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An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism by Beecher

Although Abolitionists may be lauded for many virtues


To

make the position clearer, an illustration may be allowed. Suppose a body of good men become convinced that the inspired direction, "them that sin, rebuke before all, that others may fear," imposes upon them the duty of openly rebuking every body whom they discover in the practice of any sin. Suppose these men are daily in the habit of going into the streets, and calling all by-standers around them, pointing out certain men, some as liars, some as dishonest, some as licentious, and then bringing proofs of their guilt and rebuking them before all; at the same time exhorting all around to point at them the finger of scorn.

They persevere in this course till the whole community is thrown into an uproar; and assaults, and even bloodshed ensue. They then call on all good citizens to protect their persons from abuse, and to maintain the liberty of speech and of free opinion.

Now the men may be as pure in morals, as conscientious and upright in intention, as any Abolitionist, and yet every one would say, that their measures were unwise and unchristian.

In like manner, although Abolitionists may be lauded for many virtues, still much evidence can be presented, that the character and measures of the Abolition Society are not either peaceful or christian in tendency, but that they are in their nature calculated to generate party spirit, denunciation, recrimination, and angry passions.

style="text-align: justify;">The first thing I would present to establish this, is the character of the leaders of this association. Every combined effort is necessarily directed by leaders; and the spirit of the leaders will inevitably be communicated to their coadjutors, and appear in the measures of the whole body.

In attempting to characterize these leaders, I would first present another leader of a similar enterprise, the beloved and venerated WILBERFORCE. It is thus that his prominent traits are delineated by an intimate friend.

"His extreme benevolence contributed largely to his success. I have heard him say, that it was one of his constant rules, and on the question of slavery especially, never to provoke an adversary--to allow him credit fully for sincerity and purity of motive--to abstain from all irritating expressions--to avoid even such political attacks as would indispose his opponents for his great cause. In fact, the benignity, the gentleness, the kind-heartedness of the man, disarmed the bitterest foes. Not only on this question did he restrain himself, but generally. Once he had been called during a whole debate 'the religious member,' in a kind of scorn. He remarked afterwards, that he was much inclined to have retorted, by calling his opponent the _irreligious_ member, but that he refrained, as it would have been a returning of evil for evil. Next to his general consistency, and love of the Scriptures, the _humility_ of his character always appeared remarkable. The modest, shrinking, simple Christian statesman and friend always appeared in him. And the nearer you approached him, the more his habit of mind obviously appeared to be modest and lowly. His _charity in judging of others_, is a farther trait of his Christian character. Of his benevolence I need not speak, but his _kind construction of doubtful actions_, his _charitable language_ toward those with whom he most widely differed, his thorough forgetfulness of little affronts, were fruits of that general benevolence which continually appeared."


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