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We see no greater difficulty attending the admission that sin began with the first, than with the tenth or hundredth generation of the human family: the painful inquiry of the servant in the parable remains as difficult of reply in the one as in the other case- -“ Lord, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field, whence then hath it tares?" But if by Original Sin is meant, according to some confessions of faith, that the guilt of this first sin is incurred by every man upon his birthif it is meant that we are culpable because Adam sinned_if we are debarred from applying to this sin the words of the Prophet, “The soul that sinneth it shall die," and the declaration of the Apostle, “God will render unto every man according to his deeds ;" then we must express our dissent from such a doctrine, because it attributes injustice to God, and insults the nature he has given to man. We do not believe that man is born guilty, though we believe that all men become so, and we thank God that our creed does not contain an article from which there may logically be deduced the following frightful conclusion, “that a good and just God will sentence to eternal damnation the infant on the bosom of its mother, before this infant knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” We believe that condemnation follows, and does not precede, guilt. We believe, with St. Paul, that “it is the law which worketh wrath,” that God will not act the judge, before he has proclaimed himself a legislator, that he will not punish the infraction of a rule until that rule is known-in a word, “ that where no law is, there is no transgression.” Before we can admit that guilt can commence with life, that God can thunder forth a sentence against the infant yet unborn, we ask to be shown the law and the transgression. We may stop here; we are ashamed to find ourselves, after eighteen centuries of Christian Doctrine, engaged in combating such deplorable errors as these. Our Divine Master, full of justice and benevolence, has said of infants, “Of such is the kingdom of Heaven." This is the true picture of infancy. When the passions, the conscience, and the reason of the man are developed, not less true is the picture drawn by the hand of an Apostle, “ All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
MR. HAUGHTON'S ATTACK ON MRS. DANA.
I was very sorry to see Mr. Haughton's severe and unwarranted attack on Mrs. Dana, in the Irish Unitarian Magazine. I think the Editor would have exercised a sound discretion, had he excluded from his pages a diatribe so well calculated to injure the cause for which the magazine was set on foot, so sure to excite the regret and displeasure of its readers,--and so little creditable to Mr. Haughton himself;
and I farther think, that such exclusion became almost a duty, when Mr. Haughton, forgetful alike of the common rules of courtesy and of the interests of the periodical to which his letter was addressed, took the unusual and, in my mind, unjustifiable step, of sending it to be published in the Inquirer newspaper before it had appeared in the magazine. Were other correspondents to act in the same manner, the Unitarian Magazine would not only be anticipated, as it often necessarily is, by daily or weekly newspapers, in the articles of news and intelligence, but even in that department of its contents in which something original might be expected: it would then cease to be supported, and would soon sink into non-existence.
But, unhandsome as I think Mr. Haughton's conduct towards the Editor and readers of the Irish Unitarian Magazine has been, I look upon his treatment of Mrs. Dana as infinitely worse ; and it is to protest against the spirit in which he has attacked that gifted lady, that I feel myself called upon, by duty to her, to myself, and to the Unitarian public to take up my pen.
Mr. Haughton says, that, "if he be not mistaken in his apprehensions, he feels that we [Unitarians) should not derive any pleasure from such a connexion” as that of Mrs. Dana. Ile says, that “her accession to the ranks of Unitarianism was not a circumstance in which we should take pride.” My feelings on the point are directly the reverse. I look upon the accession of such a convert, as Mrs. Dana's Letters to Relatives and Friends prove her to be, as matter of deep and fervent thankfulness, to every lover of the truth as it is in Jesus—as an event which promises greatly to advance the progress of that holy cause with which is intimately connected the glory of God and the best interests of man; and I feel little doubt, that
every Christian Unitarian,--always excepting Mr. Haughton,-who reads that impressive and heart-thrilling work, will join with me in the sentiments that I have here expressed.
