William Lloyd Garrison.

Selections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. online

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that one day is more holy than another, and enforce that
idea by the infliction of penalties in case of disobedience,
and you may make men religious hypocrites, but never
Christians. That experiment was tried, with all exactness
and severity, under the Old Dispensation. God has written
out that experiment in letters of fii'e, as it were, which shall
never go out until all men shall learn that it is not outward
observances which are required^ but that spirit of the heart
and life which consecrates all things to God and humanity.

What a tremendous outcry was raised in England when
Daniel O'Connell, in behalf of plundered Ireland, demanded
the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act by the British
Parliament ! The Protestant clergy and the Protestant press
cried out against it. It will never do, they said ; the cause
of religion will suffer ! AVhere now is the Catholic test ?
Gone ! its ashes are not to be found ; but has any injury fol-


lowed from its repeal ? So with regard to the unrighteous
restrictions imposed upon the Jews; they were justified on
the ground of Christian vigilance and security ! But, during
the present session of Parliament, the Jews have been admit-
ted to equal rights with all others ; and the Jew in England
can now take his position any where in the government, as
well as the Christian. Does any one suppose Christianity
will suffer by this ? Christianity, as taught by its founder,
does not need any governmental safeguards ; its reliance for
safety and prosperity is not on the rack or the stake, the
dungeon or the gibbet, unjust proscription or brutal suprem-
acy. No — it is the only thing under heaven that is not
afraid ; it is the only thing that repudiates all such instru-
ments as unholy and sinful.

Let the first day of the week stand on its own basis, as
the second or third day stands, and I am satisfied that it will
be much more rationally observed than it is now. Getting
rid of our superstition concerning it, we shall use the day in
a far more sensible and useful manner than is now done. "

I desire to be clearly understood. I have no objection
either to the first or the seventh day of the week, as a day
of rest from bodily toil, both for man and beast. On the
contrary, such rest is not only desirable, but indispensable.
Neither man nor beast can long endure unmitigated labor.
But I do not believe that it is in harmony with the will of
God, or the physical nature of man, that mankind should be
doomed to hard and wasting toil, six days out of seven, to
obtain a bare subsistence. Reduced to such a pitiable con-
dition, the rest of one day in the week is indeed grateful,
and must be regarded as a blessing ; but it is wholly inade-
quate to repair the physical injury or the moral degradation
consequent on such protracted labor. It is not in accordance
whh the law of life, that our race should be thus worked,
and only thus partially relieved from suffering and a prema-


ture death. They need more, and must have more, instead
of less, rest ; and it is only for them to be enlightened and
reclaimed, to put away those things which now cause them
to grind in the prison-house of Toil, namely, idolatry, priest-
craft, sectarianism, slavery, war, intemperance, licentious-
ness, monopoly, and the like — in short, to live in peace, obey
the eternal law of being, strive for each other's welfare, and
' glorify God in their bodies and spirits which are his ' — and
they will secure the rest, not only of one day in seven, but
of a very large portion of their earthly existence.
^ Nor do I deny the right of any number of persons to
observe a particular day of the week as holy time, by such
religious rites and ceremonies as they may deem acceptable
to God. To their own master, they stand or fall. In regard
to all such matters, it is for every one to be fully persuaded
in his own mind, and to obey the promptings of his own
conscience ; conceding to others the liberty he claims for

The sole and distinct issue that I make is this : — I main-
tain that the seventh day Sabbath was exclusively Jewish in
its origin and design ; that no holiness, in any sense, attaches
to the first day of the week, more than to any other ; and
that the attempt to compel the observance of any day as
' the Sabbath,' especially by penal enactments, is unauthor-
ized by scripture or reason, and a shameful act of injustice
and tyranny.' I claim for myself, and for all mankind, the
right to worship God according to the dictates of our own
consciences. This right, inherent and inalienable, is clo-
ven down in the United States ; and I call upon all who
desire to preserve civil and religious liberty to rally for its

See what it is that a hireling priesthood represent Chris-
tianity as securing for the laboring classes ! A poor respite
from brute toil of only one day in seven. Nothing more.


