Imatges de pàgina

considerations which we cannot but believe must tell effectually upon Christian men, they will be prepared to exert themselves on this subject; and the question, therefore, is, whether the simple fact of slave-having be a sin ? Slaveholding, as warranted by law, constituting a relation, is in itself acknowledged to be a sin. As to myself individually, I should think it my personal duty to emancipate my slaves, in any situation, where the act would only involve disastrous consequences to myself, but would be valid to place them in possession of their freedom. Although the doing of it involved my utter ruin and expatriation, I should consider myself bound to emancipate them, (hear, hear.) I say, sir, I would do so, although my utter ruin and expatriation were to be the consequences; but I am not prepared to pronounce sentence upon a Christian brother, although he is not prepared to go to that extent. But if I find I am placed where I cannot by possibility have my slave emancipated—if there be a law that, if I set him free, immediately when he ceases to be my property he becomes the property of the state- I say, I durst not, on any consideration of duty and humanityI would not-manumit the slave in these circumstances, (applause.) I know somewhat of my own duty, and of the grace whereby I should be able to treat him as my fellow-man-and my fellow-Christian, if he were so ; (and if he were not I should endeavour to make him so ;) but how could I promise that the other, to whom he would be in the position of a bondman, would equally care for and equally deal with him, (hear, hear.) Should I be guilty of the cruelty of sending him, since master he must have, and slave he must be, to one who would treat him as in reality a slave, and not as a freedman of Christ? In such a case, I were the greatest enemy of the slave, (hear, hear.) To me he is free, (great applause.) If I could emancipate him, I would emancipate him; and if he goes away, he is very welcome, (cheers.) I would not hold him ; for any restraint of mine, he were as free as a bird of the air ; but the state has fixed on him the grasp of the law. If I were to set him free, the state would take hold of him, and bring him into the market, to retain him as property still. I do not hold that slave; I merely have that slave, and I cannot help having him. I will not trespass further on the house ; but permit me to say, that I was delighted by the exposition given by Dr. Candlish of this question; and I cannot but express my regret that the friends of the great cause of slave emancipation should be so divided one from another, and so taken up in contention with one another, as to the right and best way of accomplishing it, as if that were of more importance than that the thing be done. It is a miserable matter, sir, to insist that there shall be no action for the emancipation of the slave until all those questions which have arisen incidentally in the discussion have been settled, (hear, hear.) It is a miserable thing for any man to impede the progress of that great cause, simply because the great end sought is not pursued entirely in accordance with his views : and, certainly, when our church is acting, and prepared to act, calmly but faithfully, and vigorously in this matter—it is a very miserable thing that there should be, from any quarters, an appearance of design to coerce us in the discipline of our own Church, in regard to the management of this great cause, the way which we judge to be in accordance with Christ's will and the word of God in seeking that end, which, I will venture to say, we keep as strongly and as decidedly in view as any who may maintain different opinions, (hear, and applause.) But with regard to all these, I feel no alarm as regards any effect it will have upon this Church, (hear, hear.) I have no doubt but the Church


will proceed in the same course which it has hitherto pursued, without fear of force, from whatever quarter it may assail. We have learned the lesson of the poet,

Justum et tenacem propositi virum,
Non civium ardor prava jubentium,
Nec vultus instantis tyranni,
Mente quatit solida”-

(cheers.) From holy Scripture we have learned the words which announced the calm power of Christ and his blessed gospel—" He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth ; and the isles shall wait for his law," (great applause.) In conclusion, I have only to repeat my regret that any impediment should be thrown in the way of the progress of this great interest of God and of man, by those miserable squabbles and divisions; and that we should always be fighting about matters of comparatively so little importance. Why! if one man thinks his the best way, let him pursue it; but if other men have pursued the same end, and are pursuing it, and have given token that they do so sincerely and consistently, although by a different course, let them pursue it, notwithstanding every hinderance which may arise, until, by the blessing of God, their great object be'attained, (great applause.)

Dr CUNNINGHAM then came forward, and, on doing so, was greeted with the warmest plaudits of the Assembly and the audience. It is not very necessary, he said, after what you have heard, for me to occupy much of your time on this matter. But it may be expected that I should wish to say a few words on this question, especially as I have had the unmerited honour of being supposed to have done something in the way of introducing what are called pro-slavery views into the Free Church of Scotland. Of course there is no person in the Free Church of Scotland who believes this, (cheers.) It is perfectly well known to all who have paid the least attention to the proceedings of the Free Church of Scotland, ever since this matter was in any way brought before us, that there has been no real or substantial difference of opinion among our ministers upon this subject, and that, in common with others who have taken part in it, I have never had the least hesitation in openly and fully declaring my thorough conviction that the system of slavery is sinful—that the system of slavery is sinful, because it is inconsistent with the ordinary and natural rights of man, opposed to the general bearing and spirit of the word of God, and injurious to the interests of religion. On this point we are all of one mind. I entirely approve of and concur with the views laid before you this day by my friends Dr Candlish and Dr Duncan. There may be, according to men's different temperaments, the circumstances in which they are placed, and the relations in which

