The ban on the importation of slaves into the United States became official on January 1, 1808, as set forth in the Constitution twenty years before. Abyssal Jones celebrated this moment by delivering a sermon at SST.
Thomas Church in Philadelphia, which he had founded fourteen years earlier. He ultimately gives strong praise to God, while acknowledging the roles of abolitionists and the legislatures of the United States and the United Kingdom for their efforts in banning the trade.Jones abhorred that the practice of slavery continued, but saw a potential positive in regards to the spread of Christianity. Ultimately, what’s revealing in Jones’ sermon is his stressing of the importance for slaves to assimilate into the dominant culture of the time, mainly through the use of Christianity. Jones’ sermon largely goes along two paths; he alternately expresses sentiments of gratitude to many parties, and implores those listening and current slaves to live in a Christian manner.
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An interesting point of contention is that, although Jones makes it clear that he despises the practice of slavery, he does not directly rebuke those who practice it, or those who participated in the slave trade. In fact, he says, “Let us conduct ourselves n a manner as to furnish no cause of regret to the deliverers of our nation, for their kindness to us.
” Jones seemingly states that Africans should be thankful for their deliverance to the united States, disregarding the circumstances upon which it happened.This mirrors an opinion by Phyllis Whitley, who like Jones, was a free African in a Northern city. In Chapter Four of African Americans: A Concise History, it is said that although she lamented the sorrow her capture had caused her parents, she was grateful to have been brought to America and to become a Christian (Hines, Hines & Harold 85). The opinions of these two free Africans bring forth the question of the effect that freedom had on the attitudes of Africans towards the dominant white population.More startling is Jones’ veiled attempts to justify slavery with the use of Christianity. He first states that, in regards to God, “Perhaps his design was, that a knowledge of the gospel might be acquired by some of their descendants, in order that they might become qualified to be the messengers of it, to the land of their fathers. ” A more shocking quote appears later, where Jones states in response to a savior, “who shall be the instrument of feeding the African nations with the bread of life, and saving them, not from earthly bondage, but from the more galling yoke of sin and Satan.
In these instances, Jones paints slavery as an event that God has allowed to happen for a greater purpose. Additionally, he insinuates that the Christian mission of freeing the African slave population from sin is a more crucial effort than freeing them from the bondage of slavery. These quotes show the theme of contradiction that is present throughout the sermon. Jones is at once praising the abolishment of the practice that enabled slavery, ND rationalizing slavery as a practice that can benefit the spread of his faith.What’s more, Jones is fervent in his support of the abolishment of the slave trade, and decidedly less so in his support for the destruction of slavery’, hoping only that legislatures pass laws, “to ameliorate the condition of our brethren still in bondage. ” In the end, Abyssal Jones shows a genuine joy for the outlawing of the trade, and his sermon is a speech of thanksgiving, though what he is giving thanks for occasionally seems to belie the occasion for which he and his congregation were assembled.