Sidor som bilder





It is needless to assure you that I have read your letters in reply to mine on Domestic Slavery, with profound attention and unfeigned admiration. To the acuteness of one profession and the learning of another, in both of which you have attained to the highest distinction, you have here added a fer. vor of eloquence and a richness of illustration peculiarly your own. Never before, I

presume, has the defence of slavery on Christian principles been so ably conducted. Never before, I think, has any thing been written so admirably calculated to make a favorable impression on those who hold the opposite opinions. Nor is the singular ability displayed in this discussion by any means its highest recommendation. The warm spirit of philanthropy which pervades every part of your argument, must melt away every prejudice by which it could be resisted; while the love to God and the reverence for his word which are everywhere so apparent, must, I am sure, give you a place in the affections of every true disciple of our common Lord. If slavery cannot be defended by such an

advocate, I shall believe that the defence of it must be hopeless.

Si Pergama dextra Defendi possent, etiam hâc defensa faissent While, however, I say this, and I say it from my heart, I do not perceive that you have overthrown a single position which I have attempted to establish. It was not, therefore, until quite lately that I resolved to offer any thing by way of rejoinder. As, however, with your usual courtesy, you have intimated a desire that I should close, as you had commenced the correspondence, I shall avail myself of your liberal suggestion. It will not be my intention to present any new argument, or introduce any new matter into the discussion, but rather to state the points of difference and coincidence between us, so that the conclusions at which we have both arrived may be the more clearly presented to the view of those who may perchance take an interest in the correspondence.

Before I proceed, I ask the privilege of offering a few remarks explanatory of two or three passages at which you have properly taken exception. to institute any such comparison. I do most earnestly protest against such a use being made of any thing I have ever either thought, or said, or written. I merely intended by this illustration to show, that neither from the manner in which this power originated, nor from the manner in which it is perpetuated, is any right created. It went to this extent and no farther:

1. In my second letter I supposed, for the sake of illustration, that I had murdered you and reduced your wife and children to slavery. You think that this passage will lead to the belief that I intend to institute a comparison between the moral condition of those who hold slaves in the Southern States, and those engaged in the slave. trade on the coast of Africa. Should such an opinion be formed, I should sincerely regret it; for, in all truth, I declare that it never entered my


Here, however, that I may avoid the necessity of referring to this topic again, permit me to say that the analogy which you suggest between this case and that in which our present title to land may be good, although the original title may have been vicious, is not to my mind conclusive. The rule in law and equity on this subject, I suppose

I to be the following. The possession of property is a bar to molestation until some one who can show a better title presents himself, and no longer. The rightful owner may always oust me, how long soever I may have held possession. Now, in the case of slavery, the rightful owner is always present, and has never relinquished his claim. He has a better right to himself than any one else can possibly have, and this right he has never either forfeited or alienated. My possession bars my neighbor from stealing him from me, but it is no bar to the claim of the man to himself. I submit it to you as a lawyer, whether this be not the principle which rules in the case.

2. In my seventh letter there is another illustration which I also desire to correct, although you have not alluded to it. In order to exhibit my view of the manner in which I suppose the duty of emancipation might be performed, I introduced the case of a person who had dishonestly obtained possession of the property of another. I desire to alter it, so as to suppose the owner to have become possessed of property not knowing that he held it wrong fully, and then to be convinced of the inva. lidity of his title.

This is all that is necessary for my purpose,

and in this form I do not see that it is liable to give offence.

3. In the postscript to your last letter, you allude to the remark which I made touching the princi. ples by which I must be guided in the propagation of the gospel among the heathen, in so far as it was connected with this subject. Previously to the reception of your letter, I had prepared a note explanatory of my views, which, from several sources, I learned were liable to be misunderstood. What I meant to say was simply this. I could never, with a good conscience towards God, do an act which, directly or by legitimate inference, should render me a party to the introduction of slavery into a heathen country. My mind was at the time directed to the Karens, our principal missionary field, among whom slavery does not exist, and it was really in reference to them that the remark was made. The subsequent sentences, in which I allude to the opinions of slaveholders on this subject, sufficiently indicate my meaning. If, however, I were preaching the gospel to the heathen in a country where slavery formed a part of the social organization, I should not make abolition a condition of native church membership, but should leave the principles of the gospel faithfully inculcated to work out the extinction of slavery. Such I believe to be the mode inculcated by apostolical example. Suffer me, also, to .add, that I did not by any means intend to write as President of the Convention. To have done so would have been a gross impertinence. My reason for alluding to the office was simply this. I had perceived, from published correspondence, that opinions on this subject were considered by many of our brethren to affect eligibility to any office in the convention. I felt, therefore, called upon, in honor, immediately to avow what my opinions were.

Having thus disposed of this preliminary matter, I address myself at once to the consideration of the argument before us.

In the first place, my dear brother, permit me to remark, that the more frequently I have read your letters, the more deeply have I been impressed with the coincidence of opinion that exists between us. The reasonings which we employ are dissimilar. We arrive at our conclusions by different trains of argument, but the conclusion seems to me almost precisely the same. From your reasons I often dissent, and sometimes dissent totally ; but in the results to which you are led I perceive but little to which I can object. The proposition which you prove, and to which, as you repeatedly assert, you strictly confine yourself, is this, to be the holder of slaves is not always and everywhere a sin; and hence you infer that the simple holding men in bondage ought not to be a ground of ecclesiastical excommunication. Now, if you refer to my third letter, you will find all this repeatedly and explicitly asserted. This you say is the whole matter that you intend to discuss. As therefore, I had affirmed

« FöregåendeFortsätt »