"These are our views and principles—these our designs and measures. With entire confidence in the overruling justice of God, we plant ourselves upon the truths of divine revelation as upon the everlasting rock."
Here is an exterminating warfare declared against the people, the civil institutions, the laws, and the Constitution of the United States. The entire white population of a large portion of the country are denounced as " man-stealers," the punishment of whose crime is death by the law of God, unless they "instantly" emancipate their slaves,who by a direct and irresistible inference, are authorized to inflict the penalty. Next, a peremptory demand, that each and every one of these slaves shall be " instantly" set free, and admitted to " the same privileges and exercise the same prerogatives" as their masters; "that the path of preferment, of wealth, and of intelligence, shall be opened as widely to them as to persons of a white complexion." Next, that the owners of a species of property, guarantied by the constitution and the laws, shall receive no compensation for being despoiled of it. Next, that all means will be resorted to in order to discourage the sale and purchase of such productions of the southern states as are the fruits of slave-labour. Finally, this worshipful society threatens to " organize anti-slavery societies in every city, town, and village of the land;" "to send forth agents;" "to circulate unsparingly and extensively anti-slavery tracts and periodicals," advocating and enforcing these wholesome doctrines; to "enlist the pulpit and the press" in the cause; and, finally, to "aim at the purification of the churches from all participation in the guilt of slavery."
Surely the most superficial reader cannot but perceive that here is a declaration of war against the entire frame of society as it exists in the United States. Our constitution and laws are no longer binding, for they come in conflict with the law of God. The slaves of the United States are of course absolved from all obligation to obey their masters, and authorized, if not incited, to insurrection, murder, and every species of resistance. The law of God, it seems, in like manner calls upon all just and pious men to assist, in robbing our fellow-citizens of a property secured to them by the provisions of the constitution; and, finally, all commercial intercourse is to be discouraged with the people of the South, unless they " instantly" accede to the moderate and rational demands of these new expounders of the law and the prophets.
In charity, we would willingly believe that the propounders of these extravagances were totally ignorant of their consequences, if carried into practical operation; and it shall therefore be our task, as we consider it our bounden duty to our country, to enlighten them on the subject. They contain the condensed venom of fanaticism, and deserve a critical analysis. Let us see how they operate on religion.
In the first place, the society denounces an institution, sanctioned by the authority of the Supreme Being, from his seat on Mount Sinai, as " before God utterly null and void, being an audacious usurpation of the Divine prerogative, a daring infringement on the law of nature, a base overthrow of the very foundations of the social compact, a complete extinction of all the social relations, endearments, and obligations of mankind, and a presumptuous transgression of the holy commandments; and that, therefore, it ought INSTANTLY to be abrogated."
"And the Lord spake unto Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begot in your land; and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever."
Either Moses or the abolitionists must be liars, or the Bible has here given its sanction to an institution " before God utterly null and void;" "an audacious usurpation of the Divine prerogative;" " and a presumptuous transgression of the holy commandments." We turn with unqualified disgust from such blasphemous presumption as is here so dogmatically exhibited by the abolitionists. It might have been hoped that they would stop at this extreme of impious arrogance. They, however, go still farther, and assert, that " all who retain slaves in bondage are man-stealers, according to the Scriptures."
The patriarch Abraham, who signalized his devotion to the will of the Most High by a willing offering of his son Isaac, and who is emphatically called "the friend of God," was, according to the dictum of these expounders of the Scriptures, a " man-stealer," and ought to have suffered death for the crime. He possessed three hundred and eighteen slaves, for all commentators agree that the word doulos, which has been rendered servant, signifies slave. "The word doulos," says Dr. Clark, " which we translate servant, means a slave, one who is the entire property of his master." Having already considered the subject of slavery in reference to its opposition to the law of God, we shall content ourselves with these striking examples of the respect of fanaticism for the examples and authority of the Old Testament. In relation to the New, it will appear that they are equally distinguished.
The Saviour of mankind, in propounding that pure, rational, practical, and perfect system of morals and religion under which we live, refrained from all innovation on the civil institutions of the nations to whom he addressed himself. He soared into a higher sphere of obligations and duties, and never meddled with the subject of private rights. His principles are of universal application; and his precepts can never, without the most impudent perversion, be made to sanction violations of private property or public law. It might be well for the abolitionists to remember and respect his example, since it applies directly to the present case. Their proceedings are at war with the civil and social institutions of the United States, with the laws, and the constitution. They menace the peace of the confederation, and strike at the root of that union which is the basis of public happiness. Above all, they operate most disastrously on the diffusion of Christianity among millions of slaves in the South, by producing a necessity on the part of the master to curtail their opportunities of attending public worship, and to exclude, as far as practicable, all those white preachers who heretofore were permitted to instruct them in the principles of their faith.
That this is now almost universally the case, appears from the letters heretofore introduced to illustrate, the social relations between the master and the slave; from the language of all the chief magistrates of the Southern states in their communications to the legislative bodies, enforcing the necessity of new restraints to prevent the contagion of abolition principles, and by a complete exclusion of every means or instrument of instruction, because they have been perverted to the most dangerous purposes. Presentments similar to the following are now frequently seen at the South, and distinctly indicate the state of public feeling:—
"We, the grand jury, being deeply impressed with the slate of things around us, cannot close our session without reminding all officers of the peace, magistrates and others, of the great necessity that exists, by reason of the combined efforts of the abolition societies of the North, in disseminating their incendiary publications among us, and do most earnestly request of all such officers diligently to enforce the various acts of the legislature passed in reference to free negroes and slaves of the commonwealth; and we do also further urge them hereafter to order out patrols in the different sections of the county, to ensure in these critical times the peace and safety of the good people of the county.To these may be added the testimony of the candid and intelligent author of " The South .West"—Professor Ingraham—who says—
JAMES G. FICKLIN, Foreman.
A. copy. Test, J. KEAN, Clerk.
"Negro preaching has obtained here formerly, but the injudicious course taken at the North by those who are friendly to the cause of emancipation, but who do not evince their good feelings in the wisest manner, has led planters to keep a tighter rein upon their slaves. And negro preaching, among the removal of other privileges which they once enjoyed, is now interdicted. It is certainly to be regretted, that the steps taken by those who desire to do away slavery should have militated against their views, through their own unadvised measures, and placed the subject of their philanthropic efforts in a less desirable state than formerly."