« PreviousContinue »
innocent slaveholder, and from disinterested motives : and that this resolution was passed, without any notice being taken of the protest of the thirty-two American members, which declared that they would consent to no action which would imply a want of confidence in American professing slaveholders generally.
8. That the American members, repenting of their vote in favour of this resolution, and determining to re-open the question, succeeded in inducing the Conference, on the 31st of August, to re-commit the whole subject to the consideration of a committee; which committee recommended that the said resolution should be rescinded.
9. That on the 1st of September, the Conference taking into consideration the recommendation of the committee, resolved to adopt it, and did accordingly rescind the resolution of the 29th of August; and, further, that in order that the American members might go home perfectly free and uninfluenced, did resolve to postpone the organization of an Ecumenical Alliance, and to recommend to their adoption such an organization in their own country, ‘as might, in their judgment, be most in accordance with their peculiar circumstances'-those American members having previously informed the Conference of their determination to maintain intimate relations with slaveholders, and to consent to no action implying a want of Christian confidence in
Our readers will bear witness that we have throughout this examination of the proceedings of the Alliance, gone to no source of information against which the slightest objection can lie. We have resorted only to the published and authorised records of that body for our facts, with two exceptions, in both of which instances we have taken the evidence of members of the Alliance; which evidence has been for months in print, and has not been impugned. We refer to the reports furnished to the ‘Patriot’ newspaper, and to the temperate letter of Pacificator, intended to be a vindication of the Alliance from the accusations brought against it in Exeter Hall. Let those who will judge of the Alliance only by its own printed proceedings, take the above parrative of those proceedings, and draw their honest conclusions from it. For ourselves, having fairly stated the case, out of the papers issued from the office of the Alliance, we do not consider ourselves precluded from going to other sources for information and light upon the subject; and we might therefore, had we space, avail ourselves of various reports now before us. We cannot do this to the extent we desire, but we must crave attention to the following exposé from a speech delivered by a member of the Alliance, the Rev.
J. V. Himes, of America, at a great meeting in Liverpool, on the 19th of October, and reported in the ' Patriot :'
A word in reference to the slave question in the Evangelical Alliance. The American delegates are influential men in their respective denominations. Those men are many of them members of slave-holding Synods or General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church. Well, what could we expect of men who will have to go to Philadelphia next spring, sit down with slaveholders, sing, pray, talk, and commune—what, I say, could we expect of such men here ? Dr. Cox must be there, or else he will have to leave his connexion. Now, the doctor knew, that, if he took his position here, he would have to become citizenised in England; and it would not do for him, then, to have gone back to America. So with Dr. Smyth, Dr. Olin, and Dr. Baird ; they all belong to slaveholding associations. Well, then, there were, besides, presidents of religious institutions. I had an opportunity of seeing the whole thing. In all the Committee meetings, where there was much anxiety, where we sat something like forty hours discussing a question which might have been easily settled-in all these Committee meetings, there were some of these presidents of academical institutions. Who do these men educate ? Slave. holders' sons. What could you expect from such men as those in favour of the slave? They must either lose the slaveholders' sons from their institutions, or they must take the course which they did. Now, there is no mystery with these gentlemen themselves about the matter. Some of these delegates also were ministers of slave-holding states; and, had they voted against slavery here, when they went back they would have been Lynched. But, what made me feel most deeply of all, in this transaction, was the deception which was manifested in the explanations of the difficulties into which they were thrown. Here we are in difficulty,' said they. Difficulty! what is the matter ?' 