Слике страница
[blocks in formation]

After leaving college, he taught an academy a short time in his native State, and then set his face towards the West. On his arrival at St. Louis, in 1827, he engaged in a school, and in the course of another year we find him editing a political paper, and advocating the claims of Henry Clay to the presidency. No extracts are given from his papers at this date, which we regret, as they would have enabled us to see whether or not he was as plain-spoken in this situation as subsequently. His political prospects are said to have been good, up to 1832, when he met with a change, which turned his thoughts in another direction. Two letters, addressed to his parents immediately after, depict his feelings, and are written in a most penitential and affectionate spirit. In them he attributes all to sovereign grace, and says:

""How I could have so long resisted the entreaties, the prayers, and the tears of my dear parents, and the influences of the Holy Spirit, is, to me, a wonder entirely incomprehensible; and still greater is my astonishment and my admiration, that God has still borne with me, still continued unto me the influences of his Spirit, and at last brought me to submit myself to Him. I think I can now have some faint conceptions of boundless, infinite mercy. I look back upon my past life, and am lost in utter amazement at the perfect folly and madness of my conduct. Why, my dear parents, it is the easiest thing in the world to become a

christian-ten thousand times easier than it is to hold out unrepenting against the motives which God presents to the mind, to induce it to forsake its evil thoughts and turn unto Him. If I could forget what I have been and what I have done, I should certainly say it was impossible that any one could read of a Savior, and not love him with their whole heart. The eternal God-the infinite Jehovah-has done all he could do—even to the sacrificing his own Son-to provide a way for man's happiness, and yet they reject him, hate him, and laugh him to scorn! How God could suffer me to live so long as I have lived, is more than I can understand. Well may He call upon the heavens to be astonished both at His own forbearance, and the unnatural rebellion of his creatures. Do christians ever feel oppressed, as it were, with the debt of gratitude which they owe to their Redeemer? Why, it seems to me, sometimes, as if I could not bear up under the weight of my obligations to God in Christ, as if they would press me to the very earth. And I am only relieved by the reflection that I have an eternity in which I may praise and magnify the riches of his grace."'

pp. 41, 42.

The news, as may be supposed, was hailed with joy, and the happy parents, after reading his letter again and again, united in singing a hymn of praise and gratitude, and then bowed before the mercy-seat, and anew gave their son to God. We soon find him at Princeton Theological Seminary, engaged in preparing for the ministry. His letters to his parents and his sisters are beautiful and touching specimens of true feeling, and manifest the most tender regard for their welfare. After leaving Princeton, having been licensed to preach, he passed his summer of 1833 in supplying different pulpits, and especially the Spring-street church, New York. While here, he received intelligence of his father's death, whose latter years seem to have been clouded by seasons of deep despondency. Well was it for him, that he did not live to hear the melancholy tidings of his beloved son's trials and death. Of this father he speaks like a true child of many prayers, and points his bereaved mother, sisters, and brothers, to the source of heavenly consolation, earnestly urging on those already the children of God, to derive from the event that spiritual improvement which they might, and beseeching others still ignorant of the blessing of heavenly communion, to become acquainted with its happiness. These letters and others are important testimonies to Mr. Lovejoy's character as a son and brother. The biographers have done well to insert them. Can it be, that such a man, so imbued with social feeling, so kind and loving to his kindred and friends, would be the ruthless spirit to hurl the fire-brand, arrows, and death, into any community? Here is a most decided refutation of the charge, that Mr. Lovejoy was a man to

promote incendiarism, and all the horrors of a servile insurrection. He was not formed to be such an instigator of the evil passions; and had we no other proof, we should find it here, of his reluctance to place himself up as a mark for the persecutor and assassin. Nothing but a strong sense of duty could have impelled him so to jeopard his ease and life; and from that feeling he has fallen a victim to the infuriated passions of men.

In compliance with an invitation to return and establish a religious paper at St. Louis, he again turned his face to the West, and very soon after his arrival, the St. Louis Observer appeared. By the terms of agreement, he had the unlimited control of that establishment, and was permitted to mortgage it to carry on the design. His first number bears date Nov. 22, 1833. Numerous extracts are given from his editorial articles, written with ability, and evincing a vigorous and active intellect, as well as a heart of philanthropy and benevolence. In one of these, entitled "What is Truth?" he thus speaks:


Sometimes, having been educated in great reverence for the names and opinions of certain men, and an abhorrence for those of others; at every step we take in our search for truth, we tremble lest we shall have parted company from those we love and reverence, and have entered upon the premises of those we both fear and dislike. When in such a mood, it is wonderful what a magic there is in the mere sound of a name. To be told that if we go on, we shall soon cease to have a right to be distinguished by this or that appellation, will bring us to a halt at Then it is, too, that we apply the same concise and conclusive argument to others. You are a Calvinist,' an' Arminian,' or a 'Pelagian,' as the case may be; and those whom such an argument fails to convince, are indeed incorrigible-we give them over to blindness of mind."' p. 72.


