« AnkstesnisTęsti »
selves. For the purpose of extending this slave market, they do not hesitate to involve the Union in disgraceful wars of conquest. Texas they have seized already ; California is in their gripe ; and the annexation of Cuba is already suggested, - to which Virginia might serve as a new Africa, the slavetrade to that coast having been mainly cut off by the vigilance of the English cruisers. This let-alone policy, this waiting for the parties most immediately interested, to take the lead, came near proving fatal even to Congress itself. The right of petition, even freedom of debate, seemed about to be extinguished in that body. The Federal government put itself forward as the champion and defender of slavery; the antagonist, on this point, of all Christendom. What a change was evident, even on the question of the African slave-trade! The Federal government, which had once itself proposed a mutual right of search on the coast of Africa, exerted all its efforts, and not without success, to defeat a treaty of that sort, into which Britain had induced the great powers of Europe to enter. The thraldom, thank God, into which Congress was fast sinking, has, by the noble efforts of a few noble men, at last been partially shaken off. The attention of the people has been aroused to the question, - shall the Federal government be a slave-holding or an anti-slave-holding government? Experience seems to show that any middle ground, practically speaking, is out of the question. If the Federal government is not the one, it must be the other.
But supposing the Federal government to have power, to have a constitutional right to act in this matter, how is it to act? Shall Congress employ force ? Shall a law be passed declaring the right of the southern negroes to freedom, and an army be marched into the southern states to enforce that law? Such rude and violent methods of effecting political changes, correspond neither to the principles of our institutions, nor to the enlightened philosophy of the present age. It is not the office of the Federal government to abolish slavery by a mere act of its own authority imposed upon the slave-holding states, — an act which might justly be denounced as arbitrary, and which the whole white population of the South would unite to resist. Great evils are not thus to be got rid of by a single blow. To be effectually and peacefully abolished, slavery must be abolished by the legislatures of the slave states themselves. There exist in all the slave states ample materials for a party ready to undertake that great and illustrious task. Some moving of the dry bones has been of late discernible; but for the most part, the anti-slavery party of the South, strong, morally and intellectually, and by no means contemptible in point of numbers, lies at this moment prostrate, completely paralyzed by terror, and prevented by terror from any movement or organization; held down in as pitiable a state of fear and helplessness as can well be imagined. The great excitement of 1834 – the alarm then raised among the slave-holders by the symptoms of an anti-slavery movement at the North – caused the extemporaneous introduction into the southern states of a suppressive system — based apparently on the Spanish inquisition, — but with the democratic improvements of turning every slave-holder into an inquisitor; and the miserable uneducated mob of the southern villages and hamlets, into spies and officers; the proceedings, without any troublesome or tedious formalities, being regulated by the code of Lynch-law, the same parties acting in the four-fold capacity of accusers, witnesses, judges, and executioners. That same despotic spirit, which without law and against law, holds the slaves in subjection, does not hesitate a moment to set aside all the most sacred principles of law, for the sake of speedy vengeance upon those inclined in any way to question its authority.
Yet it is to this down-trodden party, this humbled and silenced party, this party existing, indeed, as yet only in embryo, without organization or self-consciousness, these southern anti-slavery men, that we must look for the abolition of slavery. The spirit of despotism must be encountered in the slave states themselves, by a power potent enough to awe it down and keep it under; and this power can only be a mass of citizens combined together, acting in concert, and having such weight of social and especially of political influence, that it shall become necessary to respect their feelings, their opinions, and their rights. Such a combination must be formed in all the slave states, before the first effectual steps can be taken, we do not say towards the abolition of slavery, merely, but even towards the enforcement of the rights of those nominally free; those great rights of free discussion and a free press, which no despotism or would-be despotism willingly tolerates.
Congress, however, or the friends of freedom in Congress, are not to wait till such a party rises up. It is their business to help it up, to reach out a hand to it, on every possible occasion. Could the immense patronage of the Federal government once be directed to that point, we may judge of the result likely to follow, by the effect which that same patronage has produced at the North, in a counter direction. It is by calling upon the Federal government, on every possible occasion that occurs, or can be made to occur, to abjure all responsibility for slavery, and all countenance of it; it is by finding and making perpetual occasions to point out the evils of slavery in particular instances, its incompatibility with the “ general welfare," and the obstacles which it opposes to the “common defence;" – it is by imitating the example of
steadfast old Cato, and repeating at every opportunity, in season and out of season, " I think also that slavery ought to be abolished;" — such are the means by which even a very few members of Congress may effect great things, not indeed by way of direct legislation, - for direct legislation constitutes after all but a small part of the influence which Congress exerts, -- but by keeping this subject constantly before the public mind, enabling and compelling the slave-holders to see what they have hitherto so obstinately shut their eyes to; - and what is of more importance yet, giving the non-slaveholding freemen of the South an opportunity to see what the slave-holders hitherto have so dexterously kept out of their sight.
