Imágenes de páginas

the proof of it from the prophets and apostles, and the use of it in demonstrating the sinfulness of slavery, brought thousands on thousands to hear. They came desiring to learn what God had really said in His Word in regard to slavery. The church could not contain the multitudes that thronged, night after night, to listen to a simple, plain exhibition of God's own truth in regard to the guilt of this iniquity in His sight, and the inevitable consequences of it, if persisted in." He has been enabled further to testify :-"I have been delighted to find a great enthusiasm among young men, for the freedom of God's word in dealing with the iniquity of oppression. They feel that it is no necessary part of religion to put down, or conceal, or crucify our native impulses in behalf of freedom, or our native sense of justice against cruelty or wrong. They have but little sympathy with those who make political or commercial expediency in regard to great questions of right or wrong, the Urim and Thummim of their divinest consultations."


That "thousands on thousands," of the citizens of the great city of New York, and especially its young men, (the very blood and sinew of every state) should entertain such sentiments, would seem at once to settle the matter, and to pronounce the doom of slavery; but alas! candour compels us to acknowledge that for every thousand who flocked to listen to Dr Cheever's denunciations against it, there were ten thousand "of those men who," he tells us, prefer slavery along with freedom, slavery for others, and freedom for themselves, and whose plan is to combine both, and give them the same sanction and the same rights everywhere, and would be glad to find some support of slavery, some shield for it in God's Word; and if any one could demonstrate from God's Word that slavery is right, he might do that from the pulpit ad infinitum, and they would not regard it at all as political preaching, but as simply the genuine meekness of wisdom preaching peace by Jesus Christ, and the very perfection of gospel conservatism. For there are many who, without the least wincing will hear you preach about the slavery of sin, but not one word will they endure about the sin of slavery." This enormously preponderating class we may be sure keep clear of the portals of Dr Cheever's church, or approach them only to fulminate against him such epithets as "political agitator," "incendiary," "traitor," "abolitionist," "disunionist," &c., &c. They, "gnashing upon him with their teeth," as the Jews did against Stephen, would gladly see him share the fate of the valiant martyr, John Brown, of whom the United States of America "are not "a little worthy." Undaunted by all this clamour, assured that even leaven, will leaven the whole lump," and secure in the ultimate triumph of God's truth over all the violence and wickedness of man, Dr Cheever resolutely holds on his way, and amid contumely, calumny, and persecution, continues, from the pulpit and the press, to declare the whole counsel of God in this matter.

From the pulpit he has been very nearly driven by the secession of all the wealthier members of his congregation, making it a matter of much difficulty for the poorer portion of them to pay the

ground rent of the building, and keep themselves in it as a congregation; and but for the Reform Tract Society of Cincinnati, he could have gained no access to the free press of America, no publisher daring, or being willing to take upon himself the risk of publishing what was so inimical to the feelings and the purses of the pro-slavery party in the country. But thanks to this brave little society, the thunders of his eloquence are not only reverberating throughout the continent of North America, but their echoes have reached us across the mighty Atlantic, and we trust, are stirring the hearts of many amongst us, to a reconsideration of this subject, and to our own duty regarding it; for that a duty does lie upon us regarding it is unquestionable.

After delivering a course of stirring discourses on the subject of slavery to the thousands who flocked to hear him in New York, Dr Cheever believed that by their publication his arguments might reach, and convince the tens of thousands who were beyond the reach of his living vioce; and with this view he prepared them for the press, not as separated into distinct sermons, as they had been preached, but in a series of chapters upon one argument, entitled "God against Slavery," which no press in the United States would publish, saving as we have already said, that of the Reform Tract Society of Cincinnati, to which the world owes a lasting debt of gratitude for its boldness in this matter. In this work Dr Cheever virtually says to the pro-slavery party in America, "You say that yon have the sanction of the Bible, and the practice of God's peculiar people, governed by laws directly emanating from God Himself, to justify the practice of slavery amongst yourselves;-that by using it as you do, you are the instruments to fulfil God's curse upon the race of Ham ;-and that if the Scriptures of the New Testament do not actually commend and inculcate the practice, they at least say nothing against it. This is your argument ;-you say you are a God-fearing, Christian people, and that unless you believed you had God's authority for this thing -unless, indeed, you believed yourselves the appointed agents by this very means to convert the African nations to Christianity, you would not tolerate it amongst you. All I ask of you is, to abide by the arbitrament you have yourselves chosen ;-to bring slavery to the test of God's Word, and to act as that shall direct you regarding it; -and now let us see what the Bible really does say upon the subject." And with consummate wisdom throughout the entire work he never for a moment deviates from the consideration of the question of slavery, the mere buying and selling of human beings, as a thing in itself unlawful, and contrary to the will of God. Unseduced by the temptations the subject offers to so powerful and eloquent a pen as his, to dilate upon its moral turpitude, its dangerous political tendency, its economical fallacy, he has closely adhered to the simple question, "does God's Word sanction man's holding property in man?" For that question once satisfactorily settled he knows all the evils the vile system has engendered, will speedily disappear, or at least he leaves them for future discussion, anxious in the first place to

