William Lloyd Garrison.

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flames' — &c. &c.

Merciful God ! is this in accordance with thy will ? And
shall he, who thus counsels the most atrocious acts, dare to
ofl?er up a prayer to Thee for succor and benediction ^
Alas ! he knows not what spirit he is of.

Yet here we have as lofty and magnanimous a specimen
of worldly ' patriotism ' as the age produces !

Let us be just. Let us detract nothing from the real
merits of Kossuth. He abhors tyranny ; he has passed six
years of his life (almost at the sacrifice of it) in a loath-
some Austrian dungeon, for his love of liberty; he is no
demagogue, no selfish adventurer, but earnest in purpose,
and self-sacrificing in action ; he goes for Hungarian liberty
as Washington went for American independence.


Still, he is implacable, unmerciful, towards the enemies
of his country, even to consuming them alive with fire !

The name of Kossuth ' rings from shore to shore.' Who
among his admirers and eulogists thinks of taking any ex-
ception to his course ?

Yet what is the scope of his vision ? He is a Hungarian,
as Washington was an American. His country is bounded
by a few degrees of latitude and longitude, and covers a
surface of some thousands of square miles. He is strictly
local, territorial, national. The independence of Hungary,
alone, absorbs his thoughts and inspires his efforts ; and to
obtain it, he feels justified in disregarding the claims of hu-
manity, and suspending all the obligations of morality.

Contrast now with all this, the precepts, the doctrines,
the example, the spirit, the life, the death, the purposes of
Jesus ! — Jesus, the wronged, the calumniated, the buffeted,
the hunted, the crucified ! To the injured, the oppressed,
the down-trodden, he made no inflammatory appeals, but
taught forbearance, long-suffering, forgiveness ; yet he also
taught them to wear no yoke, and to call no man master,
though a cruel martyrdom should be their lot. He coun-
selled neither retaliation nor self-defence. He did not say,
'Arm with axes, scythes and clubs — burn the houses of
your enemies about their heads' — but soothingly declared,
' Blessed are the meek ; for they shall inherit the earth ' —
' Blessed are the merciful ; for they shall obtain mercy ' —
' Blessed are the peace-makers ; for they shall be called the
children of God.' And with true nobility of soul, he gave
these magnanimous injunctions : — 'I say unto you, that ye
resist not evil ; but whosoever shall smite thee on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also' — ' I say unto you, love
your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them
that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you
and persecute you. For if ye love them that love you,


what reward have ye ? do not even the publicans so ? '
' Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye even so to them.' He also declared, ' All
they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.' His
life was in strict harmony with his precepts. He met the
enmity of his persecutors with a lamb-like spirit ; yet, in
reproving them for their crimes, he was courageous as a
lion. ' Wo unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites !
ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the
damnation of hell } ' Nothing could intimidate, subdue or
enslave him. Nailed as a felon to the cross, he supplicated
for the forgiveness of his enemies with his expiring breath.

Jesus was neither local nor national in his feelings or
designs. The land of his birth was in bondage to the Ro-
man power, but he exhibited no ' patriotic ' indignation, and
made no appeal to Jewish pride or revenge. Abhorring
oppression in every shape, his method of meeting it was
to rebuke it, and to return good for evil. He would destroy
tyranny, but without injury to the tyrant ; by a moral re-
generation, not by a physical struggle. His soul was
expansive as the universe, his love for the human race im-
partial, his country the world.

Jesus was ever ready to be slain for his principles, but
he caused no tears of misery to flow, no blood of enemies
to be shed, no houses to be fired, no lands to be devastated.
See the miseries and calamities brought alike upon Hunga-
rians and Austrians by the terrible appeals of Kossuth !
And how many generations must pass away, before the
fierce enmities thus excited will become extinct !

Oh, Kossuth ! not of thy abhorrence of Austrian oppres-
sion do I complain, but join with thee in execrating it. But
the lessons of vengeance which thou art teaching thy coun-
trymen are such as degrade and brutalize humanity. Tell
the Hungarians, that a bloody warfare to maintain their na-


tionality is incompatible with moral greatness and Christian
love, and for an object which is low and selfish. Inflame
them not to madness by martial appeals, but exhort them to
beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into
pruning-hooks ; so, being weaponless, yet possessing a spirit
determined to be free, they shall present to Austria an un-
conquerable front, and achieve a bloodless triumph.

