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mon of 1770, the preacher said, "Let the time past more than suffice wherein we, the patrons of liberty, have dishonored the Christian name and degraded human nature nearly to a level with the beasts that perish. Ethiopia has long stretched out her hands to us. Let not sordid gain, acquired by the merchandise of 'slaves and the souls of men,' harden our hearts against her piteous moans. When God ariseth, and when he visiteth, what shall we answer? May it be the glory of this province, of this respectable General Assembly, and, we could wish, of this session, to lead in the cause of the oppressed." pp. 182, 3. In 1774, the preacher of a thanksgiving sermon, speaking to his people of the "many favorable circumstances" that were suited, as he said, "to preserve us from fainting, to hearten us up, and to encourage our hopes," was not afraid to mention, first of all, "the rising and growing consistency of sentiments in the friends of liberty, which hath led one assembly and another on this continent to attempt preventing the further introduction of slaves among them, though herein they have been counteracted by governors, and which the American Congress has with so much wisdom and justice adopted." pp. 214, 215. In those days it was not held that the "self-evident truths" of the Declaration of Independence were true only of white men. The institution of domestic slavery was admitted to be incompatible with justice and with those sacred principles on which the right of revolution rested. It was expected as a matter of course, that the establishment of independence and of civil liberty would bring with it the abolition of the slave-trade and a gradual but complete abolition of slavery. For many years, religion and patriotism had protested against the enslaving of Africans. In 1766, the town of Boston had expressly instructed its representatives not only "to move for a law to prohibit the importation and purchasing slaves for the future," but also to watch "for the total abolishing of slavery from among us." "In 1767 and 1774," says Mr. Thornton, "Massachusetts passed laws against slavery which were vetoed by express instructions from England;" as laws against slavery passed by the territorial legislature of Nebraska are now vetoed by the
Federal governor. Similar attempts in Virginia against the slave-trade had encountered a similar resistance. When the first Continental Congress met in 1774-a mere council, a conference with no sort of legislative power-one of its attempts was to suppress the slave-trade by the force of certain "Articles of Association," voluntarily agreed to by the members of that Congress for themselves and their constituents. In 1776, when Jefferson, in the felicitous phrase of President Stiles, "poured the soul of the continent into the monumental act of independence," the draft of that monumental act, as it was reported to the Congress, contained, in its recital of the wrongs which the king had committed against his American subjects, the statement," He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating the most sacred rights of life and liberty on the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative atempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce." And though this charge in the impeachment of the king was struck out for the sake of conciliating South Carolina' and Georgia, the fact that it was written not by John Adams of Massachusetts, nor by Roger Sherman of Connecticut, nor by Robert R. Livingston of New York, nor by Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, but by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, shows "what the soul of the continent " was in relation to the enslaving of Africans. In 1780, the people of Massachusetts incorporated into their organic law the declaration, "All men are born free and equal;" and when a judicial decision, three years afterwards, had applied that "glittering generality" to the abolition of slavery, the preacher of the next election sermon said, "We rejoice to find the right of enslaving our fellow-men is absolutely disclaimed, . . . . is at length proscribed, and is no longer suffered to live with us. And it is devoutly wished that the turf may lie firm on its grave." p. 388.
The desire to conciliate South Carolina and Georgia ex
punged from the "monumental act of independence" the testimony which Jefferson, "pouring into it the soul of the continent," had written down against the slave-trade, expressly recognizing "the most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of" black men, and denouncing the infamy of "a market in which MEN are bought and sold." The same desire to conciliate South Carolina and Georgia, and, more lately, to conciliate other states having the same constitutional infirmity, has been potent in all the history of our union. In the Convention that framed the Federal Constitution, it gave a twenty years lease of life to the execrated slave-trade. By concession after concession, by compromise after compromise, it has trained those states into the imperious habit of presuming that the Union exists only by their sufferance, and is to be governed in the interest of their distinctive institution. Concessions and compromises were necessary, and may have been justifiable, when the problem was how to form a Union for the purpose of asserting and maintaining an independent nationality, or when the problem was how to constitute a Federal government. But concessions and compromises yielded to threats of subverting the government and dissolving the Union, are a very different thing; and now, at last, we have come to the inevitable crisis of such a policy. It is now to be determined whether the Union which was proclaimed to the world by the Declaration of Independence, is a fact, and whether the government which was constituted by the great compact of the Federal constitution, is in reality a government or only a helpless and worthless confederation, liable to dissolution at the will of whatever faction may have a momentary ascendancy in any state. The question to which we have come, and which is distinctly presented by the attempted secession, is simply whether the Union shall hereafter be governed by a constitutional majority of states, ascending to the forms and the meaning of the Constitution, or shall be at the mercy of whatever state may choose to enforce its demands by a threat of secession.
