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

Part 49 out of 52

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can be a school for freedom?

We say such things to the many who allege, that slaves cannot at
once be entrusted with the powers and privileges of self-government.
However this may be, they cannot be better qualified under the
_influence of slavery_. _That must be broken up_ from which their
ignorance, and viciousness, and wretchedness proceeded. That which
can only do what it has always done, pollute and degrade, must not
be employed to purify and elevate. _The lower their character and
condition, the louder, clearer, sterner, the just demand for
immediate emancipation_. The plague-smitten sufferer can derive no
benefit from breathing a little longer an infected atmosphere.

In thus referring to elemental principles--in thus availing ourselves
of the light of self-evident truths--we bow to the authority and tread
in the foot-prints of the great Teacher. He chid those around him for
refusing to make the same use of their reason in promoting their
spiritual, as they made in promoting their temporal welfare. He gives
them distinctly to understand, that they need not go out of themselves
to form a just estimation of their position, duties, and prospects,
as standing in the presence of the Messiah. "Why, EVEN OF YOURSELVES,"
he demands of them, "judge ye not what is _right_?"[16] How could
they, unless they had a clear light, and an infallible standard within
them, whereby, amidst the relations they sustained and the interests
they had to provide for, they might discriminate between truth and
falsehood, right and wrong, what they ought to attempt and what they
ought to eschew? From this pointed, significant appeal of the Savior,
it is clear and certain, that in human consciousness may be found
self-evident truths, self-manifested principles; that every man,
studying his own consciousness, is bound to recognize their presence
and authority, and in sober earnest and good faith to apply them to
the highest practical concerns of "life and godliness." It is in
obedience to the Bible, that we apply self-evident truths, and walk
in the light of general principles. When our fathers proclaimed
these truths, and at the hazard of their property, reputation, and
life, stood up in their defence, they did homage to the sacred
Scriptures--they honored the Bible. In that volume, not a syllable
can be found to justify that form of infidelity, which in the abused
name of piety, reproaches us for practising the lessons which nature
teacheth. These lessons, the Bible requires us[17] reverently to listen
to, earnestly to appropriate, and most diligently and faithfully to
act upon in every direction, and on all occasions.

[Footnote 16: Luke, xii. 57.]

[Footnote 17: Cor. xi. 14.]

Why, our Savior goes so far in doing honor to reason, as to encourage
men universally to dispose of the characteristic peculiarities and
distinctive features of the Gospel in the light of its principles.
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether
it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."[18] Natural religion--the
principles which nature reveals, and the lessons which nature teaches--he
thus makes a test of the truth and authority of revealed religion. So
far was he, as a teacher, from shrinking from the clearest and most
piercing rays of reason--from calling off the attention of those around
him from the import, bearings, and practical application of general
principles. And those who would have us escape from the pressure of
self-evident truths, by betaking ourselves to the doctrines and precepts
of Christianity, whatever airs of piety they may put on, do foul dishonor
to the Savior of mankind.

[Footnote 18: John, vii. 17.]

And what shall we say of the Golden Rule, which, according to the
Savior, comprehends all the precepts of the Bible? "Whatsoever ye
would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is
the law and the prophets."

According to this maxim, in human consciousness, universally, may be

1. The standard whereby, in all the relations and circumstances of
life, we may determine what Heaven demands and expects of us.

2. The just application of this standard, is practicable for, and
obligatory upon, every child of Adam.

3. The qualification requisite to a just application of this rule to
all the cases in which we can be concerned, is simply this--_to
regard all the members of the human family as our brethren, our

In other words, the Savior here teaches us, that in the principles
and laws of reason, we have an infallible guide in all the relations
and circumstances of life; that nothing can hinder our following
this guide, but the bias of _selfishness_; and that the moment, in
deciding any moral question, we place _ourselves in the room of our
brother_, before the bar of reason, we shall see what decision ought
to be pronounced. Does this, in the Savior, look like fleeing
self-evident truths!--like decrying the authority of general
principles!--like exalting himself at the expense of reason!--like
opening a refuge in the Gospel for those whose practice is at
variance with the dictates of humanity!

What then is the just application of the Golden Rule--that
fundamental maxim of the Gospel, giving character to, and shedding
light upon, all its precepts and arrangements--to the subject of
slavery?--_that we must "do to" slaves as we would be done by_, AS
SLAVES, _the_ RELATION _itself being justified and continued_? Surely
not. A little reflection will enable us to see, that the Golden Rule
reaches farther in its demands, and strikes deeper in its influences
and operations. The _natural equality_ of mankind lies at the very
basis of this great precept. It obviously requires _every man to
acknowledge another self in every other man_. With my powers and
resources, and in my appropriate circumstances, I am to recognize in
any child of Adam who may address me, another self in his
appropriate circumstances and with his powers and resources. This is
the natural equality of mankind; and this the Golden Rule requires
us to admit, defend, and maintain.