But of course Mr. Haughton does not speak in these contemptuous terms of a lady whom he acknowledges to be highly gifted, --without some cause — such at least as justifies his conduct to his own conscience. His objection to Mrs. Dana is, that she is an upholder of slavery. He says none of us can doubt that she must be involved” in this "position,” and asks, “should we not rather regret that ours, the purest profession of Christianity, has been sullied by such a proselyte?” “The highest mental accomplishments bring no honour, accompanied by a pro-slavery feeling :-they, on the contrary, aggravate the criminality of the party, as no excuse can be offered because of ignorance or any want of enlightenment.”_"A Christian slaveholder!—an honest thief!-a pious adulterer!—These are all equally compatible terms. Unitarianism, true Unitarianism has no affinity with such hypocrisy; and we can never aid in spreading God's truth by shaking hands with such criminals. Better for us to remain a small and evilly spoken of community for ages, than seek to acquire popularity by an acknowledgment of Christian fellowship with men-stealers.”-Ilarsh and galling words; and not the less so because the writer, with characteristic inconsistency, had, a few sentences previously, acknowledged that“circumstances of habit and education often blind the judgment and sear the conscience. Mrs. Dana was brought up under unfavourable circumstances. Perlaps it is possible, highly endowed though she be with intellect-richly cultivated too--to find some fair excuse for her want of correct vision on the subject of slavery. I hope she is not really as guilty as she appears to me to be:"-S0 that, after all, she may be an upholder of slavery, and yet not be a "hypocrite" at all, nor consciously a "criminal,” nor according to her own conviction, a "man-stealer:"_terms which he nevertheless applies to her, without any reserve or qualification.
But, when we look to the ground on which Mr. Ilaughton erects this structure of vituperation, we find instead of a fact, a syllogism. He does not know that Mrs. Dana is a supporter of slavery; she does not tell us so in her book; nor has any one apparently stated that she is. But she is or at least was, “a resident in Charlestown, South-Carolina ;'and thus wisely and learnedly reasons Mr. Haughton: —“Mrs. Dana lives in a slave-state: she must, therefore, be an upholder of that system which is at war with all that is great and noble and godlike in man's nature; of that practice which, in the true and forcible language of the Unitarian protest against slavery, is the greatest possible robbery and the greatest possible wrong." Were this reasoning good, it must follow that every resident in every land in which slavery is tolerated, must necessarily be an upholder of the system; and, if this were the case, how could Mr. Haughton attain a knowledge of the working of the system such as would alone justify him in speaking of it as he does ? It is plain, that if all who are witnesses of this system are its friends, we can have no testimony from impartial observers : our only information must come from those who uphold the institution; and it would be difficult to believe that their statements alone, were there no other, would have stamped upon it the black brand which it bears to my eye, as it does to Mr. Haughton's. It appears from his reasoning, that Mr. Haughton has never met with any native or inhabitant of a slave-stato, who is not an upholder of slavery. My experience has been more favourable ; for I have met with many persons, residents not only of the slave-states of North America, but in the British Colonies, when slavery was tolerated there,—and among them some who were owners, a few of them owners to a very large amount, of slave property,—who yet wero no friends to the system, who de
plored and still deplore its existence, and were and are willing to make large sacrifices for the purpose of getting rid of it; though they did not wish that the total loss which the change of the system would entail, should fall upon the shoulders of the slave-owner exclusively; but that others should assist in bearing the burden. Now, it is possible that Mrs. Dana, though a "resident in Charlestown, South Carolina," should be one of this sort. For aught that Mr. Ilaughton can tell, she may never have had a slave in her possession: she may be an advocate for emancipation: she may have encountered opposition and made sacrifices for the good of them that are in bonds, as she has done for the cause of religious truth.
