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DR. FULLER'S LETTERS.
TO THE REV. FRANCIS WAYLAND, D. D. MY DEAR BROTHER
I have been compelled for several weeks to abandon my charge, and am now in the country, seeking to recruit my health. Your very able letters have reached me here slowly and with long intervals, and I need not say that the importance of the matter, and my great love and esteem for the writer, have commanded all the attention I can now bestow on any subject. The chaste style and luminous thought of these communications, their earnestness and truthfulness, and admirable Christian spirit, make them just like every thing I have known of the “Author of the Moral Science;' and I am far more anxious that they should be cir. culated at the South than any remarks from my pen. To establish great moral principles is your province; mine be the humbler office of an inquirer. Peace and truth are all I seek, and if in this discussion my arguments be refuted, I shall be well content, provided peace and truth are secured; I shall at least fall by no weak hand, and enjoy whatever of consolation Abimelech coy
eted; when he “called hastily unto his armor. bearer, and said, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men may not say of me, A woman slew him."
Indeed I am not quite sure how far I am required to encounter you at all. My letter was sent at the suggestion of the Reflector, a paper which seems to me to be conducted not only with ability, but remarkable frankness and independence-and its single object was to employ my feeble effort against the fundamental dogma of the modern abolitionists, that slaveholding is necessarily “ a heinous crime in the sight of God.” Such is the position assumed in the constitution of the American Anti-slavery Society; and the inference is manifest—all slaveholders should be excommunicated from Christian fellowship, no matter how pious; indeed, to apply the term pious to such persons, is as if one should speak of devout hypocrites, or holy pirates. Now this doctrine is really as monstrous as it is uncharitable; it finds its prompt refutation, not only in a thousand examples among those whom it insults, but in the verdict of the whole Christian and civilized world, and I do believe in the consciences of the abolitionists themselves. It is a doctrine peculiar to the restless and turbulent fanaticism of this country; for in England no such ground was taken by the churches, even in periods of the intensest excitement. There, slavery was regarded as a national evil, and the energies of those wishing its removal were exerted, not in denouncing their fellow-citi. zens, on whom the national policy had entailed the sad inheritance, but in moving parliament to adopt measures by which the rights both of the master and the slave were regarded. And hence it is worthy of observation that every respectable minister of the gospel from that country-no matter how zealous there against slavery–has, on coming to the United States, kept aloof from the Northern abolitionists; and this, not from any abatement of zeal in crossing the Atlantic, but from a perception of the different state of things ere, and an invincible repugnance to the reckless and proscriptive intolerance everywhere characterizing that party-and which, in fact, will characterize any body of men, however pious and otherwise amiable, who allow their minds to be poisoned by the sentiment above mentioned. You have seen Dr. Chalmers's late letter, deprecating this dissociating system, and he expresses, no doubt, the views of all in Great Britain, who contemplate American slavery with calmness and wisdom.
Now as you condemn this distinguishing tenet of abolitionism, and as I referred to your treatise only because it appeared to favor it, I might very well let the matter rest where it is. And to this course, I confess, I am the more inclined, because unwilling to appear in any controversy, which can, even by implication, place me in a false and odious attitude, representing me as the eulogist and abettor of slavery, and not as simply the apologist of an institution transmitted to us by former genera. tions, the existence of which I lament; for the commencement of which I am not at all responsi. ble; for the extinction of which I am willing to make greater sacrifices than any abolitionist has made or would make, if the cause of true humani. ty would thus be advanced; but which, for all
that, I do say it is wrong to pronounce a moral evil and a great crime in the sight of God. If, then, I disregard my ill health and my wishes, and venture to join issue with you, it is because I fear that, notwithstanding your caveat, the correspondence you so skilfully manage will be pressed, by bits and shreds, into the service of those with whom you disclaim all sympathy; and become prolific of inferences—forbidden indeed by you, but recognised by them as legitimate and irresistible, and to which your charitable admissions will scarcely serve even as pleas in mitigation. There is, indeed, (and, knowing my affection, you will pardon my speaking plainly,) there is a passage of your second letter which, I'venture to say, will be cited in every inflammatory address for a twelvemonth; and which I the more regret, since it does not minister, I humbly apprehend, to the elucidation of the truth, and will serve-though nothing was farther from your design—to confirm one of the most unfounded prejudices by which the Northern conscience is misled and exacerbated in reference to slavery. You say, “Suppose that I should set fire to your house, shoot you as you came out of it, and seizing upon your wife and children, oblige them to labor for my benefit without their contract or consent,” &c., &c. Now, my dear brother, I submit to you that, in a disqui. sition like ours, such a picture as this can serve only to excite the imagination by fictitious horrors, and to divert the mind from a calm and unbiased investigation. If slavery be a crime necessarily and essentially, the manner in which it was origi. nated is just nothing at all to the purpose. Sla
very is a condition; and if it be one of guilt, then not only is the master bound to clear his skirts of it without regard to its origin or consequences, but (as with a woman detained in adultery) it is the duty of the slave-his duty, not only to himself but to his master—to revolt and escape; and the apostle enjoined a continuance in sin when he said, “ Servants, obey your masters.". After black. ening the conduct portrayed with every diabolical ingredient, you add, “ The question before us I suppose to be simply this—would I in so doing act at variance with the relations existing between us as creatures of God ?” But there is not, never was, and never can be, such a question. The question before us I suppose to be simply this—is slaveholding always a sin? and the moment you make such an hypothesis as yours, it is manifest that another and very different question has been substituted, and the only proposition you undertook to maintain is virtually abandoned. The case to be proved was, that slavery is always a crime, a crime amid the most favorable and extenuating circumstances. The case made out is, that slavery created by murder and arson, and perpetuated by oppression and cruelty, is a crime.
While, however, this mode of reasoning does not aid our inquiry, it does, as I said, serve to nourish an undefined opinion, common at the North, as to the introduction of slavery into this country, than which nothing can be more unjust to the South. If the truth were considered as to this matter, I believe many at the North would regard the whole subject in a perfectly new light; and therefore it behooves that I put, not a fanciful case, but the