They strangely misunderstand and grossly misrepresent this doctrine,
who charge upon it the absurdities and mischiefs which _any
"levelling system"_ cannot but produce. In all its bearings,
tendencies, and effects, it is directly contrary and powerfully
hostile to any such system. EQUALITY OF RIGHTS, the doctrine asserts;
and this necessarily opens the way for _variety of condition_. In
other words, every child of Adam has, from the Creator, the
inalienable right of wielding, within reasonable limits, his own
powers, and employing his own resources, according to his own
choice;--the right, while he respects his social relations, to promote
as he will his own welfare. But mark--HIS OWN powers and resources,
and NOT ANOTHER'S, are thus inalienably put under his control. The
Creator makes every man free, in whatever he may do, to exert HIMSELF,
and not another. Here no man may lawfully cripple or embarrass
another. The feeble may not hinder the strong, nor may the strong
crush the feeble. Every man may make the most of himself, in his own
proper sphere. Now, as in the constitutional endowments; and natural
opportunities, and lawful acquisitions of mankind, infinite variety
prevails, so in exerting each HIMSELF, in his own sphere, according
to his own choice, the variety of human condition can be little less
than infinite. Thus equality of rights opens the way for variety of

But with all this variety of make, means, and condition, considered
individually, the children of Adam are bound together by strong ties
which can never be dissolved. They are mutually united by the social
of their nature. Hence mutual dependence and mutual claims. While
each is inalienably entitled to assert and enjoy his own personality
as a man, each sustains to all and all to each, various relations.
While each owns and honors the individual, all are to own and honor
the social of their nature. Now, the Golden Rule distinctly
recognizes, lays its requisitions upon, and extends its obligations
to, the whole nature of man, in his individual capacities and social
relations. What higher honor could it do to man, as _an individual_,
than to constitute him the judge, by whose decision, when fairly
rendered, all the claims of his fellows should be authoritatively
and definitely disposed of? "Whatsoever YE WOULD" have done to you,
so do ye to others. Every member of the family of Adam, placing
himself in the position here pointed out, is competent and
authorized to pass judgment on all the cases in social life in which
he may be concerned. Could higher responsibilities or greater
confidence be reposed in men individually? And then, how are their
_claims upon each other_ herein magnified! What inherent worth and
solid dignity are ascribed to the social of their nature! In every
man with whom I may have to do, I am to recognize the presence of
_another self_, whose case I am to make _my own_. And thus I am to
dispose of whatever claims he may urge upon me.

Thus, in accordance with the Golden Rule, mankind are naturally
brought, in the voluntary use of their powers and resources, to
promote each other's welfare. As his contribution to this great
object, it is the inalienable birthright of every child of Adam,
to consecrate whatever he may possess. With exalted powers and large
resources, he has a natural claim to a correspondent field of effort.
If his "abilities" are small, his task must be easy and his burden
light. Thus the Golden Rule requires mankind mutually to serve each
other. In this service, each is to exert _himself_--employ _his own_
powers, lay out his own resources, improve his own opportunities. A
division of labor is the natural result. One is remarkable for his
intellectual endowments and acquisitions; another, for his wealth;
and a third, for power and skill in using his muscles. Such
attributes, endlessly varied and diversified, proceed from the basis
of a _common character_, by virtue of which all men and each--one as
truly as another--are entitled, as a birthright, to "life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." Each and all, one as well as another,
may choose his own modes of contributing his share to the general
welfare, in which his own is involved and identified. Under one
great law of mutual dependence and mutual responsibility, all are
placed--the strong as well as the weak, the rich as much as the poor,
the learned no less than the unlearned. All bring their wares, the
products of their enterprise, skill and industry, to the same market,
where mutual exchanges are freely effected. The fruits of muscular
exertion procure the fruits of mental effort. John serves Thomas
with his hands, and Thomas serves John with his money. Peter wields
the axe for James, and James wields the pen for Peter. Moses, Joshua,
and Caleb, employ their wisdom, courage, and experience, in the
service of the community, and the community serve Moses, Joshua, and
Caleb, in furnishing them with food and raiment, and making them
partakers of the general prosperity. And all this by mutual
understanding and voluntary arrangement. And all this according to
the Golden Rule.

What then becomes of _slavery_--a system of arrangements in which
one man treats his fellow, not as another self, but as a thing--a
chattel--an article of merchandize, which is not to be consulted in
any disposition which may be made of it;--a system which is built on
the annihilation of the attributes of our common nature--in which
man doth to others what he would sooner die than have done to himself?
The Golden Rule and slavery are mutually subversive of each other. If
one stands, the other must fall. The one strikes at the very root of
the other. The Golden Rule aims at the abolition of THE RELATION
ITSELF, in which slavery consists. It lays its demands upon every
thing within the scope of _human action_. To "whatever MEN DO." it
extends its authority. And the relation itself, in which slavery
consists, is the work of human hands. It is what men have done to
each other--contrary to nature and most injurious to the general
welfare. This RELATION, therefore, the Golden Rule condemns.
Wherever its authority prevails, this relation must be annihilated.
Mutual service and slavery--like light and darkness, life and
death--are directly opposed to, and subversive of, each other. The
one the Golden Rule cannot endure; the other it requires, honors,
and blesses.