A constitutional majority of the states, as represented in the electoral colleges, have determined that the chief magistracy of the Federal Government, for the next four years, shall be
entrusted to a man against whom it is objected that he represents the principle of opposition to the extension of slavery into territories in which there is no state government. Thereupon the authorities of South Carolina have called a convention of the people of that State, and the convention, so assembled, has "ordained" the withdrawal of South Carolina from the Union. A parallel course has been taken in Georgia, in Mississippi, in Florida, and is about to be taken in other states. It need not be said that every step of these proceedings is in violation of "the supreme law of the land," and is simply revolutionary. A convention of the people of South Carolina, however convened, can have no power save such as is reserved to the states by the provisions of the Federal constitution. It may have power to change the constitution of that state, within certain well-known limits; but the power of annulling "the supreme law of the land" is not among the reserved powers of any state that has ratified or accepted the Constitution of the United States. A convention of a state, attempting to ordain and declare the secession of that state from the Union, differs in no respect from any other revolutionary assembly. The revolution thus attempted must be achieved, like any other revolution, by an appeal to arms. Of this the leaders are aware; and the appeal is made. Custom-houses, arsenals, and forts, the property not of any one state but of all the states as represented in the Federal government, have been seized by the revolutionary power with as little show of legal right as poor John Brown and his "provisional government" had when he seized the armory at Harper's Ferry. War has been levied against the United States. A vessel displaying "the thirteen stripes and new constellation" has been fired upon, and driven away from the entrance of an American port. A fortress built at the expense of the Federal treasury, and held by a handful of Federal troops, is at this moment besieged by the declared enemies of the Federal Union, and every day is adding to the strength of the batteries which are soon to open their fire upon it. This is "treason against the United States," as that crime is carefully defined by the supreme law of the land; and nothing but suc
cess can make it anything else than treason. Nor can any success, whether achieved by arms or diplomacy, ever make it anything else than a crime against liberty and the welfare of the human race, hardly surpassed by any other crime which history has recorded.
These, then, are revolutionary times, at least in the states in which the movement of secession is in progress, for secession is revolution if it succeeds, and treason if it fails. At such a crisis it is worth our while to inquire what is the position and influence of the pulpit. Are the same doctrines, in relation to liberty and the basis and rights of government, held forth now that were held forth by the patriot preachers whom Mr. Thornton's volume represents? Does the pulpit of 1861 give the same testimony concerning the relation of Christianity to liberty and man's inalienable rights, which was given by the pulpit of 1776 The question is worthy of a serious attention. We would commend this volume,-"The Pulpit of the American Revolution," to the careful perusal of those pastors and preachers, if such there are, who think that their duty, at so great a crisis, is to say nothing from which their hearers can infer either that God cares for the oppressed, or that the enslaving of Africans and holding them as slaves forever,-waging perpetual "war against human nature itself, and violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons" of black men, and "keeping open a market in which men shall be bought and sold"-is oppression.
In the free states, the pulpit, like the press and every other organ of opinion and of moral influence, is free. Consequently we must expect from the pulpit of the free states a wide diversity of utterance on the question of the times, as well as on every other question which can come within the range of moral and religious instruction. Some few preachers, in their zeal against what they call abolitionism, have been weak enough to maintain, more or less distinctly, that slavery-by which word they are understood, of course, to mean this American slavery with all its legalized impurities and atrocities-is sanctioned by the word of God; and that those who protest against the unlimited extension of it by the legislation