong desire prevails to have Mr. Madden take the pastoral charge of the church altogether.

Rev. Wm. T. Catto, who has been here on a visit for the last three weeks, returned on Thursday morning to the congregation, of whom he often spoke while in our midst, with many endeared considerations. He is a man whose religion teaches him liberality in its highest forms.

He, though a Presbyterian minister, preached for the Methodist, Baptist, & c., with as much willingness as preaching for his own people. And I must in this connection call attention to the great respect, cherished for him in this city. I have yet to see the minister visit Washington around whom so many clustered as did around him. He remarked to me the day before he left, that he felt a reluctance in taking leave of so many of his children, but he had over-stayed his time, and must go.

A very influential gentleman said to him in my presence, “Brother Catto, if you will consent to stay in Washington and establish a Congregational Church, I will pledge you one hundred members in two weeks and a congregation of five or six hundred in a month.” I would remark at this point, that I have been privately informed, that some persons are looking at a site near the Patent Office for the erection of a Colored Congregational Church. God bless every effort for the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom.

A great Union Meeting was held in the Capitol on Tuesday evening, but I presume you have had its details in the papers.

Rev. Benjamin T. Tanner lost his youngest son yesterday evening, and it was remarkable how willingly he gave it up to God, considering that he is a man whose affections appeared to be at all times clustering around his children.

Rev. H. M. Turner, who has been on a visit to Xenia, Ohio, and thoroughly inspected the Wilberforce University, contemplates giving a sketch of its dimensions and value as an institution for our people, in the next number of the Recorder.

Rev. Mr. Evans, (white) Pastor of the 15th street Presbyterian Church, has been very ill for some time, but I hear he has recovered again so as to be up.

Rev. Wm. H. Hunter, who has taken a bold stand on the side of an educated ministry, expects to return to his Conference (Baltimore) at its next session. He will be more than welcomed back to a field of labor among the brethren with whom he is so clearly identified.

A great Mass Meeting is to be held in Israel Church next Thursday evening, to endorse the action of Bishop Payne in securing the Wilberforce University. Similar meetings will be held in all the churches. The 15th street Presbyterian Church has tendered their suffrages, for which God Almighty bless them. A Washingtonian waxed so enthusiastic on the subject in conversation about it, that he exclaimed, super-numerate every Bishop, and locate every preacher who will not support the measure.

H. M. T.

Washington, April 14, 1863