Like unto the Golden Rule is the second great commandment--"_Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself_." "A certain lawyer," who seems
to have been fond of applying the doctrine of limitation of human
obligations, once demanded of the Savior, within what limits the
meaning of the word "neighbor" ought to be confined. "And who is my
neighbor?" The parable of the good Samaritan set that matter in the
clearest light, and made it manifest and certain, that every man
whom we could reach with our sympathy and assistance, was our
neighbor, entitled to the same regard which we cherished for
ourselves. Consistently with such obligations, can _slavery,
as a_ RELATION, be maintained? Is it then a _labor of love_--such
love as we cherish for ourselves--to strip a child of Adam of all the
prerogatives and privileges which are his inalienable birthright? To
obscure his reason, crush his will, and trample on his
immortality?--To strike home to the inmost of his being, and break the
heart of his heart?--To thrust him out of the human family, and
dispose of him as a chattel--as a thing in the hands of an owner, a
beast under the lash of a driver? All this, apart from every thing
incidental and extraordinary, belongs to the RELATION, in which
slavery, as such, consists. All this--well fed or ill fed,
underwrought or overwrought, clothed or naked, caressed or kicked,
whether idle songs break from his thoughtless tongue or "tears be his
meat night and day," fondly cherished or cruelly murdered;--_all this_
SLAVE, _is set apart from the rest of the human family_. Is it an
exercise of love, to place our "neighbor" under the crushing
weight, the killing power, of such a relation?--to apply the
murderous steel to the very vitals of his humanity?


The slaveholder may eagerly and loudly deny, that any such thing is
chargeable upon him. He may confidently and earnestly allege, that
he is not responsible for the state of society in which he is placed.
Slavery was established before he began to breathe. It was his
inheritance. His slaves are his property by birth or testament. But
why will he thus deceive himself? Why will he permit the cunning and
rapacious spiders, which in the very sanctuary of ethics and
religion are laboriously weaving webs from their own bowels, to
catch him with their wretched sophistries?--and devour him, body,
soul, and substance? Let him know, as he must one day with shame and
terror own, that whoever holds slaves is himself responsible for
_the relation_, into which, whether reluctantly or willingly, he
thus enters. _The relation cannot be forced upon him_. What though
Elizabeth countenanced John Hawkins in stealing the natives of
Africa?--what though James, and Charles, and George, opened a market
for them in the English colonies?--what though modern Dracos have
"framed mischief by law," in legalizing man-stealing and
slaveholding?--what though your ancestors, in preparing to go
"to their own place," constituted you the owner of the "neighbors"
whom they had used as cattle?--what of all this, and as much more like
this, as can be drawn from the history of that dreadful process by
which men are "deemed, held, taken, reputed, and adjudged in law to be
_chattels personal_?" Can all this force you to put the cap upon the
climax--to clinch the nail by doing that, without which nothing in
the work of slave-making would be attempted? _The slaveholder is the
soul of the whole system_. Without him, the chattel principle is a
lifeless abstraction. Without him, charters, and markets, and laws,
and testaments, are empty names. And does _he_ think to escape
responsibility? Why, kidnappers, and soul-drivers, and law-makers,
are nothing but his _agents_. He is the guilty _principal_. Let him
look to it.

[Footnote 19: You join with them in their bloody work. They murder,
and you bury the victims.]

But what can he do? Do? Keep his hands off his "neighbor's" throat.
Let him refuse to finish and ratify the process by which the chattel
principle is carried into effect. Let him refuse, in the face of
derision, and reproach, and opposition. Though poverty should fasten
its bony hand upon him, and persecution shoot forth its forked tongue;
whatever may betide him--scorn, flight, flames--let him promptly and
steadfastly refuse. Better the spite and hate of men than the wrath
of Heaven! "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it
from thee; for it is profitable for thee, that one of thy members
should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

Professor Stewart admits, that the Golden Rule and the second great
commandment "decide against the theory of slavery, as being in
itself right." What, then, is their relation to the particular
precepts, institutions, and usages, which are authorized and
enjoined in the New Testament? Of all these, they are the summary
expression--the comprehensive description. No precept in the Bible,
enforcing our mutual obligations, can be more or less than _the
application of these injunctions to specific relations or particular
occasions and conditions_. Neither in the Old Testament nor the New,
do prophets teach or laws enjoin, any thing which the Golden Rule
and the second great command do not contain. Whatever they forbid,
no other precept can require; and whatever they require, no other
precept can forbid. What, then, does he attempt, who turns over the
sacred pages to find something in the way of permission or command,
which may set him free from the obligations of the Golden Rule? What
must his objects, methods, spirit be, to force him to enter upon
such inquiries?--to compel him to search the Bible for such a purpose?
Can he have good intentions, or be well employed? Is his frame of
mind adapted to the study of the Bible?--to make its meaning plain
and welcome? What must he think of God, to search his word in quest
of gross inconsistencies, and grave contradictions! Inconsistent
legislation in Jehovah! Contradictory commands! Permissions at war
with prohibitions! General requirements at variance with particular

What must be the moral character of any institution which the Golden
Rule decides against?--which the second great command condemns?
_It cannot but be wicked_, whether newly established or long
maintained. However it may be shaped, turned, colored--under every
modification and at all times--_wickedness must be its proper
character. It must be_, IN ITSELF, _apart from its circumstances_,
IN ITS ESSENCE, _apart from its incidents_, SINFUL.


