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NATURE AND EXTENT OF OUR RELIGIOUS SUBJECTION TO
THE GOVERNMENT UNDER WHICH WE LIVE:
INQUIRY INTO THE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY OF THAT PROVISION
REQUIRES THE SURRENDER OF FUGITIVE SLAVES.
DELIVERED IN THE
RUTGERS STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH,
IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, ON THANKSGIVING DAY, DECEMBER 12, 1850.
AND AFTERWARDS AT TIEIR REQUEST, AS A LECTURE BEFORE
THE YOUNG MEN'S ASSOCIATIONS OF ALBANY AND WATERFORD, N. Y.,
“He that goeth about to persuade a multitude that they are not so well governed as they ought to be, shall never want attentive and favorable hearers; because they know the manifold defects whereunto every kind of regiment is subject, but the secret lets and difficulties, which in public proceedings are innumerable and inevitable, they have not ordinarily the judgment to consider. And because such as openly reprove supposed disorders of state are taken for principal friends to the common benefit of all, and for men that carry singular freedom of mind; under this fair and plausible colour, whatsoever they utter passeth for good and current. That which wanteth in the weight of their speech, is supplied by the aptness of men's minds to accept and believe it. Whereas if we maintain things that are established, we have not only to strive with a number of heavy prejudices deeply rooted in the hearts of men, who think that herein we serve the time, and speak in favour of the present state because thereby we either hold or seek preferment; but also to bear such exceptions as minds so averted beforehand usually take against that which they are loth should be poured into them."
* When they who withdraw their obedience, pretend that the laws which they should obey are corrupt and vicious; for better examination of their quality, it behooveth the very foundation and rout, the highest well-spring and fountain of them to be discovered."
" The wisest are always touching this point the readiest to acknowledge, that soundly to judge of a law is the weightest thing which any man can take upon him. But if we will give judgment of the laws under which we live, first let that law eternal be always before our eyes as being of principal force and moment to breed in religious minds a dutiful estimation of all laws, the use and benefit whereof we see; because there can be no doubt but that laws apparently good are (as it were) things copied out of the very tables of that high everlasting law; even as the book of that law hath said concerning itself: 'By me kings reign, and by me 'princes decree justice.' *
* Furthermore, although we perceive not the goodness of laws made, nevertheless sith (since) things in themselves may have that which we peradventure discern not, should not this breed a fear in our hearts, how we speak or judge in the worse part concerning that, the unadvised disgrace whereof may be no mean dishonour towards Him, towards whom we profess all submission and awe? Surely there must be very manifest iniquity in laws, against which we shall be able to justify our contumelious invectives. The chiefest root whereof, when we use them without cause, is ignorance how laws inferior are derived from that supreme or highest law."--Hooker (Eccl. Pol., Book I.) on Laws in general.
gift Tappan Presb. an 12-31 - 1431
New YORK, December 18th, 1850.
REVEREND AND DEAR SIR :
We have the honour herewith to transmit to you a copy of a resolution passed by the Union Safety Committee appointed at the Great Meeting of Citizens in Castle Garden, on the 30th day of October last. The resolution was passed unanimously at a meeting of the Committee held last evening, and is as follows:
“Whereas, having read with great satisfaction a sketch of the Sermon delivered on Thanksgiving Day by the Reverend John M. KREBS, D.D., Pastor of the Rutgers Street Presbyterian Church in the city of New York, and believing that its dissemination would be of great public benefit at this crisis in our affairs, --therefore Resolved, That the Reverend Doctor be respectfully requested to furnish a copy thereof for publication.”
We execute with the greatest pleasure the duty devolving upon us as a Corresponding Committee a copy of the resolution above referred to, and have the honour to subscribe ourselves,
With great respect,
Your fellow citizens and
To Rev. JOHN M. KREBS, D.D.
NEW YORK, January 19th, 1851.
My earlier attention to the request you have transmitted to me, from the Union Safety Committee of this city, for a copy of my Sermon on the recent Thanksgiving Day, was prevented by my absence at the date of your letter; and my earlier compliance with it, by the use to which the discourse was put, on the subsequent occasions specified in the title-page of the manuscript herewith presented to the Committee.
In publishing this discourse, I am aware that I am not adding much, if anything, to the amount of sound instruction already conveyed to the public hy other discourses that have preceded it from the press. I am willing, nevertheless, to add my testimony to that of my brethren ; especially since these sentiments have been impugned, and, I may say, misrepresented by a portion of the newspaper press. And I do so the more cheerfully, under the approbation of such a body of my fellow citizens as yourselves and the committee you represent.
These sentiments, however, must speak for themselves. They have been formed under the light of the sacred oracles, by an honest desire to be guided only by the Divine Teaching. The sole question for us all is, what does God enjoin? And if the answer be found in specific precepts of His Word, they are to be followed as surer guides in the interpretation of those which are more general, than is the mere unrestrained inference drawn by men's own minds, however benevolent they claim to be. God is wiser than men. He is better than men. His ways are not as men's ways. I have more confidence in them than in the plausible doctrines which appeal to prejudice or feeling; and more hope from them in rendering my fellow men, whether they be masters or servants, good and happy even in this life, than from the sophistries and devices of human passion.
I have not seen one candid attempt to state and meet the scriptural arguments lately published in support of the Constitution and the Laws : but I have seen, instead, some characteristic specimens of sneering, vituperation, and calumny against the "clergy,” as being hard and unsympathising, and even as being