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The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus by American Anti-Slavery Society

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confidence in the institution. Let me ask you, Sir, whether it would not
be more reasonable for those, who are so industriously engaged in
insulating the system of American slavery, and shrouding it with
darkness, to find less fault with the bright and burning light which the
writings of the wisest and best men pour upon it, and more with the
system which "hateth the light, neither cometh to the light."

You would have your readers believe, that the blessings of education are
to be withheld from your slaves--only "until the storm shall be
overblown," and that you hope that "Satan's being let loose will be but
for a little season." I say nothing more about the last expression, than
that I most sincerely desire you may penitently regret having attributed
the present holy excitement against slavery to the influences of Satan.
By "the storm" you, doubtless, mean the excitement produced by the
publications and efforts of the American Anti-Slavery Society. Now, I
will not suppose that you meant to deceive your readers on this point.
You are, nevertheless, inexcusable for using language so strikingly
calculated to lead them into error. It is not yet three years since that
Society was organized: but the statute books of some of the slave States
contain laws, forbidding the instruction of slaves in reading, which
were enacted long before you and I were born. As long ago as the year
1740, South Carolina passed a law, forbidding to teach slaves to write.
Georgia did so in 1770. In the year 1800, thirty-three years before "the
storm" of the Anti-Slavery Society began to blow, South Carolina passed
a law, forbidding "assemblies of slaves, free negroes, &c., for the
purpose of mental instruction." In the Revised Code of Virginia of 1819,
is a law similar to that last mentioned. In the year 1818, the city of
Savannah forbade by an ordinance, the instruction of all persons of
color, either free or bond, in reading and writing. I need not specify
any more of these man-crushing, soul-killing, God-defying laws;--nor
need I refer again to the shocking penalties annexed to the violation of
most of them. I conclude my remarks under this head, with the advice,
that, in the next edition of your book, you do not assign the
anti-slavery excitement, which is now spreading over our land, as the
occasion of the passage of the laws in question.

7th. The only other reason I will mention for believing, that the
slavery modification of servitude is not approved of God, is, that it
has never been known _to work well_--never been known to promote man's
happiness or God's glory. Wickedness and wretchedness are, so uniformly,
the product of slavery, that they must be looked upon, not as its
abuses, but as its legitimate fruits. Whilst all admit, that the
relations of the family state are, notwithstanding their frequent
perversions, full of blessings to the world; and that, but for them, the
world would be nothing better than one scene of pollution and wo;--to
what history of slavery will you refer me, for proof of its beneficent
operation? Will it be to the Bible history of Egyptian slavery? No--for
that informs us of the exceeding wickedness and wretchedness of Egyptian
slavery. Will it be to the history of Greek and Roman slavery? No--for
your own book acknowledges its unutterable horrors and abominations.
Will you refer me to the history of the West Indies for proofs of the
happy fruits of slavery? Not until the earth is no more, will its
polluted and bloody pages cease to testify against slavery. And, when we
have come down to American slavery, you will not even open the book
which records such facts, as that its subjects are forbidden to be
joined in wedlock, and to read the Bible. No--you will not presume to
look for a single evidence of the benign influences of a system, where,
by the admission of your own ecclesiastical bodies, it has turned
millions of men into heathen. I say nothing now of your beautiful and
harmless theories of slavery:--but this I say, that when you look upon
slavery as it has existed, or now exists, either amidst the darkness of
Mahommedanism or the light of Christianity, you dare not, as you hope
for the Divine favor, say that it is a Heaven-descended institution; and
that, notwithstanding it is like Ezekiel's roll, "written within and
without with lamentations and mourning and wo," it, nevertheless, bears
the mark of being a boon from God to man.

Having disposed of your "strong reasons" for the position, that the New
Testament authorizes slavery, I proceed to consider your remaining
reasons for it.

Because it does not appear, that our Saviour and the Apostle Peter told
certain centurions, who, for the sake of the argument, I will admit were
slaveholders, that slaveholding is sinful, you argue, and most
confidently too, that it is not sinful. But, it does not appear, that
the Saviour and the Apostle charged _any_ sinful practices upon them.
Then, by your logic, all their other practices, as well as their
slaveholding, were innocent, and these Roman soldiers were literally
perfect.--Again; how do you know that the Saviour and the Apostle did
not tell them, on the occasion you refer to, that they were sinners for
being slaveholders? The fact, that the Bible does not inform us that
they told them so, does not prove that they did not; much less does it
prove, that they did not tell them so subsequently to their first
interview with them. And again, the admission that they did not
specifically attack slavery, at any of their interviews with the
centurions, or on any other occasions whatever, would not justify the
inference, that it is sinless. I need not repeat the reasoning which
makes the truth of this remark apparent.

You refer to the Saviour's declaration of the unequaled faith of one of
these centurions, with the view of making it appear that a person of so
great faith could not be a great sinner. But, how long had he exercised
this, or, indeed, any Christian faith? That he was on good terms with
the Jews, and had built them a synagogue, is quite as strong evidence,
that he had not, as that he had, previously to that time, believed in
Jesus:--and, if he had not, then his faith, however strong, and his
conversion, however decided, are nothing towards proving that slavery is

It is evident, that the Apostle was sent to Cornelius for the single
purpose of inculcating the doctrine of the remission of sin, through
faith in Christ.

I proceed to examine another of your arguments. From Paul's declaration
to the Elders at Miletus, "I have not shunned to declare unto you all
the counsel of God," taken in connexion with the fact, that the Bible
does not inform us that he spoke to them of slaveholding, you
confidently and exultingly infer that it is innocent. Here, again, you
prove too much, and therefore, prove nothing. It does not appear that he
specified a hundredth part of their duties. If he did not tell them to
abstain from slaveholding, neither did he tell them to abstain from
games and theatres. But, his silence about slaveholding proves to your
mind its sinlessness: equally then should his silence about games and
theatres satisfy you of their innocence. Two radical errors run through
a great part of your book. They are, that the Apostle gave specific
instructions concerning all duties, and that the Bible contains these
instructions. But, for these errors, your book would be far less
objectionable than it is. I might, perhaps, rather say, that but for
these, you could not have made up your book.

And now, since Paul's address to the Elders has been employed by you in
behalf of slavery, allow me to try its virtue against slavery: and, if
it should turn out that you are slain with your own weapon, it will not
be the first time that temerity has met with such a fate. I admit, that
the Apostle does not tell the Elders of any wrong thing which they had
done; but there are some wrong things from which he had himself
abstained, and some right things which he had himself done, of which he
does tell them. He tells them, for instance, that he had not been guilty
of coveting what was another's, and also, that with his own hands he had
ministered to his own necessities and those of others: and he further
tells them, that they ought to copy his example, and labor, as he had
done, "to support the weak." Think you, sir, from this language that
Paul was a slaveholder--and, that his example was such, as to keep lazy,
luxurious slaveholders in countenance? The slaveholder is guilty of
coveting, not only all a man has, but even the man himself. The
slaveholder will not only not labor with his hands to supply the wants
of others, and "to support the weak;" but he makes others labor to
supply his wants:--yes, makes them labor unpaid--night and day--in
storm, as well as in sunshine--under the
lash--bleeding--groaning--dying--and all this, not to minister to his
actual needs, but to his luxuriousness and sensuality.

You ridicule the idea of the abolition of slavery, because it would make
the slaveholder "so poor, as to oblige him to take hold of the maul and
wedge himself--he must catch, curry, and saddle his own horse--he must
black his own brogans (for he will not be able to buy boots)--his wife
must go herself to the wash-tub--take hold of the scrubbing broom, wash
the pots, and cook all that she and her rail-mauler will eat." If Paul
were, as you judge he was, opposed to the abolition of slavery, it is at
least certain, from what he says of the character of his life in his
address to the Elders, that his opposition did not spring from such
considerations as array you against it. In his estimation, manual labor
was honorable. In a slaveholding community, it is degrading. It is so in
your own judgment, or you would not hold up to ridicule those humble
employments, which reflect disgrace, only where the moral atmosphere is
tainted by slavery. That the pernicious influences of slavery in this
respect are felt more or less, in every part of this guilty nation, is
but too true. I put it to your candor, sir, whether the obvious fact,
that slavery makes the honest labor of the hands disreputable, is not a
weighty argument against the supposition that God approves it? I put it
to your candor, sir, whether the fact, which you, at least, cannot
gain-say, that slavery makes even ministers of the gospel despise the
employments of seven-eighths of the human family, and, consequently, the
humble classes, who labor in them--I put it to your candor, whether the
institution, which breeds such contempt of your fellow-men and fellow
Christians, must not be offensive to Him, who commands us to "Honor all
men, and love the brotherhood?"

In another argument, you attempt to show, that Paul's letter to Philemon
justifies slaveholding, and also the apprehension and return of fugitive
slaves. After having recited the Resolution of the Chilicothe
Presbytery--"that to apprehend a slave who is endeavoring to escape from
slavery, with a view to restore him to his master, is a direct violation
of the Divine law, and, when committed by a member of the church, ought
to subject him to censure"--you undertake to make your readers believe,
that Paul's sending Onesimus to Philemon, is a case coming fairly within
the purview of the resolution. Let us see if it does. A man by the name
of Onesimus was converted to Christianity, under Paul's ministry at
Rome. Paul learnt that he had formerly been a servant--say a slave--of
Philemon, who was a "dearly beloved" Christian: and believing that his
return to his old master would promote the cause of Christ, and
beautifully exemplify its power, he advised him to return to him. He
followed the Apostle's advice and returned. Now, from this example, you
attempt to derive a justification for "a member of a Church" to be
engaged in forcibly apprehending and restoring fugitive slaves. I say
forcibly--as the apprehension and return, referred to in the Resolution,
are clearly forcible. I cannot refrain, sir, from saying, that you
greatly wrong the memory of that blessed Apostle of the Lord Jesus, in
construing his writings to authorize such violence upon the persons and
rights of men. And greatly, also, do you wrong the Resolution in
question, by your endeavor to array the Bible against it. The Resolution
is right; it is noble--it denotes in the source whence it emanated, a
proper sense of the rights and dignity of man. It is all the better for
being marked with an honorable contempt of wicked and heaven-daring
laws. May I, having the suspicion, or even the certain knowledge, that
my fellow man was once held in slavery, and is still _legally_ a slave,
seize upon him and reduce him again to slavery? May I thus deal with a
guiltless and unaccused brother? Human laws may, it is true, bear me out
in this man-stealing, which is not less flagrant than that committed on
the coast of Africa:--but, says the Great Law-giver, "The word that I
have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day:"--and, it is a
part of this "word," that "he that stealeth a man shall surely be put to
death." In that last day, the mayors, recorders, sheriffs, and others,
who have been engaged, whether in their official or individual capacity,
in slave-catching and man-stealing, will find human laws but a flimsy
protection against the wrath of Him, who judges his creatures by his own
and not by human laws. In that "last day," all who have had a part, and
have not repented of it, in the sin of treating man as property; all, I
say, whether slaveholders or their official or unofficial assistants,
the drivers upon their plantations, or their drivers in the free
States--all, who have been guilty of throwing God's "image" into the
same class with the brutes of the field--will find, that He is the
avenger of his poorest, meanest ones--and that the crime of transmuting
His image into property, is but aggravated by the fact and the plea that
it was committed under the sanction of human laws.

But, to return--wherein does the letter of Paul to Philemon justify
slaveholding? What evidence does it contain, that Philemon was a
slaveholder at the time it was written? He, who had been his slave "in
time past," had, very probably, escaped before Philemon's conversion to
Christ. This "time past," may have been a _long_ "time past." The word
in the original, which is translated "in time past," does not forbid the
supposition. Indeed, it is the same word, which the Apostle uses in the
thirteenth verse of the first chapter of Galatians; and there it denotes
a _long_ "time past"--as much as from fifteen to eighteen years.
Besides, Onesimus' escape and return both favor the supposition, that it
was between the two events that Philemon's conversion took place. On the
one hand, he fled to escape from the cruelties of an unconverted master;
on the other, he was encouraged to follow the Apostle's advice, by the
consideration, that on his return to Philemon he should not have to
encounter again the unreasonableness and rage of a heathen, but that he
should meet with the justice and tenderness of a Christian--qualities,
with the existence and value of which, he had now come to an
experimental acquaintance. Again, to show that the letter in question
does not justify slaveholding--in what character was it, that Paul sent
Onesimus to Philemon? Was it in that of a slave? Far from it. It was, in
that of "a brother beloved," as is evident from his injunction to
Philemon to "receive him forever--not now as a _slave_, but above a
_slave_--a brother beloved."

