Charles W. Stuart to Frederick Douglass, January 6, 1855
For Frederick Douglass' Paper.
LETTER FROM CAPT. CHARLES STUART.
LORA, Collingwood, Grey Co.,
C. W., Jan 6th, 1866
F. DOUGLASS: DEAR SIR:—I remark with pain, the measures urged by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of Seneca Falls, in your paper of 22nd December. But why, with pain? Because she thus writes,
"The writings of Paul, like our State constitutions, are susceptible of various interpretations. But when the human soul is roused with holy indignation against injustice and oppression, it stoops not to translate human parchments, but follows out the law of its inner being, written by the finger 0f God, in the first hour of its creation."
And why do these words give me pain?—The deep and fundemental reason is, because, representing the law of man's inner-being written by the finger of God in the first hour of its creation, while yet in his primeval state—godlike, rational and holy—as tantamount to the law of man's inner-being, at present, written as it is by the devil in man's apostate, sinful and lost estate they set up human opinions as superior to God's testimony, and call me from the Bible, which is of divine authority to bow down at the shrine of human self-idolatry.
The abuse of the Bible, is not the Bible. The abuse of the constitution of your country, is not the constitution of your country; and still, vastly less, is man now, what God first made him. The abuse of man, is not man; and nothing exhibits more strikingly or destructively the deep and dreadful apostacy [sic] of man's present state, than the presumption, which rejects God's own evidence of Himself and of His ceatures.
What ground has E. C. Stanton, apart from the Bible, for her holy indignation, as she dreams it, against injustice and opression? What, but her own convictions?—What ground has E. C. Stanton for believing that the law of her inner being, which now so earnestly moves her, is the same law which the finger of God, in the first hour of his creation, wrote upon the heart of man? What, but her own convictions? She offers us for her guide her own convictions, honest and well meant as I believe they are.
God has given us the Bible; not a set of human parchments, as E. C. Stanton seems to represent them; but as a divine, perfect, unchangeable and recorded standard of all moral truth and duty. Choose God's Bible and most earnestly and solemnly recommend the name standard to her and all. In another aspect, also, E. C. Stanton's measures pain me, as believing them to be decidedly hurtful to her anti-slavery influence. The anti-slavery cause wants harmony in its friends. E. C. Stanton and I should probaly agree entirely, in utter and inexpressible detestation of the whole slave system of her country. Why should we mar our harmony, and give cause to the enemies of holy liberty to triumph in our discord, by insisting in our anti-slavery course upon any measure, not fundamental to the immediate and thorough emancipation of our enslaved brethren by lawful and peaceable means.
The advocates of Right need, above all, themselves to be right; and to be right, we indispensably need a higher and holier standard than any which human reason or virtue of itself can supply; and most emphatically so when individual conscience in its present fallen state, is preferred to God's word. How gloriously did the anti-slavery cause arise, in Philadelphia, New York and Boston in 1833-4! With what holy vigor did it proceed and ramify itself, with rich fruits of glorious promise, amidst slander and persecutions, and mobbings, at the risque and sometimes at the sacrifice of property or life, as long as harmony existed amongst its members, and every other question, not fundamental to it, was left by it, to its own proper and peculiar sphere! And now, what is it, in our agency—fundamentally and unalterably dear as it is to God's own heart—what is it, through the errors or crimes of its advocates variously—probably quite as much as through the brazen, gross and licentious wickedness of its enemies—alas! what is it, but a mutilated, feeble, discordant and half-expiring instrument at which Satan and his children legally and illegally scoff! Of it, I despair! but the Lord reigneth, and bids the earth rejoice; and as long as I have my Bible, I will rejoice and still hope in Him, knowing thro' it, that while God ordinarily pleases to work amongst men, by human means, He never is dependent upon them, being supreme alike, above the malice of His enemies, and the bluders [sic] of His friends!
I conclude, by wishing you cordially success in your noble anti-slavery career—urging you to keep it, as far as you can, free from all extraneous matter; not that you should refuse due attention to any other question of importance; but that you should not degrade or enfeeble the anti-slavery cause, by throwing, or aiding to through apples of discord amongst its friends.