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that the Federal government will only make a decent show of prevention; so long the hanging of one John Brown will raise up twenty like him; and the failure of each attempt will not only stimulate fanaticism to a fiercer intensity, but yield a lesson of experience to subsequent enterprises. One moral of this recent tragedy is, to the southern States and to the Union, Beware of filibusters and a gray-eyed men of destiny."
Let us not be understood for one moment as putting old John Brown on the same level with Walker and his comrogues, or even with the better men who perished in the invasion of Cuba. A fanatic, wielding "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” is a better specimen of human nature, than a highway robber. The human sympathy by which Brown was moved as he thought on the wrong3 of millions held in abject slaverythose long musings of his till “ while he mused the fire burned' -his devout and uncompromising acceptance of the great Christian principle which, in his erroneous application of it, was the warrant of his undertaking--his cool and quiet courage in danger—his fortitude in suffering and sorrow—and, not least, the sublimity of his fruitless self-sacrifice-remove him to a very different class from that which includes such heroes as the invaders of Nicaragua or the invaders of Cuba. To fight and die, in lofty singleness of purpose, for the liberation of slaves, is infinitely more dignified than to fight and die even successfully, or to fight and not die as the case may be, for the extension of slavery.
But there is yet another moral to be learned from this affair. The tragedy at Harper's Ferry, with its after-piece at Charlestown court-house, is, in the most favorable version of the story, an untoward incident in an attempted abduction of slaves. John Brown, acting, as he believed, under a divine commission given in the law of God, went to Virginia to rescne slaves out of the hands of their masters; and he went armed that he might defend himself and his followers if they were attacked or violently resisted. He had no doubt that he was doing right; for slavery is wrong, and the slaves have a right to their freedom, and in helping them to obtain their freedom, he was only acting in conformity with Christ's golden
rule. The tragic termination of his enterprise should suggest the inquiry whether the reasoning, which carried among its consequences so much bloodshed, is altogether sound. Doubtless the entire institution of slavery, as defined and described by the laws of our slaveholding States, is one huge and complicated injustice-a wrong as indefensible as it is stupendous. Doubtless, every man who is held and treated as a slave for no fault of his own, has a right to be free, and may resume his freedom whenever in the providence of God an opportunity of so doing is offered to him. Doubtless it is his right to make himself free, whenever he can, by removing beyond the jurisdiction of the power that enslaves him. This right of his is recognized by common sense, by the law of nations, and by the Bible. If any enactment of Congress, or of any other power, requires us to give our personal aid in the recapture of fugitives from slavery, it requires us to do wrong; and in the conflict of laws, it is our duty simply to disobey the lower in obedience to the higher, and to endure the consequences. We may not refuse to one who is merely a fugitive from slavery, the cup of cold water, the morsel of food, the shelter for a night, or the aid upon his journey, which he needs and we are able to give. All this is plain. The law which commands me to do a cruel and wicked deed, has no more force to bind my conscience, than the law which commands me to. burn incense to the image of Jupiter, or to curse the name of my Redeemer. But to resist the law because of its wrongfulness,―to take up arms against a government because of its injustice in legislation and administration,-to assume the function of setting right by armed strength the wrongs which an unjust government inflicts, or those which it refuses to redress, is quite another thing. The Christians, in the reign of Nero and his successors, used no violence against the temples or the priests of idolatry. They made no attempts to rescue their witnessing brethren from the grasp of the imperial tyranny. They fled to deserts or to distant mountains. They hid themselves and their prohibited worship in ancient tombs and subterranean retreats. "Their wrongs were their strength," and they waited till that strength should win the victory for the right. So, in this great conflict of the nine
teenth century, under the reign of our American Nero-the genius of slavery ruling through democratic forms in the name of the States and of the Federal Union, -we may refuse our personal obedience to wicked laws; we may refuse to aid the oppressor against the oppressed; we may use every form of moral force against the oppression and the oppressors, arguing against their wickedness and their madness, denouncing them to the moral sense, holding them up to the abhorrence and execration of mankind; but we may not interpose with violent resistance against established government.