vindicate the teachings of the law of God from the aspersions cast upon it; and by it, out of their own mouths, to condemn the gainsayers. And this he does by a series of the most logical arguments, and strikingly apt quotations from holy writ, which it has ever been our fortune to meet with. We trust the pro-slavery party will offer a premium for their refutation, for they are so perfectly unanswerable, that their remaining without reply will shut up the matter at once, and compel the States to show themselves in all their naked wickedness, the last fig-leaf of their hypocrisy torn from them, and standing a gazing-stock for the nations, avowedly and defiantly opposed to God's law and commandments.

Beginning from the very first promulgation of the Mosaic law, Dr Cheever adduces the clearest, and most irrefragable proof, that slavery in any sense, was utterly unknown amongst the Jewish people,-that, in fact, the Hebrew tongue had no word to express what is meant by the term slave as signified in modern languages. That the whole weight of the Divine law was brought to bear against the possibility of the introduction of slavery into Israel, and that the fullest vengeance of the Divine wrath was continually denounced against its people if they offended in this thing. He demonstrates further that it was the setting at defiance those terrible denunciations against this sin, that was the summing up of Judah's iniquity ;-that it was not the pollution of the land by idols, which had long been tolerated, but its pollution by the degrading of an immortal being, made in the likeness of God, into the property of its fellow mortal, which unstopped the vials of God's wrath against His ancient people, and scattered them, stripped and peeled, into all the ends of the earth, to be a warning to all nations of the awful sinfulness of oppression. We would fain quote some of the passages from these opening chapters, to show in what a masterly manner the author has sifted the whole of the evidence in this part of the proceeding, leaving the counsel on the other side not a word to say in reply; but we must refuse ourselves this satisfaction, as we are anxious to lay before our readers the skilful scarifying process by which, laying down the profession, of the special pleader, he takes up that of the surgeon, cuts deep into the conscience of his patient, and having reached the very root of his disease, says to him, "I have laid open your wound, it lies with yourself whether you will apply the remedy for healing it, to rise a strong man in full health, or whether, shutting it up, you will allow gangrene to corrode it, till it results in dissolution and death."

While the pro-slavery party arrogate for their proceedings the sanction of the whole Bible in general, there are two passages of it in particular, the one occurring in the Old, the other in the New Testament, upon which they more especially found their claims, with an unparalleled audacity, astonishing to those who do not know how far hypocrisy can go to compass the ends of iniquity.

The first of these is the curse of Noah upon Canaan, which the Americans have committed the mistake of transferring to Ham ;the second is the sending back of Onesimus to Philemon by Paul.

We leave it to Doctor Cheever himself to show how he has carried both of those passages home to the slave-holding conscience or rather cuteness, (for we can scarcely suppose they possess such a thing as conscience) and asks it, "Do you think so shallow a pretext as this will wash you clean in the sight of the world?" Regarding the first, he says:

"But here you aver that God devoted Ham to perpetual slavery. It is difficult to treat this ludicrous and wicked refuge of oppression either with patience or gravity. For, in the first place, it was not God, but Noah, who pronounced the curse; in the second place, the curse fell not upon Ham, but upon Canaan, whose descendants were as white as the Hebrews or ourselves; in the third place, the descendants of Ham, as you claim the Africans to be, have nothing to do with this curse. to curse them is not in this deed; your pretension to a right from heaven Your pretended title to lay this curse upon them, and hold them as your property, is the wildest, vastest, most sweeping and diabolical forgery ever conceived or committed. You pretend to be, by charter from heaven, the ministers of God's vengeance against a whole continent of men, a whole race of mankind, whom, in the execution of that vengeance, you are to hold and sell as your property. You are the trustees of this will of Jehovah, the executors of this inheritance of wrath, and as such you are to be paid for your trouble in proving the instrument, and carrying its details into operation by assuming the objects of the curse as your property!


