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In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness
of sins.-COLOSSIANS i. 14.
all the capitals of Europe, who had studied the most famous wonders of ancient art, and, no stranger to nature's grandest scenery in the Old World, had filled his ear with the roar, and his eye with the foaming cataract of Niagara, once declared, in my hearing, that near by the latter and most glorious spectacle he had seen the finest sight he ever saw. He was crossing from the American to the Canadian shore ; and the same boat was carrying over a fugitive slave. The slave had burst his chain, and fled. Guided northwards by the pole-star, he had threaded his way through tangled forests and the poisonous swamp-outstripping the bloodhounds that bayed behind him, and followed long upon his track. Now about to realise his long-cherished and fondest hopes, to gratify his burning thirst for liberty, the swarthy negro stood in the bow of the boat, his large black eyes intently fixed upon the shore. She nears it.
But ere her keel has grated on the strand, impatient to be free, he gathers up all his strength,
bends for the spring, and, vaulting into the air, by one mighty bound, one glorious leap for liberty, he reaches the shore, and stands erect upon its bank—a free man.
The liberty for which that slave longed, and laboured, and braved so much, is perhaps the sweetest earthly cup man drinks.
It has, indeed, been often said, that health is the greatest earthly blessing. It is a precious boon. How did the woman of the Gospels spend all she had in search of it; and how would thousands, now languishing on beds of sickness, and sinking into the grave under an incurable malady, buy this possession at as great a price? Without health, what is money? what, luxury? what, rank and sounding titles? what a crown, if it sit heavy on throbbing brows and an aching head? Yonder poor and humble cottager, browned by the sun, with ruddy health glowing on his unshaven cheek, who, seated at his simple board, uncovers his head to wipe the sweat of labour from his brow, or to bless the God who feeds him and his little ones, might be an object of envy to many. In vain they court coy sleep on beds of down, and try to whet a failing appetite by costly luxuries—sighing, they say, what is money without health? That speech may come very well from those who never knew what it is to be a slave; but what is health without liberty-health in chains ?
We sympathize even with the strong instinctive love of freedom which appears in the lower animals— the bounding noisy joy of the household dog when he gets off his chain ; the sudden change on the weary horse, when, shaking off his fatigue with his harness, he
tosses his head, and, with buoyant spirits and flowing mane, careers amid his fellows over the pasture field. It has moved our pity to see a noble eagle chained to the perch, and, as she expanded her broad sails, turn up a longing eye to the golden clouds her wing shall never more cleave, to the bright blue skies where she shall
I have felt a deeper sympathy with the free-born denizen of the air, that, pining for his native haunts, declines his food, refuses to be tamed, and, dashing against the bars, dies—strangled in struggles to escape, than with the tamed and gentle captive which takes its food from some fair jailer's hand, and sings the song of golden moors and green woodlands within an
never more soar.
Much more, of course, do we sympathise with our fellow-creatures,— with the Hebrew exiles, for instance, who hung their harps on the willows by Babylon's sluggish streams, nor could sing the songs of Sion in a strange land; with all those, whether slaves or citizens, who have made the altars of Liberty red with their blood, preferring death to bondage. If I can judge from the interest with which I watched the progress, and, I confess it, all but wished for the escape of a man, who, with the officers of justice at his heels, was running a race for freedom, I believe that unless the offence is one which nature taught us to avenge, it would cost a struggle between one's sense of duty as a subject, and one's sympathy with man's love of liberty, to arrest a runaway prisoner. But who would arrest a runaway slave? Who, that ever tasted the sweets of liberty,
would not help him? What is the colour of his skin to me? He is a brother wronged; a man oppressed; nor were he a man who would not in such circumstances espouse the side of innocent weakness against tyrannous strength; and hide him, and feed him, and lodge him, and help him, from chains and stripes and slavery, on to freedom.
If so, who would be himself a slave? What value should we set on health if we had to rise to our work in the rice swamp, in the cane or cotton-field, at the sound of the horn; and were driven to it, like oxen, with the crack of the whip ? Health ! what value would a man set on life itself, were his children to be torn from his arms, set up to auction, and, knocked down to the highest biddersold before his eyes to slavery; if he must stand by and hear their mother's piercing shrieks, as with bended knees and outstretched hands she implores—in vain implores for pity; stand by, and hear his own mother cry for mercy, as the breast that nursed him bleeds under the cutting lash; who would value life a straw, if he must stand by, nor speak a word, nor shed a tear, nor from his bursting bosom heave a groan, nor lift a hand in their defence ? How sad it is to think that there are lands, governed by Christian men, and in the prostituted name of liberty, where such scenes are witnessed, and crimes so foul are done! It almost tempts one to pray that an avenging Heaven would blight and wither and blast the fields that are watered with human tears : “ Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain
upon you, nor fields of offerings.” May God give a noble country grace and power to wipe from its shield so black a stain !
In these sentiments, I have no doubt you all sympathise. But I have to tell you of a worse and more degrading—a more cruel and dreadful slavery. There are among us many greater and more to be pitied slaves. I refer to those who, as the servants of Satan, are sold unto sin. Would to God that we set the same high price on spiritual as we do on earthly liberty! Ah, then what efforts would be put forth, what struggles would be made, what long, earnest, unwearying prayers be offered for salvation! And, when saved ourselves, how anxious should we be for the salvation of others ? In the touching narrative of a fugitive slave I have read how, when he himself had escaped, the thought of his mother -a mother dear—and sisters still in bondage, haunted him night and day, embittering the sweetness of his own cup
He found no rest. Liberty to him was little more than a name, until they also were free. And surely one may wonder how Christians can give God any rest, or take it themselves, while those near and dear to them are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity? And why is it, moreover, that when his servants appear, proclaiming through Christ liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, so few hearts leap for joy, and so many hear it—as if they needed it not, heard it not, heeded it not—with calm, cold, frigid indifference ? Go, proclaim emancipation in a land of