Imágenes de páginas


that her true policy would be to rid herself of it as soon as possible without at all admitting, that every individual who sustains the relation of master, is a heinous sinner.

9. In a word, we are not met to discuss the merits of any system of slavery, Roman, Spanish, English, or Ameri

It is common now-a-days to declaim against “the system of American slavery.” I confess myself unable to understand precisely what is meant by this phrase. It is not at all clear to my mind, that there is any such thing as a system of American slavery. Slavery exists in several of these United States, regulated by different laws in the several States; but what is meant by the system, I do not know. I hope the gentleman, if he is disposed to employ the phrase, will clearly define it. But whatever it may mean, we have nothing whatever to do with it. The question before us relates exclusively to individuals sustaining the relation of masters and slaves.

What, then, have we to do with Mr. Leavit's assertion that the free States have been governed for the benefit of the slave-holding States? Or what concern have we with Dr. Bailey's estimate of the taxes growing out of slavery? If we had undertaken to discuss the political bearings of slavery, these things might have been introduced with propriety; but why have they been lugged into a discussion of the moral and religious character of the relation between master and slave? The question stated by the challengers to this discussion, and the question the gentleman stands pledged to debate, is—whether slave-holding is in itself sinful, and the relation between master and slave a sinful relation. This question and this only will I discuss. It presents fairly the great question at issue between us and the abolitionists. It is stated by Rev. Thomas E. Thomas, a prominent abolitionist, in the following language: “That question, now in process of investigation among the American churches, is this, and no other: Are the professed Christians in our respective connections, who hold their fellow-men as slaves, thereby guilty of a sin which demands the cognizance of the church; and after due admonition, the application of discipline?"-Review of Junkin, p. 17.

Such precisely is the question. And here let us inquire, what is meant by slave-holding? The gentleman told us, that in Wayland and Fuller's discussion, the truth was compromised by adopting Paley's definition of slavery, viz: “An obligation on the part of the slave to labor for the master without consent or contract.” To this definition Mr. Blanch. ard objects,—because, as he asserts, it does not distinguish slavery from other things. Paupers, for example, he told us, are obliged to labor; so that according to Paley's definition paupers are slaves. This objection is wholly unfounded. Paupers are not forced to apply to the public for assistance. When they voluntarily do so, it is the right of the institution to which they apply, to say on what terms they will grant the aid which is asked. The pauper acts voluntarily in asking aid, and he acts voluntarily in agreeing to comply with the conditions on which it is granted. He is not a slave, according to Paley's definition.

The sheriff's posse, the gentleman told us, must also be slaves according to Paley, because the law compels them to serve at the call of the officer. This objection is no less futile, than the one just noticed. By becoming members of an organized society, each individual agrees to abide by the laws, and to lend his aid to enforce their observance; in consideration of which he enjoys the protection of the laws and the advantages of society.

But the gentleman tells us, that the master owns the man, not only the body but the soul, and that he sells the soul? What

use, let me ask, does the master make, or what use can he make of the slave, but to claim his labor-his servi. ces? If there is anything necessarily included in slave-holding, except the claim of one man to the services of another, will Mr. B. please inform us what it is? He has studied this subject for years with intense interest; and therefore he is just the man to tell us what else there is in the relation between master and slave.

By slave-holding, then, I understand the claim of the master to the services of the slave, with the corresponding obligation on the part of the master to treat the slave kindly, and to provide him with abundant food and raiment during life, and with religious instruction. Are there any circumstances which can justify such a claim? Or is the claim in itself sinful, and the relation founded on it a sinful relation ? Mr. Blanchard affirms: I deny.