It is worthy of remark, that Paul's message to Philemon, shows, not only
that he himself was not in favor of slaveholding, but, that he believed
the gospel had wrought such an entire change on this subject, in the
heart of Philemon, that Onesimus would find on his return to him, the
tyrant and the slaveholder sunk in the brother and the Christian.

Paul's course in relation to Onesimus was such, as an abolitionist would
deem it proper to adopt, under the like circumstances. If a fugitive
slave, who had become a dear child of God, were near me, and, if I knew
that his once cruel master had also become a "dearly beloved" Christian;
and if, therefore, I had reason to believe, as Paul had, in the case of
Philemon, that he would "receive him forever--not now as a _slave_, but
above a _slave_, a brother beloved," I would advise him to revisit his
old master, provided he could do so, without interference and violence
from others. Such interference and violence did not threaten Onesimus in
his return to Philemon. He was not in danger of being taken up,
imprisoned, and sold for his jail fees, as a returning Onesimus would be
in parts of this nation.

On the 72d page of your book, you utter sentiments, which, I trust, all
your readers will agree, are unworthy of a man, a republican, and a
Christian. You there endeavor again to make it appear, that it is not
the _relation_ of master and slave, but only the abuse of it, which is
to be objected to.--You say: "Independence is a charming idea,
especially to Americans: but what gives it the charm? Is it the thing in
itself? or is it because it is a release from the control of a bad
master? Had Great Britain been a kind master, our ancestors were willing
to remain her slaves." In reply to this I would say, that it must be a
base spirit which does not prize "independence" for its own sake,
whatever privation and suffering may attend it; and much more base must
be that spirit, which can exchange that "independence" for a state of
slavish subjection--even though that state abound in all sensual
gratifications. To talk of "a kind master" is to talk of a blessing for
a dog, but not for a man, who is made to "call no man master." Were the
people of this nation like yourself, they would soon exchange their
blood-bought liberties for subjection to any despot who would promise
them enough to eat, drink, and wear. But, I trust, that we at the North
are "made of sterner stuff." They, who make slaves of others, can more
easily become slaves themselves: for, in their aggressions upon others,
they have despised and trampled under foot those great, eternal
principles of right, which _not only_ constitute the bulwark of the
general freedom; but his respect for which is indispensable to every
man's valuation and protection of his individual liberties. This train
of thought associates with itself in my mind, the following passage in
an admirable speech delivered by the celebrated William Pinckney, in the
Maryland House of Delegates in 1789. Such a speech, made at the present
time in a slave State, would probably cost the life of him who should
make it; nor could it be delivered in a free States at any less
sacrifice, certainly, than that of the reputation of the orator. What a
retrograde movement has liberty made in this country in the last fifty

"Whilst a majority of your citizens are accustomed to rule with the
authority of despots, within particular limits--while your youths are
reared in the habit of thinking that the great rights of human nature
are not so sacred, but they may with innocence be trampled on, can it be
expected, that the public mind should glow with that generous ardor in
the cause of freedom, which can alone save a government, like ours, from
the lurking demon of usurpation? Do you not dread the contamination of
principle? Have you no alarms for the continuance of that spirit, which
once conducted us to victory and independence, when the talons of power
were unclasped for our destruction? Have you no apprehension left, that
when the votaries of freedom sacrifice also at the gloomy altars of
slavery, they will, at length, become apostates from them for ever? For
my own part, I have no hope, that the stream of general liberty will
flow for ever, unpolluted, through the foul mire of partial bondage, or
that they, who have been habituated to lord it over others, will not be
base enough, in time, to let others lord it over them. If they resist,
it will be the struggle of _pride_ and _selfishness_, not of

Had Edmund Burke known slaveholders as well as Mr. Pinckney knew them,
he would not have pronounced his celebrated eulogium on their love of
liberty;--he would not have ascribed to them any love of liberty, but
the spurious kind which the other orator, impliedly, ascribes to
them--that which "pride and selfishness" beget and foster. Genuine love
of liberty, as Mr. Pinckney clearly saw, springs from "principle," and
is found no where but in the hearts of those who respect the liberties
and the rights of others.

I had reason, in a former part of this communication, to charge some of
the sentiments of Professor Hodge with being alike reproachful to the
memory of our fathers, and pernicious to the cause of civil liberty.
There are sentiments on the 72d page of your book, obnoxious to the like
charge. If political "independence"--if a free government--be the poor
thing--the illusive image of an American brain--which you sneeringly
represent it, we owe little thanks to those who purchased it for us,
even though they purchased it with their blood; and little pains need we
take in that case to preserve it. When will the people of the Northern
States see, that the doctrines now put forth so industriously to
maintain slavery, are rapidly undermining liberty?

On the 43d page of your book you also evince your low estimate of man's
rights and dues. You there say, "the fact that the planters of
Mississippi and Louisiana, even while they have to pay from twenty to
twenty-five dollars per barrel for pork the present season, afford to
their slaves from three to four and a half pounds per week, does not
show, that they are neglectful in rendering to their slaves that which
is just and equal." If men had only an animal, and not a spiritual and
immortal nature also, it might do for you to represent them as well
provided for, if but pork enough were flung to them. How preposterous to
tell us, that God approves a system which brings a man, as slavery seems
to have brought you, to regard his fellow man as a mere animal!

I am happy to find that you are not all wrong. You are no "gradualist."
You are not inconsistent, like those who admit that slavery is sinful,
and yet refuse to treat it as sinful. I hope our Northern "gradualists"
will profit by the following passage in your book: "If I were convinced
by that word (the Bible) that slavery is itself a sin, I trust that, let
it cost what it would, I should be an abolitionist, because there is no
truth, more clear to my mind, than that the gospel requires an
_immediate_ abandonment of sin."

You have no doubt of your right to hold your fellow men, as slaves. I
wish you had given your readers more fully your views of the origin of
this right. I judge from what you say, that you trace it back to the
curse pronounced by Noah upon Canaan. But was that curse to know no end?
Were Canaan's posterity to endure the entailment of its disabilities and
woes, until the end of time? Was Divine mercy never to stay the
desolating waves of this curse? Was their harsh and angry roar to reach,
even into the gospel dispensation, and to mingle discordantly with the
songs of "peace on earth and good will to men?" Was the captivity of
Canaan's race to be even stronger than He, who came "to bind up the
broken-hearted, and proclaim liberty to the captives?" But who were
Canaan and his descendants? You speak of them, and with singular
unfairness, I think, as "_the_ posterity of Ham, from whom, it is
supposed, sprang the Africans." They were, it is true, a part of Ham's
posterity; but to call them "_the_ posterity of Ham," is to speak as
though he had no other child than Canaan. The fifteenth to nineteenth
verses of the tenth chapter of Genesis teach us, beyond all question,
that Canaan's descendants inhabited the land of Canaan and adjacent
territory, and that this land is identical with the country afterwards
occupied by the Jews, and known, in modern times, by the name of
Palestine, or the Holy Land. Therefore, however true it may be, that a
portion of Ham's posterity settled in Africa, we not only have no
evidence that it was the portion cursed, but we have conclusive evidence
that it was not.

But, was it a state of slavery to which Canaanites were doomed? I will
suppose, for a moment, that it was: and, then, how does it appear right
to enslave them? The curse in question is prophecy. Now prophecy does
not say what ought to come to pass: nor does it say, that they who have
an agency in the production of the foretold event, will be innocent in
that agency. If the prediction of an event justifies those who are
instrumental in producing it, then was Judas innocent in betraying our
Saviour. "It must needs be that offences come, but wo to that man by
whom the offence cometh." Prophecy simply tells what will come to pass.
The question, whether it was proper to enslave Canaanites, depends for
its solution not on the curse or prophecy in question. If the measure
were in conformity with the general morality of the Bible, then it was
proper. Was it in conformity with it? It was not. The justice, equity
and mercy which were, agreeable to the Divine command, to characterize
the dealings of the Jews with each other, are in such conformity, and
these are all violated by slavery. If those dealings were all based on
the general morality of the Bible, as they certainly were, then slavery,
which, in its moral character, is completely opposite to them, cannot
rest on that morality. If that morality did not permit the Jews to
enslave Canaanites, how came they to enslave them? You will say, that
they had special authority from God to do so, in the words, "Both thy
bondmen and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the
heathen that are around about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and
bondmaids." Well, I will admit that God did in one instance, and that He
may have done so in others, give special authority to the Jews to do
that, which, without such authority, would have been palpably and
grossly immoral. He required them to exterminate some of the tribes of
the Canaanites. He may have required them to bring other Heathens under
a form of servitude violative of the general morality of his word.--Of
course, no blame attaches to the execution of such commands. When He
specially deputes us to kill for Him, we are as innocent in the agency,
notwithstanding the general law, "thou shalt not kill," as is the
earthquake or thunderbolt, when commissioned to destroy. Samuel was as
innocent in hewing "Agag in pieces," as is the tree that falls upon the
traveler. It may be remarked, in this connexion, that the fact that God
gave a special statute to destroy some of the tribes of the Canaanites,
argues the contrariety of the thing required to the morality of the
Bible. It argues, that this morality would not have secured the
accomplishment of what was required by the statute. Indeed, it is
probable that it was, sometimes, under the influence of the tenderness
and mercy inculcated by this morality, that the Jews were guilty of
going counter to the special statute in question, and sparing the
devoted Canaanites, as in the instance when they "spared Agag." We might
reason, similarly to show that a special statute, if indeed there were
such a one, authorizing the Jews to compel the Heathen to serve them,
argues that compulsory service is contrary to fundamental morality. We
will suppose that God did; in the special statute referred to, clothe
the Jews with power to enslave Heathens, and now let me ask you, whether
it is by this same statute to enslave, that you justify your neighbors
and yourself for enslaving your fellow men? But this is a special
statute, conferring a power on the Jews only--a power too, not to
enslave whomsoever they could; but only a specified portion of the human
family, and this portion, as we have seen, of a stock, other than that
from which you have obtained your slaves. If the special statutes, by
which God clothed the Jews with peculiar powers, may be construed to
clothe you with similar powers, then, inasmuch as they were authorized
and required to kill Canaanites, you may hunt up for destruction the
straggling descendants of such of the devoted ones, as escaped the sword
of the Jews. Or, to make a different interpretation of your rights,
under this supposition; since the statute in question authorized and
required the Jews to kill the heathen, within the borders of what was
properly the Jews' country, then you are also authorized and required to
kill the heathens within the limits of your country:--and these are not
wanting, if the testimony of your ecclesiastical bodies, before referred
to, can be relied on; and, if it be as they say, that the millions of
the poor colored brethren in the midst of you are made heathens by the
operation of the system, to which, with unparalleled wickedness, they
are subjected.

If then, neither Noah's curse, nor the special statute in question,
authorize you to enslave your fellow men, there is, probably, but one
ground on which you will contend for authority to do so--and this is the
ground of the general morality of the Christian religion--of the general
principles of right and duty, in the word of God. Do you find your
authority on this ground? If you do, then, manifestly, you have a right
to enslave me, and I a right to enslave you, and every man has a right
to enslave whomsoever he can;--a right as perfect, as is the right to do
good to one another. Indeed, the enslavement of each other would, under
this construction of duty, _be_ the doing of good to one another. Think
you, sir, that the universal exercise of this right would promote the
fulfilment of the "new commandment that ye love one another?" Think you,
it would be the harbinger of millenial peace and blessedness? Or, think
you not, rather, that it would fully and frightfully realize the
prophet's declaration: "They all lie in wait for blood: they hunt every
man his neighbor with a net."