Just in proportion as the anti-slavery party increases in Congress, just in proportion as that body shall evince symptoms of a settled, firm, and steady opposition to slavery, just in the same proportion will the southern anti-slavery men be encouraged to confess themselves; first to themselves, then to one another, and then to the world. It is only through the medium of Congress, and the Federal government, that tho anti-slavery sentiment of the North can be brought into any active coöperation with the anti-slavery sentiment of the South; and surely, until northern representatives of non-slaveholding constituencies can stand up on the floor of Congress and boldly speak their minds upon the subject, and secure a hearing too, it is quite too much to expect any such boldness or any such hearing in the legislature of any slaveholding state.
It needs, as we believe, only this free discussion, to show that even the technical legality behind which slavery claims to entrench itself, cannot be maintained. This point has
hitherto been conceded to the slave-holders, hastily, without examination, and, as we believe, without reason. The fact seems to be, that although the people of the southern states were willing to allow slavery to continue among them as a matter of fact, they left its legality to rest upon the enactments and practice of the colonial times, without undertaking by any fundamental act of sovereignty on their part to confer any new or additional legality upon it. The legality of slavery rests, then, upon a colonial usage, - a usage not only unsustained by the English law, but in several most important points, directly contradictory to it; a usage totally incapable of furnishing any legal foundation for any claim of right; a usage upon which neither the state constitutions nor the Federal constitution undertake to confer a legal character.
ART. II.- SWEDENBORG AS A THEOLOGIAN.
We cannot hope in the compass of this article to do justice to the various claims which the writings of Swedenborg prefer to the respect of the religious and philosophic mind. We shall, indeed, attempt nothing more than a statement of their leading theological import.
In entering upon a brief survey of Swedenborg's theology, it will be advisable to consider for a moment his claim to a peculiar spiritual illumination. In the first place, this illumination differs very signally from the phenomena of Animal Magnetism, in that it involved no dishonor to his senses. In what is called clairvoyance, the subject is obliged, as a first requisite, to become insensible to the material world. He is in fact reduced to a condition very nearly approaching the death of the body, before the spiritual consciousness is able to unfold itself.
With Swedenborg, however, the case was otherwise. His illumination involved no denial of the sensuous life. His senses maintained their unobstructed action, although he consciously transcended their sphere, and became the familiar denizen of scenes which they were all too gross to apprehend. In short his illumination was a rational illumination, disclosing to him the reason of things. He saw the organic forms of the
mental sphere, because he had acknowledged, as no man before him, the only organizing principle to be Use, or Beneficence. It is this which gives his writings all their worth to the theologian or philosopher,—that he reports principles and not facts, or rather that his facts are all principles. He describes the Heavens and the Hells, or the things pertaining to either state, not as ultimate facts or interesting on their own account, but as constituting by their correlative existence the indispensable basis of human individuality, and thus of the divine manifestation in nature.
He describes them as the necessary means to a divine and eternal end, which is the communication of Divine Life to the creature ; an end which, when truly apprehended or viewed in its fulfilment, stamps the means, also, with ineffable divinity. For the grand reason, he says, of all experience, the essential cause of all the causes and effects in the universe, is the divine Humanity, or the fact, that God is a man, not figuratively, but really and actually, or spiritually and naturally; that is, as being the original and fountain of every truly human relation.
Now, however we may judge of the sufficiency of this reason, or cause, for the effects witnessed in nature, at all events, we cannot deny that here is an attempt to construct a universal theology, or philosophy. And this pretension, in the second place, separates Swedenborg toto cælo, as to the claim of illumination, from the whole race of seers and fanatics. These persons have always some private mission; they are always endowed with some personal authority over others, and degrade the Deity from an equal providence over all his creatures into the special benefactor of a select few. But Swedenborg claimed no authority of any sort over men's opinions or actions. He simply claimed to have his understanding or spiritual sight opened to the apprehension of the universe of causes; and this with a view to the explication of certain effects then becoming visible in society, and of the highest possible import to Christian nations. He refrained from all vulgar notoriety; never spoke of his pretensions except when ap pealed to by an 'enlightened curiosity; and published all his books in a learned language, as if purposely to bar their extensive recognition, at all events, during his life. So far was he from originating, or dreaming of originating, a new sect, that he treated the established institutions of worship with unvarying respect; and in order to do so with the greater emphasis,