have stood to other men, some little difference in the mere impressions they may have in regard to some particular features or aspects of the case; but there is not among us any material or appreciable difference in regard to any matter of importance involved in this whole question. And as far as I am particularly concerned, I believe that I may confidently say, that if there be any one point in which my impression, not my opinion or my conviction, varies a little from the standard of some of my brethren with respect to the Presbyterian churches of America, it is just this, that having

they may

been brought, in the course of God's providence, into connexion with some of these churches, and some of these ministers, I have been led to form a favourable estimate of their general character and principles, and may therefore be disposed, perhaps, to contemplate any question as to their character under somewhat livelier impressions that they are respectable and useful Christian churches, and that the leading men among them are good Christian men and good Christian ministers, who, whatever difficulties surround them, are manifesting Christian principles in their ordinary lives and conversation. I may have a somewhat more lively impression of that view, and may give some more weight to it, than the general tone and feeling cherished among those who have not had the same opportunities of knowing them, and may have a deeper sense of the utter folly and absurdity of holding them up in the light in which abolitionists commonly represent them. But I venture to say, that in so far as I hold and entertain somewhat more favourable, or rather, I should say, livelier impressions of what is really good and Christian about these men, than do some of my brethren ; and if I love them more than they do, because I know them better, this just makes me all the more desirous, on that very account, to see the entire abolition of American slavery; and I believe it would make me more cordially willing to do all in my power, in a fit, and right, and Christian way, to secure that important end, (applause.) There is much about the condition of American slavery that is not very creditable to some of the churches in that country. I believe there is much in the actual state of things in that respect which is injurious to the character and usefulness of these churches. But any feeling of regard I have towards those churches constrains me to wish with all the greater earnestness, that this system was brought to a complete and speedy termination, (applause.) It is needless, however, to enlarge on general topics of that kind. I did not expect that we would have had to-day even so much difference as has been brought out by my friend Mr Macbeth. There is no doubt that in this difference there is involved a question of some importance, and that must be at once conceded. Mr Macbeth brought out clearly and correctly the nature and amount of the difference ; he explained well the status questionis; but made a most egregious failure in the proofs by which he attempted to establish the position which he laid down, (loud cheers.) I would, in other circumstances, be disposed to enter and dwell on the merits of this branch of the case. But I must say plainly, that the matter has been so completely disposed of by my learned friend and colleague Dr Duncan, that little more requires to be said by me on that point; and it comes, too, with a certain degree of greater weight from Dr Duncan than it will come with from myself. It is one of the artifices- I will not say

artifice -it is one of the expedients often employed on questions of this sort, to allege that men differ from each other far more than they do. There


be some slight difference in the precise temperature of Dr Duncan's mind and my own on this question ; but, considering the views he has just now stated, there is not any tangible or appreciable difference between us. I may just express my concurrence in the estimate and opinion he has put forth as to the real value of Mr Macbeth's argument, viz., that even when he held views, in defending which Mr. Macbeth's arguments would have aided him, he had not used them, because he would have been ashamed to do so, (hear, hear.) I have read Mr Macbeth's pamphlet, which he published last year.

The arguments in that pamphlet he has brought forward now; and when I read them I thought them so entirely without foundation, that I did not expect


ever to hear them again. I certainly did not expect to hear them openly and broadly brought up in the face of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. 'I admit that he put clearly and properly the status questionis. But did he prove, that in the admitted sinfulness of slavery as a system, on which we are all agreed—did he prove that in this doctrine is necessarily involved the further proposition that slave-holding, or, to use Dr Duncan's expression, slave-having, is always and in every instance sinful ? I admit that, prima facie, the one seems to involve the other ; but what I desiderate is, the proof of the connexion between them. I admit that the one seems to involve the other; and I also admit that, in this department of the argument, the onus probandi must lie with us. It may be reasonably required of us to prove that the one does not involve the other; and I am willing to undertake the proof of it, (loud cheering.) In a fair consideration of the case, according to the common sense view of the matter, it is plain that there really must be some distinction between the assertion of the sinfulness of slavery as a system, and the assertion of the sinfulness of slavehaving, simply as such, (hear, hear.) To prove that there may be such a difference, we can first conceive at once a very strong case. Suppose the Parliament of Great Britain were to pass a law, declaring and enacting that, froin and after the first day of July next, all the hired servants in all the families in Great Britain were to become the slaves of their mastersthe property of their masters-so that they, the masters, should have the same right over them as the laws of the slave states confer, and should be entitled to treat them, with legal impunity, as slaves are often treated in America. Well, suppose that this law obtained the Queen's consent-from that moment I become a slaveholder. I could not avoid becoming a slaveholder; from the moment of the passing of that law I was the proprietor of slaves. I was made a slaveholder in that case by no act of mine. This being the case, I do not see that I thereby, ipso facto, became a sinner, if I never made use of the power given me by the law to treat them harshly or oppressively, as slaves may be treated, but continued to treat them, as would certainly be my duty, just as I did before I acquired them by the law, (immense cheering.) There must, then, be a distinction between the two cases-a distinction between occupying the position of a slaveholder, with a legal right to treat slaves as mere property, and actually regarding and treating them as such. The former may not involve sin, the latter does, (hear, hear.) And then another consideration occurs, very obvious to common sense.