Why, in this view, Moses was a far more considerate and
merciful lawgiver than Jesus ; and Judaism is decidedly
preferable to Christianity ! Let any man examine the
Mosaic code, and he will be surprised, I think, to find that
nearly one-third of the whole time of the people was devoted
to rest, to abstinence from labor, through the multiplica-
tion of festivals and sacred occasions. Is there such an
exemption from toil in this boasted Christian land, eighteen
hundred years after the advent of the Messiah ? Are not
the masses driven from the earliest dawn of Monday to the
latest hour of Saturday, to enable them to keep body and
soul together ? And is this the state of society which God
has ordained, to the end of the world ? Why do not we,
under Christ and Christianity, enjoy as many rest-days as
they had under Moses and Judaism ? Nay, in this respect,
observe the difference between Catholicism and Protestant-
ism. The Romish church has its festivals and hallowed
days, in addition to the Sunday, and thus relief is given to
the severity of toil ; but all that is conceded to us, as Pro-
testants, is the rest of one day in seven, or fifty-two days
out of three hundred and sixty-five !

Such is not my estimate of Christianity. As taught by
its founder, and portrayed in his life, its object is to undo
the heavy burdens of suffering humanity, not to increase
those burdens — to diminish the hours of toil, not to multiply
them ; and if it cannot do this, of what value is it to man-
kind ? I do not believe that God has created us under this
dire necessity to toil, like beasts, to sustain life. I believe
it is his will that we should hold absolute mastery over time,
so as to devote it mainly to intellectual and moral improve-
ment, domestic enjoyment, and social intercourse. In a
rectified state of society, it will not be necessary for us to
eat our bread in the sweat of our brow. God will work for
us, by an omnipotent and omnipresent energy, operating


upon the machinery of human invention. Our servants
shall be water, fire, and air, — whatever yet remains to be
drawn from the unexplored and exhaustless store-house of
electricity, — to perform all servile labor, and the earth shall
be filled with abundance for all.

Some of the religious journals are giving such represen-
tations of the views which are held by those who ' esteem
every day,' and who allow no man to judge them in respect
to a weekly Sabbath, as to make the ignorant and vicious
imagine that anti-Sabbatarians are for desecrating the first
day of the week by countenancing them in their evil prac-
tices — such as drinking, horse-racing, and the like. This
is monstrous ! They who refuse to Sabbatize are for ele-
vating, not for depressing the standard of morality. They
have done something — who have done more.? — for the
cause of Temperance, of Peace, of Purity, of Labor;
something to redeem the slaves from their fetters ; some-
thing to promulgate the doctrine of human brotherhood.
What evil have they advocated ? Of what crime have they
been convicted .? The tree is known by its fruits. I do
not believe that there can be found on earth a more pure, a
more unselfish, a more reformatory, a more truly Christian
body. But ' if the master of the house be called Beelzebub,
how much more they of his household ? ' Now, this is my
reply to the charge alluded to. They who indulge in drink-
ing, gambling and horse-racing, are not our disciples. They
know us not, except to hate us. They do not believe in our
doctrine of abstaining from all iniquity, and sanctifying all
time alike. They believe what they have been taught, that
the first day of the week is the Sabbath, though they dese-
crate it — and this is their highest idea of Christianity.

What sort of a syllogism is this — that because we deny
the peculiar holiness of a certain day, therefore we are for
dcrecrating that day by immoral conduct?


Now, the people have an idea of only one day in seven
to be given to God. On Monday morning, after Sunday is
past, they absolutely look like different persons — do they
not ? Can you conceive a wider contrast in their mien and
behavior, than is seen between Sunday and Monday ? If a
man did not well understand this wonderful change, and
should form acquaintances on Sunday, he would have to be
introduced again on the next day, such entire strangers
would they be to him. They have a different look, gait,
walk, and voice ; they begin to breathe more freely ; they
once more feel and act in a natural manner ; it was all un-
natural before. Now, all such are assuredly deceiving
themselves ; they worship externally, not in the spirit ; they
do not yet comprehend the meaning of those pregnant de-
clarations of Jesus, ' The kingdom of God cometh not by
observation ' — ' The hour cometh, and now is, when the true
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.'