But I may show the fallacy of Mr. Haughton's reasoning, by pointing out a few conclusions to which it would lead, if applied to his
Mr. Haughton" is a resident in" Dublin-in that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland ;-"therefore, he must be an upholder of” popery-horse-racing-gambling with cards and dicecompulsory support of the clergy—and every other practice and institution whatsoever, which is allowed, recognised, or encouraged, by the law of the land ;-those only excepted against which he has publicly raised his voice. Now, I know that Mr. Haughton would not like to be set down as an upholder of the Roman Catholic religion: I think it very unlikely, that he would wish to be ranked as an advocate of some, at least, of the other institutions which I have named above. But the world has as good a right to reckon him among the upholders of all these, as he has to count Mrs. Dana among the upholders of slavery: with regard to her, therefore, he has not done as he would be done unto.
Mr. Haughton thinks to strengthen the force of his syllogism by affirming, that “death, certain death, awaits the man who dares to proclaim, in a slave-state, that Christ came to proclaim liberty to the captive, and to let the oppressed go free.” And certainly if this be a fact, it tends to show that Mrs. D. had never made this proclamation ; for she was, some time ago, and perhaps is still, alive, in a slave-state, and resident there. But I am inclined to think, that Mr. Haughton himself does not quite believe the truth of what he has here stated ; for, I find him saying, in the beginning of the same paragraph, “ It seems to me clear, that Mrs. Dana, in order to prove the sincerity of her religious convictions, was bound simultaneously with the expression of her sentiments on that subject, to give utterance to generous sentiments on behalf of the poor oppressed negro.” Thus, if his alleged fact be true, he recommends a course to be followed by Mrs. Dana, by which she would incur “death, certain death!” Now, as Mr. Haughton, notwithstanding the unkind and uncharitable language he has employed, in reference to that lady, has, I am sure, enough of humanity in his heart to prevent him from wishing her to incur this fearful doom, I am of opinion that he believes she might have acted, as he wishes she had, without forfeiture of life. If so, his fact falls to the ground, and can no longer prop up his syllogism.
But, although Mr. Haughton apparently has not a very firm or consistent faith in his own statement, I believe there is a great deal of truth in it. I am of opinion, that no man or woman could dare, publicly, to raise a voice on behalf of the oppressed negro, in any of the slave-states of America, and especially to give utterance to the violent denunciations in which so many of the most prominent advocates of negro freedom seem to think it a duty to indulge, without encountering not only social exclusion and injury in their professional pursuits, and the certain destruction of all their known property which is capable of being destroyed, but also personal violence, which might or might not proceed to the length of actual death, according to the judgment of the “ Lynch-Law Court," and the present temper of the mob by whom the sentence of that tribunal would be carried into effect. I believe this ; and I look upon it as a circumstance to be pleaded in mitigation of the sentence I might otherwise pronounce upon such opponents of slavery, resident in slave countries, as are either silent upon the subject of the wrong which they feel to be done to their fellow-beings by that system, or confine their advocacy of the oppressed to those private and unexciting methods, by which the consciences of those with whom they associate,"may, as they hope, be awakened to the national injustice, without drawing down upon their own heads, the vengeance of an infuriated, and, in this respect, lawless community. And I can scarcely understand the humanity of Mr. Haughton, when he pleads this awful danger, apparently only as a confirmation of bis charge against Mrs. Dana, that she is an upholder of slavery; and certainly never once adverts to the excuse which it affords for her conduct_if she be, as I shall presently show that he allows she may perhaps be -a friend to negro emancipation ; but who has not felt it safe, or even justifiable, to come forward, in South Carolina, as the public advocate of that cause.
Perhaps Mr. Haughton, however, thinks the advocacy of emanci. pation would entail certain death, in the place of Mrs. Dana's present residence ; yet wishes her to raise her voice in the cause, having peviously transferred her residence to some safer region. He does not say so; but I will suppose this to be his meaning. Observe, then, the effect of his recommendation. He would wish every friend to negro emancipation to leave the slave-states ;-he would thus abandon the slave population to the tender mercies of those who are real (not