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ducing civil amendment, inasmuch as an important change in the character of the man, necessarily brought on a corresponding change in the character of the citizen. No reader of the New Testament needs to be reminded of precepts inculcating in the most express terms, mutual love, fraternal amity, abstinence from violence of every kind, awful cautions against covetousness, exaction, cruelty, and injustice. Nor are these merely the moralists's dissuasions from evil, and exhortations to good, but the Eternal Judge's solemn declarations, that they who live in violation of those precepts shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven; and for reasons repeatedly urged, and abundantly obviousbecause such persons are not possessed of a true and lively faith, are not regenerate, have not the Spirit of God. The mere statement is sufficient to evince the impossibility of deducing from the New Testament any argument for slavery, even as it existed in those days, much less for that bitterer system, which so unfortunately finds supporters in the present.
Slavery is recognised as an existing state in the New Testament–True; so is a state of war : but is it therefore sanctioned by the authority of the inspired writer? And if it be not, of what avail is the recognition of the slave-merchant ? There is also this important difference in the cases a war may be just and necessary, a slave-trade never can. A nation may be obliged to have recourse to arms, for the protection of law, liberty, religion, or lise; but it can never be obliged to maintain a state of slavery at home or abroad, for the supply of luxuries, and the accumulation of wealth. It may do what would otherwise be wrong, if indispensably requisite for self-preservation ; but can never be justified in doing so, to purchase superfluities. Admitting what are here called luxuries to have borrowed from custom the character of necessaries, the only ground on which such a mode of obtaining them would be defensible (if defensible at all,) would be the impossibility of procuring them in any other manner. As long as they can be acquired by means accordant with justice, humanity, and moral rectitude, putting even Christian principle out of the question, no piea can vindicate the procure. ment of them by rapine, cruelty, force, torture, and profligate consumption of human life. Were the West India Islands in the bottom of the ocean, Great Britain would not be long procuring on cheaper terms all the products she now draws from them at an expense of blood and treasure. What can be raised by a better system in countries of like climate, must be considered within human capability of raising there also.
The time was, and that not remote, when the importation of slaves from Africa, that is to say, the most horrible species of traffic that ever stained the annals of human depravity, was deemed indispensably necessary to carry on the work of the plantations.
Reluctant experience shewed the erroneousness of this notion, and the happy refutation of so positive an opinion strengthens the hope of corresponding success in the substitution of free ve labour. It will hardly be maintained, that human nature necessarily changes ite character by going to the West Indies. If it does not, the progress of civilization will do there what it has always been found to accomplish in other places.
We have been often told that the condition of the West Indian slaves is better than that of the lowly class of labourers in Ire-. land, or even in Britain, and specific instances have been triumphantly brought forward in proof of the assertion. What, however, do these instances, on the fullest admission of their truth, really prove, save the occasional kindness of a more humane master ? The benevolence of a tyrant may render his yoke less galling, but it is tyranny still. The objection to the system is, its utter repugnance to the first, natural, and inalienable rights of humanity, as commencing in violence, and sustained by rapine, fostered by avarice, and maintained by cruelty and injustice. It is a system which, were the places where it prevails within fifty miles of the British shore, would not exist for a month, under the withering ban of universal execration. Is that just and lawful at the distance of one thousand miles, hich would be illegal, iniquitous, and intolerable, at the distance of fifty? Yet how is the fact? The people who, in the supposed case, would be British subjects, and entitled to legal protection, are in the existing case, the live stock of the planter, to be sold, fed, worked, or flogged at the will of their political sovereignthe owner.
