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circumstance, or in all circumstances"-and then took the ground that it is wrong under all circumstances, and yet in the course of his argument he admitted that "God himself expressly permitted his people to enslave the Canaanites." See the published Debate, pp. 17, 37.
When Mr. Winans arose to reply to Mr. Scott, he remarked that "he would meet the brother on the fundamental ground of his argument-would examine his strong moral views of slavery;" "that he designed to prove, from the brother's own admission, that slavery was right in all circumstances." See Debate, p. 17. He then availed himself of Mr. Scott's admission, that God himself did permit his people to enslave the Canaanites-it was therefore right in that circumstance --and hence, if no circumstance could change its character, it is always right, and under all circumstances whatever. This, the reader will remark, is the conclusion which Mr. Winans drew from the pre mises which Mr. Scott had himself selected as the major proposition of HIS argument-not, as has been erroneously asserted, the position which Mr. Winans assumed as true, with a view to prove that Ameri. can slavery is right. Mr. Winans did no such thing-nor attempted it. He did indeed prove that, under the Old Testament, God did per. mit and regulate, by express enactments, slavery, and hence, on Mr. Scott's admission, if the moral character of slavery depend not upon circumstances, as it was right under those in which it existed in the time of Moses and Joshua, it must be always and for ever right, inasmuch as, according to the admission of Mr. Scott, no circumstance can change its character.
The reader is requested to bear in mind especially the course of this argument, for the whole controversy turns upon it; it was Mr. Scott's argument, and not Mr. Winans'—that is, the major proposition was his, that it did not depend upon circumstances for its moral character, that it was permitted under the Old Testament—and hence Mr. Winans inferred, most logically, we think, that it must be right under all cir. cumstances. But did Mr. W. therefore say that slavery is always right? That American slavery is right? No such thing. But that Mr. Scott's mode of argumentation led to this conclusion, and hence destroyed the truth of his own premises.
Not many days after the close of this protracted debate, a printed pamphlet was addressed to the General Conference, "by a member of that body," professing to contain an account of the debates on the subject of abolitionism, and more particularly the speeches of O. Scott and W. Winans. The reading of this pamphlet produced a deep sensation, because, to say nothing of the indecorousness of such a proceeding, perhaps unparalleled in the history of legislative assemblies, it was perceived by all that it contained several erroneous statements, and was therefore highly calculated to injure the reputation of the body to whom it was so unceremoniously addressed. That a member of the Conference should, on his own responsibility, undertake thus to publish his speech in an address to the General Conference, with a garbled statement of his antagonist's arguments, and throw it in the midst of them, like a firebrand of contention, was such an unusual course of proceeding, that the members of the Conference who read it were astounded and knew not what to say. But that which created
the greatest sensation, and the most profound astonishment, was the following representation of Mr. Winans' argument:
"Rev. W. Winans stated that slavery was a divine institution, and must, of course, be right. God, said he, has instituted perpetual, hereditary slavery, and therefore it is right under all circumstances. If circumstances ever did exist sufficient to justify slavery, aside from revelation, then American slavery might be justified." Debate, pp. 51, 52.
This, every body who had heard and understood Mr. Winans' argu. ment knew to be a total misrepresentation of it, and therefore false in fact. The fact is, Mr. Scott had admitted that slavery was once right -unless he meant to adopt the impious doctrine that God permitted, legislated for, and even commanded that which was morally wrong in itself!-and had also contended that the moral character of slavery did not depend upon circumstances at all; and therefore Mr. W. in. ferred that, having been once right, according to Mr. Scott's own admission, it must be always right. Here is the grand error of Mr. Scott's statement, and before we conclude we shall take occasion to show that he is either incapable of understanding a logical argument, or, if capable, he has wilfully perverted it. We incline, however, to the former, not only because it exculpates his conduct from a breach of morality, but also because it accords best with the general tenor of his published writings. He can declaim with bitter sarcasm against slavery, and his supposed pro-slavery brethren, but whenever he attempts to reason, which, to be sure, is not frequent, he gives evidence of that species of insanity which arises from an undisciplined mind, warmed up with a heated fanaticism. And although this un. happy state of mind excites our commiseration, and would lead us to throw the mantle of charity over his numerous aberrations from sober truth and sound argument, yet for the sake of those who are led astray by his declamations and not ingenious sophisms, we must be permitted to lay bare his errors, and administer the "rod of correction" as gently as circumstances will permit—in the hope that even he, as far gone as his corrections and counter-corrections prove him to be in either obliquity of intellect or obliquity of moral principle, may derive profit from a well-merited, disciplinary chastisement. Before, however, we proceed farther in canvassing his arguments, we will return to the doings of the General Conference.
