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Moral Wrong of Slavery.
have propelled any original mind from the great central idea of God in science, may that mind soon discover its fatal mistake, and be convinced that it cannot find in the whole universe another perihelion; for we know that mind, like matter, moves in the direction of its impelling force, and if the first impulse be given to it at the wrong point, unless its momentum be resisted and overcome by some opposing power, it will move onward in the path of error, and drive along its downward way with accel. erated velocity, aided by the gravity of accumulated error, till it finally passes and is lost in dreary space beyond the affinity of centripetal forces. Let us, then, rest in the conclusion, that true science is unchanging and immortal ; that it grows out of the relations which God himself has created, and that it stands for ever as his own language, as his first revelation; and let us, moreover, rejoice that the grand and sacred text of Divine truth which it utters is written in characters which will stand as long as the stars. The time is rapidly coming, when the lightning will be so converted into a highway of thought among the nations, as to make truth electrify all lands at once. Then a millennium in science, civilization, and Christianity will dawn on our globe; and the angels may again descend and sing, Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good-will to men.'
pp. 34, 35.
ART. VI. - MORAL WRONG OF SLAVERY.
As year rolls after year over the heads of the people of the United States, the finger of God seems to point with more and more directness to the great moral evil which has thus far been, and yet continues to be, cherished in their bosoms. Through the power of that infrangible chain of succession, the links of which, though seldom all made visible to imperfect mortal eyes, do yet unerringly bring round the ends of what some call destiny, it would appear as if the evasions and postponement, the prevarication and compromise, the sophistry and self-delusion, which have been long freely resorted to in America for the purpose of escaping a day of reckoning, were to accomplish only a frightful accumulation of troubles, without bringing the smallest relief from the necessity of ultimately meeting them face to face. The law of retribution is even now pressing severely upon us. It has already touched every nerve of the body politic with pain. The labor to throw inward a local disorder, rather than to probe it for entire extirpation in the spot to which it was at first confined, has been attended with the natural result of endangering the very existence of the whole system. And now, whatever may be the struggles of feeble man, however he may toil to resist the Providence which rules over him, that same power, which has already controlled the progress of events so far as we see them, is yet going on with accelerated steps most surely to work out its ulterior effects upon his happiness or misery. Man is, indeed, an active instrument only to incur a deeper responsibility for that which he shall choose to do. He may continue to delight in opiates to dull his moral sense, as he has hitherto done, or, roused at last to something like a conviction of his desperate condition, he may, with a bolder and more resolute purpose, rush to remedies, even though aware of their dangerous character ; but he has no other choice. This is the sole alternative that his own apathy has left to him. Let him think of it well. However doubtful the question may be, when considered solely in its social and political aspects, it would seem as if there could be among persons professing the smallest regard for religion but one opinion as to the course which should be taken in the field of morals, and the monstrous responsibility resulting from a refusal to pursue it.
* 1. The American Churches, the Bulwarks of American Slavery. By an American. Tbird American Edition, enlarged by an Appendix. Newburyport. 1842. 12mo. pp. 48.
2. Domest Slavery considered as a Scriptural Institution. In a Correspondence between the Rev. RICHARD FULLER, of Beaufort, S. C., and the Rev. Francis Wayland, of Providence, R. I. Revised and corrected by the Authors. New York. 1845. 18mo. pp.
254. 3. Slavery discussed in Occasional Essays, from 1833 to 1846. By LeonARD Bacon, Pastor of the First Church in New Haven. New York. 1846. 12mo. pp. 247.
4. An Inquiry into the Scriptural Vieros of Slavery. By ALBERT BARNES. Philadelphia. 1846. 12mo. pp. 384.
5. Christianity and Slavery: a Review of the Correspondence between Rich ard Fuller, D. D., of Beaufort, South Carolina, and Fruncis Wayland, D. D., of Providence, Rhode Island, on Domestic Slavery considered as a Scriptural İnstitution. By William Hague. Boston. 1847. 12mo. pp. 254.
6. A Letter to the Right Ret end L. Silliman Ives, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of North Carolina, occasioned by his late Address to the Convention of his Diocese. By a Protestant Episcopalian. Washington, D. C. 1847. 8vo. pp. 8.
7. White Slavery in the Barbary States. A Lecture before the Boston Mercantile Library Association, Feb. 17, 1847. By CHARLES SO Bo 1847. 8vo. pp. 60.
Duty of the Church.
There cannot be a doubt that this responsibility is now most seriously felt. If we needed evidence, the list of publications which we furnish would supply it abundantly. Protestant Christians of all sects are agitating the subject of slavery and its bearing upon their duties, and those sects are the most deeply moved the members of which are most exten-. sively scattered over the Union. No associated action can be had in which the topic will not be found to show itself. No plan of usefulness can be devised to which it does not present immediate obstacles. The evil demon is in the Church, and defies the exorcism of all the learned doctors. There is no longer an opening for retreat, even to those who most earnestly desire to escape the strife. Compromise has been exhausted. Silence is impossible. Slavery still persists in forcing itself upon the most unwilling eyes with the semblance of wrong. The only way now left of meeting this is the direct one of attempting to prove that it is not wrong, that the appearance is illusive. Such is the state to which the question is now reduced. Such is the issue which has already been joined in the Baptist denomination through the controversy carried on between Dr. Wayland and Dr. Fuller, and which has presented itself in forms scarcely less direct among the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and indeed it may be said among all sects, — with the exception perhaps of the Friends, by whom it was long ago decided in the right way.