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aures,
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus. Among the suggestions this subject offers to a pious mind, the following will, I am inclined to think, be deemed no less just than obvious :- That among our national supplications for the vouchsafement of divine blessings, and averting the judgments of offended heaven, a deprecation of God's wrath, for having ever countenanced so iniquitous a system, should be the most prominent. If it be true, that nations, as well as individuals, are answerable for their actions before a tribunal, where no plea will justify the wilful commission of evil, an awful responsibility rests upon the empire at large, which has so long known, and so long failed to redress the miseries of slavery, and the cruelties of oppression. Dreadfully, it should seem, have the tortures, the massacres, and the spoliations of the inhabitants of the new world, been visited on the nations of the primary invaders; and though a smaller portion of guilt may appear to rest upon that empire which exercises barbarity in an inferior degree, and has made some recent advancements towards mitigation and redress, yet too much still remains to disgust and alarm the conscientious Christian. He never can lose sight of the awful warning, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.” Though it be deferred, yet will it come; it will not tarry, unless averted by repentance and redress. As little can he shelter himself under the pretext of personal exemption. All, indeed, have not actually planted with their own hands the tree of iniquity; but who is ihere that has not tasted of its fruits ?
An immediate manumission of the slave is not here contem
plated, but the adoption of measures gradually, but certainly, and at no remote period, leading to that end. This the Government seems now seriously solicitous to effect, as well from a sense of justice and sound policy, as a compliance with the wishes of a free and Christian people; but their generous intentions have not been met by a correspondent feeling in the great body of West Indian merchants at home, or the planters, and proprietors of slaves, abroad. This, no doubt, neither they nor their numerous plausible advocates will be willing to admit; but as facts are the strongest arguments, we have only to refer to the absolute rejection of many, and the reluctant adoption of most of the regulations recommended and enjoined by the authority of Go. vernment-regulations which every intelligent and disinterested person regards as indispensable to the success of the main object. The power of prejudice, and the auri sacra fames, easily account for the continuance of a spirit unfavourable to emancipation; but we must look for another cause of bold and determined opposition to the legislative enactments of imperial power, and that ca will be found in the political influence which West Indian wealth enables its possessors to exert, in supporting their lucrative monopoly and debasing system. To counteract this infuence, and uphold an administration otherwise, perhaps, too feeble to encounter it, there is but one measure of permanent and invincible efficacy—the united voices of the people of the British Islands. In the cause of justice, of mercy, of humanity, and of religion, the ministry has-1 may say it without presumption--the voice of God! In an enlightened and Christian empire, can the other, the vox populi, be long wanting? I trust not. Let the administration be once armed against the citadel of slavery, by the indignant voice of a free people, and FALL IT MUST !
ON THE UNCONDITIONAL FREENESS OF THE GOSPEL.
SIR-Mr. Erskine's late work on “ The Unconditional Free. ness of the Gospel,” has been, I believe, very generally read; and has been justly considered as a very interesting perfor
It is evidently the production of a man of no ordinary endowments, and it breathes the benevolent spirit of the Gospel. From the sentiments of such a man it is painful to be obliged to dissent; and yet, comparing his peculiar views on some points with the infallible record, I am forced to come to the conclusion, that he is under a mistake as to the representation he has given of those points; and I cannot but think, that a re-consideration of them may yet lead him back to the opinion which he at present considers as erroneous.
I have no thought of quarrelling with Mr. Erskine on account of such a passage as the following: “ The Gospel reveals to us the existence of a fund of divine love-----And this fund is gen
eral to the whole race: Every individual bas a property in it,” &c. There is a sense in which this is true, otherwise we should not read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son," &c. I shall leave this branch of the subject to others. I agree with Mr. Erskine, that the love of God to man.. kind has produced the atonement, and that the only obstruction that exists, in the way of any individual enjoying the full benefit of this marvellous provision of divine compassion, is to be found within himself. The points on which I differ from Mr. Erskine are principally two. One is—the separation he has endeavoured to establish between faith and pardon ; and the other is,-the view he has given of justification as denoting not a change in the condition of a sinner, but in the state of his mind. Let us hear Mr. Erskine on the subject of pardon.
