« ZurückWeiter »
2. Slavery has been always considered as a subject for the consideration and action of the individual States concerned. This is the uniform testimony of the proceedings of the old congress, of the articles of confederation, of the acts of congress under the confederation, of the convention which formed the constitution, of the measures of congress under the constitution, and of the decisions of the supreme court of the United States. While subject to Great Britain, no attempt was made by one State to interfere in the slave policy of another State.
3. Slavery is recognized tacitly but distinctly in the constitution. However much we may wish that this excellent frame of government were divested of the obnoxious articles, there is now no remedy, except by modification or a new constitution. We must take the instrument as it is. It is a constitution for the whole country, and for each of the States. All are sworn to fulfil the conditions which they have voluntarily assumed.
4. Slaves are recognized as persons by the constitution. Three-fifths of them are in some sort represented in the government of the country.
5. They are also regarded simply as property. Twofifths are not even nominally represented. Their personal liberty is taken away by the provision which compels a State to deliver up a fugitive slave to his owner.
6. No measures can be lawfully taken by the citizens of the free States, which shall tend to promote disturbance and insurrection among the slaves. We are parties to a solemn covenant, and we must abide by it. The legal right of the master to the slave is entire. The people of the free States have no authority to adopt measures which shall even indirectly tend to political disunion and servile war.
7. We are justifiable, notwithstanding, in using all lawful methods to accomplish the abolition of slavery. Because we have no legal right to interfere, it does not follow that we have no moral right to use argument and earnest expostulation. We have moral obligations to discharge, when the enactments of the books are against us. As fellow countrymen and as fellow men, we are authoritatively charged by conscience, and self-interest, and love of country, to testify our sentiments in regard to slavery. A legal right cannot of course seal up the lips of a man. A nuisance in the north, though sanctioned by law, is the proper object of animadversion at the south. We desire that our Southern brethren would address us in tones of utmost severity respecting any abuse or legalized crime of which they know us to be guilty. We claim the same rights in respect to evils which exist among them. There are duties to which the constitution does not allude—high moral and religious duties, which no man can foreclose or nullify. They are to be discharged prudently, but nevertheless, firmly, and unshrinkingly. We are to consult
, indeed, the proprieties of time and place, but in no circumstances to compromit duty, or give up fundamental principles. It is perfectly manifest that the framers of the constitution viewed the matter in this light. They were compelled by stern necessity to admit slavery into the constitution. They believed that a constitution could not be formed without it. The tedious circumlocutions which they adopted to avoid mentioning the word slave, in the constitution, is a true index of their feelings and opinions. We are not to overlook this point when we undertake to interpret it. The views and intentions of its framers are always to be taken into the account. Most of the sage men who formed the instrument, were totally opposed to slavery on principle. Governor Randolph, of Virginia, considered that the provisions of the constitution might have a remote tendency to abolition. The sentiments of Dr. Franklin are well known. John Jay, not, indeed, a member of the Federal Convention, but one of the strongest advocates of the constitution, was president of a Manumission Society. While, therefore, we proceed
. prudently, constitutionally, and in a Christian spirit, we are never to lose sight of the intrinsic and enormous evils of the slave system. We are never to relax our efforts until those evils are extirpated from the earth. The subject, in all its aspects and relations, is one of overwhelming importance. The evils are so great, of so long standing, they touch upon so many interests, they are incorporated with so much feeling and prejudice, and they increase so rapidly, that neither the wisdom of all our statesmen, the learning of all our scholars, nor the benevolence of all our philanthropists, are sufficient of themselves to remove or essentially to mitigate them. We must rely on Him who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working.
We shall examine at length, in future numbers, the questions connected with abolition and African colonization.
PRESENT ATTITUDE OF MOHAMMEDANISM, IN REF
ERENCE TO THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL.
By Eli SMITH.
MOHAMMEDANISM has its principal seat in Turkey, where it has been the lot of the writer of this article to labor and journey. Heretofore it has raised there a haughty front against the religion of Jesus. Its laws have ever imposed tribute or the forfeiture of life upon unbelievers, and denounced inevitable death upon apostates. Its professors have long held at the disposal of their arbitrary will, large bodies of subjugated Christians; they once triumphed over the chivalry of Europe; and their sovereigns have for centuries sat upon the subverted throne of the Cæsars. Its doctrines and its history, in a word, have long placed Mohammedanism in a high attitude of contempt towards the gospel, and of opposition to the spread of it, both among its disciples, and among nominal Christians subject to them.