If any people have a right to enslave their fellow men, it must be the
Jews, if they once had it. But if they ever had it, it ceased, when all
their peculiar rights ceased. In respect to rights from the Most High,
they are now on the same footing with other races of men. When "the vail
of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom," then that
distinction from the Gentile, in which the Jew had gloried, ceased, and
the partition wall between them was prostrate for ever. The Jew, as well
as the Gentile, was never more to depart from the general morality of
the Bible. He was never again to be under any special statutes, whose
requirements should bring him into collision with that morality: He was
no more to confine his sympathies and friendships within the narrow
range of the twelve tribes: but every son and daughter of Adam were
thenceforth entitled to claim from him the heart and hand of a brother.
"Under the glorious dispensation of the gospel," says the immortal
Granville Sharp, "we are absolutely bound to consider ourselves as
citizens of the world; every man whatever, without any partial
distinction of nation, distance, or complexion, must necessarily be
esteemed our neighbor and our brother; and we are absolutely bound, in
Christian duty, to entertain a disposition towards all mankind, as
charitable and benevolent, at least, as that which was required of the
Jews under the law towards their brethren; and, consequently, it is
absolutely unlawful for those who call themselves Christians, to exact
of their brethren (I mean their brethren of the universe) a more
burthensome service, than that to which the Jews were limited with
respect to their brethren of the house of Israel; and the slavery or
involuntary bondage of a brother Israelite was absolutely forbid."

It occurs to me, that after all which has been said to satisfy you, that
compulsory servitude, if such there were among the Jews, cannot properly
be pleaded in justification of yours; a question may still be floating
in your mind whether, if God directed his chosen people to enslave the
Heathen, slavery should not be regarded as a good system of servitude?
Just as pertinently may you ask, whether that is not a good system of
servitude, which is found in some of our state prisons. Punishment
probably--certainly not labor--is the leading object in the one case as
well as the other: and the labor of the bondman in the one, as well as
of the convict in the other, constitutes but a subordinate
consideration. To suppose that God would, with every consideration out
of view, but that of having the best relation of employer and laborer,
make choice of slavery--to suppose that He believes that this state of
servitude operates most beneficially, both for the master and the
servant--is a high impeachment of the Divine wisdom and goodness. But
thus guilty are you, if you are unwilling to believe, that, if He chose
the severe servitude in question, He chose it for the punishment of his
enemies, or from some consideration, other than its suitableness for the
ordinary purposes of the relation of master and servant.

But it has been for the sake of argument only, that I have admitted that
God authorized the Jews to enslave the heathen. I now totally deny that
He did so. You will, of course, consent that if He did so, it was in a
special statute, as was the case when He authorized them to exterminate
other heathen: and you will as readily consent that He enacted the
statutes, in both instances, with the view of punishing his enemies.
Now, in killing the Canaanites, the Jew was constituted, not the owner
of his devoted fellow man, but simply the executioner of God's
vengeance: and evidently, such and no other was his character when he
was reducing the Canaanite to involuntary servitude--that he did so
reduce him, and was commissioned by God to do so, is the supposition we
make for the sake of argument. Had the Jews been authorized by God to
shut up in dungeons for life those of the heathen, whom they were
directed to have for bondmen and bondmaids, you would not claim, that
they, any more than sheriffs and jailers in our day, are to be
considered in the light of owners of the persons in their charge. Much
less then, can the Jews be considered as the owners of any person whom
they held in servitude: for, however severe the type of that servitude,
the liberty of its subject was not restricted, as was that of the
prisoners in question:--most certainly, the power asserted over him is
not to be compared in extent with that asserted by the Jew over the
Canaanite, whom he slew;--a case in which he was, indisputably, but the
executioner of the Divine wrath. The Canaanite, whether devoted to a
violent death or to an involuntary servitude, still remained the
property of God: and God no more gave him up to be the property of the
executioner of his wrath, than the people of the State of New York give
up the offender against public justice to be the property of the
ministers of that justice. God never suspends the accountability of his
rational creatures to himself: and his rights to them, He never
transfers to others. He could not do so consistently with his
attributes, and his indissoluble relations to man. But slavery claims,
that its subjects are the property of man. It claims to turn them into
mere chattels, and to make them as void of responsibility to God, as
other chattels. Slavery, in a word, claims to push from his throne the
Supreme Being, who declares, "all souls are mine." That it does not
succeed in getting its victim out of God's hand, and in unmanning and
_chattelizing_ him--that God's hold upon him remains unbroken, and that
those upward tendencies of the soul, which distinguish man from the
brute, are not yet entirely crushed in him--is no evidence in favor of
its nature:--it simply proves, that its power is not equal to its
purposes. We see, then, that the Jews--if it be true that they reduced
their fellow men to involuntary servitude, and did so as the
Heaven-appointed ministers of God's justice,--are not to be charged with
slaveholding for it. There may be involuntary servitude where there is
no slavery. The essential and distinguishing feature of slavery is its
reduction of man to property--to a thing. A tenant of one of our state
prisons is under a sentence of "hard labor for life." But he is not a
slave. That is, he is not the _thing_ which slavery would mark its
subject. He is still a man. Offended justice has placed him in his
present circumstances, because he is a man: and, it is because he is a
_man_ and not a _thing_--a responsible, and not an irresponsible being,
that he must continue in his present trials and sufferings.

God's commandments to the Jews, respecting servants and strangers, show
that He not only did not authorize them to set up the claim of property
in their fellow men, but that He most carefully guarded against such
exercises of power, as might lead to the assumption of a claim so
wrongful to Himself. Some of these commandments I will bring to your
notice. They show that whatever was the form of servitude under which
God allowed the Jews to hold the heathen, it was not slavery. Indeed, if
all of the Word of God which bears on this point were cited and duly
explained, it would, perhaps, appear that He allowed no involuntary
servitude whatever amongst the Jews. I give no opinion whether he
allowed it or not. There are strong arguments which go to show, that He
did not allow it; and with these arguments the public will soon be made
more extensively acquainted. It is understood, that the next number of
the Anti-Slavery Examiner will be filled with them.

1st. So galling are the bonds of Southern slavery, that it could not
live a year under the operation of a law forbidding the restoration of
fugitive servants to their masters. How few of the discontented subjects
of this oppressive servitude would agree with Hamlet, that it is better

--"bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of."

What a running there would be from the slave States to the free!--from
one slave State to another!--from one plantation to another! Now, such a
law--a solemn commandment of God--many writers on slavery are of the
opinion, perhaps too confident opinion, was in force in the Jewish
nation (Deut. xxiii, 15); and yet the system of servitude on which it
bore, and which you cite as the pattern and authority for your own,
lived in spite of it. How could it? Manifestly, because its genius was
wholly unlike that of Southern slavery; and because its rigors and
wrongs, if rigors and wrongs there were in it, bear no comparison to
those which characterize Southern slavery; and which would impel
nine-tenths of its adult subjects to fly from their homes, did they but
know that they would not be obliged to return to them. When Southern
slaveholders shall cease to scour the land for fugitive servants, and to
hunt them with guns and dogs, and to imprison, and scourge, and kill
them;--when, in a word, they shall subject to the bearing of such a law
as that referred to their system of servitude, then we shall begin to
think that they are sincere in likening it to the systems which existed
among the Jews. The law, enacted in Virginia in 1705, authorizing any
two justices of the peace "by proclamation to _outlaw_ runaways, who
might thereafter be killed and destroyed by any person whatsoever, by
such ways and means as he might think fit, without accusation or
impeachment of any crime for so doing," besides that it justifies what I
have just said about hunting fugitive servants, shows, 1st. That the
American Anti-Slavery Society is of too recent an origin to be the
occasion, as slaveholders and their apologists would have us believe, of
all the cruel laws enacted at the South. 2d. That Southern slaveholders
would be very unwilling to have their system come under the operation of
such a law as that which allowed the Jewish servant to change his
master. 3d. That they are monsters, indeed, into which men may be turned
by their possession of absolute power.

You, perhaps, suppose, (and I frankly admit to you, that there is some
room for the supposition,) that the servants referred to in the 15th and
16th verses of the 23d chapter of Deuteronomy, were such as had escaped
from foreign countries to the country of the Jews. But, would this view
of the matter help you? By taking it, would you not expose yourself to
be most pertinently and embarrassingly asked, for what purpose these
servants fled to a strange and most odious people?--and would not your
candid reply necessarily be, that it was to escape from the galling
chains of slavery, to a far-famed milder type of servitude?--from
Gentile oppression, to a land in which human rights were protected by
Divine laws? But, as I have previously intimated, I have not the
strongest confidence in the anti-slavery argument, so frequently drawn
from this passage of the Bible. I am not sure that a Jewish servant is
referred to: nor that on the supposition of his being a foreigner, the
servant came under any form of servitude when entering the land of the
Jews. Before leaving the topic, however, let me remark, that the
passage, under any construction of it, makes against Southern slavery.
Admit that the fugitive servant was a foreigner, and that he was not
reduced to servitude on coming among the Jews, let me ask you whether
the law in question, under this view of it, would be tolerated by the
spirit of Southern slavery?--and whether, before obedience would be
rendered to it, you would not need to have a different type of
servitude, in the place of slavery? You would--I know you would--for you
have been put to the trial. When, by a happy providence, a vessel was
driven, the last year, to a West India island, and the chains of the
poor slaves with which it was filled fell from around them, under
freedom's magic power, the exasperated South was ready to go to war with
Great Britain. _Then_, the law against delivering up foreign servants to
their masters was not relished by you. The given case comes most
strikingly within the supposed policy of this law. The Gentile was to be
permitted to remain in the land to which he had fled, and where he would
have advantages for becoming acquainted with the God of the Bible. Such
advantages are they enjoying who escaped from the confessed heathenism
of Southern slavery to the island in question. They are now taught to
read that "Book of life," which before, they were forbidden to read. But
again, suppose a slave were to escape from a West India island into the
Southern States--would you, with your "domestic institutions," of which
you are so jealous, render obedience to this Divine law? No; you would
subject him _for ever_ to a servitude more severe than that, from which
he had escaped. Indeed, if a _freeman_ come within a certain portion of
our Southern country, and be so unhappy as to bear a physical
resemblance to the slave, he will be punished for that resemblance, by
imprisonment, and even by a reduction to slavery.

2d. Southern slaveholders, who, by their laws, own men as absolutely as
they own cattle, would have it believed, that Jewish masters thus owned
their fellow-men. If they did, why was there so wide a difference
between the commandment respecting the stray man, and that respecting
the stray ox or ass? The man was not, but the beasts were, to be
returned; and that too, even though their owner was the enemy of him who
met them. (Ex. 23. 4.) I repeat the question;--why this difference? The
only answer is, because God made the brute to be the _property_ of man;
but He never gave us our noble nature for such degradation. Man's title
deed, in the eighth Psalm, extends his right of property to the
inanimate and brute creation only--not to the flesh and bones and spirit
of his fellow-man.

3d. The very different penalties annexed to the crime of stealing a man,
and to that of stealing a thing, shows the eternal and infinite
difference which God has established between a man and property. The
stealing of a man was _surely_ to be punished with death; whilst mere
property was allowed to atone for the offence of stealing property.

4th. Who, if not the slave, can be said to be vexed and oppressed! But
God's command to his people was, that they should neither "vex a
stranger, nor oppress him."

5th. Such is the nature of American slavery, that not even its warmest
friends would claim that it could recover itself after such a "year of
jubilee" as God appointed. One such general delivery of its victims
would be for ever fatal to it. I am aware that you deny that all the
servants of the Jews shared in the blessings of the "year of jubilee."
But let me ask you, whether if one third or one half of your servants
were discharged from servitude every fiftieth year--and still more,
whether if a considerable proportion of them were thus discharged every
sixth year--the remainder would not be fearfully discontented? Southern
masters believe, that their only safety consists in keeping down the
discontent of their servants. Hence their anxious care to withhold from
them the knowledge of human rights. Hence the abolitionist who is caught
in a slave state, must be whipped or put to death. If there were a class
of servants amongst the Jews, who could bear to see all their fellow
servants go free, whilst they themselves were retained in bondage, then
that bondage was of a kind very different from what you suppose it to
have been. Had its subjects worn the galling chains of American slavery,
they would have struggled with bloody desperation for the deliverance
which they saw accorded to others.

