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encountered and suffered too much, to look for any rapid advancement in either. But we do ask the clergy, and we do it not in our own name, but in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of Humanity, to preach social progress, to teach that society, as well as the individual, may advance, and that it is a Christian duty to seek to perfect society no less than it is to perfect the individual.
It is by no means our intention to underrate the importance of seeking to perfect the individual man. Society is for man, not man for society. The growth and perfection of the individual man is, no doubt, the end always to be consulted in our social labors. Yet is the perfection of society, viewed in itself, of vastly more importance than the perfection of any one generation of individuals. In laboring to perfect the social state we are laboring for all coming time, for the countless millions of individuals to come after us; whereas in laboring to perfect the individual we are laboring for but an insignificant unit of an innumerable multitude, and for a being, so far as this world is concerned, that is to-day and to-morrow is not. But let this pass. Give to individual perfection all the prominence the clergy have ever claimed for it, still the perfection of the social state is a means to attain it. Man can never perfect himself, so long as he makes his own perfection the end of his exertions. He who labors merely to perfect his own soul, although he may make the doing of good to others his means, is no less selfish than he, who labors merely to gratify his senses, or to promote his own worldly interests; and we need not at this late day undertake to prove that no selfish man, no man, all of whose acts terminate in himself, is or can be perfect. All that is noble and praiseworthy in man is disinterested and self-sacrificing. To perfect ourselves we must, as it were, forget ourselves, even the perfecting of ourselves, the saving of our own souls, and bind ourselves to a good which is not specially ours, and seek
a perfection which is out of us and independent
us, as well as in us. A truth we utter here, which the clergy themselves have taught in that maxim so offensive to some, yet veiling the profoundest philosophy, that “a man must be willing to be damned before he can be saved.” Jesus was not concerned with himself. He did not seek his own perfection; he did not labor, suffer, and die to save his own soul, but to redeem the human race,
and establish the kingdom of God on the earth. He is our pattern. Let the clergy insist upon it, that we follow his example. Let them proclaim from the heights of their pulpits, with all the authority of their sacred profession, that wherever social evils can be found, there is the Christian's place, there the Christian's work; and that so long as social evils exist, no man is a true Christian who has not done his best to remove them ; that no man is or can be a true Christian, in the full significance of the term, who has not done all that, with the force and light he possesses, he can do, to place every brother man in a condition to enjoy all his rights as a man and a citizen, and to unfold all the moral beauty and intellectual energy which God hath wrapped up in his soul.
Once more: We ask the clergy to refrain from checking the courage, and damping the enthusiasm of the warm-hearted champions of liberty, that ever and anon spring up in all communities, and demand a social advance. Let them refrain from taking counsel with Herod to destroy the “ young child's life.” Let them be ever, like the Wise Men from the East, able to recognise the star of him born to be king, and ready to fall down before the babe in the manger, and present their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Let them be ever on the side of the people ; let them use all their efforts to cause every question, which comes up, to be decided in a sense favorable to the millions ; let them not court the wealthy and the respectable, and shape their doctrines to the interests
and tastes of “ the better sort ;” but let them speak to the common mind; let them catch the inspirations of the masses, and be the organs through which the common soul of Humanity may give utterance to the divine thoughts and emotions which struggle within her. Let them do this, and they shall entwine themselves with the holiest and strongest affections of the age, resuscitate a love for religion, reverence for the church, and obedience to her commands; let them do this, and they shall again become a power sacred and legitimate, they shall realize the teachings of their Master in the sense in which those teachings are specially applicable to our times and the present wants of Christendom, make democracy an honor and not an accusation, give the people the powerful and hallowing support of the religious sentiment, baptize liberty in the font of holiness, and send her forth with a benediction to “make the tour of the globe.”
Art. VI. — American Liberties and American Slavery, morally and politically illustrated. By S. B. TREAD
New York: John S. Taylor. Boston: Weeks, Jordan, and Co. 1838. 12mo. pp. 466.
MR. TREADWELL has attempted in this book to settle definitively the whole question, as to the right of the abolitionists to labor for the emancipation of the slaves. He takes up and professes to answer some forty popular objections to the proceedings of the abolitionists. He has done the thing admirably, no doubt, and to the entire satisfaction of his friends. But we are sorry to find that he has mistaken entirely the real question at issue, and paid not the least attention to what we regard as the really weighty objections which may be urged against abolition proceedings.
Mr. Treadwell proceeds through his whole book, at least so far as we have read it, on the ground that the real question at issue is, Have the Northern abolitionists a right to discuss the abstract question of slavery? Now this is a great mistake, and this way of putting the question is altogether unpardonable. We have a right, as men and as citizens of an independent State, to discuss any question and all questions which concern any portion of the human race, and to discuss them freely and unreservedly. There is no limitation to this right, except as to the manner of exercising it. In discussing any question whatever, we are bound to show that respect for the opinions and characters of others, we exact from others for our own. Nobody objects to the mere discussion of slavery; and anybody may advocate, in the freest and ablest manner he can, the inalienable right of every man, whether black or white, to be a freeman.
We insist on this point. The abolitionists make no small outcry about the right of free discussion; they represent themselves as the champions of free discussion; and they take unwearied pains to make it believed that the whole cause of free discussion is involved in the Abolition question. Nothing is or can be more disingenuous than this. Abolitionists are in no sense whatever, either in principle or in practice, the champions of free discussion. Their conceptions of free discussion, so far as we can gather them from their publications, are exceedingly narrow and crude. In their estimation free discussion is to denounce slavery and slaveholders; and opposition to free discussion, is the free expression of one's honest convictions against abolition proceedings. A man who supports them defends the rights of the mind; he who opposes them attacks the rights of the mind. Now this sort of free discussion is altogether too onesided to suit our taste. It is very much like our pil
grim fathers' respect for the freedom of conscience. Our pilgrim fathers loved freedom of conscience so much, that they took it into their own especial keeping, and spurned the idea of sharing its custody with others.
Moreover, the abolitionists do not, properly speaking, discuss the subject of slavery. Nay, it is not their object to discuss it. Their object is not to enlighten the community on the subject, but to agitate it. Discussion is a calm exercise of the reasoning powers, not the ebullition of passion, nor the ravings of a maddened zeal. To discuss an important question we need not the aid of women and children, but of wise and sober men, men of strong intellects and well-informed minds. Discussion is also best carried on in one's closet, at least where one can keep cool; not in a crowd, where people of all ages and both sexes are brought together, and by the strong appeals of impassioned orators thrown into a state of excitement bordering upon insanity. When men have made up their minds, when the epoch for deliberation has gone by, and that for action has come; when their object is less to convince than it is to rouse, to quicken, to inflame; then proceedings like those of the abolitionists are very appropriate, and it is only then that they are ever adopted. It is perfect folly therefore for the abolitionists to talk about discussion. Any man, with his eyes half open, may see clearly that all this is mere pretence. Action, not discussion, is what they demand. Deeds, , not words, are what they contemplate. To agitate the whole community, to inflame all hearts, to collect the whole population into one vast body, and to roll it down on the South to force the planters to emancipate their slaves, this is what they are striving to do. It is the abolition of slavery, not its discussion, they band together for, and it is idle for them to pretend to the contrary.
If any proof of this were wanted, it might be found in their treatment of every man who adopts conclu