Let us dwell a moment upon this past attitude of Mohammedanism, before we speak of that which it is now assum
In reference to the propagation of Christianity among Mohammedans, its opposition has held the form of law of law strictly executed. In Egypt even, where some of the institutions of Europe have been for several years professedly imitated, when the writer first arrived there, an instance of its execution occurred. A Mohammedan woman was discovered to have connected herself with the Greek church; a proof of her new faith was found in a cross stamped indelibly upon her arm; she was seized, carried to the Nile, and sunk in its waters. It has, in fact, long been the boast of the semi-independent inhabitants of Lebanon, that their mountain is the only spot in Turkey, where a Mohammedan can with impunity renounce his religion.
The law, or at least the execution of law, went farther than to punish Moslems who apostatized; it punished Christians who dared defame Mohammed. When at Alexandria, the writer was informed of a poor Christian, who had been insti
gated by some sudden provocation in the bazar, to curse Mohammed. He was instantly seized, and it was only by embracing Mohammedanism, that he saved his life. No Christians in Turkey dare, in the presence of Mohammedans, curse the false prophet. They would be glad to do it, such is their hatred of his followers; and they are ready to mention it as one of their grievances, that they are denied the privilege.-Missionaries wish not to curse Mohammed. They wish, by sober and convincing argument, to prove that he is a false prophet. But the two stand, in the estimation of Mohammedans, not far asunder. Missionaries have been formerly told, that by openly arguing against Mohammedanism, they would so trample upon the laws of the land, as to forfeit their European protection, and expose themselves without refuge, to Moslem vengeance. They have never, it is believed, found it true. But any direct attempt to proselyte Mohammedans to Christianity, has ever been regarded as a high offence. A German missionary, under the protection of the Russian army during its late invasion of Turkey, undertook to reason with the Turks, in the bazars and streets of Erzroom, against Mohammedanism, and in favor of Christianity. Only a few days elapsed, before the kady and the mufty informed the general, that, such was the popular displeasure at the missionary, they could not hold themselves responsible for his life.
In reference to the spread of the gospel among the nominal Christians of Turkey, the opposition of Mohammedanism has held, not so much the form of established law, as of arbitrary oppression. When a Christian had paid his capitation and other taxes, the Moslem government professed to regard with indifference the particular religious dogmas he might adopt, or the ecclesiastical connection in which he might place himself. From considerations of state convenience, it held indeed the ecclesiastical head of every sect, responsible in some respects for all in his communion; and of course was ready to aid, by the civil power, in supporting his authority. Still it remained for such dignitaries themselves to move the first complaint against measures leading to dissent or reformation. If they remained quiet, foreign missionaries might put the Bible in every Christian's house, and, with aid from above, implant the seeds of grace in every Christian's heart in Turkey; and find no Mohammedan law crossing their movements. And at the worst, the law could not touch their life, or their liberty.
But in Turkey, law is one thing, and the measures actually taken by rulers is often quite another thing. The haughty attitude towards Christianity, given to the Turks by their religion and their history, has often led them to trample arbitrarily upon the rights of even Europeans. Missionaries, the appointed agents of the despised religion, have been not a little obnoxious to such acts of oppression. The writer has travelled over regions, where the missionaries of Rome, though enjoying the patronage of ambassadors, have been imprisoned, bastinadoed, and banished, in endeavoring to propagate their faith among the nominal Christians of Turkey. How many thousands of dollars have been arbitrarily exacted from their establishments in Palestine and elsewhere, their accounts alone can tell. It cannot be forgotten, that our own Fisk and Bird, also, were once imprisoned in Jerusalem. Indeed, who does not remember, when the Turkish power was regarded as presenting such hindrances to missionary operations, that our first efforts in Palestine were undertaken with much fear and trembling.
Such was formerly the opposition of Mohammedanism to the spread of the gospel among Mohammedans, and among nominal Christians subject to Mohammedans.
In passing to speak of its present attitude, it cannot be said, that the anti-Christian articles of its code of laws have been repealed. The changes that have actually taken place in its general posture are two; one tending to liberalize, the other to humble, its professors. For the first time, probably, in its history, have innovations been formally introduced from Christian nations, as acknowledged improvements. Before, a wall of arrogance, cutting off the view of foreign superiority, hedged up Moslems to the contemplation of their own conceited exaltation. Be it that the innovations are military and in themselves of no moral value; they make a breach in this wall, and in their train may come in others, of a far different nature. They are an acknowledgment, that some good things may be borrowed from Christians, and their tendency is to liberalize the minds of Moslems for the admission of others more important.
Moslems have been humbled by the experience both of their intrinsic, and of their relative weakness. The authority of the sultan over his subjects, formerly rested upon a double basis; his ecclesiastical character, as head of the Moslem church, and his civil character as head of the Turk