In disposing of those precepts and exhortations which have a
specific bearing upon the subject of slavery, it is greatly important,
nay, absolutely essential, that we look forth upon the objects
around us from the right post of observation. Our stand we must take
at some central point, amidst the general maxims and fundamental
precepts, the known circumstances and characteristic arrangements,
of primitive Christianity. Otherwise, wrong views and false
conclusions will be the result of our studies. We cannot, therefore,
be too earnest in trying to catch the general features and prevalent
spirit of the New Testament institutions and arrangements. For to
what conclusions must we come, if we unwittingly pursue our
inquiries under the bias of the prejudice, that the general maxims
of social life which now prevail in this country, were current, on
the authority of the Savior, among the primitive Christians! That,
for instance, wealth, station, talents, are the standard by which our
claims upon, and our regard for, others, should be modified?--That
those who are pinched by poverty, worn by disease, tasked in
menial labors, or marked by features offensive to the taste of the
artificial and capricious, are to be excluded from those refreshing
and elevating influences which intelligence and refinement may be
expected to exert; that thus they are to constitute a class by
themselves, and to be made to know and keep their place at the very
bottom of society? Or, what if we should think and speak of the
primitive Christians, as if they had the same pecuniary resources as
Heaven has lavished upon the American churches?--as if they were as
remarkable for affluence, elegance, and splendor? Or, as if they had
as high a position and as extensive an influence in politics and
literature?--having directly or indirectly, the control over the
high places of learning and of power?

If we should pursue our studies and arrange our arguments--if we
should explain words and interpret language--under such a bias, what
must inevitably be the results? What would be the worth of our
conclusions? What confidence could be reposed in any instruction we
might undertake to furnish? And is not this the way in which the
advocates and apologists of slavery dispose of the bearing which
primitive Christianity has upon it? They first ascribe, unwittingly,
perhaps, to the primitive churches; the character, relations, and
condition of American Christianity, and amidst the deep darkness and
strange confusion thus produced, set about interpreting the language
and explaining the usages of the New Testament!


Among the lessons of instruction which our Savior imparted, having a
general bearing on the subject of slavery, that in which he sets up
the _true standard of greatness_, deserves particular attention. In
repressing the ambition of his disciples, he held up before them the
methods by which alone healthful aspirations for eminence could be
gratified, and thus set the elements of true greatness in the
clearest light. "Ye know, that they which are accounted to rule over
the Gentiles, exercise lordship over them; and their great ones
exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you; but
whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister; _and
whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all_." In
other words, through the selfishness and pride of mankind, the maxim
widely prevails in the world, that it is the privilege, prerogative,
and mark of greatness, TO EXACT SERVICE; that our superiority to
others, while it authorizes us to relax the exertion of our own
powers, gives us a fair title to the use of theirs; that "might,"
while it exempts us from serving, "gives the right" to be served.
The instructions of the Savior open the way to greatness for us in
the opposite direction. Superiority to others, in whatever it may
consist, gives us a claim to a wider field of exertion, and demands
of us a larger amount of service. We can be great only as we _are
useful_. And "might gives right" to bless our fellow men, by
improving every opportunity and employing every faculty,
affectionately, earnestly, and unweariedly, in their service. Thus
the greater the man, the more active, faithful, and useful the

The Savior has himself taught us how this doctrine must be applied.
He bids us improve every opportunity and employ every power, even
through the most menial services, in blessing the human family. And
to make this lesson shine upon our understandings and move our hearts,
he embodied in it a most instructive and attractive example. On a
memorable occasion, and just before his crucifixion, he discharged
for his disciples the most menial of all offices--taking, _in
washing their feet_, the place of the lowest servant. He took great
pains to make them understand, that only by imitating this example
could they honor their relations to him as their Master; that thus
only would they find themselves blessed. By what possibility could
slavery exist under the influence of such a lesson, set home by such
an example? _Was it while washing the disciples' feet, that our
Savior authorized one man to make a chattel of another_?