I scarcely need say, that the Hebrew words rendered "bondmen" and
"bondmaids," do not, in themselves considered, and independently of the
connexion in which they are used, any more than the Greek words _doulos_
and _doule_, denote a particular kind of servant. If the servant was a
slave, because he was called by the Hebrew word rendered "bondman," then
was Jacob a slave also:--and even still greater absurdities could be
deduced from the position.

I promised, in a former part of this communication, to give you my
reasons for denying that you are at liberty to plead in behalf of
slavery, the example of any compulsory servitude in which Jews may have
held foreigners. My promise is now fulfilled, and I trust that the
reasons are such as not to admit of an answer.

Driven, as you now are, from every other conceivable defence of
slaveholding it may be (though I must hope better things of you), that
you will fly to the ground taken by the wicked multitude--that there is
authority in the laws of man for being a slaveholder. But, not only is
the sin of your holding slaves undiminished by the consideration, that
they are held under human laws; but, your claiming to hold them under
such laws, makes you guilty of an additional sin, which, if measured by
its pernicious consequences to others, is by no means inconsiderable.
The truth of these two positions is apparent from the following

1st. There is no valid excuse to be found, either in man's laws or any
where else, for transgressing God's laws. Whatever may be thought, or
said to the contrary, it still remains, and for ever will remain true,
that under all circumstances, "sin is the transgression of the (Divine)

2d. In every instance in which a commandment of God is transgressed,
under the cover and plea of a human law, purporting to permit what that
commandment forbids, there is, in proportion to the authority and
influence of the transgressor, a fresh sanction imparted to that law;
and consequently, in the same proportion the public habit of setting up
a false standard of right and wrong is promoted. It is this habit--this
habit of graduating our morality by the laws of the land in which we
live--that makes the "mischief framed by a law" so much more pernicious
than that which has no law to countenance it, and to commend it to the
conscience. Who is unaware, that nothing tends so powerfully to keep the
traffic in strong drink from becoming universally odious, as the fact,
that this body and soul destroying business finds a sanction in human
laws? Who has not seen the man, authorized by these laws to distribute
the poison amongst his tippling neighbors, proof against all the shafts
of truth, under the self-pleasing and self-satisfying consideration,
that his is a lawful business.

This habit of setting up man's law, instead of God's law, as the
standard of conduct, is strikingly manifested in the fact, that on the
ground, that the Federal Constitution binds the citizens of the United
States to perpetuate slavery, or at least, not to meddle with it, we
are, both at the North and the South, called on to forbear from all
efforts to abolish it. The exertions made to discover in that
instrument, authority for slavery, and authority against endeavors to
abolish it, are as great, anxious, and unwearied, as if they who made
them, thought that the fortunate discovery would settle for ever the
great question which agitates our country--would nullify all the laws of
God against slavery--and make the oppression of our colored brethren, as
long as time shall last, justifiable and praiseworthy. But this
discovery will never be made; for the Constitution is not on the side of
the slaveholder. If it were, however, it would clothe him with no moral
right to act in opposition to the paramount law of God. It is not at all
necessary to the support of my views, in this communication, to show
that the Constitution was not designed to favor slavery; and yet, a few
words to this end may not be out of place.

A treaty between Great Britain and Turkey, by the terms of which the
latter should be prohibited from allowing slaves to be brought within
her dominions, after twenty years from its date, would, all will admit,
redound greatly to the credit of Great Britain. To be sure, she would
not have done as much for the cause of humanity, as if she had succeeded
in bringing the further indulgence of the sin within the limits of a
briefer period, and incomparably less than if she had succeeded in
reconciling the Sublime Porte to her glorious and emphatically English
doctrines of immediate emancipation. But still she would deserve some
praise--much more than if she had done nothing in this respect. Now, for
my present purpose, and many of our statesmen say, for nearly all
purposes, the Federal Constitution is to be regarded as a treaty between
sovereign States. But how much more does this treaty do for the
abolition of slavery, than that on which we were, a moment since,
bestowing our praise! It imposes a prohibition similar to that in the
supposed treaty between Great Britain and Turkey, so that no slaves have
been allowed to be introduced into the United States since the year
1808. It goes further, and makes ample provision for the abolition and
prevention of slavery in every part of the nation, save these States; so
that the District of Columbia and the national territories can be
cleared forever of slavery, whenever a majority of the parties, bound by
the treaty, shall desire it. And it goes still farther, and clothes this
majority with the power of regulating commerce between the States, and
consequently, of prohibiting their mutual traffic in "the bodies and
souls of men." Had this treaty gone but one step farther, and made an
exception, as it should have done, in behalf of slaves, in the clause
making necessary provision for the return of fugitives held to service
in the States from which they flee, none but those who think it is
fairly held responsible for the twenty years indulgence of the unholy
traffic, would have claimed any thing more from it in relation to
slavery. Now, this instrument, which contains nothing more, bearing on
the subject of slavery, than what I have referred to, and whose pages
are not once polluted with the words "slave" and "slavery," is
abundantly and triumphantly cited, as conclusive authority in favor of
slavery, and against endeavors to abolish it. Whilst we regret, that the
true-hearted sons of freedom in the Convention which formed it, could
obtain no more concessions from the advocates of slavery, let us honor
their sacred memory, and thank God for those they did obtain.

I have supposed it possible, that you might number yourself with those,
who defend slavery on the ground of its alleged conformity with human
laws. It occurs to me, that you may, also, take hope, that slavery is
defensible in the supposed fact, that a considerable share of the
professing Christians, in the free States, are in favor of it. "Let God
be true, but every man a liar." If all professing Christians were for
slavery, yet, if God is against it, that is reason enough why you also
should be against it. It is not true, however, that a considerable share
of our professing Christians are on the side of slavery. Indeed, until I
read Professor Hodge's article, I had not supposed that any of them
denied its sinfulness. It is true, that a large proportion of them
refuse to take a stand against it. Let them justify to their
consciences, and to their God, as they can, the equivocal silence and
still more equivocal action on this subject, by which they have left
their Southern brethren to infer, that Northern piety sanctions slavery.
It is the doctrine of expediency, so prevalent and corrupting in the
American Church, which has deceived you into the belief, that a large
share of the professing Christians in the free States, think slavery to
be sinless. This share, which you have in your eye, is, as well as the
remainder, convinced that slavery is sinful--_only they think it
inexpedient to say so_. In relation to other sins, they are satisfied
with God's way of immediate abandonment. But, in relation to slavery,
they flatter themselves that they have discovered "a more excellent
way"--that of leaving the sin untouched, and simply hoping for its
cessation, at some indefinite period in the distant future. I say
hoping, instead of praying, as prayer for an object is found to be
accompanied by corresponding efforts. But for this vile doctrine of
expediency, which gives to our ecclesiastical bodies, whenever the
subject of such a giant and popular sin as slavery is broached in them,
the complexion of a political caucus steeped in unprincipled policy,
rather than that of a company of the Saviour's disciples, inquiring "in
simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom," the way of the
Lord;--but for this doctrine, I say, you would, long ago, have heard the
testimony of Northern Christians against Southern slavery;--and not only
so, but you would long ago have seen this Dagon fall before the power of
that testimony. I trust, however, that this testimony will not long be
withheld; and that Northern Christians will soon perceive, that, in
relation to slavery, as well as every other sin, it is the safest and
wisest, as well as the holiest course, to drop all carnal policy--to
"trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own

Not only are Northern Christians, with very rare exceptions, convinced
of the sin of slavery; but even your slaveholders were formerly
accustomed, with nearly as great unanimity, to admit, that they
themselves thought it to be sinful. It is only recently, and since they
have found that their system must be tested by the Bible, thoroughly and
in earnest--not merely for the purpose, as formerly, of determining
without any practical consequences of the determination, what is the
moral character of slavery--but, for the purpose of settling the point,
whether the institution shall stand or fall,--it is only, I say, since
the civilized world has been fast coming to claim that it shall be
decided by the Bible, and by no lower standard, whether slavery shall or
shall not exist--that your slaveholders have found it expedient to take
the ground, that slavery is not sin.

It probably has not occurred to you, how fairly and fully you might have
been stopped, upon the very threshold of your defence of slavery. The
only witness you have called to the stand to sustain your sinking cause,
is the Bible. But this is a witness, which slavery has itself impeached,
and of which, therefore, it is not entitled to avail itself. It is a
good rule in our civil courts, that a party is not permitted to impeach
his own witness; and it is but an inconsiderable variation of the letter
of this rule, and obviously no violation of its spirit and policy to
say, that no party is permitted to attempt to benefit his cause by a
witness whom he has himself impeached. Now, the slaveholder palpably
violates this rule, when he presumes to offer the Bible as a witness for
his cause:--for he has previously impeached it, by declaring, in his
slave system, that it is not to be believed--that its requirements are
not to be obeyed--that they are not even to be read (though the Bible
expressly directs that they shall be)--that concubinage shall be
substituted for the marriage it enjoins--and that its other provisions
for the happiness, and even the existence, of the social relations,
shall be trampled under foot. The scene, in which a lawyer should ask
the jury to believe what his witness is saying at one moment, and to
reject what he is saying at another, would be ludicrous enough. But what
more absurdity is there in it than that which the pro-slavery party are
guilty of, when they would have us deaf, whilst their witness is
testifying in favor of marriage and searching the Scriptures; and, all
ears, whilst that same witness is testifying, as they construe it, in
favor of slavery! No--before it will be competent for the American
slaveholder to appeal to the Bible for justification of his system, that
system must be so modified, as no longer to make open, shameless war
upon the Bible. I would recommend to slaveholders, that, rather than
make so unhallowed a use of the Bible as to attempt to bolster up their
hard beset cause with it, they should take the ground, which a very
distinguished slaveholding gentleman of the city of Washington took, in
a conversation with myself on the subject of slavery. Feeling himself
uncomfortably plied by quotations from the word of God, he said with
much emphasis, "Stop, Sir, with that, if you please--SLAVERY IS A

This practice of attempting to put the boldest and most flagrant sins
under the wing and sanction of the Bible, is chargeable on others as
well as on the advocates of slavery. Not to speak of other instances of
it--it is sought to justify by this blessed book the most despotic forms
of civil government, and the drinking of intoxicating liquors. There are
two evils so great, which arise from this perversion of the word of God,
that I cannot forbear to notice them. One is, that the consciences of
men are quieted, when they imagine that they have found a justification
in the Bible for the sins of which they are guilty. The other is, that
infidels are multiplied by this perversion. A respectable gentleman, who
edits a newspaper in this neighborhood, and who, unhappily, is not
established in the Christian faith, was asked, a few months since, to
attend a meeting of a Bible Society. "I am not willing," said he, in
reply, "to favor the circulation of a volume, which many of its friends
claim to be on the side of slavery." Rely on it, Sir, that wherever your
book produces the conviction that the Bible justifies slavery, it there
weakens whatever of respect for that blessed volume previously existed.
Whoever is brought to associate slavery with the Bible, may, it is true,
think better of slavery; but he will surely think worse of the Bible. I
hope, therefore, in mercy to yourself and the world, that the success of
your undertaking will be small.

