the clergy of this country, as a body, would as readily burn the Bible to-morrow if public sentiment overwhelmingly demanded it, and persecution and loss of character should be the result of disobedience, as to-day they are found earnest in their endorsement of the plenary inspiration of that book, in accordance with public sentiment.
Three other resolutions—exhibiting the impossibility of the Bible
's being a consistent and unchanging rule of faith and practice, and the multifarious conflicting interpretations of it in the strife of ages, and the worthlessness of a profession of faith in it as a clew to character —were offered by Mr. Garrison
on the last day. A single extract from his remarks on the first set, just cited in full, is all that we can indulge in—for its personal and prophetic bearing:
Sir, I know well the cost of an appearance in a Convention1 of this kind.
I anticipate all that will be said, maliciously and opprobriously, on both sides the Atlantic, in regard to the resolutions which I have read in your hearing, and to my2 participancy in your proceedings.
Already I hear the outcry of “Infidel!
on the part of those occupants of the pulpit who, while they are strong in their “coward's castle,” never dare to make their appearance on a free platform before the people.
I know, moreover, it will be said that this is another evidence of the infidel character of the anti-slavery movement.
I know that the American Anti-Slavery Society will, by the bigoted and pharisaical, by the designing and wicked, be held responsible for the sentiments I may utter on this occasion.
Shall I, therefore, be dumb?
Will it indeed injure the cause of the slave, so dear to my heart, for me to express my thoughts conscientiously about the Bible?
I do not believe it. Have I any right to speak on any other subject than American slavery?
or am I morally bound to give it my undivided attention?
Why, sir, no freedom of speech or inquiry is conceded to me in this land.
Am I not vehemently told, both at the North and at the South, that I have no right to meddle with the question of slavery?
And my right to speak on any other subject, in opposition to public opinion, is equally denied to me; not, it is true, by the strong arm of Government, but by the cowardly and tyrannical in spirit.
Now I stand here, not as an abolitionist, not to represent