O, Jesus ! noblest of patriots ! greatest of heroes ! most
glorious of all martyrs ! Thine is the spirit of universal
liberty and love — of uncompromising hostility to every
form of injustice and wrong. But not with weapons of
death dost thou assault thy enemies, that they may be van-
quished or destroyed ; for thou dost not wrestle against flesh
and blood, but ' against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in high places' ; therefore hast thou put on the
whole armor of God, having thy loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breast-plate of righteousness, and thy feet
shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, and going
forth to battle with the shield of faith, the helmet of salva-
tion, the sword of the Spirit ! Worthy of all imitation art
thou, in overcoming the evil that is in the world ; for by the
shedding of thine own blood, but not the blood even of thy
bitterest foes, shalt thou at last obtain a universal victory.

♦The Christian's victory alone

Hostility for ever ends,
Erects an undisputed throne,

And turns his foes to friends.

Ye great ! ye mighty of the earth I

Ye conquerors ! learn this secret true —
A secret of celestial birth —
By suffering to subdue !


Nor is the victory lost, -when those

Whom Love assails disdain to yield ;
A host of spiritual foes

Lie vanquished on the field.

All outward storms will rage in vain,

If peace and love within abide ;
The soul each onset will sustain,
A rock amidst the tide.'

An esteemed correspondent expresses a doubt as to the
practical working of non-resistance, as applied to the case
of Austrian despotism, for example. But is that despotism
the result of an adoption, or of a rejection of the principle
of non-resistance ? Clearly the latter. Is the principle,
then, to be discarded, in order to put down that which it
radically condemns and utterly repudiates ? Is this philo-
sophical ? Can Beelzebub cast out Beelzebub ? Is evil to
be overcome with evil ? True, the cause of justice and
liberty must eventually triumph, whether by or without a
resort to murderous weapons ; but it will not be because of
those weapons, but because of its inherent goodness, and
the transitory nature of tyranny. There will be no real
freedom or security among mankind, until they beat their
swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-
hooks, and learn war no more. We grant that every suc-
cessful struggle for freedom on the part of the oppressed,
even with the aid of cannon and bomb-shells, is to be
hailed with rejoicing ; but simply in reference to its object,


and not to the mode of its accomplishment. That a people
sufficiently enlightened to be conscious of their degradation,
yet far from being morally and spiritually regenerated,
should take up arms against their merciless oppressors, is
not surprising — nay, it is inevitable, in their condition ; but
this is no real justification of revenge or murder on their
part. If they were truly pure and good, theirs would be
the course of Jesus and his apostles, of prophets and ' the
noble army of martyrs and confessors,' in maintaining the
right and in confronting the wrong — a course attended by
no crime, stained by no blood excepting their own freely
shed for their enemies, divinely magnanimous, and ' mighty
through God to the pulling down of strong holds ' — a
course which wholly eclipses, in power and glory, any ever
pursued by blood-spilling revolutionists. Our correspondent
burns with indignation in view of Austrian tyranny ; so do
we. He rejoices to see its victims rising against it ; so do
we. He is in doubt whether the principle of non-resist-
ance, if adopted by them, would procure for them the de-
liverance they seek ; we are not. A people able to adopt
that principle in theory and practice, cannot possibly be en-
slaved, any more than the angels of God ; and no form of
despotism can make them servile. They do not fear the
face of the tyrant, and it is their mission to ' beard the lion
in his den.' They may be burnt to ashes, but they can
never be conquered. Theirs is the ' unresistible might of
weakness,' (to borrow the expressive language of Milton,)
and no weapon used against them shall prosper. But no
people, constituting a nation, has reached this sublime state
of moral exaltation ; all are more or less brutal, eager for
revenge in case of suffering, and incapable of understanding
how they who take the sword shall perish with the sword.
This is to be lamented ; but it is history. Surely, it is no
reason why those who are ' under grace ' should abandon


their position, and discard Jesus, the non-resistant, for Moses
or Joshua, the warrior.