But oftentimes the same providence has a bright, as well as a gloomy,
aspect. It is so in the case before us. The common attempt, in our day,
to intrench great sins in the authority of the Bible, is a consoling and
cheering evidence, that this volume is recognised as the public standard
of right and wrong; and that, whatever may be their private opinions of
it who are guilty of these sins, they cannot hope to justify themselves
before the world, unless their lives are, apparently, at least,
conformed, in some good degree, to this standard. We may add, too, that,
as surely as the Bible is against slavery, every pro-slavery writer, who
like yourself appeals to it as the infallible and only admissible
standard of right and wrong, will contribute to the overthrow of the
iniquitous system. His writings may not, uniformly, tend to this happy
result. In some instances, he may strengthen confidence in the system of
slavery by producing conviction, that the Bible sanctions it;--and then
his success will be, as before remarked, at the expense of the claims
and authority of the Bible:--but these instances of the pernicious
effects of his writings will be very rare, quite too rare we may hope,
to counterbalance the more generally useful tendency of writings on the
subject of slavery, which recognise the paramount authority of God's

Having completed the examination of your book, I wish to hold up to you,
in a single view, the substance of what you have done. You have come
forth, the unblushing advocate of American slavery;--a system which,
whether we study its nature in the deliberate and horrid enactments of
its code, or in the heathenism and pollution and sweat and tears and
blood, which prove, but too well, the agreement of its practical
character with its theory--is, beyond all doubt, more oppressive and
wicked than any other, which the avaricious, sensual, cruel heart of man
ever devised. You have come forth, the unblushing advocate of a system
under which parents are daily selling their children; brothers and
sisters, their brothers and sisters; members of the Church of Christ,
their fellow-members--under which, in a word, immortal man, made "in the
image of God," is more unfeelingly and cruelly dealt with, than the
brute. I know that you intimate that this system would work well, were
it in the hands of none but good men. But with equal propriety might you
say, that the gaming-house or the brothel would work well in such hands.
You have attempted to sustain this system by the testimony of the Bible.
The system, a part only of the crimes of which, most of the nations of
Christendom have declared to be piracy;--against which, the common
sense, the philosophy, the humanity, the conscience of the world, are
arrayed;--this system, so execrable and infamous, you have had the
presumption to attempt to vindicate by that blessed book, whose Author
"is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and (who) cannot look upon
iniquity"--and who "has magnified his word above all his name."

And now, Sir, let me solemnly inquire of you, whether it is right to do
what you have done?--whether it is befitting a man, a Christian, and a
minister of the gospel?--and let me, further, ask you, whether you have
any cheering testimony in your heart that it is God's work you have been
doing? That you and I may, in every future work of our hands, have the
happiness to know, that the approbation of our employer comes from the
upper, and not from the under world, is the sincere desire of

Your friend,


No. 4













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Definition of Slavery

Man-stealing--Examination of Ex. xxi. 16

Import of "Bought with money," etc.

Rights and privileges of servants

No involuntary servitude under the Mosaic system

Servants were paid wages

Masters, not owners

Servants distinguished from property

Social equality of servants with their masters

Condition of the Gibeonites, as subjects of the Hebrew

Egyptian bondage analyzed


"Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be," etc. Gen.
ix. 25

"For he is his money," Examination of, Ex. xxi. 20, 21

"Bondmen and bondmaids" bought of the heathen. Lev. xxv. 44-46

"They shall be your bondmen forever." Lev. xxv. 46

"Ye shall take them as an inheritance," etc. Lev. xxv. 46

The Israelite to serve as a hired servant. Lev. xxv. 39, 40

Difference between bought and hired servants

Bought servants the most privileged class

Summary of the different classes of servants

Disabilities of the servants from the heathen

Examination of Exodus xxi. 2-6

The Canaanites not sentenced to unconditional extermination


* * * * *

The spirit of slavery never takes refuge in the Bible _of its own
accord._ The horns of the altar are its last resort. It seizes them, if
at all, only in desperation--rushing from the terror of the avenger's
arm. Like other unclean spirits, it "hateth the light, neither cometh to
the light, lest its deeds should be reproved." Goaded to phrenzy in its
conflicts with conscience and common sense, denied all quarter, and
hunted from every covert, it breaks at last into the sacred enclosure,
and courses up and down the Bible, "seeking rest, and finding none." THE
LAW OF LOVE, streaming from every page, flashes around it an omnipresent
anguish and despair. It shrinks from the hated light, and howls under
the consuming touch, as demons recoiled from the Son of God, and
shrieked, "Torment us not." At last, it slinks away among the shadows of
the Mosaic system, and thinks to burrow out of sight among its types and
shadows. Vain hope! Its asylum is its sepulchre; its city of refuge, the
city of destruction. It rushes from light into the sun; from heat, into
devouring fire; and from the voice of God into the thickest of His


If we would know whether the Bible is the charter of slavery, we must
first determine _just what slavery is_. The thing itself must be
separated from its appendages. A constituent element is one thing; a
relation another; an appendage another. Relations and appendages
presuppose _other_ things, of which there are relations and appendages.
To regard them as _the things_ to which they pertain, or as constituent
parts of them, leads to endless fallacies. A great variety of
conditions, relations, and tenures, indispensable to the social state,
are confounded with slavery; and thus slaveholding is deemed quite
harmless, if not virtuous. We will specify some of the things which are
often confounded with slavery.

1. _Privation of the right of suffrage_. Then _minors_ are slaves.

2. _Ineligibility to office_. Then _females_ are slaves.

3. _Taxation without representation_. Then three-fourths of the people
of Rhode Island are slaves, and _all_ in the District of Columbia.

4. _Privation of one's oath in law_. Then the _free_ colored people of
Ohio are slaves. So are disbelievers in a future retribution, generally.

5. _Privation of trial by jury_. Then all in France and Germany are

6. _Being required to support a particular religion_. Then the people of
England are slaves. [To the preceding may be added all other
disabilities, merely political.]

7. _Cruelty and oppression_. Wives are often cruelly treated; hired
domestics are often oppressed; but these forms of oppression are not

8. _Apprenticeship_. The rights and duties of master and apprentice are
correlative and reciprocal. The _claim_ of each upon the other results
from the _obligation_ of each to the other. Apprenticeship is based on
the principle of equivalent for value received. The rights of the
apprentice are secured, and his interests are promoted equally with
those of the master. Indeed, while the law of apprenticeship is _just_
to the master, it is _benevolent_ to the apprentice. Its main design is
rather to benefit the apprentice than the master. It _promotes_ the
interests of the former, while it guards from injury those of the latter
in doing it. It secures to the master a mere legal compensation, while
it secures to the apprentice both a legal compensation, and a virtual
gratuity in addition, the apprentice being of the two decidedly the
greatest gainer. The law not only recognizes the _right_ of the
apprentice to a reward for his labor, but appoints the wages, and
enforces the payment. The master's claim covers only the _services_ of
the apprentice. The apprentice's claim covers _equally_ the services of
the master. The master cannot hold the apprentice as property, nor the
apprentice the master; but each holds property in the services of the
other, and BOTH EQUALLY. Is this slavery?

9. _Filial subordination and parental claims_. Both are nature's
dictates, and indispensable to the existence of the social state; their
_design_ the promotion of mutual welfare; and the _means_, those natural
affections created by the relation of parent and child, and blending
them in one by irrepressible affinities; and thus, while exciting each
to discharge those offices incidental to the relation, they constitute a
shield for mutual protection. The parent's legal claim to the services
of his children, while minors, is a slight boon for the care and toil of
their rearing, to say nothing of outlays for support and education. This
provision for the good of the _whole_, is, with the greater part of
mankind, indispensable to the preservation of the family state. The
child, in helping his parents, helps himself--increases a common stock,
in which he has a share; while his most faithful services do but
acknowledge a debt that money cannot cancel.

10. _Bondage for crime, or governmental claims on criminals._ Must
innocence be punished because guilt suffers penalties? True, the
criminal works for the government without pay; and well he may. He owes
the government. A century's work would not pay its drafts on him. He is
a public defaulter, and will die so. Because laws make men pay their
debts, shall those be forced to pay who _owe nothing?_ Besides, the law
makes no criminal, PROPERTY. It restrains his liberty; it makes him pay
something, a mere penny in the pound, of his debt to the government; but
it does not make him a _chattel_. Test it. To own property is to own its
product. Are children born of convicts government property? Besides, can
_property_ be _guilty_? Are _chattels_ punished?

11. _Restrictions upon freedom._ Children are restrained by parents,
wards by guardians, pupils by teachers, patients by physicians and
nurses, corporations by charters, and legislators by constitutions.
Embargoes, tariffs, quarantine, and all other laws, keep men from doing
as they please. Restraints are the web of civilized society, warp and
woof. Are they slavery? then civilized society is a mammoth slave--a
government of LAW, _the climax of slavery_, and its executive a king
among slaveholders.

12. _Involuntary or compulsory service_. A juryman is empannelled
_against his will_, and sit he _must_. A sheriff orders his posse;
bystanders _must_ turn in. Men are _compelled_ to remove nuisances, pay
fines and taxes, support their families, and "turn to the right as the
law directs," however much _against their wills_. Are they therefore
slaves? To confound slavery with involuntary service is absurd. Slavery
is a _condition_. The slave's _feelings_ toward it, are one thing; the
condition itself, the object of these feelings, is _another_ thing; his
feelings cannot alter the nature of that condition. Whether he _desire_
or _detest_ it, the _condition_ remains the same. The slave's
_willingness_ to be a slave is no palliation of his master's guilt in
holding him. Suppose the slave verily thinks himself a chattel, and
consents that others may so regard him, does that _make_ him a chattel,
or make those guiltless who _hold_ him as such? I may be sick of life,
and I tell the assassin so that stabs me; is he any the less a murderer
because I _consent_ to be made a corpse? Does my partnership in his
guilt blot out his part of it? If the slave were willing to be a slave,
his _voluntariness_, so far from _lessening_ the guilt of the "owner,"
_aggravates_ it. If slavery has so palsied his mind and he looks upon
himself as a chattel, and consents to be one, actually _to hold him as
such_, falls in with his delusion, and confirms the impious falsehood.
_These very feelings and convictions of the slave_, (if such were
possible) increase a hundred fold the guilt of the master in holding him
as property, and call upon him in thunder, immediately to recognize him
as a MAN, and thus break the sorcery that binds his soul, cheating it of
its birth-right, and the consciousness of its worth and destiny.

Many of the foregoing conditions and relations are _appendages_ of
slavery, and some of them inseparable from it. But no one, nor all of
them together, constitute its _intrinsic unchanging element_.

We proceed to state affirmatively that,

agents chattels, converting _persons_ into _things_, sinking
intelligence, accountability, immortality, into _merchandise_. A _slave_
is one held in this condition. He is a mere tool for another's use and
benefit. In law "he owns nothing, and can acquire nothing." _His right
to himself is abrogated._ He is another's property. If he say _my_
hands, _my_ feet, _my_ body, _my_ mind, MY_self_; they are figures of
speech. To _use himself_ for his own good is a CRIME. To keep what he
_earns_ is stealing. To take his body into his own keeping is
_insurrection_. In a word, the> _profit_ of his master is the END of his
being, and he, a _mere means_ to that end, a _mere means_ to an end into
which his interests do not enter, of which they constitute no
portion[A]. MAN sunk to a _thing_! the intrinsic element, the
_principle_ of slavery; MEN sold, bartered, leased, mortgaged,
bequeathed, invoiced, shipped in cargoes, stored as goods, taken on
executions, and knocked off at public outcry! Their _rights_ another's
conveniences, their interests, wares on sale, their happiness, a
household utensil; their personal inalienable ownership, a serviceable
article, or plaything, as best suits the humor of the hour; their
deathless nature, conscience, social affections, sympathies, hopes,
marketable commodities! We repeat it, _the reduction of persons to
things_; not robbing a man of privileges, but of _himself_; not loading
with burdens, but making him a _beast of burden_; not _restraining_
liberty, but subverting it; not curtailing rights, but abolishing them;
not inflicting personal cruelty, but annihilating _personality_; not
exacting involuntary labor, but sinking him into an _implement_ of
labor; not abridging his human comforts, but abrogating his _human
nature_; not depriving an animal of immunities, but _despoiling a
rational being of attributes_, uncreating a MAN to make room for a

[Footnote A: Whatever system sinks man from an END to a _means_, or in
other words, whatever transforms him from an object of instrumentality
into a mere instrumentality _to_ an object, just so far makes him a
_slave_. Hence West India apprenticeship retains in _one_ particular the
cardinal principle of slavery. The apprentice, during three-fourths of
his time, is still forced to labor, and robbed of his earnings; just so
far forth he is a _mere means_, a _slave_. True, in all other respects
slavery is abolished in the British West Indies. Its bloodiest features
are blotted out--but the meanest and most despicable of all--forcing the
poor to work for the rich without pay three-fourths of their time, with
a legal officer to flog them if they demur at the outrage, is one of the
provisions of the "Emancipation Act!" For the glories of that luminary,
abolitionists thank God, while they mourn that it rose behind clouds,
and shines through an eclipse.]

