As the rhetoric for independence heated up, so did the anxieties of many Christians, who were not convinced that independence, let alone armed rebellion, was justified biblically.

One such person was John Wesley, whose Methodist movement was taking root in America. He was concerned about what he believed were unchristian attitudes of Americans. In A Calm Address to Our American Colonies (1775) he tried to push Americans toward a different course.

One writer asserts twenty times, “He that is taxed without his own consent, that is, without being represented, is a slave.”

I answer, no. I have no representative in Parliament, but I am taxed, yet I am no slave. Yea, nine in ten throughout England have no representative, no vote, yet they are no slaves; they enjoy both civil and religious liberty to the utmost extent.

He replies, “But they may have votes if they will; they may purchase freeholds.” What! Can every man in England purchase a freehold [property that entitled one to vote]? No, not one in an hundred. But be that as it may, they have no vote now; yet they are no slaves, they are the freest men in the whole world.

Who then is a slave? Look into America, and you may easily see. See that Negro, fainting under the load, bleeding under the lash! He is a slave. And is there no difference between him and his master? Yes. The one is screaming, “Murder! Slavery!” the other silently bleeds and dies!

But wherein then consists the difference between liberty and slavery? Herein: You and I, and the English in general, go where we will and enjoy the fruit of our labors: this is liberty. The Negro does not: this is slavery.

Is not then all this outcry about liberty and slavery mere rant, and playing upon ...

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