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slavery denominations, which gives or receives letters to or from Churches which are so connected, becomes thereby partaker in the sin, its known anti-slavery character to the contrary notwithstanding.
A Church which admits to its communion a whig, or a democrat, or a liberty man,* is pro slavery.
The Church which fellowships such a Church, by exchanging letters of dismission and recommendation, is also proslavery.
Come-outism then demands that every local Church, professing to be anti-slavery, but ecclesiastically connected with the pro-slavery denominations, should instantly sever such connection. It demands the same of all ministers and pastors so connected. It demands of all Churches not ecclesiastically connected to discontinue every kind and degree of Christian fellowship with others that are. It demands further that all whigs, all democrats, and all liberty men (?) be excommunicated. It demands that those Churches that have none of either of these classes in their communion, (if such are to be found) should yet go one step farther and withhold all fellowship from churches that do persist in retaining such men. Lastly it commands all individuals connected with any of the above Churches, remaining such, to COME OUT, on pain of anti-slavery excommunication, and perpetual exclusion from the kingdom and dispensation of Come-outism!
We have now given a full statement we believe of the positions and principles of the system under examination. Our test question applicable here is, are these principles in harmony with truth? Are they light? Let us see.
The positions which relate to slavery itself we shall not find fault with; to most of them we of course assent with all our heart, such as that it is a sin, and a great sin—that it is a complex relation involving iniquities manifold and multiform, that the most atrocious vices and abominations here meet in fell. brotherhood; that slavery is "the sum of all villainies," that it comprehends theft, falsehood, licentiousness of every form, (as adultery, incest, rape, seduction and virtual poligamy) piracy, violation of every human interest, abrogation of the marriage institution, heathenism, despotism, war, denial of
* We have never heard the liberty man included in this particular connection, but since he is uniformly condemned equally with the whig and the democrat as the enemy of the slave, we see not, why, in consistency, the same bull of excommunication should not be thundered against him.
the scripture doctrine of human brotherhood, profanation of the Bible, desecration of the Sabbath, rebellion against God, treason against liberty, and wholesale murder. It would indeed be hard to say anything too bad of slavery, standing by itself, but viewed comparatively, or in relation to other sins, it may be exaggerated, and ridiculously extravagant things may be said of it. Especially is this done when slavery is represented as the only sin worth preaching against or repenting of. Strict accuracy is very important in fixing the distinctive character of a specific form of sin, while in practical cases we perhaps can scarcely go too far in making an impression of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. He is far from being an apologist for slavery who assigns to it its true grade in the scale of sins, and who exposes in this case the proverbial disposition of mankind to magnify beyond all bounds the particular sin or evil to the removal of which they may have philanthropically devoted their energies. The labored attempts to show the all comprehensiveness of slavery are likely to mislead men, and prevent sober estimates. of its intrinsic demerits. Let it be remembered that this is a common attribute of social forms of sin, as war, intemperance, licentiousness, murder, robbery, &c. Each of these sins involves the principle of slavery and hence may be run through the same category of sins. The divine Law-giver himself has declared that whoso breaketh one of the commandments is guilty of them all. We have said it is a common propensity among reformers to magnify the particular evils which they are respectively opposing above all other existing evils, and to consider the one sin or vice which they are laboring to eradicate as "the root of all evil." The enthusiastic temperance lecturer thinks intemperance a tenfold greater evil than slavery. So the peace man regards war, and the moral reform woman licentiousness. This propensity is finely satirized, in the Tale of a Tub, by Dean Swift.
"Dining one day at an alderman's in the city, Peter observed him expatiating, after the manner of his brethren, in the praises of his sirloin of beef. Beef,' said the sage magistrate, is the king of meat: Beef comprehends in it the quintessence of partridge and quail, and venison, and pheasant, and plum-pudding, and custard.' Peter responds, Bread, dear brothers, is the staff of life; in which bread is contained, inclusive, the quintessence of beef, mutton, veal, venison, partriges, plum-pudding and custard."
As we have said, we are not disposed to find fault with this
propensity. It is an attribute of enthusiasm, some degree of which is probably essential in an efficient and successful reformer. Some one has said that no man will write well who does not for the time, by a happy illusion, regard his theme of prime and paramount importance to the the world. The same might be said of the reformer. While then we may not censure him for his magnifying glasses, it is nevertheless important to be aware that he has them, and to make due allowance for the extravagance of representation to which they will give rise. Our Come-outer friends, we think, have an ample share of this qualification of the reformer. Their glasses certainly have enormous power.