That this is American slavery, is shown by the laws of slave states.
Judge Stroud, in his "Sketch of the Laws relating to Slavery," says,
"The cardinal principle of slavery, that the slave is not to be ranked
among sentient beings, but among _things_--is an article of property, a
chattel personal, obtains as undoubted law in all of these states," (the
slave states.) The law of South Carolina thus lays down the principle,
"Slaves shall be deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be
_chattels personal_ in the hands of their owners and possessors, and
their executors, administrators, and assigns, to ALL INTENTS,
Louisiana, "a slave is one who is in the power of a master to whom he
_belongs_; the master may sell him, dispose of his _person, his
industry, and his labor_; he can do nothing, possess nothing, nor
acquire any thing, but what must belong to his master." Civil Code of
Louisiana, Art. 35.

This is American slavery. The eternal distinction between a person and a
thing, trampled under foot--the crowning distinction of all
others--their centre and circumference--the source, the test, and the
measure of their value--the rational, immortal principle, embalmed by
God in everlasting remembrance, consecrated to universal homage in a
baptism of glory and honor, by the gift of His Son, His Spirit, His
Word, His presence, providence, and power; His protecting shield,
upholding staff, and sheltering wing; His opening heavens, and angels
ministering, and chariots of fire, and songs of morning stars, and a
great voice in heaven, proclaiming eternal sanctions, and confirming the
word with signs following.

Having stated the _principle_ of American slavery, we ask, DOES THE
BIBLE SANCTION SUCH A PRINCIPLE?[A][A]? To the _law_ and the
_testimony_. First, the moral law, or the ten commandments. Just after
the Israelites were emancipated from their bondage in Egypt, while they
stood before Sinai to receive the law, as the trumpet waxed louder, and
the mount quaked and blazed, God spake the ten commandments from the
midst of clouds and thunderings. _Two_ of those commandments deal death
to slavery. Look at the eighth, "_Thou shall not steal_," or, thou shalt
not take from another what belongs to him. All man's powers of body and
mind are God's gift to _him_. That they are _his own_, and that he has a
right to them, is proved from the fact that God has given them to _him
alone_, that each of them is a part of _himself_, and all of them
together _constitute_ himself. All _else_ that belongs to man is
acquired by the _use_ of these powers. The _interest_ belongs to him,
because the _principal_ does--the product is his, because he is the
_producer_. Ownership of any thing is ownership of its _use_. The right
to use according to will, is _itself_ ownership. The eighth commandment
_presupposes and assumes the right of every man to his powers, and their
product._ Slavery robs of both. A man's right to himself is the only
right absolutely original and intrinsic--his right to whatever else that
belongs to him is merely _relative_ to his right to himself--is derived
from it, and held only by virtue of it. SELF-RIGHT is the _foundation
right_--the _post in the middle_, to which all other rights are
fastened. Slaveholders, the world over, when talking about their RIGHT
to their slaves, always assume _their own right to themselves_. What
slaveholder ever undertook to prove his own right to himself? He knows
it to be a self-evident proposition, that _a man belongs to
himself_--that the right is intrinsic and absolute. The slaveholder, in
making out his own title to himself, makes out the title of every human
being to _himself_. As the fact of being _a man_ is itself the title,
the whole human family have one common title deed. If _one_ man's title
is valid, _all_ are valid. If one is worthless, all are. To deny the
validity of the _slave's_ title is to deny the validity of _his own_;
and yet in the act of making him a slave, the slaveholder _asserts_ the
validity of his own title, while he seizes _him_ as his property who has
the _same_ title. Further, in making him a slave, he does not merely
unhumanize _one_ individual, but UNIVERSAL MAN. He destroys the
foundations. He annihilates _all rights_. He attacks not only the human
race, but _universal being_, and rushes upon JEHOVAH.--For rights are
_rights_; God's are no more--man's are no less.

[Footnote A: The Bible record of actions is no comment on their moral
character. It vouches for them as _facts_, not as _virtues_. It records
without rebuke, Noah's drunkenness, Lot's incest, and the lies of Jacob
and his mother--not only single acts, but _usages_, such as polygamy and
concubinage, are entered on the record without censure. Is that _silent
entry_ God's _endorsement_? Because the Bible, in its catalogue of human
actions, does not stamp on every crime its name and number, and write
against it, _this is a crime_--does that wash out its guilt, and bleach
it into a virtue?]

The eighth commandment forbids the taking of _any_ part of that which
belongs to another. Slavery takes the _whole_. Does the same Bible which
forbids the taking of _any_ thing belonging to him, sanction the taking
of _every_ thing? Is it such a medley of absurdities as to thunder wrath
against him who robs his neighbor of a _cent_, while it bids God speed
to him who robs his neighbor of _himself_? Slavery is the highest
possible violation of the eighth commandment. To take from a man his
earnings, is theft. But to take the _earner_, is compound, superlative,
perpetual theft. It is to be a thief by profession. It is a trade, a
life of robbery, that vaults through all the gradations of the climax at
a leap--the dread, terrific, giant robbery, that towers among other
robberies, a solitary horror, monarch of the realm. The eighth
commandment forbids the taking away, and the _tenth_ adds, "_Thou shalt
not COVET any thing that is thy neighbor's_;" thus guarding every man's
right to himself and his property, by making not only the actual taking
away a sin, but even that state of mind which would _tempt_ to it. Who
ever made human beings slaves, or held them as slaves without _coveting_
them? Why do they take from them their time, their labor, their liberty,
their right of self-preservation and improvement, their right to acquire
property, to worship according to conscience, to search the Scriptures,
to live with their families, and their right to their own bodies? Why do
they _take_ them, if they do not _desire_ them? They COVET them for
purposes of gain, convenience, lust of dominion, of sensual
gratification, of pride and ostentation. _They break the tenth
commandment_, and pluck down upon their heads the plagues that are
written in the book. _Ten_ commandments constitute the brief compend of
human duty. _Two_ of these brand slavery as sin.

The giving of the law at Sinai, immediately preceded the promulgation of
that body of laws and institutions, called the "Mosaic system." Over the
gateway of that system, fearful words were written by the finger of

The oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, and the wonders wrought for
their deliverance, proclaim the reason for _such_ a law at _such_ a
time--when the body politic became a theocracy, and reverently waited
for the will of God. They had just been emancipated. The tragedies of
their house of bondage were the realities of yesterday, and peopled
their memories with thronging horrors. They had just witnessed God's
testimony against oppression in the plagues of Egypt--the burning blains
on man and beast--the dust quickened into loathsome life, and cleaving
in swarms to every living thing--the streets, the palaces, the temples,
and every house heaped up with the carcasses of things abhorred--even
the kneading troughs and ovens, the secret chambers and the couches,
reeking and dissolving with the putrid death--the pestilence walking in
darkness at noonday, the devouring locusts and hail mingled with fire,
the first-born death-struck, and the waters blood, and, last of all,
that dread high hand and stretched out arm, that whelmed the monarch and
his hosts, and strewed their corpses in the sea. All this their eyes had
looked upon,--earth's proudest city, wasted and thunder-scarred, lying
in desolation, and the doom of oppressors traced on her ruins in the
hand writing of God, glaring in letters of fire mingled with blood--a
blackened monument of wrath to the uttermost against the stealers of

No wonder that God, in a code of laws prepared for such a people at such
a time, should light up on its threshold a blazing beacon to flash
terror on slaveholders. "_He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if
he be found in his hand, he shall be surely put to death_." Ex. xxii.
16. God's cherubim and flaming sword guarding the entrance to the Mosaic
system! See also Deut. xxiv. 7[A].

[Footnote A: Jarchi, the most eminent of the Jewish writers, (if we
except perhaps the Egyptian Maimonides,) who wrote seven hundred years
ago, in his comment on this stealing and making merchandize of men,
gives the meaning thus:--"Using a man against his will, as a servant
lawfully purchased; yea though he should use his services ever so
little, only to the value of a farthing, or use but his arm to lean on
to support him, _if he be forced so to act as a servant_, the person
compelling him but once to do so shall die as a thief, whether he has
sold him or not."]

The Hebrew word, _Gaunab_, here rendered _stealeth_, means the taking
from another what _belongs_ to him, whether it be by violence or fraud;
the same word is used in the eighth commandment, and prohibits both
_robbery_ and theft.

The crime specified is that of _depriving_ SOMEBODY _of the ownership of
a man_. Is this somebody a master? and is the crime that of depriving a
_master_ of his _servant_? Then it would have been "he that stealeth" a
_servant, not_ "he that stealeth a _man_." If the crime had been the
taking of an individual from _another_, then the _term_ used would have
been _expressive of that relation_, and _most especially_ if it was the
relation of property and _proprietor_!

The crime, as stated in the passage, is three-fold--man _stealing_,
_selling_ and _holding_. All are put on a level, and whelmed under one
penalty--DEATH. This _somebody_ deprived of the ownership of man, is the
_man himself_, robbed of personal ownership. Joseph said to the servants
of Pharoah, "Indeed I was _stolen_ away out of the land of the Hebrews."
Gen. xl. 15. How _stolen_? His brethren took him and sold him as an
_article of merchandize_. Contrast this penalty for _man_-stealing with
that for _property_-stealing. Exod. xxii. If a man stole an _ox_ and
killed or sold it, he was to restore five oxen; if he had neither sold
nor killed it, the penalty was two oxen. The selling or the killing
being virtually a deliberate repetition of the crime, the penalty was
more than doubled.

But in the case of stealing a _man_, the first act drew down the utmost
power of punishment; however often repeated, or however aggravated the
crime, human penalty could do no more. The fact that the penalty for
_man_-stealing was death, and the penalty for _property_-stealing, the
mere _restoration of double_, shows that the two cases were adjudicated
on totally different principles. The man stolen might be past labor, and
his support a _burden_, yet death was the penalty, though not a cent's
worth of _property value_ was taken. The penalty for stealing _property_
was a mere _property penalty_. However large the amount stolen, the
payment of _double_ wiped out the score. It might have a greater _money_
value than a _thousand_ men, yet _death_ was never the penalty, nor
maiming, nor branding, nor even _stripes_. Whatever the kind, or the
amount stolen, the unvarying penalty was double of _the same kind_. Why
was not the rule uniform? When a _man_ was stolen why not require the
thief to restore _double of the same kind--two men_, or if he had sold
him, _five_ men? Do you say that the man-thief might not _have_ them? So
the _ox_-thief might not have two _oxen_, or if he had killed it,
_five_. But if God permitted men to hold _men_ as property, equally with
_oxen_, the _man_-thief could get _men_ with whom to pay the penalty, as
well as the _ox_-thief, _oxen_.

Further, when _property_ was stolen, the whole of the legal penalty was
a compensation to the person injured. But when a _man_ was stolen, no
property compensation was offered. To tender _money_ as an equivalent,
would have been to repeat the outrage with the intolerable aggravations
of supreme insult and impiety. Compute the value of a MAN in _money!_
Throw dust into the scale against immortality! The law recoiled from
such outrage and blasphemy. To have permitted the man-thief to expiate
his crime by restoring double, would have been making the repetition of
crime its atonement. But the infliction of death for _man-stealing_
exacted from the guilty wretch the utmost possibility of reparation. It
wrung from him, as he gave up the ghost, a testimony in blood, and death
groans, to the infinite dignity and worth of man,--a proclamation to the
universe, voiced in mortal agony, that MAN IS INVIOLABLE,--a confession
shrieked in phrenzy at the grave's mouth--"I die accursed, and God is

If God permitted man to hold _man_ as property, why did He punish for
stealing _that_ kind of property infinitely more than for stealing any
_other_ kind of property? Why did he punish with _death_ for stealing a
very little, perhaps not a sixpence worth, of _that_ sort of property,
and make a mere _fine_, the penalty for stealing a thousand times as
much, of any other sort of property--especially if God did by his own
act annihilate the difference between man and _property_, by putting him
_on a level with it_?