'Why, our brethren have stolen a great many men. They have established an institution to retain these men whom they have stolen ; and they have thereby rendered it very difficult to get rid of them : therefore, in these peculiar circumstances, you must let us alone.' That is the plain English of the matter. Bishop Meade's letter was read--the letter which has been referred to to-night. It was listened to by the Rev. Mr. Bickersteth, who, as almost every body knows, is a gentleman of high integrity and piety; and it pained me to perceive how Mr. Bickersteth, with his kind and benevolent heart, was affected by that letter of Bishop Meade, I knew, all the time, that the sentiments it expressed were the sheerest deception and hypocrisy. I knew well the object. Bishop Meade stated that they were willing to emancipate their slaves, but could not, from the peculiar circumstances of the case. They brought cut a number of cases, where the friends of the slave were puzzled, perplexed, and troubled about the question, and wanted to get rid of it, but conld not. Well, now I knew better all the time, and every American who knows anything about slavery in the United states, knows the utter falsity of these statements. Why, let them take a journey to Canada, and take their slaves with them : and, when they go home, let them leave the slaves behind them, and they would be all safe. Queen Victoria is ready to take the whole of them. If they will give them up to-morrow, I will insure, on the part of the English government, that they will take care of every man, woman, and child of them ; or, in other words, the English government will put them in the way of taking care of themselves. There is another feature of the case respecting the American delegates which I wish to notice. The Alliance had a great and grand object in view, and many, both of our American and English friends were actuated, in the formation of that Alliance, by the desire of attaining this object. They expended a great deal of money, time, and labour, in the formation and establishment of that institution. Doubtless they were influenced by good motives in so doing, and desired to accomplish good. I certainly hold our English friends in the highest estimation for the labour and toil which they bestowed on that Alliance. I believe when the question of slavery was first introduced into the Alliance, almost every member of that body was disposed to object to the reception of slaveholders, or to give the influence of the institution in any way to the support of slavery. I affirm and maintain that you could not have obtained a class of representatives from America who would have been more opposed to the support of anti slavery views, or more efficient in shielding slavery than the men who were chosen. Those who know the men in their various churches in America, know that I speak the truth in this matter. Well, when we came into our meetings, one quailed, and another yielded, and then another; and among them some men who, I thought, never would have yielded. I took them out, and conversed with them upon the matter, and said to them, 'How is this? Are we to be left alone—two or three of us—in the midst of a faithless majority? We supposed these Englishmen were all anti-slavery men.' : Oh !' said they, but we must do something. It will not do to break up the Alliance; it will tear us all to pieces.' They first began to cower and quail; they then began to listen to the stories of these men. Then they began to say, 'Now we are under such and such circumstances, and we are placed so and so. If this resolution passes, it will break up the whole thing, and the Alliance is gone. They had one great object in view; they had laboured hard, spent their money, time, and influence, all to bring about this one object, and they were not willing to give it up. There seemed to be the point. They had to choose between the rejection of their American brethren, as they came forward with their pro-slavery views and feelings, or else their own principles. There was no other alternative. Either we must reject the delegates, or we must reject the slave, and the anti-slavery interest; one or the other.' Forty hours were spent in considering how they could receive them both ; how they could have two masters. They were puzzled how to serve their American masters who were defending slavery, and at the same time to serve the slave. The corrupting, demoralising iofluence of slavery was never more manifestnever achieved more in forty hours-never made greater havoc with conscience and moral integrity, since the world was made. After we could not obtain or sustain the amendment, that slaveholders should be rejected, they brought forward another question respecting those who were slaveholders not of their own fault, and so forth, -which you have all heard. I voted against that, because it was a compromising of the whole principle, and was worse than no resolution at all. Finding they would not do any thing thoroughly, I was glad that they did not do any thing at all upon the question. I told them, however, this : The people of England and the people of America will take up this question. This is not the end of it.”