We must examine the Come-outer doctrine touching the slave-holder. It is concisely this-as is slavery, so is the slaveholder. The nature of the system determines the character of all who hold power under it. From this principle the following inferences are drawn-Since slavery is the sum of all villainies, the slave-holder is the sum of all villains; that since slave-holding is man-stealing and therefore as much worse than horse-stealing as a man is better than a horse, the slaveholder is a thief, and in the same ratio worse than the horsethief. It further follows that all slave-holders are of precisely the same grade of guilt, for a slave-holder is a slave-holder, the worst no more, the best no less. No slave-holder of course under any circumstances can be a Christian. The best specimen that can be found, concentrates in his character all the vices, corruptions, and abominations which fester in the foul bosom of slavery. The above representation we presume will not be denied. Every one who has listened to the lectures on Come-outism, has heard these positions affirmed and reiterated even to weariness. A prominent proposition in their system of public instruction is that the best slave-holder to be found "is a liar, a thief, a pirate, an adulterer and a murderer."
This doctrine we affirm is fundamentally false. The char acter of a relation never can, exclusive of other considerations, determine the character of those who hold the relation. Their character is determined by the light which they have or might have, and also by their having or not having reason in exercise. The babe which at birth becomes the inheritor of slaves, is a slave-holder in fact-but does that fix the complexion of its moral character? Shall we write PIRATE and MURDERER on its soft brow! That child may live to become a man, and may continue to hold the relation of a legal slave owner, but
he may never have once conceived of the true idea, the real nature of slavery; he may on the first development of the idea reject it with horror, and instantly knock off the shackles from his bondmen. Is such a man a villain, a thief, and a liar up to the moment in which he emancipates his slaves? If so then what is the definition of a villain? A villain is a man who yields to the truth the instant it reaches him! Verily we should like to live in a world of such villains. Something then is necessary besides the fact of owning slaves to constitute a man guilty of the sin of slavery; he must be a slaveholder in heart as well as in fact, and the latter may not always be a proof decisive of the former. If to this it be replied that the slave-holders of the United States cannot but have light in regard to the character of slavery, we answer that this is shifting the ground and a virtual yielding of the position. It is the position not the facts, which we are now examining the position is-as is slavery, so is the slaveholder. To insist here that the slave-holder has light is, we say, an abandonment of this position, it is to place his guilt upon another ground than his mere de facto relation.
Before we leave this position we should call attention to the fact that it embodies a principle of very extensive application. The principle is this-as is the character of a relation so is the character of those who sustain it. This is a universal proposition and applies to all relations, to good as well as to bad. Let us test it by instancing a good relation. It will be admitted that the relation of a gospel minister is a good one. Our Come-outer friends will grant this most cordially. But will they grant the inference which upon their own principle must be drawn, namely, that every nominal gospel minister is a good man? This admitted, "Othello's occupation's gone," at least that very large share of it which consists in denouncing ministers.
Let us next consider the position which bases the slaveholder's guilt upon his alleged light. It is affirmed that all slave-holders in the United States must know that slavery involves the principle of property in man. We inquire for the ground of this assertion. It must be either that the relation of slavery irresistably suggests and obtrudes upon every mind the chattel principle, or that such an inundating flood of light has been poured upon the south that no honest slave-holder can fail of understanding the true nature of the system. If the former is true then light is not needed, and discussion is superfluous. Many, inconsiderately
we think, contend that slavery is a self-evident sin. They argue thus-The chattel principle is evidently wrong, slavery involves the chattel principle, therefore slavery is evidently wrong. But who does not see the fallacy here? It is assumed that whatever involves a self-evident sin must be itself evidently wrong, in other words, whatever is involved as a single element in a complex system is manifestly there, and cannot but be seen to be there. This may be thus illustrated—a lump of loaf sugar brought before the eye cannot but be discerned; when subsequently involved in a cup of tea the compound is presented to the same person. Will the fact that the sugar is there be to him self-evident? A pill of arsenic is proffered to an individual and he is urged to swallow it, though he knows it will cause instantaneous death. If he swallows it all pronounce him guilty of suicide. Afterward the pill is secretly involved in a glass of lemonade and politely offered to the same individual. He drinks-he drains the glass, and drops down dead. Who will pronounce him a suicide? But is he not a suicide! Did he not know that arsenic would destroy life, and was not arsenic involved in the liquid which he drank? All this is true-and if it be also true that whatever is involved in any thing else is evidently there, the inference is irresistable that the dead man was a suicide. Apply the same reasoning to slavery and chattelism. Chattelism is evidently wrong, and no man, understanding what it is, can advocate or practice it without deep guilt. Slavery is a complex system, an element of which, if you please the main element, is chattelism, in other words, it involves this principle. Now does it follow that because chattelism is in slavery every body who hears about slavery or who chances to own slaves, must discern the presence of chattelism? Is it not supposable that a man may hold slaves without once dreaming that he is thereby converting a fellow being into property? Let not the reader suppose that we are weaving an ingenious apology for the slave-holder. Our object is not to clear the slave-holder from guilt, but it is to ascertain the true ground upon which his guilt rests. We have seen that it is not the intrinsic sinfulness of slavery, nor the self-evident sinfulness of slavery. The ground then must be this, the prevalence of light. On this ground we convict the slave-holder of guilt. We do not undertake to say that every slave-holder in the United States has light enough to establish the charge of guilty against him. This may be or it may not be. The great mass of slave-holders however must, we think, be convinced that slavery is wick