The atrociousness of a crime, depends greatly upon the nature,
character, and condition of the victim. To steal is a crime, whoever the
thief, or whatever the plunder. To steal bread from a _full_ man, is
theft; to steal it from a _starving_ man, is both theft and murder. If I
steal my neighbor's _property_, the crime consists not in the _nature_
of the article, but in _shifting its external relation_ from _him to
me_. But when I take my neighbor _himself_, and first make him
_property_, and then _my_ property, the latter act, which was the sole
crime in the former case, dwindles to a mere appendage. The sin in
stealing a man does not consist in transferring, from its owner to
another, that which is _already property_, but in turning _personality_
into _property_. True, the _attributes_ of man still remain, but the
rights and immunities which grow out of them are _annihilated_. It is
the first law of reason and revelation to regard things and beings as
they are; and the sum of religion, to feel and act toward them according
to their nature and value. Knowingly to treat them otherwise, is _sin_;
and the degree of violence done to their nature, relations, and value,
measures its guilt. When things are sundered which God has indissolubly
joined, or confounded in one, which he has separated by infinite
extremes; when sacred and eternal distinctions, which he has garnished
with glory, are derided and set at nought, then, if ever, _sin_ reddens
in its "scarlet dye." The sin specified in the passage, is that of doing
violence to the _nature_ of a _man_--his _intrinsic value_ and relations
as a rational being, and blotting out the exalted distinction stamped
upon him by his Maker. In the verse preceding, and in that which
follows, the same principle is laid down. Verse 15, "_He then smiteth
his father or his mother shall surely be put to death._" Verse 17, "_He
that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death._"
If a Jew smote his neighbor, the law merely smote him in return. But if
that same blow were given to a _parent_, the law struck the smiter
_dead_. Why this difference in the punishment of the same act, inflicted
on different persons? Answer--God guards the parental relation with
peculiar care. It is the _centre_ of human relations. To violate that,
is to violate _all_. Whoever trampled on _that_, showed that no relation
had any sacredness in his eyes--that he was unfit to move among human
relations who had violated one so sacred and tender.--Therefore, the
Mosaic law uplifted his bleeding corpse, and brandished the ghastly
terror around the parental relation to guard it from impious inroads.

But why the difference in the penalty since the _act_ was the same? The
sin had divers aggravations.

1. The relation violated was obvious--the distinction between parents
and others, manifest, dictated by natural affection--a law of the

2. The act was violence to nature--a suicide on constitutional

3. The parental relation then, as now, was the centre of the social
system, and required powerful safe-guards. "_Honor thy father and thy
mother_," stands at the head of those commands which prescribe the
duties of man to man; and, throughout the Bible, the parental relation
is God's favorite illustration, of his own relations to the whole family
of man. In this case, death is inflicted not at all for the act of
_smiting_, nor for smiting a _man_, but a _parent_--for violating a
vital and sacred relation--a _distinction_ cherished by God, and around
which, both in the moral and ceremonial law, He threw up a bulwark of
defence. In the next verse, "He that stealeth a man," &c., the SAME
PRINCIPLE is wrought out in still stronger relief. The crime here
punished with death, is not the mere act of taking property from its
owner, but the disregarding of _fundamental relations_, doing violence
to an _immortal nature_, making war on a _sacred distinction_ of
priceless worth. That distinction which is cast headlong by the
principle of American slavery; which makes MEN "_chattels_."

The incessant pains-taking throughout the old Testament, in the
separation of human beings from brutes and things, shows God's regard
for the sacredness of his own distinction.

"In the beginning" the Lord uttered it in heaven, and proclaimed it to
the universe as it rose into being. He arrayed creation at the instant
of its birth, to do it reverent homage. It paused in adoration while He
ushered forth its crowning work. Why that dread pause, and that creating
arm held back in mid career, and that high conference in the godhead?
"_Let us make man in_ OUR IMAGE, _after_ OUR LIKENESS, AND LET HIM HAVE
DOMINION _over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and
over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every living thing
that moveth upon the earth_."

_Then_ while every living thing, with land, and sea, and firmament, and
marshalled worlds, waited to catch and swell the shout of morning
HIM. Well might the sons of God cry all together, "Amen,
alleluia"--"_Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive blessing and
honor"--"For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast
crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over
the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. O Lord,
our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth_." Psalms viii. 5,
6, 9. The frequent and solemn repetition of this distinction by God
proclaims his infinite regard. The 26th, 27th, and 28th verses of the
1st chapter of Genesis are little else than the repetition of it in
various forms. In the 5th chapter, 1st verse, we find it again--"In the
day that God created man, IN THE LIKENESS of GOD MADE HE MAN." In the
9th chapter, 6th verse, we find it again. After giving license to shed
the blood of "every moving thing that liveth," it is added, "_Whoso
sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, for_ IN THE IMAGE
OF GOD MADE HE MAN." As though he had said, "All these other creatures
are your property, designed for your use--they have the likeness of
earth, they perish with the using, and their spirits go downward; but
this other being, MAN, has my own _likeness_; IN THE IMAGE OF GOD made I
man; an intelligent, moral, immortal agent, invited to all that I can
give and he can be." So in Levit. xxiv. 17, 18, "_He that killeth any_
MAN _shall surely be put to death; and he, that killeth a beast shall
make it good, beast for beast; and he that killeth a_ MAN _shall be put
to death_." So in the passage quoted above, Ps. viii. 5, 6. What an
enumeration of particulars, each separating infinitely, MEN from brutes
and things!

1. "_Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels_." Slavery drags
him down among _brutes_.

2. "_And hast crowned him with glory and honor_." Slavery tears off his
crown, and puts on a _yoke_.

3. "_Thou madest him to have dominion_ OVER _the works of thy hands_."
Slavery breaks his sceptre, and casts him down _among_ those works--yea,
_beneath them_.

4. "_Thou hast put all things under his feet_." Slavery puts HIM _under
the feet of an owner_, with beasts and creeping things. Who, but an
impious scorner, dare thus strive with his Maker, and mutilate HIS
IMAGE, and blaspheme the Holy One, who saith to those that grind his
poor, "_Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it
unto me_."

But time would fail us to detail the instances in which this distinction
is most impressively marked in the Bible.

In further prosecuting this inquiry, the Patriarchal and Mosaic systems
will be considered together, as each reflects light upon the other, and
as many regulations of the latter are mere _legal_ forms of Divine
institutions previously existing. As a _system_, however, the latter
alone is of Divine authority. Whatever were the usages of the
_patriarchs_, God has not made them our examplars[A].

[Footnote A: Those who insist that the patriarchs held slaves, and sit
with such delight under their shadow, hymning the praises of "those good
old patriarchs and slaveholders," might at small cost greatly augment
their numbers. A single stanza celebrating patriarchal _concubinage_,
winding off with a chorus in honor of patriarchal _drunkenness_, would
be a trumpet call, summoning from bush and brake, highway and hedge, and
sheltering fence, a brotherhood of kindred affinities, each claiming
Abraham or Noah as his patron saint, and shouting, "My name is legion."
What a myriad choir, and thunderous song!]

Before entering upon an analysis of the condition of servants under
these two states of society, let us settle the import of certain terms
which describe the mode of procuring them.


From the direction to the Israelites to "buy" their servants, and from
the phrase "bought with money," applied to Abraham's servants, it is
argued that they were articles of _property_. The sole ground for this
belief is the _terms_ "buy" and "bought with money," and such an import
to these terms when applied to servants is assumed, not only in the
absence of all proof, but in the face of evidence to the contrary. How
much might be saved, if in discussion, the thing to be proved was always
_assumed_. To _beg_ the question in debate, what economy of midnight
oil! what a forestaller of premature wrinkles, and grey hairs! Instead
of protracted investigation into Scripture usage, and painful collating
of passages, and cautiously tracing minute relations, to find the
meaning of Scripture terms, let every man boldly resolve to interpret
the language of the oldest book in the world, by the usages of his own
time and place, and the work is done. And then what a march of mind!
Instead of _one_ revelation, they might be multiplied as the drops of
the morning! Every man might take orders as an inspired interpreter,
with an infallible clue to the mind of the Spirit, if he only understood
the dialect of his own neighborhood! We repeat it, the only ground of
proof that these terms are to be interpreted to mean, when applied to
servants in the Bible, the same that they mean when applied to our
_slaves, is the terms themselves._

What a Babel-jargon it would make of the Bible to take it for granted
that the sense in which words are _now_ used is the _inspired_ sense.

David says, "I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried." What a
miracle-worker, to stop the earth in its revolution! Rather too fast.
Two hundred years ago, _prevent_ was used in the strict Latin sense to
_come before_, or _anticipate_. It is always used in this sense in the
Old and New Testaments. David's expression, in the English of the
nineteenth century, is, "Before the dawning of the morning I cried," or,
I began to cry before day-break. "So my prayer shall _prevent_ thee."
"Let us _prevent_ his face with thanksgiving." "Mine eyes _prevent_ the
night watches." "We shall not _prevent_ them that are asleep," &c. In
almost every chapter of the Bible, words are used in a sense now nearly
or quite obsolete, and sometimes in a sense totally _opposite_ to their
present meaning. A few examples follow: "Oftentimes I purposed to come
to you, but was _let_ (hindered) hitherto." "And the four _beasts_
(living ones) fell down and worshipped God,"--Whosoever shall _offend_
(cause to sin) one of these little ones,"--Go out into the high ways and
_compel_ (urge) them to come in,"--Only let your _conversation_
(habitual conduct or course of life) be as becometh the Gospel,"--They
that seek me _early_ (earnestly) shall find me,--Give me _by and by_
(now) in a charger, the head of John the Baptist,"--So when tribulation
or persecution ariseth _by-and-by_ (immediately) they are offended.
Nothing is more mutable than language. Words, like bodies, are
continually throwing off particles and absorbing others. So long as they
are mere _representatives,_ elected by the whims of universal suffrage,
their meaning will be a perfect volatile, and to cork it up for the next
century is an employment sufficiently silly, (to speak within bounds,)
for a modern Bible dictionary maker. There never was a shallower conceit
than that of establishing the sense attached to a word centuries ago, by
showing what it means _now_. Pity that hyper-fashionable mantuamakers
and milliners were not a little quicker at taking hints from some of our
Doctors of Divinity. How easily they could save their pious customers
all qualms of conscience about the weekly shiftings of fashion, by
demonstrating that the last importation of Parisian indecency, just now
flaunting here on promenade, was the identical style of dress in which
the pious Sarah kneaded cakes for the angels, the modest Rebecca drew
water for the camels of Abraham's servants. Since such fashions are rife
in Chestnut-street and Broadway _now_, they _must_ have been in Canaan
and Pandanaram four thousand years ago!

II. 1. The inference that the word buy, used to describe the procuring
of servants, means procuring them as _chattels_, seems based upon the
fallacy--that whatever _costs_ money _is_ money; that whatever or
whoever you pay money _for_, is an article of property, and the fact of
your paying for it _proves_ that it is property. The children of Israel
were required to _purchase_ their first-born out from under the
obligations of the priesthood, Numb. xviii. 15, 16; Exod. xxxiv. 20.
This custom is kept up to this day among the Jews, and the word _buy_ is
still used to describe the transaction. Does this prove that their
first-born were, or are, held as property? They were _bought_ as really
as were _servants_. So the Israelites were required to _pay money_ for
their own souls. This is called sometimes a ransom, sometimes an
atonement. Were their _souls_ therefore marketable commodities?