Let it be distinctly understood, that if slaveholding is in itself sinful; it is sinful under all possible circumstances, and must be instantly abandoned without regard to consequences. Blasphemy, for example, is in itself sinful; and therefore it cannot be justified by any possible circumstances. The gentleman informed us, that in two of the southern States the slaves constitute a majority of the population. Now if slaveholding is in itself sinful, and if the doctrine that all men are born free and equal, is to be carried out without regard to circumstances, those States are bound forthwith to liberate all their slaves, and grant them the right to vote and to fill any office within the gift of the people. Then a colored man might be the next governor; and colored, men might consti. tute their Legislature, and set on the bench as judges in their courts. Thus the entire administration of the government in those States would be placed in the hands of degraded men, wholly ignorant of the principles of law and government. Will the gentleman go for this? Would he be willing to place himself under such a government? Will he contend, that those two States are bound immediately to place their slaves on an equality with their masters? He must contend for this, or abandon the principles of abolitionism.

In denying that slave-holding is in itself sinful, I do not defend slavery as an institution that ought to be perpetuated. I am not a pro-slavery man. I am opposed to slavery; I deplore the evils connected with it. Most sincerely do I desire its removal from our land, so soon as it can be effected with safety to the parties involved in it. Most heartily do I desire to see every slave free; not nominally free, as are the colored people of Ohio, but truly free, as are many now in Liberia, who were once slaves. I go for gradual emancipation, and for colonization; but I will not agree to denounce and excommunicate every individual, who under existing circumstances, is a slave-holder. I maintain, that circumstances hare existed, and do now exist, which justify the relation for the time being I oppose

abolitionism, not because it tends to abolish slavery, and improve the condition of the slave, but because, as I firmly believe, it tends to perpetuate slavery, and to aggravate all its evils. That such is its tendency, that such have been its effects, I think I can prove to every unprejudiced mind.

If the doctrine for which I contend, were held only by slave-holders, or by men residing in slave-holding communities, I might be led strongly to suspect, that by early prejudices my judgment had been unduly biased; but when I remember, that it has been held, and is now held by the great body of the wisest and best men ; that every commentator, critic and theologian of any note, however opposed to slavery, interprets the Scriptures on this subject just as I do; I cannot hesitate as to whether my views are correct. Sustained by such names, I go forward fearlessly in their defence.

I agree with the gentleman in regarding the subject before us as one of incalculable importance. It is important to the church of Christ. For if the doctrine of abolitionists is true, we must refuse to hold Christian fellowship with slave-holders. The church in the free States must be separated from the church in the slave-holding States, as the Jews and Samaritans of old. Already has the work of division commenced. The Methodist and Baptist churches are divided; and other churches are likely to meet a similar fate. The importance of this subject is greatly enhanced by its bearings upon our civil Union. Already is it bitterly denounced by leading abolitionists; and if their doctrine prevail, the day is at hand when the northern and

uthern States will form two distinct and hostile govern

ments. Surely, then, the subject demands of every Christian, patriot and philanthropist a candid and careful investigation.

In this discussion I have nothing to prove. Mr. Blanchard has undertaken to prove that slave-holding is in itself sinful. It is my business to meet his arguments, and to show that they do not establish his proposition. Yet I intend, from time to time, to present arguments which, as I think, prove conclusively that the doctrine of abolitionism is untrue.

Having now presented before the audience the question for discussion, divested of the mass of extraneous matter so constantly thrown around it, I proceed to reply to that part of Mr. Blanchard's speech which has not yet been noticed.

He says, truly, that we all desire, or should desire, a pure Christianity. But whether abolitionism is pure Christianity, is at least a debateable question. To my mind it is clear that it is not Christianity at all. The question is not, as the gentleman says, whether humanity can appeal to Christianity for protection; whether we have a human or an inhuman religion. If this is the question, why discuss it?Does it require a public debate to prove to the people of Cincinnati that we have a humane religion? No; the question is not whether the condition of the slaves ought to be improved, but whether the doctrine and the practice of abolitionists tends to improve it.

But the gentleman tells us that the slaves have no families; that their children are born out of wedlock, and are illegitimate, because the civil law does not recognize their marriage. This, however, is not true. The marriage of slaves is as valid in the view of God's law as that of their masters. Marriage is a Bible institution. Will the gentleman point us to the portion of Scripture which makes recognition of marriage by the civil law necessary to its validity? Or will he refer us to the portion of Scripture which prescribes any particular ceremony as essential to its validity?

By way of exciting our sympathies, he told us that the

« AnteriorContinuar »