I am aware that I shall inevitably be accused, by. the chief
priests, scribes and Pharisees of the present time, as was
Jesus by the same class in his age, as ' not of God,' because
I ' do not keep the Sabbath day' ; but I am persuaded, that
to expose the popular delusion which prevails on this subject
is to advance the cause of a pure Christianity^ to promote
true and acceptable icorship, and to inculcate strict moral
and religious accountahility, in all the concerns of life, on
ALL DAYS OF THE WEEK ALIKE. If I am an ' infidel ' or a
* heretic ' for this belief, I am content to stand in the same
condemnation, on this point, with Tyndale,* Lutiieu,!

* « As for the Sabbath, wc be lords of the Sabbath, and may yet
change it into Monday, or any other day, as we see need ; or we
may make every tenth day holy, if we see cause why.' — Tyndalk.

t * Keep it [the first day of the week] holy, for its use sake, both to
body and soul. But if any where the day is made holy for the mere

114 selections from the writings of

Calvin,* Melancthon, Roger Williams, Milton, Fox,
Penn, Priestley, Belsham, Paley, Whitby, Archbishop
Whately,! and a host of others, who are every where laud-
ed, by the various sects with which they are identified, as
among the brightest ornaments of the Christian Church, and
who are essentially agreed in the opinion, that the Sabbath
was a Jewish institution.

day's sake — if any where any one sets up its observance upon a
Jewish foundation — then I order you to work on it, to ride on it,
to dance on it, to do any thing that shall reprove this encroachment
on the Christian spirit and liberty.' — Luther.

* ' Christ is the true fulfilment of the Sabbath, . . . which is
contained, not in one day, but in the whole course of our life, till
being wholly dead to ourselve?, we be filled with the life of God.
Christians, therefore, ought to depart from all superstitious observ-
ance of days.' — Calvin.

t ♦ To say, that no part of the Jewish law is binding on Christiana
is very far from leaving them at liberty to disregard all moral duties.
For, in fact, the very definition of a moral duty implies its universal
obligation, independent of all enactment. * * *

' Nor need it be feared, that to proclaim an exemption from the
Mosaic law should leave men without any moral guide, and at a
loss to distinguish right and wrong ; since, after all, the light of rea-
son is that to which every man must be left, in the interpretation of
that very law. For Moses, it should be remembered, did not write
three distinct books, one of the Ceremonial Law, one of the
Civil, and a third of the Moral ; nor does he hint at any such dis-
tinction. When, therefore, any one is told that a part of the Mo-
saic precepts are binding on us, viz., the Moral ones, if he ask which
are the Moral precepts, and how to distinguish them from the Cere-
monial and the Civil, with which they are mingled, the answer
must be, that his conscience, if he consult it honestly, will deter-
mine that point. So far, consequently, from the moral precepts of
the law being, to the Christian, necessary as a guide to his judg-
ment in determining what is right and wrong, on the contrary this
moral judgment is necessary to determine what are the Mo7'al pre-
cepts of Moses.' — Archbishop Whately.


ItJ n r 5 Ij i ji .

They who, as worshippers, some mountain climb,
Or to some temple, made with hands, repair.
As though the Godhead specially dwelt there,

And absence, in Heaven's eye, would be a crime,

Have yet to comprehend this truth sublime : —
The freeman of the Lord no chain can bear —
His soul is free to worship every where,

Nor limited to any place or time.

No worldly sanctuary now may claim
Man's reverence as a consecrated pile ;

Mosque, synagogue, cathedral, are the same,
Differing in nought but architectural style : —

Avaunt, then, Superstition ! in God's name,
Nor longer thy blind devotees beguile I

Church of the living God ! in vain thy foes

Make thee, in impious mirth, their laughing-stock.
Contemn thy strength, thy radiant beauty mock :

In vain their throats, and impotent their blows —

Satan's assaults — Hell's agonizing throes !
For thou art built upon th* Eternal Rock,
Nor fcar'bt the thunder storm, the earthquake shock,

And nothing shall disturb tliy calm repose.

All human combinations change and die,
Whatc'cr their origin, name, form, design;

But, firmer than the pillars of the sky.
Thou standcst ever by a power Divine :

Thou art endowed with Immortality,

And canst not perish — God's own life is tiiinu !


IjB amniriiE ^uinn.