2. Bible saints _bought_ their wives. Boaz _bought_ Ruth. "So Ruth the
Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I _purchased_ to be my wife." Ruth
iv. 10. Hosea bought his wife. "So I _bought_ her to me for fifteen
pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of
barley." Hosea iii. 2. Jacob _bought_ his wives Rachel and Leah, and not
having money, paid for them in labor--seven years a piece. Gen. xxix.
15-29. Moses probably bought his wife in the same way, and paid for her
by his labor, as the servant of her father. Exod. ii. 21. Shechem, when
negotiating with Jacob and his sons for Dinah, says, "What ye shall say
unto me, I will _give_. Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will
give according as ye shall say unto me." Gen. xxxiv. 11, 12. David
purchased Michal, Saul's daughter, and Othniel, Achsab, the daughter of
Caleb, by performing perilous services for the benefit of their
fathers-in-law. 1 Sam. xviii. 25-27; Judges i. 12, 13. That the purchase
of wives, either with money or by service was the general practice, is
plain from such passages as Exod. xxii. 17, and 1 Sam. xviii. 25. Among
the Jews of the present day this usage exists, though it is now a mere
form, there being no _real_ purchase. Yet among their marriage
ceremonies, is one called "marrying by the penny." The coincidences, not
only in the methods of procuring wives and servants, and in the terms
employed in describing the transactions, but in the prices paid for
each, are worthy of notice. The highest price of wives (virgins) and
servants was the same. Compare Deut. xxii. 28, 29, and Exod. xxii. 17,
with Lev. xxvii. 2-8. The _medium_ price of wives and servants was the
same. Compare Hosea iii. 2, with Exod. xxi. 2. Hosea appears to have
paid one half in money and the other in grain. Further, the Israelitish
female bought-servants were _wives_, their husbands and their masters
being the same persons. Exod. xxi. 8, and Judges xix. 3, 27. If _buying_
servants among the Jews shows that they were property, then buying
_wives_ shows that _they_ were property. The words in the original used
to describe the one, describe the other. Why not contend that the wives
of the ancient fathers of the faithful were their chattels, and used as
ready change at a pinch? And thence deduce the rights of modern
husbands. How far gone is the Church from primitive purity! How slow to
emulate illustrious examples! Alas! Patriarchs and prophets are followed
afar off! When will pious husbands live up to their Bible privileges,
and become partakers with Old Testament worthies in the blessedness of a
husband's rightful immunities! Surely professors of religion now, are
_bound_ to buy and hold their wives as property! Refusing so to do, is
to question the morality of those "good old" wife-trading "patriarchs,
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," with the prophets, and a host of whom the
world was not worthy.

The use of the word buy, to describe the procuring of wives, is not
peculiar to the Hebrew. In the Syriac language, the common expression
for "the married," or "the espoused," is "the bought." Even so late as
the 16th century, the common record of _marriages_ in the old German
Chronicles was "A. BOUGHT B."

The Hebrew word translated _buy_, is, like other words, modified by the
nature of the subject to which it is applied. Eve says, "I have _gotten_
(bought) a man of the Lord." She named him Cain, that is, _bought_. "He
that heareth reproof, getteth (buyeth) understanding", Prov. xv. 32. So
in Isa. xi. 11. "The Lord shall set his hand again to recover (to _buy_)
the remnant of his people." So Ps. lxxviii. 54. He brought them to this
mountain which his right hand had _purchased_, i.e. gotten. Jer. xiii.
4. "Take the girdle that thou hast got" (bought.) Neh. v. 8. "We of our
ability have _redeemed_ (bought) our brethren that were sold to the
heathen." Here "_bought_" is not applied to persons who were made
slaves, but to those taken _out_ of slavery. Prov. 8. 22. "The Lord
possessed (bought) me in the beginning of his way before his works of
old." Prov. xix. 8. "He that _getteth_ (buyeth) wisdom loveth his own
soul." Prov. xvi. 16. "How much better is it to _get_ (buy) wisdom than
gold?" Finally, to _buy_ is a _secondary_ meaning of the Hebrew word

4. Even at this day the word _buy_ is used to describe the procuring of
servants, where slavery is abolished. In the British West Indies, where
slaves became apprentices in 1834, they are still "bought." This is now
the current word in West India newspapers. So a few years since in
New-York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and even now in New-Jersey servants
are "_bought_" as really as in Virginia. And the different senses in
which the same word is used in the two states, puts no man in a
quandary, whose common sense amounts to a modicum.

So under the system of legal _indenture_ in Illinois, servants now are
"_bought_."[A] A short time since, hundreds of foreigners who came to
this country were "bought" annually. By voluntary contract they engaged
to work for their purchasers a given time to pay for their passage. This
class of persons called "redemptioners," consisted at one time of
thousands. Multitudes are _bought out_ of slavery by themselves or
others, and remove into free states. Under the same roof with the writer
is a "servant bought with money." A few weeks since, she was a slave. As
soon as "bought," she was a slave no longer. Alas! for our leading
politicians if "buying" men makes them "chattels." The Whigs say that
Benton and Rives were "bought" by the administration with the surplus
revenue; and the other party, that Clay and Webster were "bought" by the
Bank. The histories of the revolution tell us that Benedict Arnold was
"bought" by British gold. Did that make him an article of property? When
a northern clergyman marries a rich southern widow, country gossip hits
off the indecency with this current phrase, "The cotton bags _bought_
him." When Robert Walpole said, "Every man has his price, and whoever
will pay it can _buy_ him," and when John Randolph said, while the
Missouri question was pending, "The northern delegation is in the
market; give me money enough, and I can _buy_ them," they both meant
_just what they said_. When the temperance publications tell us that
candidates for office _buy_ men with whiskey; and the oracles of street
tattle, that the court, district attorney, and jury, in the late trial
of Robinson were _bought_, we have no floating visions of "chattels
personal," man auctions, or coffles.

[Footnote A: The following statute is now in force in the state of
Illinois--"No negro, mulatto, or Indian, shall at any time _purchase_
any servant other than of their own complexion: and if any of the
persons aforesaid shall presume to _purchase_ a white servant, such
servant shall immediately become free, and shall be so held, deemed, and

The transaction between Joseph and the Egyptians gives a clue to the
meaning attached to "buy" and "bought with money." See Gen. xlvii.
18-26. The Egyptians proposed to Joseph to become servants, and that he
should _buy_ them. When the bargain was closed, Joseph said, "Behold I
have _bought you_ this day," and yet it is plain that neither of the
parties dreamed that the persons _bought_ were in any sense articles of
property, but merely that they became thereby obligated to labor for the
government on certain conditions, as a _compensation_ for the entire
support of themselves and families during the famine. And that the idea
attached to "buy us," and "behold I have bought you," was merely the
procuring of services voluntarily offered, and secured by contract, as a
return for _value received_, and not at all that the Egyptians were
bereft of their personal ownership, and made articles of property. And
this buying of _services_ (they were to give one-fifth part of their
crops to Pharaoh) is called in Scripture usage, _buying the persons_.
This case deserves special notice, as it is the only one where the whole
transaction of buying servants is detailed--the preliminaries, the
process, the mutual acquiescence, and the permanent relation resulting
therefrom. In all other instances, the _mere fact_ is stated without
entering into particulars. In this case, the whole process is laid open.

1. The persons "bought," _sold themselves_, and of their own accord.

2. Obtaining permanently the _services_ of persons, or even a portion of
them, is called "buying" those persons. The objector, at the outset,
assumes that servants were bought of _third_ persons; and thence infers
that they were articles of property. This is sheer _assumption_. Not a
single instance is recorded, of a servant being sold by any one but
himself; not a case, either under the patriarchal, or the Mosaic
systems, in which a _master sold his servant_. That the servants who
were "bought" _sold themselves_, is a fair inference from various
passages of Scripture.

In Leviticus xxv. 47, the case of the Israelite, who became the servant
of the stranger, the words are, "If he SELL HIMSELF unto the stranger."
The _same word_, and the same _form_ of the word, which, in the 47th
verse, is rendered _sell himself_, is in the 39th verse of the same
chapter, rendered _be sold_; in Deut. xxviii. 68, the same word is
rendered "_be sold_." Here it is the Hithpael conjugation, which is
reflexive in its force, and, like the middle voice in Greek, represents
what an individual does for himself; or in his own concerns; and should
manifestly have been rendered, ye shall _offer yourselves_ for sale. For
a clue to Scripture usage on this point, see 1 Kings xxi. 20, 25--"Thou
hast _sold thyself_ to work evil." "There was none like to Ahab that
_sold himself_ to work wickedness."--2 Kings xvii. 17. "They used
divination and enchantments, and _sold themselves_ to do evil."--Isa. l.
1. "For your iniquities have ye _sold yourselves_." Isa. lii. 3, "Ye
have _sold yourselves_ FOR NOUGHT, and ye shall be redeemed without
money." See also, Jeremiah xxxiv. 14--Romans vii. 14, and vi. 16--John
viii. 34, and the case of Joseph and the Egyptians, already quoted.

Again, if servants were _bought of third persons_, where are the
instances? In the purchase of wives, though spoken of rarely, it is
generally stated that they were bought of _third_ persons. Is it not a
fair inference, if servants were bought of third persons, that there
would _sometimes_ have been such an intimation?


The general object of those statutes, which prescribed the relations of
master and servant, was the good of both parties--but more especially
the good of the _servants_. While the interests of the master were
specially guarded from injury, those of the servants were _promoted_.

These laws were a merciful provision for the poorer classes, both of the
Israelites and Strangers. Not laying on burdens, but lightening
them--they were a grant of _privileges_--a bestowment of _favors_.

1. _No servant from the Strangers, could remain a servant in the family
of an Israelite, without becoming a proselyte_. Compliance with this
condition was the _price of the privilege_.--Genesis xvii. 9-14, 23, 27.

2. _Excommunication from the family was a_ PUNISHMENT.--Genesis xxi.
14-Luke xvi. 2-4.

3. _The fact that every Hebrew servant could_ COMPEL _his master to keep
him after the six years contract had, expired_, shows that the system
was framed to advance the interests and gratify the wishes of the
servant _quite as much_ as those of the master. If the servant
_demanded_ it, the law _obliged_ the master to retain him in his
household, however little he might need his services, or great his
dislike to the individual. Deut. xv. 12-17, and Exodus xxi. 2-6.

4. _The rights and privileges guaranteed by law to all servants._ (1.)
_They were admitted into covenant with God._ Deut. xxix. 10-13.

(2.) _They were invited guests at all the national and family festivals
of the household in which they resided._ Exodus xii. 43-44; Deut. xii.
12, 18, and xvi. 10-16.

(3.) _They were statedly instructed in morality and religion._ Deut.
xxxi. 10-13; Joshua viii. 33-35; 2 Chronicles xvii. 8-9.

(4.) _They were released from their regular labor nearly_ ONE HALF OF
THE WHOLE TIME. During which, the law secured to them their entire
support; and the same public and family instruction that was provided
for the other members of the Hebrew community.

(a.) The Law secured to them the _whole of every seventh year_; Lev.
xxv. 3-6; thus giving to those servants that remained such during the
entire period between the jubilees, _eight whole years_ (including the
Jubilee year) of unbroken rest.

(b.) _Every seventh day_. This in forty-two years, (the eight being
subtracted from the fifty) would amount to just _six years_.

(c.) _The three great annual festivals_. The _Passover_, which commenced
on the 15th of the 1st month, and lasted seven days, Deut. xvi. 3, 8.
The Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, which began on the sixth day of the
third month, and lasted seven days. Lev. xxiii. 15-21. And the Feast of
Tabernacles, which commenced on the 15th of the seventh month, and
lasted eight days. Deut. xvi. 13, 15; Lev. xxiii. 34-39. As all met in
one place, much time would be spent on the journey. Their cumbered
caravans moved slowly. After their arrival at the place of sacrifice, a
day or two at least, would be requisite for divers preparations, before
entering upon the celebration of the festival, besides some time at the
close of it, in preparations for their return. If we assign three weeks
to each festival--including the time spent on the journey going and
returning, and the delays before and after the celebration, together
with the _festival week_; it will be a small allowance for the cessation
of their regular labor. As there were three festivals in the year, the
main body of the servants would be absent from their stated employments
at least _nine weeks annually_, which would amount in forty-two years,
subtracting the sabbaths, to six years and eighty-four days.

(e.) _The new moons_. The Jewish year had twelve; Josephus tells us that
the Jews always kept _two_ days for the new moon. See Calmet on the
Jewish Calender, and Horne's Introduction; also 1 Sam. xx, 18, 19, 27.
This would amount in forty-two years, to two years, two hundred and
eighty days, after the necessary subtractions.

(f.) _The feast of trumpets_. On the first day of the seventh month, and
of the civil year. Lev. xxiii. 24, 25.

(g.) _The day of atonement_. On the tenth of the seventh month. Lev.
xxiii. 27-32.

These two last feasts would consume not less than sixty-five days of
time not otherwise reckoned.

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