To refuse to provide for ourselves by useful labor, the apostle Paul
teaches us to regard as a grave offence. After reminding the
Thessalonian Christians, that in addition to all his official
exertions he had with his own muscles earned his own bread, he calls
their attention to an arrangement which was supported by apostolical
authority, "that if any would not work, neither should he eat." In
the most earnest and solemn manner, and as a minister of the Lord
Jesus Christ, he commanded and exhorted those who neglected useful
labor, "_with quietness to work and eat their own bread_." What must
be the bearing of all this upon slavery? Could slavery be maintained
where every man eat the bread which himself had earned?--where
idleness was esteemed so great a crime, as to be reckoned worthy of
starvation as a punishment? How could unrequited labor be exacted,
or used, or needed? Must not every one in such a community
contribute his share to the general welfare?--and mutual service and
mutual support be the natural result?

The same apostle, in writing to another church, describes the true
source whence the means of liberality ought to be derived. "Let him
that stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his
hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that
needeth." Let this lesson, as from the lips of Jehovah, be proclaimed
throughout the length and breadth of South Carolina. Let it be
universally welcomed and reduced to practice. Let thieves give up
what they had stolen to the lawful proprietors, cease stealing, and
begin at once to "labor, working with their hands," for necessary
and charitable purposes. Could slavery, in such a case, continue to
exist? Surely not! Instead of exacting unpaid services from others,
every man would be busy, exerting himself not only to provide for
his own wants, but also to accumulate funds, "that he might have to
give to" the needy. Slavery must disappear, root and branch, at once
and forever.

In describing the source whence his ministers should expect their
support, the Savior furnished a general principle, which has an
obvious and powerful bearing on the subject of slavery. He would
have them remember, while exerting themselves for the benefit of
their fellow men, that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." He has
thus united wages with work. Whoever renders the one is entitled to
the other. And this manifestly according to a mutual understanding
and a voluntary arrangement. For the doctrine that I may force you
to work for me for whatever consideration I may please to fix upon,
fairly opens the way for the doctrine, that you, in turn, may force
me to render you whatever wages you may choose to exact for any
services you may see fit to render. Thus slavery, even as
involuntary servitude, is cut up by the root. Even the Princeton
professor seems to regard it as a violation of the principle which
unites work with wages.

The apostle James applies this principle to the claims of manual
laborers--of those who hold the plough and thrust in the sickle. He
calls the rich lordlings who exacted sweat and withheld wages, to
"weeping and howling," assuring them that the complaints of
the injured laborer had entered into the ear of the Lord of Hosts,
and that, as a result of their oppression, their riches were
corrupted, and their garments moth-eaten; their gold and silver were
cankered; that the rust of them should be a witness against them,
and should eat their flesh as it were fire; that, in one word, they
had heaped treasures together for the last days, when "miseries were
coming upon them," the prospect of which might well drench them in
tears and fill them with terror. If these admonitions and warnings
were heeded there, would not "the South" break forth into "weeping
and wailing, and gnashing of teeth?" What else are its rich men about,
but withholding by a system of fraud, his wages from the laborer,
who is wearing himself out under the impulse of fear, in cultivating
their fields and producing their luxuries! Encouragement and support
do they derive from James, in maintaining the "peculiar institution"
which they call patriarchal, and boast of as the "corner-stone" of
the republic?

In the New Testament, we have, moreover, the general injunction,
"_Honor all men_." Under this broad precept, every form of humanity
may justly claim protection and respect. The invasion of any human
right must do dishonor to humanity, and be a transgression of this
command. How then, in the light of such obligations, must slavery be
regarded? Are those men honored, who are rudely excluded from a
place in the human family, and shut up to the deep degradation and
nameless horrors of chattelship? _Can they be held as slaves, and at
the same time be honored as men_?

How far, in obeying this command, we are to go, we may infer from
the admonitions and instructions which James applies to the
arrangements and usages of religious assemblies. Into these he can
not allow "respect of persons" to enter. "My brethren," he exclaims,
"have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,
with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a
man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel; and there come in also
a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth
the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place;
and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool;
are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil
thoughts?" _If ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are
convinced of the law as transgressors_. On this general principle,
then, religious assemblies ought to be regulated--that every man is
to be estimated, not according to his _circumstances_--not according
to anything incidental to his _condition_; but according to his _moral
worth_--according to the essential features and vital elements of his
_character_. Gold rings and gay clothing, as they qualify no man for,
can entitle no man to, a "good place" in the church. Nor can the
"vile raiment of the poor man," fairly exclude him from any sphere,
however exalted, which his heart and head may fit him to fill. To
deny this, in theory or practice, is to degrade a man below a thing;
for what are gold rings, or gay clothing, or vile raiment, but things,
"which perish with the using?" And this must be "to commit sin, and
be convinced of the law as transgressor."