Tyrants of the old world ! contemners of the rights of
man ! disbelievers in human freedom and equality ! enemies
of mankind ! console not yourselves with the delusion, that
Republicanism and the American Union are synonymous
terms — or that the downfall of the latter will be the extinc-
tion of the former, and, consequently, a proof of the inca-
pacity of the people for self-government, and a confirma-
tion of your own despotic claims! Your thrones must
crumble to dust ; your sceptre of dominion drop from your
powerless hands ; your rod of oppression be broken ; your-
selves so vilely abased, that there shall be ' none so poor to
do you reverence.' The will of God, the beneficent Creator of
the human family, cannot always be frustrated. It is His will
that every form of usurpation, every kind of injustice, every
device of tyranny, shall come to nought ; that peace, and
liberty, and righteousness, shall ' reign from sea to sea, and
from the rivers to the ends of the earth ; ' and that, through-
out the world, in the fullness of a sure redemption, there
shall be ' none to molest or make afraid.' Humanity,
covered with gore, cries, with a voice that pierces the heav-
ens, ' His will be done ! ' Justice, discrowned by the hand
of violence, exclaims, in tones of deep solemnity, ' His will
BE done ! ' Liberty, burdened with chains, and driven into
exile, in thunder-tones responds, ' His will be done ! '

Tyrants ! know that the rights of man are inherent and
inalienable, and therefore not to be forfeited by the failure
of any form of government, however democratic. Let the
American Union perish ; let these allied States be torn with
faction, or drenched in blood; let this republic realize the
fate of Rome and Carthage, of Babylon and Tyre ; still,
those rights would remain undiminished in strength, unsul-


lied in purity, unafTected in value, and sacred as their Divine ''
Author. If nations perish, it is not because of their devotion ^
to liberty, but for their disregard of its requirements. Man
is superior to all political compacts, all governmental
arrangements, all religious institutions. As means to an '
end, these may sometimes be useful, though never indispen-
sable ; but that end must always be the freedom and happi-
ness of man, individual man. It can never be true, that
the public good requires the violent sacrifice of any, even the
humblest citizen ; for it is absolutely dependant on his pre-
servation, not destruction. To do evil, that good may come,
is equally absurd and criminal. The time for the overthrow
of any government, the abandonment of any alliance, the
subversion of any institution, is whenever it justifies the
immolation of the individual to secure the general welfare ; '
for the welfare of the many cannot be hostile to the safety
of the few. In all agreements, in all measures, in all polit-
ical or religious enterprises, in all attempts to redeem the
human race, man, as an individual, is to be held paramount.
The doctrine, that the end sanctifies the means, is the
maxim of profligates and impostors, of usurpers and tyrants.
They who, to promote the cause of truth, will sanction the
utterance of a falsehood, are to be put in the category of
liars. So, likewise, they who are for trampling on the rights
of the minority, in order to benefit the majority, are to be
registered as the monsters of their race. Might is never ^
right, excepting when it sees in every human being, ' a man
and a brother,' and protects him with a divine fidelity. It is
the recognition of these truths, the adoption of these princi-
ples, which alone can extirpate tyranny from the earth, per-
petuate a free government, and cause the dwellers in every
clime, ' like kindred drops, to mingle into one.'

Tyrants ! confident of its overthrow, proclaim not to your '
vassals, that the American Union is an experiment of free-


/ dom, which, if it fail, will for ever demonstrate the necessity
of whips for the backs, and chains for the limbs of the peo-
ple. Know that its subversion is essential to the triumph of
justice, the deliverance of the oppressed, the vindication of
the BROTHERHOOD OF THE RACE. It was conceivcd in sin,

/ and brought forth in iniquity ; and its career has been
marked by unparalleled hypocrisy, by high-handed tyranny,
by a bold defiance of the omniscience and omnipotence of

''''God. Freedom indignantly disowns it, and calls for its ex-
tinction ; for within its borders are three millions of slaves,
whose blood constitutes its cement, whose flesh forms a
large and flourishing branch of its commerce, and who are
ranked with four-footed beasts and creeping things. To
secure the adoption of the Constitution of the United States,
it was agreed, first, that the African s'lave-trade, — till that
time a feeble, isolated, colonial traffic, — should, for at least
twenty years, be prosecuted as a national interest under the
American flag, and protected by the national arm ; — sec-
ondly, that a slaveholding oligarchy, created by allowing
three-fifths of the slave population to be represented by
their taskmasters, should be allowed a permanent seat in
Congress ; — thirdly, that the slave system should be se-
cured against internal revolt and external invasion, by the
united physical force of the country ; — fourthly, that not a
foot of national territory should be granted, on which the
panting fugitive from slavery might stand, and be safe from
his pursuers — thus making every citizen a slave-hunter
/ and slave-catcher. To say that this ' covenant with death '
shall not be annulled — that this ' agreement with hell ' shall

