Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

"The work of reformation is rapidly progressing. It has not been long since it was commenced by a very few individuals. These intrepidly fought their way through prejudice and error, through injury and insult; and though when they began their career, many were their enemies, now all are their friends. Immortal honours to those benevolent heroes: theirs is the laurel which adorns the brows of Howard, Wilberforce & Clark son. Theirs is the joy of earth, theirs is the bliss of

vy load of woes, which weighs unfortunate innocence from upon the heads of so many of rapacious guilt. In the name our fellow men. This day you of the Protection Society of have testified your gratitude Maryland, I call upon them to to Heaven, for the emancipa- go on as they have begun in tion of your country from Brit- their honourable course. I ish thraldom.” "Oh! may call upon the legislature of that spirit prompt you to look my native state, to interpose with an eye of tender compas- their high authority--to stretch sion, on the unhappy Africans forth their powerful arm, for who now lie groaning in the the preservation of our coun solitude of a dungeon. Let try from ruin and disgrace. I petition on petition go to the call upon the bishops, the minlegislature, until their condi-isters, the clergy of this land, tion shall be alleviated by au- to exert the mighty sway thority of law. which they possess over the minds of men, for the annihilation of the most enormous evils that ever cursed a nation. And above all, to implore that being who fills immensity, who is eternal in du ration, infinite in power, wisdom and goodness-who is the only monarch before whom this mighty republic bows her august head. That he would arise in the majesty of his omnipotence-roll from before him the mountains of iniquity, under which our country groans-illuminate her sons with the pure and unmixed light of freedom-dispel the darkness that dwells within the dungeons of despair-dissolve the fetters of captive innocence--burst her prison walls, and lead her forth, crowned in all the glorious effulgence of heaven descended LIBERTY."

heaven.

[ocr errors]

"Thanks to the tribunals of justice. They have done their duty; they have shewn, that in this country, justice is not an empty sound. They have with the hand of mercy stretched the mantle of the law to its utmost limits, in order to shield

THE DANGEROUS INFLUENCE OF PARTY PASSIONS.

SINCE the people of the United States became an independent nation there has probably never been a period

[ocr errors]

in which the influence of party passions was less predomi nant than at the present time. In regard both to politics and

[ocr errors]

religion a more kind, dispassionate and conciliatory spirit now prevails than in many of the former years. It may therefore be thought by some persons that the discussion proposed is needless or unseasonable. A little reflection however may satisfy disccrning men, that a time of tranquillity is the most favorable for such a discussion. To reason with intemperate men with a prospect of advantage, we must take them in their sober moments, and not in a time of intoxication. Ardent spirits and the spirit of party are similar in their effects when taken to excess. Each of them deprives men of their reason and exposes them to manifold evils, inconsistencies and calamities.

It has been supposed that under such a government as ours party spirit is useful, as it occasions a watchfulness of the measures of government, detects errors, and prevents encroachments on the rights of the citizens. The fallacy of this opinion may perhaps appear in the course of the present inquiries.

If any one desires to see a full length portrait of party spirit, with its genuine fruits, he may find in the history of the French Revolution-in the conduct of the several par ties which successively rose to power and filled France with appalling scenes of carnage and horror. Each party made high professions of patriotism, of regard to public welfare, and of love of liberty and equality while each regarded

the other not only as a rival but an enemy, which must be sacrificed on the altar of public good. Similar portraits may be found in the history of England, in the sanguinary contests between the families of York and Lancaster, and also in the reign of Charles I.

There is no evidence that the several parties referred to did not imagine that they were seeking the public welfare, while employed in their inhu man butcheries of brethren; and many men both in France and England were of these sanguinary parties, who at other times and on other occasions, were both intelligent and of respectable moral char acters. But they drank so abundantly of party spirit that they became completely intoxicated and insane. Seldom haye the residents of a mad house evinced a more perfect privation of reason and sound judgment than did thousands of the people of England and France in the times of their insurrections and civil wars.

It may be said that parties have long existed in the United States; and that party spirit has often raged among us, but without producing such direful consequences. All this may be true, but it will not follow that party spirit among us has been of a different nature from that which produced such terrific effects in France and England. A difference of circumstances may occasion different results. The population of our country has not been so great as the population of France or

[ocr errors]

England; and the lower classes of people among us have been generally better informed than in either of those countries. The more crowded and the more ignorant the population of any country, the greater is the probability that the prevalence of party spirit will result in havoc and desolation. '

[ocr errors]

We have indeed reason to be thankful that our country has hitherto been spared from such awful and revolting scenes as those witnessed among our French and English brethren. Our history however is not unstained by records of bloodshed which resulted from party passions. Nor can it be denied that in too many instances a spirit of malignity has appeared between existing parties, which has been shocking to reflecting men, and which cannot but be a reproach to any christian people. It must therefore be desirable, if possible, to prevent the recurrence of such evils and to prolong the present season of tranquillity and friendly feeling.

Party spirit, whether in politics or religion, generally o• riginates with a few men. A small number of ambitious or envious men, of popular talents, can fill almost any country with confusion, mischief and dismay, under the pretext of patriotism.