In slavery, we have "respect of persons," strongly marked, and
reduced to system. Here men are despised not merely for "the vile
raiment," which may cover their scarred bodies. This is bad enough.
But the deepest contempt of humanity here grows out of birth or
complexion. Vile raiment may be, often is, the result of indolence,
or improvidence, or extravagance. It may be, often is, an index of
character. But how can I be responsible for the incidents of my
birth?--how for my complexion? To despise or honor me for these, is to
be guilty of "respect of persons" in its grossest form, and with its
worst effects. It is to reward or punish me for what I had nothing
to do with; for which, therefore, I cannot, without the greatest
injustice, be held responsible. It is to poison the very fountains
of justice, by confounding all moral distinctions. What, then, so
far as the authority of the New Testament is concerned, becomes of
slavery, which cannot be maintained under any form nor for a single
moment, without "respect of persons" the most aggravated and
unendurable? And what would become of that most pitiful, silly, and
wicked arrangement in so many of our churches, in which worshippers
of a dark complexion are to be sent up to the negro pew?[20]

[Footnote 20: In Carlyle's Review of the Memoirs of Mirabeau, we
have the following anecdote illustrative of the character of a
"grandmother" of the Count. "Fancy the dame Mirabeau sailing stately
towards the church font; another dame striking in to take precedence
of her; the dame Mirabeau despatching this latter with a box on the
ear, and these words, '_Here, as in the army_, THE BAGGAGE _goes
last_!'" Let those who justify the negro-pew arrangement, throw
a stone at this proud woman--if they dare.]

Nor are we permitted to confine this principle to religious
assemblies. It is to pervade social life everywhere. Even where
plenty, intelligence and refinement, diffuse their brightest rays,
the poor are to be welcomed with especial favor. "Then said he to
him that bade him, when thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not
thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich
neighbors, lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made
thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor and the maimed,
the lame and the blind, and thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot
recompense thee, but thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection
of the just."

In the high places of social life then--in the parlor, the
drawing-room, the saloon--special reference should be had, in every
arrangement, to the comfort and improvement of those who are least
able to provide for the cheapest rites of hospitality. For these,
ample accommodations must be made, whatever may become of our
kinsmen and rich neighbors. And for this good reason, that while
such occasions signify little to the latter, to the former they are
pregnant with good--raising their drooping spirits, cheering their
desponding hearts, inspiring them with life, and hope, and joy. The
rich and the poor thus meeting joyfully together, cannot but
mutually contribute to each other's benefit; the rich will be led to
moderation, sobriety, and circumspection, and the poor to industry,
providence, and contentment. The recompense must be great and sure.

A most beautiful and instructive commentary on the text in which
these things are taught, the Savior furnished in his own conduct. He
freely mingled with those who were reduced to the very bottom of
society. At the tables of the outcasts of society he did not
hesitate to be a cheerful guest, surrounded by publicans and sinners.
And when flouted and reproached by smooth and lofty ecclesiastics,
as an ultraist and leveler, he explained and justified himself by
observing, that he had only done what his office demanded. It was
his to seek the lost, to heal the sick, to pity the wretched;--in a
word, to bestow just such benefits as the various necessities of
mankind made appropriate and welcome. In his great heart, there was
room enough for those who had been excluded from the sympathy of
little souls. In its spirit and design, the gospel overlooked
none--least of all, the outcasts of a selfish world.

Can slavery, however modified, be consistent with such a gospel?--a
gospel which requires us, even amidst the highest forms of social
life, to exert ourselves to raise the depressed by giving our
warmest sympathies to those who have the smallest share in the favor
of the world?

Those who are in "bonds" are set before us as deserving an especial
remembrance. Their claims upon us are described as a modification of
the Golden Rule--as one of the many forms to which its obligations
are reducible. To them we are to extend the same affectionate regard
as we would covet for ourselves, if the chains upon their limbs were
fastened upon ours. To the benefits of this precept, the enslaved
have a natural claim of the greatest strength. The wrongs they
suffer spring from a persecution which can hardly be surpassed in
malignancy. Their birth and complexion are the occasion of the
insults and injuries which they can neither endure nor escape. It is
for _the work of God_, and not their own deserts, that they are
loaded with chains. _This is persecution_.

Can I regard the slave as another self--can I put myself in his
place--and be indifferent to his wrongs? Especially, can I, thus
affected, take sides with the oppressor? Could I, in such a state of
mind as the gospel requires me to cherish, reduce him to slavery or
keep him in bonds? Is not the precept under hand naturally
subversive of every system and every form of slavery?

The general descriptions of the church, which are found here and
there in the New Testament, are highly instructive in their bearing
on the subject of slavery. In one connection, the following words
meet the eye: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond
nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus."[21] Here we have--

1. A clear and strong description of the doctrine of _human
equality_. "Ye are all ONE;"--so much alike, so truly placed on
common ground, all wielding each his own powers with such freedom,
_that one is the same as another_.