As before remarked, a general astonishment seized the minds of those who read this address and compared its statements with the course of argument pursued by Mr. Winans. Accordingly, on May 24, the following resolution was introduced, and, after a long and full discussion, was concurred in by a vote of 97 in favor, and 19 against it :
"Resolved, That a pamphlet circulated among the members of this Conference, purporting to be an Address to the General Conference, by a member of that body,' containing reports of the discussion on modern abolitionism palpably false, and calculated to make an impression to the injury of the character of some of its members engaged in the foregoing discussion, is an outrage on the dignity of this body, and meriting unqualified reprehension."
On the introduction of this resolution, Mr. Scott avowed himself
the author of the pamphlet, and of course took to himself the responsibility of whatever it contained, and at the first convenient opportu nity proceeded to vindicate himself from the charge of falsehood. How did he attempt to do this? Why, by conceding the point, and yet refusing to acknowledge his error; and then, thirdly, by charging the very same thing on Mr. Winans which both himself, Mr. Winans, and the General Conference had either conceded or pronounced false. Let the reader look at the following_facts :
1. Mr. Scott says, p. 37 of the Debate, "That in the Old Testament, God himself expressly permitted his people to enslave the Canaanites,"" for God may punish any of the children of sin as he sees fit. He had a right to do so, and he alone has the right." This formed the major proposition of Mr. Winans, from which he said that, according to Mr. Scott's own admission, it was once right, and as no circumstance can alter its character, it followed that it was always right. 2. Mr. Scott says, "Rev. W. Winans stated that slavery was a divine institution-and must, of course, be right." This was the falsehood. Mr. Winans stated no such thing, but only that it so followed from Mr. Scott's own admission, p. 51.
3. This Mr. Scott concedes in his defence of himself, in the following words:-Speaking of Mr. W.'s argument, he says, "His argument, when stated a little more at length, was simply this,-I will attempt to show from his, bro. Scott's, own premises, that slavery is right under all circumstances." Here he fully and unequivocally concedes the point that he had before charged Mr. W. falsely, p. 70. And yet in the very next page he takes back his concession, and reaffirms his former egregious misstatement, and thus throws himself under the charge of falsehood again, in the following words :
4. "Br. Winans did state that slavery was a divine institution— perpetual, hereditary slavery." Here was the palpable falsehood of which the General Conference voted the writer guilty, and for which he made no other apology than thus shifting from one side to the other, affirming, conceding, and then reaffirming the whole-and finally say. ing, hypothetically, as though still in doubt which side to take, "If it is false, it is unintentionally so." See p. 91 of the published Debate.
Now we have a real desire to believe in this man's veracity. We would not impeach it, because, as before said, we have much evidence that he feels not the force of a logical argument, probably owing, in part, to the want of mental training and intellectual culture, and, in part, to the fumes of abolition excitement. But when shall we believe him? When he affirms, denies, or reaffirms? For indeed,
5. He denies that he admitted that God did permit slavery among the Israelites, as we have already proved he did under the first head. Hear him in the following words ::-"I never used the premises he represented as mine." This is the most astounding of all, as he had just said, in the same page, "I never denied that the Scriptures allowed the Jews to hold servants."* Now we ask what confidence can be
* It is possible that he may, in this sentence, say that he does not use the word servants as synonymous with slaves. But even this cavil, should it be resorted to, will not help him out of his dilemma, as he had before admitted that God did permit the Israelites to enslave the Canaanites-and this admission formed, the
placed in a man's judgment who will say and unsay in this manner? Nor is this a solitary instance in which he has confuted himself, first by publishing things incorrectly, and then correcting them, and finally taking back his corrections. As we do not wish to impeach his honesty, without good and sufficient proof, we prefer attributing these inconsistencies partly to the badness of the cause he has undertaken to manage, and partly, as before said, to his incompetency to understand and feel the force of a logical argument. With an intelligent, manly, and straight-forward antagonist, there is pleasure in contending; for if we are wrong, he will set us right; and if he be under a mistake, we have a hope of convincing him, and inducing him to correct himself. But what hope is there of making an impression upon a mind thus constituted-so imperfectly trained to correct reasoning, and running into such contradictions!
