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Christian Resistance to Ungodly Government

"Whenever the law of any civil government demands of his subjects either active or passive disobedience to the known will, or law of God, disobedience to the former, in favor of the latter, becomes an imperative duty."

On OCT. 11, 1850 under threat of penalty by the Federal Government, Nathaniel Colver, the pastor of TREMONT STREET BAPTIST CHURCH, BOSTON, issued the following declaration in resistance to the Fugitive Slave Law.


Whereas, God is supreme in, legislation, and his laws imperative and binding upon all the subjects of his moral government; and

Whereas, No corporate body or earthly government, can by counter legislation, release him from,or justify him in disobeying the laws of God; and

Whereas, The entire system of American slave law, by which the slaves are reduced from men to chattels, and deprived of their liberty, is a flagrant and unmistakeable outrage upon the laws of God and upon the heaven bestowed rights of our common nature in the persons of the slaves; and

Whereas, The recently passed “Fugitive Slave Bill,” is a part and parcel of the same atheistical code, and in direct and manifest opposition to the revealed will and law of God, who requires of us “To deliver him that is spoiled, out of the hand of the oppressor,” “To hide the outcasts, and to bewray not him that wandereth,” “To let his outcasts dwell with us,” &c. And who also expressly forbids a compliance with this law, saying, “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master, the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee, he shall dwell with thee even among you, in that place which he shall choose, in one of thy gates where it liketh him best ; thou shalt not oppress him.” Therefore,

Resolved, That as disciples of Christ and members of his church, we ought not, we cannot, and as we fear God, we will not render obedience to the said law. We should regard it as practical atheism, for a moment to give it the supremacy over the law of God, with which it is at direct and manifest war.

We do indeed, recognize our duty with all meekness, to abide whatever penalties a wicked and oppressive government may see fit to inflict upon us for our fidelity to the laws of God. But be the consequences what they may, we feel solemnly bound by every means in our power, to feed, comfort, shelter and aid the fugitive from southern bondage, the same as if no such law existed, and the same as if they were our own children, fleeing from the savages of the wilderness, or from any enemy who was seeking feloniously to deprive them of their liberties or lives.

Resolved, That the alarm, consternation and distress, into which numerous families of our fellow citizens have been thrown by the aforesaid law, suspending as it does, ” the writ,” and ” trial by jury,” and thereby exposing even those who were never in bondage, to the perpetual doom of slavery, and connected as they are by ties of consanguinity with those who have escaped from slavery, or in part, or in whole, composed of such persons, demand the entire sympathy of all who fear God and love their fellow men.

Resolved, That we deeply deplore the recklessness of those legislators, who, by the passing of the aforementioned Bill, have precipitated this terrible crisis. They have placed the citizens in a position where they are compelled to defile their consciences, do violence to every humane and generous feeling of their hearts, and to knowingly sin against God, or refuse obedience to this law. They have, done a fearful work ; deeply do we deplore it, and earnestly will we pray God to save the country from the fearful results with which it is now threatened.

Resolved, After careful and prayerful deliberation, that the above preamble and resolutions be signed by the pastor and clerk, and published as the solemn convictions and purposes of this church.

Nathaniel Colver, Pastor.
Joseph J. Howe, Clerk.



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