Our correspondent is greatly in error in speaking of non-
resistance as a state of ' passivity.' On the contrary, it is a
state of activity, ever fighting the good fight of faith, ever
foremost to assail unjust power, ever struggling for ' liberty,
equality, fraternity,' in no national sense, but in a world-
wide spirit. It is passive only in this sense, — that it will
jiot return evil for evil, nor give blow for blow, nor resort to
.murderous weapons for protection or defence. In its purity,
it is the blending of the gentleness and innocency of the
Lamb of God, with the courage and strength of the Lion of
the tribe of Judah.

€xnt (CnuragB.

I BOAST no courage on the battle-field,

Where hostile troops immix in horrid fray ;
Per Love or Fame I can no weapon wield,

With burning lust an enemy to slay : —
But test my spirit at the blazing stake,

For advocacy of the Rights of Man,
And Truth — or on the wheel my body break ;

Let Persecution place me 'neath its ban ;
Insult, defame, proscribe my humble name ;

Yea, put the dagger to my naked breast ;
If I recoil in terror from the flame,

Or recreant prove when peril rears its crest.
To save a limb, or shun the public scorn —
Then write me down for aye. Weakest of woman born


That the history of the human race is one of progression ;
that conflicting ideas of right and wrong, on many points,
have prevailed in different ages of the world ; that the light
and knowledge of one age have been much inferior to those
of a succeeding age ; all this is beyond controversy. ' To
whom much is given, of the same much shall be required' —
and less where less is given. But this does not prove that
God, in any age, commanded acts to be done which are in
themselves wrong, as the best method he could adopt to
educate and discipline any portion of our race for a higher
destiny. His moral attributes are absolute and immutable ;
his relations to mankind, and theirs to him and to each other,
have ever been essentially the same. What is derogatory
to his character now — what is morally injurious to them —
must have always been so, whether so regarded or not.

There are certain moral propositions which need no argu-
ment or proof. God cannot lie ; he cannot, therefore,
authorise lying. God cannot steal ; he cannot, therefore,
enjoin theft as a duty in any case. God cannot commit
murder ; he cannot, therefore, require any of his children
to be murderers. God cannot be cruel or vindictive ; he
cannot, therefore, approve or enjoin acts of cruelty or
revenge. God cannot enslave ; he cannot, therefore, require
or sanction slavery, under any circumstances.

Now, on what are right and wrong dependant ? On
recorded declarations ? on ancient parchments or modern
manuscripts ? on sacred books ? No. Though every parch-
ment, manuscript and book in the world were given to the
consuming fire, the loss would not in the least affect the
right or wrong of moral actions. Truth andHluty, the prin-
ciples of justice and equity, the obligations of mercy and
brotherly kindness, are older than all books, and more endur-


ing than tables of stone. If we find any thing contrary to
these, in any book or on any tablet, is it not to be repudiated,
even though it may claim to be divinely commanded ?

The question at issue is — war, its nature, tendencies,
results : war, whether in ancient or modern times, whether
under the Jewish or Christian dispensation: is it right?
was it ever justifiable ? How shall this question be settled ?
Not arbitrarily by an appeal to any volume, however sacred-
ly regarded ; for every volume is of human composition,
and therefore liable to error. Besides, if war be a malum
in se, it needs no other evidence than its own intrinsic char-
acter to procure for it a verdict of condemnation. In short,
we must judge of the tree by its fruits ; and this we can
easily do.

War is as capable of moral analysis as slavery, intemper-
ance, licentiousness, or idolatry. It is not an abstraction,
which admits of doubt or uncertainty, but as tangible as
bombs, cannon, mangled corpses, smouldering ruins, deso-
lated towns and villages, rivers of blood. It is substantially
the same in all ages, and cannot change its moral features.
To trace it in all its ramifications is not a difficult matter.
In fact, nothing is more terribly distinct than its career ; it
leaves its impress on every thing it touches, whether physi-
cal, mental, or moral. Why, then, not look it in the face ?
Why look any where else ? Is it not in this demonstrative way
that abolitionists triumphantly meet their opponents on the
subject of slavery ; that the friends of total abstinence grap-
ple with the advocates of moderate drinking ; that the oppo-
nents of the gallows drive from the field the partisans of
capital punishment.?

War is the antagonist of Peace, as Slavery is of Liberty,
as Sin is of Holiness. The mission of Jesus was that of
Peace. All Christians profess to believe, that when his
spirit universally prevails, mankind will sit under their own


vines and fig trees, with none to molest or make them
afraid. What is this but to concede that war is opposed to
his spirit ? Has he come to condemn or extirpate, as
morally wrong, that which his Heavenly Father expressly
commanded to be done as a test of religious obedience, and
to promote true piety among the idolatrous nations of old .?
To this simple issue, the vindicators of the Jewish wars
must be kept. They but travel in a circle when they quote
from this or that portion of the Bible, passages to prove that
those wars were just and holy.

"(KtiB ^k\iim tljat to m uhM nf inh/'

There is something not only extremely unfair, but posi-
tively slanderous, in the naked charge, so frequently pre-
ferred against non-resistants, that they ' deny the necessity
of human governments.' As thus stated, without explana-
tion or qualification, a person ignorant of their principles
would be justified in supposing that they advocated the
profligate doctrines of Jack Cade, were for removing all
moral and legal restraints upon the people, and were a band
of Jacobins and anarchists, who took delight in shedding
innocent blood, crying havoc, and letting slip the dogs of
war. Every such representation is something more fla-
grant than a broad caricature ; it is both false and wicked.
Non-resistants do not deny that some form of government,
however arbitrary and despotic, is better than a state of anar-
chy; that a limited monarchy is infinitely to be preferred to



an absolute despotism ; and that a republican is far better than
a monarchical form of government. Just as they concede
that the cholera is more dreadful than a slow fever, and
a slow fever more to be deprecated than the ague.
They also readily admit, that the abrogation of existing
laws and governmental regulations for the punishment of
evil-doers would be most calamitous, without a moral and
spiritual regeneration of the people. But they affirm that,
under the gospel dispensation, man is no longer empowered
to take the life of man, or to demand an eye for an eye, or
a tooth for a tooth. They maintain that, whether many or
few are willing or able to pardon their enemies, Christ
requires it of all who would be his disciples ; that the gov-
ernment is upon his shoulders ; that there is no foundation
in reason or scripture for incarcerating in prison, or sus-
pending upon gibbets, domestic foes, and allowing foreign
invaders to lay waste the land and commit all manner of
excesses with impunity ; that if it is right to slay one man
in self-defence, or to save community from destruction, it is
equally right to slay two, one hundred, any number of men,
for the same reason — and, therefore, defensive war is justi-
fiable. They would not only disarm mankind of their
deadly weapons, but remove from their hearts all incentives
to do evil, all desire for revenge. In short, they can use no
other weapons than those which are spiritual, in their con-
flict with the evil that is in the world, and believe that they
may safely treat their enemies as Jesus did his. The So-
ciety of Friends, in approving of governments which are
upheld by the sword, and the laws of which are written in
blood, is false to its own principles. It must either recede
from its present position, or march on to the ground of
entire non-resistance. Its inconsistency is too glaring to
escape the observation even of those who make no preten-
sions to a pacific character. An acute writer in the ' New


York Observer,' objecting to the doctrine of Friends, that
war, under all circumstances, is inconsistent with the pre-
cepts of the gospel and the spirit of the Christian dispensa-
tion, says: —

* Here is the fundamental error of the English Peace Society,
and also of the American, which expressly adopts the same princi-
ple as an article of its Constitution. Both Societies deny to a
nation the right of self-defence ; for they regard all war, defensive as
well as offensive, as repugnant to the Christian dispensation. They
would require rulers to surrender their subjects, without resist-
ance, to every company or horde of evil-doers, coming from abroad
in the shape of an army ; and thus they would annihilate all gov-
ernment, which is nothing without the employment of physical
force for the punishment of evil-doers.