But that he still persists in his error, notwithstanding the above partial acknowledgment, and notwithstanding his confession of it in his own conference in Springfield, in 1836, and his promise to correct it-is provable from the following extract from a letter of his recently published. In this letter he says, referring to its having been stated that his pamphlet contained a total misrepresentation of Mr. Winans' argument :
"A total misrepresentation of his arguments!! This is more than bro. Winans ever pretended, and much more than he ever proved, or than the General Conference ever believed. The most that has ever been made out is, that one of bro. Winans' arguments was not fully stated in a single point."
On reading this, we were ready to exclaim, Is this man crazy? Let the reader look at the foregoing resolution, passed by the General Conference, in which they denounce things in this pamphlet as "palpably false," " an outrage upon the dignity of the body, and meriting unqualified reprehension.' And yet he says the "General Conference never believed that it was a 'total misrepresentation!"" Does he then mean to say that the Conference, 97 of whom, after deliberating for days, solemnly pronounced what they did not believe! What hypocrites must those men have been !
But he says, "bro. Winans never even pretended" this. Let the reader look at the pamphlet from which we have quoted, and he will find bro. Winans denouncing Mr. Scott's statements and arguments as "barefaced and palpable falsehoods." And yet Mr. S. affirms, in the face of these facts which he himself furnished for publication, that bro. Winans never "pretended" that the pamphlet contained a "total misrepresentation of his arguments!" If it be the effect of abolitionism to transform a man into such a reasoner, and to betray him into such inconsistencies, we should transfer the blame from the man to the cause he has espoused, and denounce that as a visionary project by which weak minds become hallucinated.
As we wish to make all our readers understand the distinction above made, and thereby vindicate the General Conference from the charge
premise upon which Mr. W. built his entire argument. The man, however, who will deliberately deny that the Jews held slaves, denominated "bondmen and bondmaids" such as were bought and sold with money," deserves not a serious refutation, as there is no truth in the Bible more plain and undeniable,
VOL. IX.-January, 1838. 7
of pronouncing an unfounded verdict upon the pamphlet, we will try to make it plain to every mind.
A man affirms that the constitution of the United States provides for the protection of slavery. Does it indeed? say we. Then it follows that the Congress cannot do it away-it is constitutionally right. Now would not that man totally misrepresent our argument should he report that we affirmed slavery to be constitutionally right, and that Congress cannot abrogate it? He certainly would-for we said no such thing. But allowing the truth of the first proposition, then our inference follows logically, but it follows as a corollary from our friend's premises, and not from our argumentation.
"When the sky falls we shall catch larks," says the proverb. Well, then, says a hasty declaimer, we shall certainly "catch larks." But wait, says another, until "the sky falls." O no! says the first speaker, we shall surely catch them, for it has been confidently affirmed by the proverb. Does not every one see the fallacy and falsity of this?
But view it in another point of light. We affirm it does not depend upon any circumstance in the atmosphere whether it should rain or not we then admit, and proceed to prove that it did once rain— hence our readers infer that it must always rain, for, according to our affirmation, no altered circumstance in the atmosphere can prevent its raining-then, says Mr. C., your readers hold that it must for ever rain without intermission! No, says an impartial man, they affirm no such thing; but simply draw this conclusion to demonstrate the ab. surdity of our first affirmation, or major proposition. But we will not trifle with the reader's understanding by attempting to make this any plainer.
Now Mr. Scott affirmed that slavery is sin under all circumstances -and yet admitted that it did once exist by God's express permission, under the Old Testament. Hence inferred Mr. Winans, that, according to this admission, Mr. Scott's affirmation that slavery is sin under all circumstances is either false, or else God expressly permitted sin, and made regulation for its continuance! On this Mr. Scott turns around and says that Mr. Winans held that slavery was a divine institution, always right, and perpetually established. This the General Conference pronounced "palpably false," and we believe truly.
Now compare this with Mr. Scott's statement above quoted, "the most that has been made out is, that one of bro. Winans' arguments was not fully stated in a single point." Does he believe himself? If he do, then is he totally incapable of understanding an argument. If he do not, the reader must draw his own inference. For our part, we are free to confess that we have not written this "for his sake who has done the wrong," for we consider argumentation lost on a mind thus constituted; but we have entered thus minutely into an analysis of the argument for the sake of clearing the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church from the foul imputation which has been cast upon that body by their published proceedings in that pamphlet, in the "Philanthropist," and other periodicals.
In mentioning the "Philanthropist," we are reminded of a remark we made in a preceding page, that we intended to show how grossly some individual members of the Conference have been misrepresented in certain papers. But we find our remarks have so multiplied on