« PreviousContinue »
field of polemical controversy. They would have condemned its editor, had he crowded its columns with matters of that description. The Bible Christian supplied the want that was felt. It went into the families and houses of those who had not heard of Unitarians, except as a scorn and a reproach. It was, therefore, with the deepest regret that he even hypothetically gave his sanction to the contemplated discontinuance of that most useful periodical. He hoped the promises of literary contri butions to it, from Dr. Montgomery, would be fulfilled; and that every individual who felt himself able, would support its editor in the performance of his duties. Its circumstances, at the present time, were such as to form matter for serious consideration.
A resolution was next passed, in reference to the importance of the Tract Depository; and expressing a hope that the Committee would continue to give attention to that important department of the society's operations.
Mr. PATTERSON then moved, and Mr. SEED seconded a resolution, calling on those interested in the society, to increase their annual contributions, that larger funds might be placed at the disposal of the Committee.
Mr. M'ALESTER expressed his desire, that some notice should be taken, at this meeting, of slavery in America, and the conduct of our American brethren in relation to it. It was known to some, but not, perhaps, to all present, that one hundred and seventy Unitarian ministers in the United States, had lately signed a bold and spirited protest against this monstrous evil; and it would be a shame to allow this opportunity to pass, without conveying some expression of our approval and sympathy to our protesting brethren. It was cheering to know, that among the earliest and most uncompromising of the advocates for the freedom of the slave in America, were the members of our Church. Among them, Follen and Channing were perhaps the most conspicuous; but their spirit seems to have been caught by others, and the Unitarians now have taken their place in the front of the great struggle that is going on for human freedom in the American Republic. Mr. M'Alester then proposed a resolution, expressing the delight of the meeting at the protest of the American brethren, and their deep sympathy with them in their struggles for the freedom of the slave. This resolution was seconded by Mr. Porter, supported by Mr. J. R. Neill, and carried unanimously.
A Committee for the ensuing year having been chosen,
Mr. Roberts was moved from the chair, and ALEXANDER MITCHELL, Esq., called thereto, when a vote of thanks was given to Mr. Roberts, for his kindness in presiding on the occasion. -Abridged from the Bible Christian.
ANTI-SLAVERY MEETING AT BRISTOL.
Ar a very large meeting-about 1,200 persons-held in Bristol on Monday, 10th November, for the purpose of receiving a deputa
tion from the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, John Evans Lunell, Esq., in the chair, the following resolutions were passed :
"1. That whilst this meeting deeply deplores the continued existence and dreadful atrocities of slavery and the slave-trade, they rejoice to learn the encouraging progress of anti-slavery sentiment and effort in various parts of the world, especially in the United States; and would encourage the philanthropists of this, and of every other country, to renewed exertions for the complete: overthrow of these gigantic evils."
"2. That whilst this meeting offer no opposition to the free emigration of labourers to the emancipated colonies, when conducted on sound principles, they feel it to be their duty to de. nounce the present mode of supplying them with labour as unjust in principle, unwise in policy, and inhuman and degrading in its consequences; and would earnestly call on her Majesty's Government and the British Legislature to withdraw their sanction from it. And this meeting would further urge upon the Queen's Government the duty of withholding the sanction of the Crown from all colonial enactments, whether in the form of vagrant, contract, or other laws, the effect of which may be to place the labouring population within the power of their masters, or to give the local justices concurrent jurisdiction with the stipendiary magistrates in the colonies."
"3. That this meeting have learned with painful interest the fact, that several thousands of British subjects are now held in slavery in the Spanish and Dutch colonial possessions, and would respectfully entreat her Majesty's Government to take the necessary measures for securing to them their liberty, and for restoring them to their native homes."
After a statement by John Scobell, Esq., Secretary to the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, full of instructive and harrowing details,
The following address, with the resolution annexed, was then delivered, to a deeply sympathising auditory, by the Rev. George Armstrong:-I can very well believe, Sir, that the circumstance of so short a notice, adverted to by a reverend speaker who has just sat down, has been inconveniently felt by several ministers, whose absence on the present occasion may be justly ascribed to that cause-or, indeed, to any cause-rather than indisposition to the object which has brought us together. Yet I could wish that my reverend brethren of other denominations had been present this evening in larger numbers, because it would have been my hope to place before them a means by which they, in particular, might be able to effectuate one great benefit emphatically referred to this evening-the swelling the voice of sympathy from this country to America, by conveying to their kindred churches beyond the Atlantic, their united testimony against the deep wrong of slavery, and their earnest entreaties that the ministers of those churches would be faithful in the discharge of the high function devolving upon them in relation to that subject. I shall
have more to say upon this topic presently; but, in the meantime, I am anxious it should be felt in how many ways even small efforts, when generally pursued, may be most important aids in the carrying on of the great work to which our hearts, and therefore our hands, should with all readiness and perseverance be devoted. I am desirous of impressing, not only upon my reverend brethren the importance of action from them in this matter but upon laymen, and especially on those to whom the call of humanity is never directed in vain-the females of our country, how easily they may confer the benefit, not only of their sympathy, but of their pecuniary support, by a very small expenditure of time, attention, and material, which, in instances which have come within my knowledge, have drawn after them an abundant requital in the gratitude of those to whose service these efforts were devoted. I allude to a proceeding now in operation for some two or three years in this city-the contributing and collecting of articles for an ANTI-SLAVERY Fair or Bazaar, held about Christmas, every year, in the City of Boston, Massachusetts. In the two last years-and again in the present-some friends have been engaged in this good work, and have been able to transmit to America to the value of £70 or £80-some suitable articles, slender indeed in pecuniary amount, but far from unimportant as a demonstration of the feeling which suggested even so trifling an aid. Let it no longer be a trifling aid. At least let many hands be engaged in it; and let us, each year hence, work together on a wider scale, and, in friendly rivalry, see who may be most successful, in proportion to their opportunities, in the manifestation of this evidence of the interest here taken in the prosperity of the (Christmas) ANTI-SLAVERY BAZAAR at Boston. We can answer for the pure auspices under which it is conducted; and we have rejoicingly experienced, in the cordiality of the thanks we have received, evidence more than we could expect of the pleasure we have been able to confer. Sir, this feeling in American minds is strong. They are sensible of the value of sympathy, and are abundantly grateful when it is given. I have shown it to be so on small occasions; and we have proof in our hands, that it is commensurately so on large occasions. In the last annual report of the Massachusetts AntiSlavery Society, honourable and grateful mention is made of the Government and the people of England, for "the continued direction of their attention and their energies to the extinction of negro slavery and the slave-trade throughout the world." The report, with pleasure, records, that "the Directors of the East India Company, responding to the demands of the lovers of freedom, had emancipated nearly ten millions of East Indian Slaves;" and goes on to say, that "the day may not be far distant when the great battle for freedom will be decided, with their assistance, in the cotton market of Liverpool; and when the peaceful emancipation of the American slave will be achieved on the plains of Hindostan. To many men and women of England we are indebted more directly for expressions of sympathy, and for substantial assistance, afforded during the past year. For their words of en
couragement, and for their helping hands, we return them our cordial thanks." But, Sir, I must not forget the task of friendly suggestion to my ministerial brethren of other denominations— with respect to which, I desire to throw myself on their indulgent consideration. May I say, then, how much good they might effect-how important, indeed, might be the result-were they to undertake the duty of affectionately and respectfully addressing their brethren in the ministry, more particularly throughout the Northern States (where only they could hope to be heard), imploring them, in language such as it would become one free brother to use to another, to employ the great means at their disposal, in the raising and strengthening of that feeling in their countrymen, and in the souls committed to their charge, which should render the existence of slavery on their soil, from this day forth, insupportable to them, as alike injurious to man, and offensive to God. Whether such steps have already been taken or not, my recollection does not immediately inform me. But this I know, and not without humble gratulation am I enabled to tell it, that such a step has been taken by the religious denomination to which it is my honour to belong, and with the very best and happiest result. In the exercise of a brotherly and Christian frankness, a document was drawn up, and extensively signed by the ministers of our persuasion in this country and in Ireland, respectfully but entreatingly reminding our brethren in the States, of the high and solemn responsibility resting on them in the sight of God and man, in regard to the greatest question of the present age. The document was received with kindness, but not with warmth. It was an experiment which had to work its way. And as the event has turned out, we have cause to rejoice that no sudden action was taken. Months elapsed, during which the subject was permeating far and near throughout that portion of the States which it was our desire to influence. Months again followed upon these; and though in the interval we had a decorous acknowledgment, and expressions of fraternal regard, it was not till within the last few days, that the fulness of time had arrived; and that the little leaven, which had been working so well, produced its satisfactory and exhilarating result. Sir, I have in my hand a PROTEST," on the subject of slavery, which would do honour to any body of men, and of which, as a brother professor, with those who have sent it to us, I take a just pride, on so appropriate an occasion as the present, in making this public and grateful mention. In this eloquent document there is one passage in particular, to which I would beg to draw your attention. It has been a fashion with some, a bold and frequent one with the spiritual guides of the owners of slaves in America, to set up in defence of their "peculiar institution" the sanction of the sacred oracles of God. Sir, the subscribers to this noble "PROTEST" have taken such notice of this plea, as divines had a right to take. "We protest," they say, "against any attempt to defend the system from the letter of the Scriptures, or from practices recorded in the Old Testament, as a libel on God and Christ, which would tend, so far as the attempt succeeded, to destroy our
confidence in the Bible. If this system was not prohibited among ancient nations by positive law, it was not for the reason that it was right; but that, like polygamy and other evil practices, 'it was suffered for a time, because of the hardness of their hearts.' And if, from the imperfect knowledge under the old dispensation, -the time of this ignorance God winked at'—yet now in the light of the Gospel, He has commanded all men everywhere to repent.' Passing over some noble adjurations of their people, and their brethren especially in the South, they go on to say"We implore all Christians and Christian preachers to unite in increasing prayer to God for aid against this system; to lose no opportunity of speaking the truth and spreading light on this subject, in faith that the truth is strong enough to break every yoke And we, on our part, do hereby pledge ourselves before God and our brethren, never to be weary of labouring in the cause of human rights and freedom, till slavery be abolished, and every slave made free." Signed by 170 Unitarian ministers of the Northern portion of the United States. [The reading of these extracts, with the comments which preceded and followed, was received by the meeting with the liveliest demonstrations of satisfaction.] Such, Sir, has been the fruit-itself, we doubt not, but the prercusor of a future increase-which, indirectly indeed, but by an easily perceptible connection, has grown out of the humble efforts of faithful hearts here to quicken the generous hearts there, of those whom they now more than ever must hold in honour and esteem! May we not, then, say to brethren of other demominations around-"Go and do ye likewise?" But in this work of quickening and encouraging, we must do something more, and something now. We owe a debt to those who, in the midst of storms and darkness, are bravely clinging to the ark of liberty, and doing a Christian work under difficulty and danger we know not of-we owe them a debt, and we must partly pay it now and here. They want our sympathy, and they shall have it. They rejoice in the encouragement of our kind words, and with all our souls we give it! And now, Sir, although, from want of time, I have not been able to consult at an earlier moment with the conductors of this meeting, shall I not have the consent of this platform, shall I not have the concurrence, aye, the accclamation, of this meeting, on proposing the following resolution : -"Resolved,-That, convened as we have been, for the purpose of aiding in the great cause of freedom from the bonds of SLAVERY, we should deem ourselves wanting to that cause were we to withhold the expression of our admiration for those magnanimous men and women in the United States of North America who, in the face of unparalleled difficulties, (we rejoicingly learn, now in process of diminution,) with a zeal that no danger can damp, with a love that no opposition can quench, continue to be nobly banded in the holy cause of freeing their coloured brethren from the cruelest bondage that has ever afflicted and disgraced the human race. That, in tendering thus the expression of our sentiments, we gladly embrace the opportunity of joining our voice with that of all men everywhere, who respect the right of free discussion,