Is the holding of slaves an offence against right, — in other words, is it sin? Such is the question, and, because involving the moral welfare of human beings, it must be answered, Yes or No. It therefore becomes extremely important to ascertain on which side the answer should be given. For ourselves, we are not of those who seek to interpose the smallest delay in our decision. Albeit much less connected by community of sentiments with the people of the region in which slavery is tolerated than other sects, and therefore less called upon than they to dissent from views which impose upon us no responsibility, we plead guilty to general sympathy in all those questions which touch the welfare of the general brotherhood of man. Our line of duty is confined in this place to the moral considerations which grow out of slavery. We leave the social and political problems to be solved elsewhere. The treatment of these is not imperative upon us as Christians. The discussion of the re
ligious question has become so. Little as we deem it proper in any portion of the Church hastily to intermeddle with the reformatory movements of the age ; much as we value the position of calm retirement from the necessity of joining in the secular contests which often deeply stir the pas.sions of men ; we are nevertheless by no means insensible to the fact, that there may be occasions in which not to express a positive conviction of a lofty truth may be a dereliction of Christian duty, in comparison with which the hazards of controversial strife are as nothing. Even in the most worldly sense, the safety of every nation depends far more upon the standard of its moral and religious sensibility than upon the most carefully drawn safeguards of constitutional and legal forms. That standard is in the keeping of the Church. It is the Church alone which is pledged to teach exclusively by the absolute rule of right and wrong.
This rule is expressly laid down in the sacred book given for its guidance. By ihat it must be directed, not only to a simple adherence to the letter which killeth, but to that higher and nobler and more catholic spirit which makes the Bible the true law of God, which breathes through its pages the hope of an improving futurity, which teaches in tones not to be misunderstood or misconstrued peace and good-will to man.
It is now generally and confidently charged upon the Church, whose duty has thus been pointed out, that it sustains slavery. This charge is predicated upon the assumption that slavery is wrong, or, in other words, sin. It no longer comes from the class of extreme Abolitionists, who are apt to think, that, because a person does not choose to move as rashly as they do, he is determined not to move at all. It is brought in terms by a divine no less distinguished in the Church than Mr. Barnes. In the volume the title of which is in the list at the head of this article, he has deliberately penned the following conclusion, the full import of which merits the deepest meditation on the part of every religious man.
“ There is no power out of the Church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it. Not a blow need be struck. Not an unkind word need be uttered. No man's motive need be impugned; no man's proper rights invaded. All that is needful is, for each Christian man, and for every Christian church, to stand up in the sacred majesty of such a solemn testimony; to free themselves from all connection with the evil, and 1847.]
Responsibility of the Church.
utter a calm and deliberate voice to the world, AND THE WORK WILL BE DONE.” — p. 384.
If this be a true statement, and we are inclined to believe it is not a whit exaggerated, the responsibility now weighing upon all those to whom it alludes is such as to make some sort of action in the premises on their part a positive duty. It will scarcely do longer to say that the evil of slavery does not affect us, and that giving our testimony against it in quarters remote from the region in which it is tolerated is likely to do more harm than good. It will not do to avert our eyes from the issue which is now distinctly presented to us by a part of the Church itself. Is the holding of slaves an offence against right? If we decide in the affirmative, then are we bound to do the very thing which Mr. Barnes has pointed out as releasing us from all further participation in the guilt. To stand still is impossible. For it must be obvious that to say that the Church sanctions and upholds wrong, knowing it to be such, is a charge most fatal to its usefulness. To say it justly is to seal the condemnation of its ministers.
The common reproach brought against all those who have felt constrained to bear public witness against the evils of slavery has been, that they are fanatics, actuated by zeal without knowledge. This reproach, which to a certain extent has been heretofore felt to be just, when uttered by slaveholders against the early agitators of the subject, ceases to carry force with it when it appears that its application is indiscriminately extended to all individuals who venture a remonstrance upon the subject, no matter how guarded it may be, or in how gentle a tone delivered. The fanaticism is held to consist in the connection of the thing with any religious or moral scruple whatever, in the refusal to consider it as a mere political institution involving no uncomfortable appeal to the conscience at all. We can readily conceive the reason why it should be so. It proceeds from an intimate conviction of the truth spoken by Mr. Barnes, that the vitality of slavery is to be found in the Church, and nowhere else. If it could once be proved to the satisfaction of the hundreds and thousands of Christian men and Christian women who may be found thickly spread over the region of the Slaveholding States, that they are guilty of a moral wrong in continuing to bold human beings in a state of bondage one hour longer than they can release themselves from it, we are well convinced that no human power would be