Now, then, come into court and show your own names in this instrument. God himself is the Judge of Probate, and all those who ever defrauded or oppressed the widow or the fatherless will find it so to their cost forever, except they repent of their wickedness. Where is the sentence in which God ever appointed you, the Anglo-Saxon race, you, the mixture of all races under heaven, you, who can not tell whether the blood of Shem, Ham, or Japhet mingles in your veins, you, the assertors of a right to traffic in human flesh, you, worse Jews, by this very claim, more degraded, more debased in your moral principles, than the lowest tribe of Jews who were swept for their sins from the promised land. Where is the sentence in which God ever appointed you, four thousand years after Noah and his children had gone to their graves in peace, to be the executors of Noah's will, with the whole inheritance given to you, as your property, for your profit, the reward of your faithfulness in fulfilling God's curse? Where is God's curse? Where is the gift of property at all? Where is the designation of the race whom you pounce upon by this mighty forgery, and where the designation of the race commissioned to pounce upon them? You might as well go to Russia, and take the subjects of the Czar. You might as well go to England, and take your cousins of the sea-girt isle, the descendants of your own great-grandfathers. You have no more claim upon the Africans than you have upon the aborigines of the Rocky Mountains. The whole thing is a more frantic forgery than madness itself, unless it had the method of the deepest depravity, could have ever dreamed. But then again, if God devoted Ham to perpetual slavery, he also devoted strangers to perpetual freedom. All the strangers in the land were to be treated as those born in it, to be loved and treated as brethren; and you are God's executors for this law of love, and not for any law of vengeance to accommodate your own selfishness. There is no article in God's will giving you all strangers as your property, or allowing you to buy and sell strangers.

"Again, there is an infamous contradiction of a graver kind, in the logic applied in support and sanction of this wickedness. You say that God

subjected Ham to bondage, and that you are God's appointed instrument to fasten the chains upon him, the curse, the vengeance of perpetual slavery. But then, in another breath, in order to excuse yourself for this instrumentality, and under a galling sense of its odiousness and shame, you say that God is a God of wondrous mercy and love, and has appointed the poor Africans to be Christians, and has made you no longer the executioners of his wrath, but the almoners of his bounty, to convert them, by means of slavery, to Christ. You are appointed to put chains upon them, and to buy and sell them as your property for ever, in order to make freemen of them in Christ Jesus. You are God's appointed missionaries, to Christianize them by the gospel of slavery!

"But did God ever put that in the will? We thought he appointed you, as residuary legatees, to execute his curse upon Ham, and in default of any other heirs direct, to take the blackest coloured skins upon the earth four thousand years after all Canaan's posterity had died out of existence, and lay the cursed inheritance upon them, and sell them as your property. Now you can not get the curse and the blessing out of the same will. If a man leaves a hundred thousand dollars to endow a hospital, you can not by law, take that and apply it to the endowment of a vast distillery. And if a man left a million to be spent in exterminating rats or wild beasts, you could not, by law, take that and endow a Trinity cathedral with it. And if you were named, for example, as executor in a man's will, who had given five hundred thousand dollars to be spent in making a descent upon Cuba to establish perpetual slavery there, you could not come into court and aver that under that will, and as its meaning, you had been appointed to take that money, and make that descent, for the purpose of converting all the inhabitants into free republicans, and giving them a constitution of their own. You might come into court, indeed, but you would be speedily turned out of it. And no principles or precedents of human custom or equity would ever permit men to deal by subtlety; sophistry, and perversion, with any human instrument of policy or conveyance, as the advocates of slavery deal with God's word. No court, hardly even Jefferies's, would have suffered such palpable distortion and misinterpretation of the king's statutes.

"The claim set up by Americans, eighteen hundred and fifty-seven years after Christ, to hold the African race as their chattel property, by reason of the curse pronounced on Canaan two thousand three hundred and fortyseven years before Christ, exceeds in the extravagance of its impudence and madness any Christian or pagan hallucination ever assumed by any nation under heaven. You will say it is too ridiculous to receive a sober notice; but I have had to meet it as a grave and serious claim, put forward by a professedly religious person, who deliberately urged it as a proof that slavery could not be sinful in the sight of God!"

The second he meets in this manner :

"The consequence of these safeguards for the freedom of the servant was such that there is no such thing ever known, ever intimated in the history of the Jews, as that of any master seeking to recover a runaway. There are cases of men going from Dan to Beersheba to recover an ass or an ox that had strayed from its owner, but no instance of any man going after, or sending after, a stray servant. The first and only instance of a slavehunter figuring in the sacred pages is that of the condemned liar, hypocrite, and profane swearer, Shimei, whose servants ran away to Achish, King of Gath; and no wonder that they fled from the service of a man who threw stones at David, and cursed him by the way-side, if that was the way in which he treated his domestics at home. The Jewish law strictly forbade any one from ever returning unto his master that servant that had fled from his

« AnteriorContinuar »