We consider this testimony of great value. Mr. Himes has for sixteen years been honourably conspicuous in the anti-slavery ranks in the United States, and we have heard but one opinion respecting him, that he is thoroughly conversant with the abolition movement, and is a man of deep sincerity and unsuspected moral integrity. We know, besides, that in the position which he nobly maintained in the Conference, he perilled, and, to a great extent, forfeited his influence and standing in that body, and, to use his own words, became a marked and persecuted man. This gentleman-an American, and a person professing an intimate knowledge of every man of name and fame connected with the anti-slavery cause in the United States, says:
I affirm and maintain, that you could not have obtained a class of representatives from America, who would have been more opposed to the support of anti-slavery views, or more efficient in shielding slavery, than the men who were chosen. Those who know the men in their various churches in America, know that I speak the truth in this matter. Yet, we regret to find that Dr. Wardlaw has ventured to stand voucher for these men, and to say that the brethren from America were anti-slavery, like ourselves. We believe that Dr. Wardlaw forgot, when he wrote these words, the speeches delivered on the 28th of August and the 1st of September; and the protests of the thirty-two • American brethren,' on the 28th, and the protest of the twelve ‘American brethren' on the 31st. Dr. Wardlaw has proved, by his own letters, compared with the speeches and official documents of the American members of the Alliance, that his views and theirs are utterly irreconcileable. Did not the Americans, throughout the whole of the proceedings on the question of slavery, point to the laws of the United States as an extenuation, if not a justification, of the slaveholders, with whom they declared their determination to remain in close Christian communion.' Yet, what says Dr. Wardlaw, in a letter to the • Patriot,' which has been printed since we commenced writing this article ?
There are, in some of the southern States, laws prohibitory of the teaching of a slave to read, that is, prohibitory of bringing even within his reach, the saving instructions of the Word of God! Is it conceivable, that any man calling himself a Christian can obey such a law that any man calling himself a Christian can consent, in compliance with the enactment of a human legislature, thus to damn the soul as well as bind the body of his immortal fellow-creature and fellow-sinner? Away with the thought ! Christian ! let not the sacred designation be thus prostituted. He who acts such a part · has denied the faith, and is worse than un infidel.' Do the churches of the north, then, make exceptions? or do they admit to their brotherly fellowship ministers and members from these states as well as from the rest-ministers and members who residing in these states, and holding slaves in these states, must be understood to be acting in obedience to their laws ? else they would not be long there without being feelingly reminded where they were! Alas! how drugging the opiates—how searing the cauteries—that interest and custom administer to conscience. Such men may be found arguing, or attempting to argue, in support of slavery from the Bible; while there can be no doubt, that the real reason for their not wishing their slaves to read the Bible, is a secret fear lest in that blessed book they should discover (and how could they avoid discovering ?) the principles of freedom, and asserting their right. And are we, in even the remotest possible degree, to associate ourselves with laws and practices so—I cannot find a word strong enough to express my reprobation of them-antiChristian is too feeble—so absolutely fiendish ? Is it not rather our incumbent duty, individually and collectively, in every possible way, to impress on our American brethren's minds the extraordinary mistake in principle (to give it its gentlest appellation), which the maintaining of such fellowship implies; and, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear,' to keep our own hands clean, and not to implicate ourselves,' how remotely soever, in the merchandize of souls,' as well as of bodies ? The plain truth, in my mind, is this, I speak only for myself, whosoever else may adopt the sentiment that the cases which we might be disposed to describe and select, as constituting cases of exception are so very, very rare, that legislation for them would be ludicrous, and the proposal of them in America would be received with either a smile at our simpli. city, or a frown at our presumption. It could only be regarded as an indirect and unmanly way of doing what had much better be done openly and honestly at once-declining their fellowship. I fear it must come to this. I have feared it all along.'
Such is the language of Dr. Wardlaw. Yet, the very men who are in full and affectionate communion with persons thus spoken of, are the men described by him as being 'anti-slavery like ourselves.'
But we must hasten to a close, and reserve to a future occasion many facts which we had intended to refer to. We must not omit, however, to notice the manner in which the conduct of the Alliance has been viewed beyond the immediate pale and influence of its own body. The religious press, with a few solitary exceptions, has spoken of its proceedings in terms of severe censure. Amongst the journals entitled to the warm gratitude of the anti-slavery public of Great Britain, the Patriot stands pre-eminent. The able leading articles, the faithful and uncontradicted summaries, and copious reports of public meetings which have appeared in that paper, have rendered immense