2. This doctrine, self-evident in the light of reason, is affirmed on
divine authority. "IN CHRIST JESUS, _ye are all one_." The natural
equality of the human family is a part of the gospel. For--

3. All the human family are included in this description. Whether
men or women, whether bond or free, whether Jews or Gentiles, all
are alike entitled to the benefit of this doctrine. Whether
Christianity prevails, the _artificial_ distinctions which grow out
of birth, condition, sex, are done away. _Natural_ distinctions are
not destroyed. _They_ are recognized, hallowed, confirmed. The
gospel does not abolish the sexes, forbid a division of labor, or
extinguish patriotism. It takes woman from beneath the feet, and
places her by the side of man; delivers the manual laborer from
"the yoke," and gives him wages for his work; and brings the Jew and
the Gentile to embrace each other with fraternal love and confidence.
Thus it raises all to a common level, gives to each the free use of
his own powers and resources, binds all together in one dear and
loving brotherhood. Such, according to the description of the apostle,
was the influence, and such the effect of primitive Christianity.
"Behold the picture!" Is it like American slavery, which, in all its
tendencies and effects, is destructive of all oneness among brethren?

[Footnote 21: Gal. iii. 28.]

"Where the spirit of the Lord is," exclaims the same apostle, with
his eye upon the condition and relations of the church, "_where the
spirit of the Lord is_, THERE IS LIBERTY." Where, then, may we
reverently recognize the presence, and bow before the manifested
power, of this spirit? _There_, where the laborer may not choose how
he shall be employed!--in what way his wants shall be supplied!--with
whom he shall associate!--who shall have the fruit of his exertions!
_There_, where he is not free to enjoy his wife and children!
_There_, where his body and his soul, his very "destiny,"[22]
are placed altogether beyond his control! _There_, where every
power is crippled, every energy blasted, every hope crushed! _There_,
where in all the relations and concerns of life, he is legally
treated as if he had nothing to do with the laws of reason, the
light of immortality, or the exercise of will! Is the spirit of the
Lord _there_, where liberty is decried and denounced, mocked at and
spit upon, betrayed and crucified! In the midst of a church which
justified slavery, which derived its support from slavery, which
carried on its enterprises by means of slavery, would the apostle
have found the fruits of the Spirit of the Lord! Let that Spirit
exert his influences, and assert his authority, and wield his power,
and slavery must vanish at once and for ever.

[Footnote 22: "The legislature (of South Carolina) from time to time,
has passed many restricted and penal acts, with a view to bring
under direct control and subjection the DESTINY of the black
population." See the Remonstrance of James S. Pope and 352 others
against home missionary efforts for the benefit of the enslaved--a
most instructive paper.]

In more than one connection, the apostle James describes Christianity
as "_the law of liberty_." It is, in other words, the law under
which liberty cannot but live and flourish--the law in which liberty
is clearly defined, strongly asserted, and well protected. As the law
of liberty, how can it be consistent with the law of slavery? The
presence and the power of this law are felt wherever the light of
reason shines. They are felt in the uneasiness and conscious
degradation of the slave, and in the shame and remorse which the
master betrays in his reluctant and desperate efforts to defend
himself. This law it is which has armed human nature against the
oppressor. Wherever it is obeyed, "every yoke is broken."

In these references to the New Testament we have a _general
description_ of the primitive church, and the _principles_ on which
it was founded and fashioned. These principles bear the same
relation to Christian _history_ as to Christian _character_, since
the former is occupied with the development of the latter. What then
is Christian character but Christian principle _realized_, acted out,
bodied forth, and animated? Christian principle is the soul, of
which Christian character is the expression--the manifestation. It
comprehends in itself, as a living seed, such Christian character,
under every form, modification, and complexion. The former is,
therefore, the test and interpreter of the latter. In the light of
Christian principle, and in that light only we can judge of and
explain Christian character. Christian history is occupied with the
forms, modifications, and various aspects of Christian character.
The facts which are there recorded serve to show, how Christian
principle has fared in this world--how it has appeared, what it has
done, how it has been treated. In these facts we have the various
institutions, usages, designs, doings, and sufferings of the church
of Christ. And all these have of necessity, the closest relation to
Christian principle. They are the production of its power. Through
them, it is revealed and manifested. In its light, they are to be
studied, explained, and understood. Without it they must be as
unintelligible and insignificant as the letters of a book scattered
on the wind.

