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The last execution of this kind was witnessed at Poughkeepsie shortly before the commencement of the revolutionary war.* But this severity could not long be sustained in a Christian land. In process of time the penal code against slaves was meliorated; facilities were multiplied for the manumission of slaves; and the importation of slaves was at length prohibited. Laws were enacted also to teach the slaves to read, and a system commenced for the gradual abolition of slavery. Till at length, by the fact of the 31st of March, 1817, it was declared that every subject of the State, from and after the 4th day of July, 1827, shall be free. And now tell me, where except in Christian lands, can any such history of slavery be found as this? Is it not true that the Bible has silently and gradually so meliorated the relation between the master and the slave, that in the progress of its principles and spirit, it must ultimately either abolish this relation, or leave it on a basis of the purest benevolence !
I am pained to say, that slavery in no very mitigated form still exists in these United States. There are Christian masters to whom the evils and abuses of slavery are unknown. Nor are they few. And yet there are abuses in this system which it is high time were eradicated. I speak not now of those physical evils to which these our suffering fellow men are subjected, but of the domestic wrongs, the intellectual ignorance, and moral debasement to which they are doomed. The slave population of the south are in many places by law forbidden to read; they may not unlock the treasures of human and divine knowledge. This cannot be right. This must be an offence in the sight of God. Christian men at the south, highminded and honourable men should adopt early measures to remove this evil. They scarcely know how such a policy appears to impartial minds of all lands. The condition of slaves in the southern States is described by Chancellor Kent, to be more analogous to that of the slaves of the ancients, than to that of the villains of feudal times, both in respect to the degradation of the slaves, and the full dominion and power of the master. The statute regulations with regard to slaves, follow the principles of the civil law, and are extremely severe, but the master has no power over life, or limb; and the severe letter of their laws is softened and corrected by the humanity of the age, and the spirit of Christianity.” This is a sufficiently melancholy picture from such a pen. We lament it; we deeply lament it before God and the world. Nor is this the worst. It is estimated in a recent and important work on the slave trade, by Mr. Buxton of the English parliament, that not less than one thousand negroes are, even at this late period of the world, every day torn from their homes in Africa, by the horrible cupidity of their fellow men.
* Kent's Commentaries.
And how shall the evil be remedied ? Just as the Bible, and all sound experience tell us it has been remedied; through the influence of the gospel, by the power of Christian truth, by the meekness and gentleness of Christian men. Grossness, calumny, obstinacy, and fury are not the remedy. Angry passions and bitter invective are not the remedy. Strife and ill will, acrimonious discussions and sanguinary war are not the remedy. These will throw a thousand obstacles in your path, and involve you in endless difficulties, and create needless enemies and opposition. Who does not see that it has done so already, and that in Virginia, in Kentucky, in Maryland, and in the District of Columbia, a very sensible and inauspicious change has taken place within a very few years in the sentiments of the public in relation to slavery? The late Dr. Griffin, one of the most devoted friends of the coloured race in this land, said to me a few months before his death, “I do not see that the efforts in favour of immediate emancipation, have effected any thing but to rivet the chains of the poor slave.” Is not this a lamentable fact ? Deeply as this evil was laid in the foundations of our country, it has already disappeared in many portions of it, driven away by the spirit of the gospel and of liberty ; and if we are to expect its entire 'banishment, we must look for it in the operation of the same gentle, yet not less effectual causes which have hitherto lightened the sorrows of the captive, and led the north to free herself from this stain. We would remedy the evil by the light of truth, by the ardour of love, by the soft mercies that distil from the olive branch of peace, by the balm of Gilead. The recklessness of dissension, the disunion of our body politic, and its consequent horrors will be disastrous both to the master and the slave. Desperate haste and inconsiderate heedlessness will but defeat their object. And where do we find the authority and encouragement to such a course ? In the wishes, but not in the judgment; in the unthinking, and I fear at times designing fanaticism of a few modern reformers, but not in past experience; not in calm, foreseeing benevolence; and above all, we find it not in the word of God. Believe me, my young friends, there is “a more excellent way.” You may shut out the light of truth from the master and the slave; you may give birth to unsleeping jealousies and bitter animosity which a century cannot assuage; you may divide the land which is otherwise destined to be the glory of the church and the world; and you will have only bound faster the chains which would have relaxed and fallen off and have paralyzed the hands of Ethiopia just as she was "stretching them out unto God.” Hesitate then, ere you throw yourselves into a stream, which, as passion and bitter animosity shall swell its current, will launch you on an ocean of dissension and civil strife. Pause, ere you put your hands to a mighty engine, which, when in motion, you will have no power to guide or restrain--perhaps an engine of destruction, the effects of which may be felt through coming centuries, crushing the dearest interests of yourselves and your posterity. And while you pause, will you not listen to the dictates of an unbiassed judgment; to the best and most enlightened feelings of your hearts? Will you not consult that Book which, while it refrains from rudely interfering with the existing institutions of society, is destined by the mild diffusion of its light and influence, to banish the evils of slavery from the world?
THE INFLUENCE OF THE BIBLE ON THE EXTENT
AND CERTAINTY OF MORAL SCIENCE.
That which gives value and excellency to the reli gion of the Bible is its truth; its undeniable, undoubted truth. Our belief of it does not make it true, nor does our disbelief of it make it false. The great Author of our nature has so constituted the mind, that where its moral bias is not corrupted and perverted, there is nothing it more delights in than truth. Even in the meaner and less useful sciences, it has no such luxury as in the pursuit of truth. It is narrated of Archimedes, the celebrated mathematician of Syracuse, that during the war which raged between Hiero and the Romans, he was not diverted from his contemplations even by the sacking of his native city, but was killed by a common soldier, | while he was in the very act of meditating a mathematical theorem. I doubt not that you have often sympathized with the solicitude of this philosopher, and in some degree at least, participated in his ecstacy, in that intense pleasure which you have, almost insensibly as it were, derived from the pursuit and acquisition of truth. The thirsty clod, or drooping flower, is not more really refreshed, when it drinks the long-wished-for rain, than the eager and panting