The relation between slaves, whether white or black, and the State that enslaves them, is not peace but war. The State of Virginia, for example, makes war upon a portion of its own native population, and dooms them to abject servitude. It practices upon them severities and atrocities which the rules and usages of civilized war in modern times condemn; for it dooms them not only to such restraint and service as may be for a time the lot of prisoners taken in civilized war, but to the privation of all personal and domestic rights, to the profoundest intellectual degradation, to the perpetual incapacity of having anything that they can call their own, and to an absolute despair of that freedom which all the higher instincts of their human nature yearn for. It will not accept their allegiance; it will make no compact with them; it offers them no termsnothing but qnarter-nothing but life and animal snbsistenceas the price of absolute submission. This perpetual and unrelenting war—for such, according to the statntes and judicial decisions of the slaveholding States, is the relation between the Commonwealth of Virginia and a portion of its native population-may well excite in generous minds an eartnest sympathy with the weaker party. “On the side of the oppressors there was power, but the oppressed had no comforter.” But shall we go into Virginia to take the side of the
” oppressed? He who finds himself called to such a function, may go thither to expostulate, to reason, to persuade, to use any form of moral influence. He who can, may go thither to redeem the captives in the slave market, and to remove them beyond the jurisdiction of the State that enslaves them. He who
chooses, may go thither to become a peaceful citizen of that Commonwealth, and to use his influence and vote as a citizen against the continuance of the wrong. But shall we go thither to undertake any other than a moral conflict with the government there established? Shall we go thither to organize a system for the abduction of slaves? Especially shall we go thither with military arrangements and preparations, to put arms into the hands of the slaves, and to defend ourselves and them against the power of the State and of the United States? Why not?
The reason why not, is not far to seek. He who interposes, by any other than a moral influence, between the slave and the master, undertaking to right the injustice of that relation, usurps the function of government, and makes himself as "a judge and divider" over those who are not under his authority and for whom he is not responsible. He who interposes with any other than a moral influence between the slaves and the enslaving State-especially if he interposes with arms in his hands and with arms for the hands of the slaves-makes war upon that State. Whatever may be the right of individuals to defend themselves, or to stand for each other's defense, in the absence or temporary overthrow of government-whatever may be the right of revolution always inhering in a sovereign people-whatever may be the right of slaves to rise in arms against a government that makes unrelenting war upon themno system of morals, save that which is practiced by pirates on the sea and robbers on the land, allows the right of individuals, singly or in bands, whether citizens or aliens, to make war upon a State.
Here, then, is the moral which Harper's Ferry gives us on this point. The opposition to the extension and perpetuity of slavery in the United States, must be a moral and political opposition within the limits of the Constitution and the lawsnot of the new constitution lately promulgated, for that has not yet been established-but of the Constitution as the Federal Convention framed it, and as the States adopted it: Let all who love their country, or have any hope for the enslaved, avoid all fellowship with men who would abolish slavery by arms in the hands of invaders, or in the hands of slaves.
ARTICLE XI.-NOTICES OF BOOKS.
TAYLOR'S REVEALED THEOLOGY.*- -We have devoted so large a part of the present number of the New Englander to an extended Review of Dr. Taylor's Work on the Moral Government of God, that we shall here only announce the appearance of another volume of the series now publishing by Messrs. Clark, Austin & Smith. It bears the title of " Essays, Lectures, etc., upon select topics in Revealed Theology." In a future number we hope to give a Review of this new volume.
BONAR ON THE PSALMS.-The title of this book sufficiently indicates its scope. It is the book of Psalms in the common English version, printed so as to exhibit the parallelisms of the Hebrew poetical form, and accompanied with notes more or less critical, which have for their object to point out and illustrate the supposed references to Christ and the Church. It is not, therefore, a complete commentary on the Psalms, but rather a commentary for a special purpose-and in some cases, we cannot but think, is of the nature of a special plea; for, to make all the Psalms messianic, to the extent here attempted, involves, in our view, a forced exegesis, which, however it may satisfy a pious desire to find Christ everywhere in the Bible, is yet in the long run, an injury rather than a benefit both to theology and to piety. Exegesis is too often a misnomer-not so much a bringing out of the meaning of the sacred page as the putting of a meaning into it. The glasses with which even scholars read the Scriptures are too apt to be colored. It is well that the Bible has come to be interpreted, to a much greater extent than formerly, according to the principles usually adopted in the interpretation of other books, and that the old practice of spiritualizing all parts of it, according to the fancy of the exegete, has in a good degree
* Essays, Lectures, &c., upon select topics in Revealed Theology. By NATHANIEL W. TAYLOR, D. D., late Dwight Professor of Didactic Theology in Yale College. New York: Clark, Austin & Smith. 1859. 8vo. pp. 480.
+ Christ and his Church in the Book of Psalms. author of the Memoir of Rev. R. M. M'Cheyne, etc. & Brothers. 1859. pp. 457, 8vo.
By Rev. ANDREW A. Bonar,