Slavery in the United States <br> Chapter 10
Influenced by a just apprehension of the consequences of the rash and intemperate interference of the abolitionists, and their perservering attempts to instigate the slaves to violence and insurrection, it thus appears that the people of the South are compelled, in self-defence, to close up to them every avenue of religious knowledge, and to adopt all the rigorous measures of a jealous policy. They will no longer wear their chains so lightly as scarce to feel them; they will no longer be permitted the indulgences which ever result from a generous confidence that they will not be abused to bad purposes, nor allowed the freedom of action which was gradually becoming more and more extensive. The free blacks are still greater sufferers by the efforts of their over zealous friends, for it is proposed to repeal almost all the laws conferring on them any of the privileges of freemen. They have become objects of the most rigid and severe scrutiny; and there can be no doubt that the slightest suspicion will draw down on their heads additional penalties. The master cannot trust his slave—the slave hates his master: on one hand is seen a watchful jealousy, ever the precursor of severity to the dependant; on the other, a spirit of stubborn refractory pride, mingled with one of a still more dangerous and malignant nature. Thus, on the one side confidence, on the other, gratitude and affection, are irretrievably lost. All that contributed to render the relations of master and slave a reciprocity of mutual benefits, and gave the institution of slavery in the South the leading features of the patriarchal state, in which, as the head of the tribe possessed all the property, so was he under the solemn obligation of maintaining and protecting all his dependants; all these will give place to a contest of jealous apprehension and secret revenge. The master will be obliged to act the tyrant in his own defence, and the slave will resort to the only weapons of weakness; deception, fraud, conspiracy, and covert acts of vengeance.
Thus fanaticism, which is the leading influence actuating the proceedings of the abolitionists, is directly at war with the Scriptures, as well as with the progress of religion among the slaves in the South. But this is not all. It takes a wider range of mischief. It is the most fatal enemy of the great and true principles of religion everywhere and at all times. The excesses committed by its votaries, and the mischiefs which in every age they have brought down on the heads of mankind, under the sanction of religion, are such, that nothing but its being upheld by an Almighty arm, could have prevented the human race from repudiating a faith coming, not in the semblance of a bright celestial influence descending like the dove from heaven with the olive in its grasp and peace nestling under its wings, but rising from the impenetrable darkness of error and delusion like a destroying fiend, smiting the blessings of the earth with blight and mildew, tracking its course with blood and fire, and offering, up thousands of hecatombs to the God of mercy and forgiveness. It is this perversion of the most mild, forgiving, and merciful code ever propounded to mankind, that has driven more sheep from the fold of the divine Shepherd, and made more infidels, than the mission of Mohammed, or the progress of free principles, which the supporters of monarchy are pleased to represent as the most dangerous enemies to true religion.
Happily for us, the fanatics cannot as yet resort to the stake and the fagot in this country. It is boasted that the mild and tolerant spirit of this wonderful age has banished those persecutions which disgraced the earlier periods of Christianity. But, like much of the vapourings of the times, the vaunt is rather unsubstantial. It is true that it is no longer the fashion to pass laws " preventing all diversity in religious opinions,"* (Such a law existed in the reign of Henry VIII. of England.) nor bring about a conformity, as Procrustes did in the length of his victims by stretching them on a bed of torture. But the fanatical zealots can and do let slip the spirit of bitter persecution, in the shape of slanderous libels, denouncing whole communities, states, and sections of country, containing millions of people, as " man-stealers and murderers," living in th« daily violation of the precepts of humanity and the laws of God. They can and do undermine their happiness; destroy the security of their domestic fireside; stimulate their dependants to insurrection and murder; pervert the precepts of religion to the purposes of defamation, and under the sanction of its name rush into direct opposition to its spirit. Such a course can be called by no other name than persecution, and that of the bitterest kind, equally at war with the attributes of the Supreme Being, as the welfare of his creatures. It brings religion into disrepute, disgusts the more mild and rational class of believers; and hence the axiom which all past experience verifies, that "An age of fanaticism is always succeeded by one of unbelief."
Nor is the influence of fanaticism on morals less pernicious. It makes war on the social and moral duties, and erects its own mad theories into a despotic code, equally independent of the behests of the law, and the restraints of reason. With a wild, venomous asperity it persecutes all opposing influences, and denounces everything in the way of its whirlwind career. Reaching with a daring and impious audacity at the high and inscrutable purposes of Heaven, it usurps the sole prerogative of interpreting them to mankind, and of enforcing obedience. If the established principles of morality, justice, or equity stand in its way, it dashes them aside ; if the laws of the land interfere with its dogmas, it denounces them as impious violations of the declared will of Heaven; if the social institutions offer obstacles to its furious career, they must be ploughed up by the roots and harrowed into atoms. Nothing is too hallowed for its touch, and nothing secure from its daring intrusion.
When it has succeeded in the work of desolation, and stands in the midst of the ruins of society; when it has prostrated all the great landmarks of our rights and our duties, it is incapable of substituting anything in their place, but arbitrary interpretations of texts, beatified visions of abstraction engendered by superstition and ignorance, or wilful and pernicious errors. Our duties to God, and our duties to man, are divorced as wide as the poles, and made totally incompatible; religion and morality, twin sisters in loveliness, descending alike from the skies, walking hand in hand through the world, and blessing mankind, are rudely separated into opposite incongruities, one to be prostituted to fanaticism, the other to find votaries where she may. A mystical, incomprehensible perfectibility, abstract and independent of all practical exemplification, at least in deeds, supersedes the plain and simple lessons of duty which all comprehend; and instead of riding by the sheet anchor in safety, we are left to drift at random, without rudder, compass, or pilot, at the mercy of the whirlpool and the whirlwind.