" When you read that men are saved by faith, it does not mean, that they are pardoned on account of their faith, or by their faith. No, its meaning is far different, it means that they are pardoned already, before they thought of it,” &c. And again, " The reversal of the sentence of exclusion which I here consider to be pardon is, universal.” Mr. Erskine holds, that God has pardoned all the human race, and that faith is not in order to forgiveness and holiness, but exclusively in order to the latter. In other words, faith has but one function to perform, namely, the reception of sanctifying principles. Unwilling as I am to express my dissent from the sentiments of such a writer as Mr. Erskine, I cannot help declaring my decided conviction that he is wrong
in this view of the subject. To me it appears unquestionable that we find faith distincily recognized in its two-fold capacity in the work of salvation, namely, first, as a suitable instrument for receiving a free pardon, and secondly, as the proper channel for the conveyance of sanctifying principles. If we want to be satisfied on this point we have, I think, only to compare the Apostle's statements and reasonings in the concluding part of the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, with the definition of faith in the 11th chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. If we were to change the passages respectively we should find each out of its place, because, in the one case the Apostle is speaking of faith as connected with free pardon, and in the other case, with obedience, its proper fruit. Faith, in respect to its suitableness for the reception of a free pardon is contrasted with works ; but in respect to its connection with holiness, its opposite is sight. • Where is boasting then ? It is excluded. By what law ? Of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.”-Romans iii. 27. And again, “By grace are ye saved, through faith—--Not of works, lest any man should boast.”—Ephes. ii. 8. Here the subject of faith is treated of, in reference to its fitness for the conveyance of gratuitous pardon, and it stands therefore opposed to works; but when the Apostle has in view the moral influence of those objects the knowledge of which is conveyed by faith, then is faith contrasted with sight. “ For we walk” says he, “by faith, and not by sight,” which is further explained in the verse, “ While we
look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen.” 2 Cor. iv. 18.
To me, Sir, it does appear, that there is something like a morbid apprehension prevalent on the subject of faith as the instru. ment of justification. Justification I mean, in its proper sense, for Mr. Erskine does not deny the connection between faith and justification in his own sense of the word. This jealousy assumes an imposing character, when it demands to be heard, as the defender of divine grace, and those who know the value of this grace will be ready to weigh every suggestion connected with a subject so interesting to them. My own peace is so absolutely dependent upon a gratuitous pardon, that I should as soon think of opposing the doctrines of salvation itself as of deliberately admitting any thing inconsistent with its being perfectly free: but our notions of the consistency between grace and other things, if those notions he correct, must be derived from the word of God, and not from our own speculations. Mr. Erskine seems to think that if pardon be suspended upon our believing the Gospel, grace is excluded from our scheme, as effectually as if we were to require legal obedience as the condition of life. “ According,"
" to the common method of religious instruction, amongst many truly serious persons, pardon is represented as so dependent upon faith, that it is apt to be mistaken for its reward,” and he then asks, “ What is the freeness of the Gospel, upon their system, but substituting faith as the ground of a sin-' ner's hope in the place of obedience ?" p. 44. In other words, that faith, in order to pardon, is inconsistent with the freeness of that pardon. I do confess, that such a statement, from such a man, surprises me. To me it appears that the Scripture asserts the very contrary to this: and that it represents faith as, in contrast with works, a suitable medium for the conveyance of a gratuitous salvation. “ It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” In my humble opinion, so far as pardon is concerned, according to Mr. Erskine's scheme, it would be nearer the truth to say, “ It is not of faith, lest it should not be free.” I say, so far as pardon is concerned, for it is evident, that Mr. Erskine maintains, that the pardon, except so far as its moral influence is in question, is independent of faith. “ The use of faith” he says, page 22, "is not to remove the penalty, or to make the pardon better, for the penalty is removed, and the pardon is proclaimed, whether we believe it or not, but to give the pardon a moral influence," &e. This language is quite unambiguous. The only use of faith is, to convey the knowledge of a pardon already granted, in order that the knowledge of that pardon may change the state of the mind, in reference to bim from whom the benešt has proceeded. On the contrary, to me it appears, that the state of the individual is made to turn upon his believing or disbelieving the Gospel; and that, therefore, the apostles never considered that the necessity of believing, in order to pardon, diminished the freeness of the pardon, or rendered the receiver of that pardon, in the smallest degree, less a debtor to sovereign