y continue to stand — that this 'refuge of lies' shall not be
swept away — is to hurl defiance at the eternal throne, and
to give the lie to Him who sits thereon. It is an attempt,
alike monstrous and impracticable, to blend the light of
heaven with the darkness of the bottomless pit, to unite the


living with the dead, to associate the Son of God with the
Prince of Evil.

Accursed he the American Union, as a stupendous re-
publican imposture !

Accursed be it, as the most frightful despotism, with re-
gard to three millions of the people, ever exercised over any
portion of the human family !

Accursed be it, as the most subtle and atrocious com-
promise ever made to gratify power and selfishness !

Accursed be it, as a libel on Democracy, and a bold as-
sault on Christianity !

Accursed be it, stained as it is with human blood, and
supported by human sacrifices !

Accursed be it, for the terrible evils it has inflicted on
Africa, by burning her villages, ravaging her coast, and kid-
napping her children, at an enormous expense of human
life, and for a diabolical purpose !

Accursed be it, for all the crimes it has committed at
home — for seeking the utter extermination of the red men
of its wildernesses, and for enslaving one-sixth part of its
teeming population !

Accursed be it, for its hypocrisy, its falsehood, its impu-
dence, its lust, its cruelty, its oppression !

Accursed be it, as a mighty obstacle in the way of uni-
versal freedom and equality !

Accursed be it, from the foundation to the roof, and may
there soon not be left one stone upon another, that shall not
be thrown down !

Henceforth, the watchword of every uncompromising abo-
litionist, of every friend of God and liberty, must be, both in
a religious and political sense — ' No Union with Slave-

holders !

f »



O, Persecution ! fearful as thou art,
With scowling brow, and aspect stern and rude.
Thy hands in blood of Innocence inabrued,

Wrung, drop by drop, from many a tortured heart, —

Why should we dread the gibbet, axe, or stake ?
Thou dost our faith, our hope, our courage try,
And mak'st us valiant where wc thought to fly :

Through thee, the crown of Victory we take.

Thy fires but purify our gold from dross ;
Once undiscerned, our value now appears.
Which shall, at interest, increase with years ;

So do we gain by thee, nor suffer loss : —

'T were base to sacrifice the Truth, to save
Our names from foul reproach — our bodies from the grave.


Thy cause, Liberty ! can never fail.

Whether by foes o'erwhelmed or friends betray'

Then bo its advocates of nought afraid !
As God is true, they surely shall prevail.
Let base oppressors tremble, and turn pale !

They, they alone, may justly be dismayed;

For Truth and Right are on thy side arrayed.
And the whole world shall j'ct thy triumph hail.
No blow for thee was ever struck in vain ;

Thy champions, martyrs, are of noble birth ;
Rare honors, blessings, praises, thanks, they gain,

And Time and Glory magnify their worth !
A thousand times defeated, thou shalt reign

Victor, O Liberty, o'er all the earth !


IBralj Iniignngr — lUtnrWiig \\)t i'Hm,

I AM accused of using hard language. I admit the charge.
I have not been able to find a soft word to describe villany,
or to identify the perpetrator of it. The man who makes a
chattel of his brother — what is he? The man who keeps-
back the hire of his laborers by fraud — what is he ? They
who prohibit the circulation of the Bible — what are they?
They who compel three millions of men and women to herd
together, like brute beasts — what are they ? They who sell
mothers by the pound, and children in lots to suit purchase
ers — what are they ? I care not what terms are applied to
them, provided they do apply. If they are not thieves,
if they are not tyrants, if they are not men-stealers, I
should like to know what is their true character, and by
what names they may be called. It is as mild an epithet
to say that a thief is a thief, as it is to say that a spade
is a spade. Words are but the signs of ideas. ' A rose

Online LibraryWilliam Lloyd GarrisonSelections from the writings and speeches of William Lloyd Garrison. With an appendix .. → online text (page 9 of 33)