The subject of Roman Catholic claims early engaged his attention, and some of his best articles are in exposure of that insidious system. These were sure to turn against him the hatred of the papists, who could ill bear the urgency of the truth, and thus the way was prepared for the creation of a strong party, whenever a suitable occasion should arise, to destroy the paper. Add to this too the feelings of an infidel portion of the population, who with their usual bitterness, felt hostile to any organ of religious sentiment, and materials were at hand for an explosion. The occasion was not long wanting, and slavery as our readers all know furnished it. Mr. Lovejoy had spoken on the subject before, but they were not quite ripe for their ultimate measures; nor was it until some occurrences which brought out their feelings as in a common cause, that they ventured to act as they

had long desired. During his absence in October of 1835, to attend the Presbytery and Synod, the paper was threatened by the advocates of the "new code," or mob law. Two white men had been taken up on the charge of abducting certain negroes belonging to some slaveholder, and after being transported two miles back of the city, whipped between one or two hundred lashes, by about sixty of the most wealthy citizens, some of them members and even elders in the Presbyterian church. A meeting of citizens had been held in which after some flourish respecting the freedom of the press and of speech, and a long resolution against abolitionists, it was resolved that "We consider slavery as it now exists in the United States, as sanctioned by the sacred scriptures." This was too gross a claim for any man who had been educated as Mr. Lovejoy had been, who had not yielded to the strong pleas of interest, to admit ; and accordingly on his return to his editorial duties he prepared and published an appeal to his fellow citizens on this subject. In this paper he spoke in a plain, decided, and christian manner. He repudiated the mob doctrine-showed its wickedness -denied his participation with the abolitionists-yet vindicated his right to speak and act, subject to the laws-admitted the obligation of the non-slaveholding states not to interfere legislatively with the domestic institution of master and slave, and rejected with utter abhorrence the idea, that the system of American slavery was sanctioned by the bible. He cited different passages of scripture enjoining kindness and justice, &c., and then inquired, What is slavery as it now exists in the United States? and adverted to the resolutions respecting vigilance-committees and Lynch law. With reference to the outcry against the "Observer," he traced it to popery, and asked whether in existing circumstances, he could rightfully hold his peace. He felt that he could not, and come what might, his resolution was firm, to remain and breast the storm. After a strong appeal to his fellow citizens he demanded what he had done to be thus made the object of popular violence, and in the following terms he entered his protest against the arbitrary proceedings:

""I do therefore, as an American citizen, and christian patriot, and in the name of liberty, and law, and RELIGION, Solemnly PROTEST against all these attempts, howsoever or by whomsoever made, to frown down the liberty of the press, and forbid the free expression of opinion. Under a deep sense of my obligations to my country, the church, and my God, I declare it to be my fixed purpose to submit to no such dictation. And I am prepared to abide the consequences. I have appealed to the constitution and laws of my country; if they fail to protect me, I APPEAL TO GOD, and with Him I cheerfully rest my cause."


p. 153.

He closed this remarkable paper with a statement as to the interest of the proprietors of the Observer, and deprecating any violence towards their property, and says:

""If the popular vengeance needs a victim, I offer myself a willing sacrifice. To any assault, that may be made upon me, I declare it my purpose to make no resistance. There is, I confess, one string tugging at my heart, that sometimes wakes to its mortal agony. And yet I cannot, dare not, yield to its influence. For my Master has said, 'If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and WIFE, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.'

Humbly entreating all whom I have injured, whether intentionally or otherwise, to forgive me; in charity with all men; freely forgiving my enemies, even those who thirst for my blood, and with the blest assurance, that in life or death nothing can separate me from my Redeemer, I subscribe myself, Your fellow-citizen,


Few in whom there is any freedom from prejudice, we think, can read this forcible appeal without allowing, that it is a powerful statement of important truth. The manly claims which it enforces on the consciences of his fellow citizens are supported by arguments which must, in almost any other than a slaveholding community, have had an effect. For a time it seems to have produced a re-action; for although the original proprietors of the Observer withdrew from him, others came forward and enabled him to go on. In one of his letters to his mother, he speaks of this, and also makes some statements respecting the character of the persons engaged in the persecution against himself:

""Let me state to you one fact. The man who headed the whole business of the late public meetings, and who was the most active and virulent in his endeavors to excite the public mind against me, and stop the "Observer," the other night whipped his female negro slave almost to death. Her cries and screams brought a multitude around his house, and he narrowly escaped having his house broken into, and himself made the victim of mob violence. * And what shall we say of those professing christians, yea, elders in the church, who follow in the wake of such a man, to stop the "Observer," because it advocates the abolition of slavery? We have such elders in St. Louis-four of them in our church. The woman was rescued from the monster by the constable and taken to jail. His name is Arthur L. M'Ginnis, an Irishman, and state's attorney for this district.

"We have another man here, walking our streets in open day, who about a year since, actually whipped his negro woman to death. He was tried for the murder, but as negro evidence was not admitted, he

« ПретходнаНастави »