It is this. One does see in slaveholding countries a man, in point of fact, so placed and so surrounded by laws and regulations, that we are forced, in common sense, to come to the conclusion, that taking a right estimate of all he could do and all he might do, in regard to the persons he might have a legal right to hold in slavery, he was fairly warranted, on the grounds of necessity and mercy, to retain that position, and of course might retain it without being guilty of sin, (hear, hear.) In the slaveholding states of America, men are so restrained and hampered by law, and the condition and usages of the whole social system are such, that you cannot in conscience blame them; nor can you pretend to maintain, in common fairness, that all those men, in the position I have stated, irrespective of circumstances, are guilty of crime and heinous sin, because they still continue to stand in the legal relation of masters, (hear, hear.) But as a conclusive proof that there is a distinction between slavery as a system, and slave-holding in the case of individuals, and that a slave-holder is not necessarily and in every instance a sinner, and to be treated as such, I venture to say that it is certain that the apostles of our Lord and Master admitted slaveholders to the table of the Lord, and to all the privileges of the church, (“hear, hear,” in a very sonorous voice from Mr George Thompson, which for a time raised a slight confusion and interruption.) I have not the slightest hesitation in stating my decided conviction, that the apostles of our Lord and Master admitted slaveholders—that is to say, men standing in the legal relation of masters to servants, and entitled to treat them with legal impunity as slaves if they chose, and even to put them to death, but of course not doing so, and having no desire to do it, though still having the legal power to do it. I say these men were admitted to the Lord's table, and to the enjoyment of all Christian privileges. And I venture to say, that this has been the almost universal interpretation of those portions of the New Testament that bear on this subject, (hear, hear.) It never has been denied by any church: it has scarcely ever been denied, so far as I know, by any person whose opinion on a question of this kind is entitled to any weight whatever, (cheers.) Men may endeavour to raise an outcry against a statement of this kind; they may declaim about the impiety and blasphemy of prostituting the Word of God for the defence of slavery. That will be the answer, and nothing else, (applause.) But they will not grapple with the question itself directly. I will not enter into long details regarding what Mr Macbeth has laid down as the interpretation of the word doulos in the original. It is certain, and has been maintained almost universally by commentators and lexicographers, that the ordinary general meaning of doulos is not a servant but a slave, and this, therefore, must be held to be its import in all cases except where the context shows that it is not to be taken in its ordinary sense. The very authority referred to by Mr Macbeth proves this, for it was to the effect that tropically, that is, figuratively, it might describe the condition of voluntary servitude, implying that ordinarily and generally its meaning was different. As to his argument from the more general and indefinite meaning of kurios, used as the correlate to doulos, it was opposed to the plainest principles of criticism, which required, that in such cases the meaning of the more specific and definite word should regulate the meaning of the more general and indefinite one. When kurios and doulos are used as correlatives, the proper ordinary meaning of doulos must regulate the meaning of kurios, and not the reverse. Doulos, then, means a slave, unless there be something in the context to prove that it means something else. This is quite sufficient for our argument; but it is worthy of notice, that there is one important passage in the New Testament bearing most fully upon this subject, where not only there is nothing to exclude the ordinary meaning of doulos, but where there are clear accompanying circumstances to show that it is there used to mean a slave. And it is remarkable that Mr Macbeth, while alluding to Old Testament times, and referring to topics which no one was urging, and which had no bearing on the question, did not venture to bring forward this text, which is so direct to the point—“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters let them not despise them because they are brethren ; but rather do them service because they are faithful and beloved partakers of the benefit."-(1 Tim. vi. 1, 2.) Now the word here is limited by the expression, under the yoke," and it must apply to slaves--masters and their slaves being equally recognised as believers, entitled to all Christian privileges, and their mutual duties being regulated and euforced

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