* In vain do some of the peace men, whose actual principles are
those of non-resistance, endeavor to escape the reproach of the
non- resisting doctrines, by distinguishing between the employment
of force by the magistrates against citizens, and its employment
against an enemy ; for it is a distinction without a difference. In
all reason, the magistrate, who bears the sword for the protection of
the people and the preservation of order, is bound to use it as
readily against a band of pirates coming in a sliip, or an invad-
ing army, as against a solitary robber or murderer.'

Surely, nothing can be more dangerous than the doctrine,
that the moral obligations of men change with the latitude
and longitude of a place. Surely, it is a gross paradox
uttered by the Society of Friends, that if there be domestic
troublers of the public peace, Christianity requires that they
should be confined in prison, and deprived in some instances
of their lives ; but if a band of lawless invaders should
throng these shores from abroad, for the purpose of ravaging
the country and reducing the people to slavery, then Chris-
tianity requires that there should be no physical force
arrayed against them, and the people are bound to sutler
unresistingly. Such a doctrine is not less absurd than it is


unscriptural, and to state it is to refute it. If Christ has not
enjoined non-resistance to and forgiveness of all enemies,
he has to none. Why should the American people love
foreigners better than themselves ? Why should they allow
Turks or Russians to inflict all possible injuries upon them
with impunity, and yet not permit any of their number to
commit the smallest offence, without subjecting them to
pains and penalties ? If self-defence be not lawful in a
national, it is not in an individual capacity ; for the right of
any one man cannot be more comprehensive than that of
the whole people.

The only difference, therefore, between the Society of
Friends and the Non-Resistance Society, respecting the
treatment of enemies, is, that the former goes for the par-
don of those only who come from abroad, and the latter for
the pardon of all, for Christ's sake, whether they are for-
eign or domestic.

As to the governments of this world, all history shows that
they cannot be maintained, except by naval and military
power ; that all their mandates being a dead letter without
such power to enforce them in the last extremity, are virtu-
ally written in human blood ; hence, that the followers of
Jesus should instinctively shun their stations of trust, honor
and authority — at the same time, ' submitting to every
ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake,' and ofl^ering no physi-
cal resistance to any of their commands, however unjust or
tyrannical. The language of Jesus is, ' My kingdom is not
of this world, else would my servants fight.' Calling his
disciples to him, he said to them, ' Ye know that they which
are accounted to rule over the Gentiles, exercise lordship
over them; and their, great ones exercise authority upon
them. But so it shall not be among you ; but whosoever
will be great among you, shall be your minister ; and who-
soever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.


For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,
but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.'

Human governments are to be viewed as judicial punish-
ments. If a people turn the grace of God into lascivious-
ness, or make their liberty an occasion for anarchy — or if
they refuse to belong to the ' one fold and one Shepherd' —
they shall be scourged by governments of their own choos- .
ing, and burdened with taxation, and subjected to physical
control, and torn by factions, and made to eat the fruit of
their evil doings, until they are prepared to receive the lib-
erty and the rest which remain, on earth as well as in
heaven, for the people of God. This is in strict accordance
with the arrangements of Divine Providence.

So long as men contemn the perfect government of the
Most High, and will not fill up the measure of Christ's suf-
ferings in their own persons, just so long will they desire to
usurp authority over each other ; just so long will they per-
tinaciously cling to human governments, fashioned in the
likeness and administered in the spirit of their own disobe-
dience. Now, if the prayer of our Lord be not a mockery ;
if the kingdom of God is to come universally, and his will
to be done on earth as it is in heaven ; and if, in that king-
dom, no carnal weapon can be wielded, no life taken, then
why are not all Christians obligated to come out now, and
be separate from ' the kingdoms of this world,' which are
all based upon the principle of violence, and which require
their officers and servants to govern and be governed by
that principle ?

In almost every attempt made to justify the punishment of
enemies, or uphold human government based upon brute
force, it is observable that the 13th chapter of Romans is

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 7 of 33)