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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

Which rejoiceth not in iniquity


Every

man sets himself up as the judge of the intellectual character, the honesty, the sincerity, the feelings, opportunities, motives, and intentions, of his fellow-man. And so they fall upon each other, not with swords and spears, but with the tongue, "that unruly member, that setteth on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire of hell."

Can any person who seeks to maintain the peaceful, loving, and gentle spirit of Christianity, go out into the world at this day, without being bewildered at the endless conflicts, and grieved and dismayed at the bitter and unhallowed passions they engender? Can an honest, upright and Christian man, go into these conflicts, and with unflinching firmness stand up for all that is good, and oppose all that is evil, in whatever party it may be found, without a measure of moral courage such as few can command? And if he carries himself through with an unyielding integrity, and maintains his consistency, is he not exposed to storms of bitter revilings, and to peltings from both parties between which he may stand?

What is the end of these things to be? Must we give up free discussion, and again chain up the human mind under the despotism of past ages? No, this will never be. God designs that every intelligent mind shall be governed, not by coercion, but by reason, and conscience, and truth. Man must reason, and experiment, and compare past and present results, and hear and know all

that can be said on _both_ sides of every question which influences either private or public happiness, either for this life or for the life to come.

But while this process is going on, must we be distracted and tortured by the baleful passions and wicked works that unrestrained party-spirit and ungoverned factions will bring upon us, under such a government as ours? Must we rush on to disunion, and civil wars, and servile wars, till all their train of horrors pass over us like devouring fire?

There is an influence that can avert these dangers--a spirit that can allay the storm--that can say to the troubled winds and waters, "peace, be still."

It is that spirit which is gentle and easy to be entreated, which thinketh no evil, which rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth, which is not easily provoked, which hopeth all things, which beareth all things. Let this spirit be infused into the mass of the nation, and then truth may be sought, defended, and propagated, and error detected, and its evils exposed; and yet we may escape the evils that now rage through this nation, and threaten us with such fiery plagues.

And is there not a peculiar propriety in such an emergency, in looking for the especial agency and assistance of females, who are shut out from the many temptations that assail the other sex,--who are the appointed ministers of all the gentler charities of life,--who are mingled throughout the whole mass of the community,--who dwell in those retirements where only peace and love ought ever to enter,--whose comfort, influence, and dearest blessings, all depend on preserving peace and good will among men?

In the present aspect of affairs among us, when everything seems to be tending to disunion and distraction, it surely has become the duty of every female instantly to relinquish the attitude of a partisan, in every matter of clashing interests, and to assume the office of a mediator, and an advocate of peace. And to do this, it is not necessary that a woman should in any manner relinquish her opinion as to the evils or the benefits, the right or the wrong, of any principle or practice. But, while quietly holding her own opinions, and calmly avowing them, when conscience and integrity make the duty imperative, every female can employ her influence, not for the purpose of exciting or regulating public sentiment, but rather for the purpose of promoting a spirit of candour, forbearance, charity, and peace.


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