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week, or month, or year, into perpetual bondage, and inyself in the mean while responsible for their support and good behaviour.
Another evil, and one among the greatest belonging to the whole system of American slavery, and for which it is so justly denounced, must be inflicted by the liberation and indiscriminate removal of the slaves to a free State ;-the separation of husband and wife, parents and children. For it is a well-known truth, that the slaves belonging to different masters are intermarried for miles around on the different plantations, in the various sections of country where they live. So that, if we would liberate and remove them to a free State, unless it was a unanimous or universal thing, which is not to be expected, and is not contemplated by the measures we oppose, we should separate husband and wife; and thus sin against God, by putting asunder that which he has joined together; or against the slaves, should we not remove them, by placing them in circumstances where their condition may be worsted. For it is fairly to be presumed, that the man who would liberate them, could he do it without inflicting a greater injury than to retain them, would be more likely to sympathize with, and treat them humanely and kindly, than the human shark, who would buy them back into slavery or bondage, under the provisions of the law, when thus emancipated. So that, all things considered, the policy of liberating them under the circumstances supposed, which do in fact exist in some of the Southern States, is questionable, on the great principle laid down in the golden rule : “ Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
But to place the objection in its strongest light, namely: suppose the laws of the State, as nearly as the nature of the case will allow, coerced men into highway robbery, adultery, drunkenness, &c., just as we have shown they do coerce men into slavery ; would not the Church be under the same obligation to receive the highwayman, adulterer, or drunkard, that she would be to receive a slaveholder? We answer, No! believing we are sustained by the following reason: The slaves were slaves, in the eye and by the force of law, to all intents and purposes, before they came into my possession; and without any act of mine to set up, or establish a claim; or should I deny, or refuse all claim or right in them, still, by the force of law, they are my property. There is no alternative. I have no volition in the case. Moral principle is not involved; for I have transgressed no law, human or divine. I, therefore, am not guilty; and, consequently, have no cause of repentance, so far as my connexion with slavery is concerned. But this reasoning will not apply to the highwayman, adulterer, or drunkard. True, the law coercing them to the commission of robbery, adultery, drunkenness, &c., may have existed before they were born; consequently without their agency. But the doing these acts in obedience to the laws implies volition. It may be a constrained volition, wrought up by the penal sanctions of the law; still it is volition. They might have chosen otherwise; and ought to have so chosen, at all hazards; because a higher authority has said, “ Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery;" and choosing to obey man rather than God, they are guilty; moral turpitude attaches to them by their own act of obedience to human authority, in despite of the authority of God, who says, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But fear Him which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him.” Thus, by a simple course of obvious (not to say irrefutable) reasoning, we bave routed this objection, till there is nothing of it left. Other arguments are not wanting, were they necessary; but " I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say.'
But it is claimed that all the slavery in the United States is man-stealing-therefore wicked, and, by consequence, a bar to church-fellowship. The Rev. Edward Smith, in our discussion in Senecaville, (which grew out of the resolution before named) staked the whole issue on this view of the question. We will look at it a little, and see if it will stand the test of rational investigation. If the major proposition in this argument is true, the minor logically follows; and the conclusion is inevitable. For man-stealing, according to the Scriptures, is one of the highest crimes a man can commit against his fellow-man; and he who is guilty, without repentance and restitution, if in his power, deserves death, rather than a place in the Church of God. But the question here arises, is the proposition true? Is all the slavery in the United States man-stealing? We think we have, in the preceding remarks, clearly demonstrated the utter fallacy of this proposition ; both as to the manner of our connexion with it, and the circumstances by, and under which, that connexion is continued. By proving, first, that we had no volition in said connexion ; and, in the second place, that under the circumstances, we may either be compelled to retain them in slavery, or rationally conclude, all things
considered, that it is best for the slaves themselves not to liberate them.
That the original act by which this Heaven-insulting and man-degrading business was commenced, and is perpetuated, is man-stealing, is not denied. But we are not now considering the question in its incipiency, or first aggressions, but as an element of organized society,--a part and parcel of the civil regulations of the State, by which the relation is formed, and the duties and responsibilities of the parties thereto are detailed and enforced.
And, if we are not mistaken, the Scriptures make this distinction. When they speak of man-stealing, they represent the act as exceedingly flagitious, and denounce death as the punishment of the offender.
He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” Exod. xxi, 16; Deut. xxiv, 7.
But when they speak of slavery as a civil relation, established in the State, as in Eph. vi, 5, 9; Col. iii, 22, 25, and iv, 1; 1 Tim. vi, 1, 2, &c.; they enjoin a kind, humane, and Christian conduct on the part of the masters toward their servants or slaves; and faithfulness on the part of servants toward their masters, in all their relative duties.
But it is objected, that the servitude spoken of in these pages is not slavery. We answer: probably, so far as the manner in which men become slaveholders is concerned, it is full two-thirds, or threefourths, of all the slavery in the United States; and so far as the Church is concerned, it is a rational conclusion, that still a greater proportion of them become slaveholders in this way. To what extent the circumstances above alluded to, and others of some
force that might be stated, operate to continue them in the relation of masters, we are not prepared to say; but we are fairly entitled to the conclusion, that they operate to a considerable extent, especially so far as the Church is concerned.
Now in the sense in which slavery is discussed in these pages-for we speak not of it as a whole-we wish it distinctly understood, that we are not speaking of the right of one man to kidnip or steal another, and thus reduce him from a state of freedom to a state of bondage ; nor whether the laws that create, regulate, and perpetuate it, are righteous and just laws; nor whether it is right to treat slaves cruelly and brutally ; nor yet whether slavery as a system, as it exists in several of the slaveholding States, under the protection of the General Government, is right; but of slavery as a part and parcel of the political and civil regulations of the State ; descending to, and continuing with us, by the force of law, and the circumstances above noted, which that law throws around it. We say slavery, in this sense, to those thus connected with it, is not a sin. They have violated no law in becoming connected with it; and may be governed by considerations of mercy to the slave, in continuing that connexion. Therefore, the resolution of the Georgia, and some other southern annual conference, “that slavery is not a moral evil," so far as this particular view of the subject is concerned, is true.
And we might go further, and say, the buying or selling them, as an act of mercy to the slaves, is not a moral evil. Do not be startled, gentle reader, at the apparent boldness of this position ; hear us candidly and patiently through, and we think we