With pleasure and pride I now do this service, and at this last stage interpose the sanctity of the pulpits of New England to arrest an alarming outrage, believing that the remonstrants, from their eminent character and influence as representatives of the intelligence and conscience of the country, are peculiarly entitled to be heard; and further believing that their remonstrances, while respectful in form, embody just conclusions, both of opinion and fact. Like them, sir, I do not hesitate to protest against the bill yet pending before the Senate, as a great moral wrong, as a breach of public faith, as a measure full of danger to the peace and even existence of our Union. And, sir, believing in God, as I profoundly do, I cannot doubt that the opening of an immense region to so great an enormity as slavery is calculated to draw down upon our country his righteous judgments. “In the name of Almighty God, and in his presence,” these remonstrants protest against the Nebraska bill. In this solemn language, most strangely pronounced blasphemous on this floor, there is obviously no assumption of ecclesiastical power, as is perversely charged, but simply a devout observance of the Scriptural injunction, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord.” Let me add, also, that these remonstrants, in this very language, have followed the example of the Senate, which at our present session has ratified at least one important treaty beginning with these precise words, “In the name of Almighty God.” Surely, if the Senate may thus assume to speak, the clergy may do likewise without imputation of blasphemy, or any just criticism, at least in this body. I am unwilling, particularly at this time, to be betrayed into anything like a defence of the clergy; they need no such thing at my hands. There are men in this Senate justly eminent for eloquence, learning, and ability; but there is no man here competent, except in his own conceit, to sit in judgment on the clergy of New England. Honorable senators, so swift with criticism and sarcasm, might profit by their example. Perhaps the senator from South Carolina [Mr. Butler], who is not insensible to scholarship, might learn from them something of its graces. Perhaps the senator from Virginia [Mr. Mason], who finds no sanction under the Constitution for any remonstrance from clergymen, might learn from them something of the privileges of an American citizen. And perhaps the senator from Illinois [Mr. Douglas], who precipitated this odious measure upon the country, might learn from them something of political wisdom. Sir, from the first settlement of these shores, from those
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