Bewildering the mind as to right and wrong, in the manner of pursuing an object, and in estimating characters and motives, are the more common and immediate effects-of

[ocr errors]

the dreadful disease. Party spirit is the spirit of war; it trampies under foot, as of no authority or use, the sacred requirements and prohibitions of the gospel. The laws of truth and equity, tove and peace, are set aside as inapplicable to persons under the dominion of party passions.

Let any one review the Gourse of events in any country during the rage of these passions, and then inquire whether the partizans gave the least evidence of dee regard to the command-" All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even

SO

unto them?" If not, we may rationally infer, that party spirit is anti-christian and subversive of moral principle. As in public war, so ia party contests, much is done by deception and falsehood, calumny and reviling; yet each party will condemn these means when employed by the other, and they deserve to be condemned by all men.

It should however be admitted that many things which one party imputes to another as falsehood, are only the effects of that blindness and jealousy which are neverfailing comcomitants of party passions. True benevolence and party spirit are perfect opposites in their nature and tendency. While benevolence inclines a person to give the most favorable construction to the conduct of an opponent which the circumstances of the case will justify, party spirit is ever ready to give the worst construction, and to im

[ocr errors]

pute the basest motives. Benevolence seeks the good of all, even of an enemy; but party spirit will injure either enemy or friend, if he stand in the way of a party purpose.

In the contests of parties in this land, thousands have been made to war against each other who really aimed at the same end-the good of their country; and thousands more have been enlisted who were ignorant of the grounds of controversy and of the real objects of their leaders.

It is a melancholy consideration, but it is believed to be an unquestionable fact, that the greater portion of the political controversies, which so long agitated our country, had their origin in ambition for of fice. It ought to be understood and deeply engraven on the minds of all our citizens, that those men who have such a thirst for office as to be wil ling to obtain it at so great an expense as the agitation of society and the alienation of brethren, are very improper characters for fathers of a christian people.

When party spirit is once excited in society, it is kept alive and increased by mutual accusation, recrimination, and indiscriminate censure. By such means the minds of the multitude are misled; the best characters are often considered as the worst, and the worst as the best; and the feelings even of good people, of the different parties, become embittered one towards anothcr. In consequence of the various means of irritation and

excitement, the passions of parties are often raised to such a pitch, that, like some kinds of chemical powder, they are ready to explode with a trifling agitation.

In this time of public tranquility, and in view of the evils to which individuals and communities are exposed by the indulgence of party spirit, it is proper to inquire, whether any thing can be done to prevent the recurrence of such a state of society as has been formerly witnessed in this favored land? If any thing can be done to prolong the present tranquillity it is certainly an object which would justify very great exertions. If the account of party spirit which has been given is correct, it is very far from being a desirable or a useful thing under any government. It may indecd, like other diseases, be overruled for good; but in itself it is a great evil-its genuine tendency is sin and misery. Considered as a watchman or a guardian, it is bewildered, deceitful and often malicious. It imagine's wrongs where none is done or intended; it imputes to wicked mo tives what should be regarded. as mere errors of judgement ; it will magnify real defects in an opponent a hundred fold; and it will palliate and justify the most flagrant wrongs on its own side.

A nation is a great family; and a family of fifteen or twenty persons is a nation in miniature. Would party spirit be useful in such a family? or would it be desirable to di

[ocr errors]

vide the family into parties, that they might mutually watch each other and correct each others errors? What would be the effect of their mutual jealousies, accusations and revilings? Every man of common sense can see, that party spirit would be a bad thing in a family of such a small number of persons. How then can it be otherwise than a pernicious thing in a nation ?

But what can be done to eradicate this evil or to prevent its prevalence and mischievous effects? Among the many means which may be used for such a purpose, the following are perhaps worthy of some attention :

they may be ministers of God for good to the family, in protecting its interests and advancing its happiness, And let it be the care of all in subordinate situations so to treat those in office, as shall be best adapted to encourage and induce them to discharge their duties in a faithful, impartial manner, without regard to party names or interests.

Can any reasonable man pretend that, in either of the three particulars, any thing is recommended which is incompatible with the duty, or derogatory to the honour of those concerned? Or can it be doubted whether a thorough compliance with these suggestions would have a salutary influence? It is pre sumed that neither of these questions can be answered in the negative by any intelligent and upright mind. And if not, on what easy and reasonable terms this nation may be saved from the disgrace and misery of factions and conflicts; and enjoy the blessings of peace and unity! Shall then no exertions be made for the attainment of objects so important and glorious? The welfare of our country greatly depends on the preserva tion of unity, friendship and peace; and he is the true patriot who exerts his influence in society to save the nation from division, animosity and war. Is it not time for à christian people to give à practical illustration of that wisdom which is from above, and to show that "her way's are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace ?"

First Let all teachers, whether ministers of the gospel, officers of colleges, or instructers of schools, unite their influence to bring party spirit into disrepute by showing its pernicious tendency and effects, and by faithfully inculcating obedience to the benevolent precepts of the Messiah. And let it be the care of every teacher to enforce these beneficent instructions by his own example.

Second. Let the public Newspapers of our country be devoted to truth and peace; let every thing of the nature of calumny or reviling be excluded; and let these papers be truly vehicles of good will to man, without distinction of nation or party.

Third. Let our rulers regard themselves as fathers and guardians as having been appointed to office, not to make them rich or great, but that

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »