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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

He calls a slave holder a man stealer


Abolitionists will only cease to teach that _all_ slave-holding is a sin which ought to be _immediately abolished_; if they will cease to urge their plan as one of _immediate emancipation_, and teach simply and exactly that which they do mean, much strife and misunderstanding will cease. But so long as they persevere in using these terms in a new and peculiar sense, which will always be misunderstood, they are guilty of a species of deception and accountable for the evils that follow.

One other instance of a similar misuse of terms may be mentioned. The word "man-stealer" has one peculiar signification, and it is no more synonymous with "slave-holder" than it is with "sheep-stealer." But Abolitionists show that a slave-holder, in fact, does very many of the evils that are perpetrated by a man-stealer, and that the crime is quite as evil in its nature, and very similar in character, and, therefore, he calls a slave-holder a man-stealer.

On this principle there is no abusive language that may not be employed to render any man odious--for every man commits sin of some kind, and every sin is like some other sin, in many respects, and in certain aggravated cases, may be bad, or even worse, than another sin with a much more odious name. It is easy to show that a man who neglects all religious duty is very much like an atheist, and if he has had great advantages, and the atheist very few, he may be much more guilty

than an atheist. And so, half the respectable men in our religious communities, may be called atheists, with as much propriety as a slave-holder can be called a man-stealer. Abolitionists have proceeded on this principle, in their various publications, until the terms of odium that have been showered upon slave-holders, would form a large page in the vocabulary of Billingsgate. This method of dealing with those whom we wish to convince and persuade, is as contrary to the dictates of common sense, as it is to the rules of good breeding and the laws of the gospel.

The preceding particulars are selected, as the evidence to be presented, that the character and measures of the Abolition Society are neither peaceful nor Christian in their tendency; but that in their nature they are calculated to generate party-spirit, denunciation, recrimination, and angry passions. If such be the tendency of this institution, it follows, that it is wrong for a Christian, or any lover of peace, to be connected with it.

The assertion that Christianity itself has led to strife and contention, is not a safe method of evading this argument. Christianity is a system of _persuasion_, tending, by kind and gentle influences, to make men _willing_ to leave off their sins--and it comes, not to convince those who are not sinners, but to sinners themselves.

Abolitionism, on the contrary, is a system of _coercion_ by public opinion; and in its present operation, its influence is not to convince the erring, but to convince those who are not guilty, of the sins of those who are.

Another prominent peculiarity of the Abolitionists, (which is an objection to joining this association,) is their advocacy of a principle, which is wrong and very pernicious in its tendency. I refer to their views in regard to what is called "the doctrine of expediency." Their difficulty on this subject seems to have arisen from want of a clear distinction between the duty of those who are guilty of sin, and the duty of those who are aiming to turn men from their sins. The principle is assumed, that because certain men ought to abandon every sin immediately, therefore, certain other men are bound _immediately_ to try and make them do it. Now the question of expediency does not relate to what men are bound to do, who are in the practice of sin themselves--for the immediate relinquishment of sin is the duty of all; but it relates to the duty of those who are to make efforts to induce others to break off their wickedness.

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