In the principles of Christianity, then, we have a comprehensive and
faithful account of its objects, institutions, and usages--of how it
must behave, and act, and suffer, in a world of sin and misery. For
between the principles which God reveals, on the one hand, and the
precepts he enjoins, the institutions he establishes, and the usages
he approves, on the other, there must be consistency and harmony.
Otherwise we impute to God what we must abhor in man--practice at war
with principle. Does the Savior, then, lay down the _principle_ that
our standing in the church must depend upon the habits formed within
us, of readily and heartily subserving the welfare of others; and
permit us _in practice_ to invade the rights and trample on the
happiness of our fellows, by reducing them to slavery. Does he,
_in principle_ and by example, require us to go all lengths in
rendering mutual service, or comprehending offices that most menial,
as well as the most honorable; and permit us _in practice_ to EXACT
service of our brethren, as if they were nothing better than
"articles of merchandize!" Does he require us _in principle_
"to work with quietness and eat our own bread;" and permit us
_in practice_ to wrest from our brethren the fruits of their
unrequited toil? Does he _in principle_ require us, abstaining from
every form of theft, to employ our powers in useful labor, not only
to provide for ourselves but also to relieve the indigence of others;
and permit us _in practice_, abstaining from every form of labor, to
enrich and aggrandize ourselves with the fruits of man-stealing?
Does he require us _in principle_ to regard "the laborer as worthy
of his hire"; and permit us _in practice_ to defraud him of his wages?
Does he require us _in principle_ to honor ALL men; and permit us
_in practice_ to treat multitudes like cattle? Does he _in
principle_ prohibit "respect of persons;" and permit us _in practice_
to place the feet of the rich upon the necks of the poor? Does he
_in principle_ require us to sympathize with the bondman as
another self; and permit us _in practice_ to leave him unpitied and
unhelped in the hands of the oppressor? _In principle_, "where the
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" _in practice_, is _slavery_
the fruit of the Spirit? _In principle_, Christianity is the law of
liberty; _in practice_, it is the law of slavery? Bring practice in
these various respects into harmony with principle, and what becomes
of slavery? And if, where the divine government is concerned,
practice is the expression of principle, and principle the standard
and interpreter of practice, such harmony cannot but be maintained
and must be asserted. In studying, therefore, fragments of history
and sketches of biography--in disposing of references to institutions,
usages, and facts in the New Testament, this necessary harmony
between principle and practice in the government _of God_, should be
continually present to the thoughts of the interpreter. Principles
assert what practice must be. Whatever principle condemns, God
condemns. It belongs to those weeds of the dung-hill which, planted
by "an enemy," his hand will assuredly "root up." It is most certain
then, that if slavery prevailed in the first ages of Christianity,
it could nowhere have prevailed under its influence and with its

* * * * *

The condition in which in its efforts to bless mankind, the
primitive church was placed, must have greatly assisted the early
Christians in understanding and applying the principles of the gospel.
Their _Master_ was born in great obscurity, lived in the deepest
poverty, and died the most ignominious death. The place of his
residence, his familiarity with the outcasts of society, his
welcoming assistance and support from female hands, his casting his
beloved mother, when he hung upon the cross, upon the charity of a
disciple--such things evince the depth of his poverty, and show to
what derision and contempt he must have been exposed. Could such an
one, "despised and rejected of men--a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief," play the oppressor, or smile on those who made
merchandize of the poor!

And what was the history of the _apostles_, but an illustration of
the doctrine, that "it is enough for the disciple, that he be as his
Master?" Were they lordly ecclesiastics, abounding with wealth,
shining with splendor, bloated with luxury! Were they ambitious of
distinction, fleecing, and trampling, and devouring "the flocks,"
that they themselves might "have the pre-eminence!" Were they
slaveholding bishops! Or did they derive their support from the
wages of iniquity and the price of blood! Can such inferences be
drawn from the account of their condition, which the most gifted and
enterprising of their number has put upon record? "Even unto this
present hour, we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and _are
buffetted_, and have _no certain dwelling place, and labor working
with our own hands_. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we
suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; we are made as _the filth of
the world_, and are THE OFFSCOURING OF ALL THINGS unto this day."[23]
Are these the men who practised or countenanced slavery? _With
such a temper, they_ WOULD NOT; _in such circumstances, they_ COULD
NOT. Exposed to "tribulation, distress, and persecution;" subject to
famine and nakedness, to peril and the sword; "killed all the day
long; accounted as sheep for the slaughter,"[24] they would have made
but a sorry figure at the _great-house_ or slave-market.

[Footnote 23: 1 Cor. iv. 11-13.]

[Footnote 24: Rom. viii. 35, 36.]

Nor was the condition of the brethren, generally, better than that of
the apostles. The position of the apostles doubtless entitled them to
the strongest opposition, the heaviest reproaches, the fiercest
persecution. But derision and contempt must have been the lot of
Christians generally. Surely we cannot think so ill of primitive
Christianity as to suppose that believers, generally, refused to
share in the trials and sufferings of their leaders; as to suppose
that while the leaders submitted to manual labor, to buffeting, to be
reckoned the filth of the world, to be accounted as sheep for the
slaughter, his brethren lived in affluence, ease, and honor!
despising manual labor and living upon the sweat of unrequited toil!
But on this point we are not left to mere inference and conjecture.
The apostle Paul in the plainest language explains the ordination of
Heaven. "But _God hath_ CHOSEN the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise; and God hath CHOSEN the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world,
and things which are despised hath God CHOSEN, yea, and THINGS WHICH
ARE NOT, to bring to nought things that are."[25] Here we may well

1. That it was not by _accident_, that the primitive churches were
made up of such elements, but the result of the DIVINE CHOICE--an
arrangement of His wise and gracious Providence. The inference is
natural, that this ordination was co-extensive with the triumphs of
Christianity. It was nothing new or strange, that Jehovah had
concealed his glory "from the wise and prudent, and had revealed it
unto babes," or that "the common people heard him gladly," while
"not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble,
had been called."

2. The description of character, which the apostle records, could be
adapted only to what are reckoned the _very dregs of humanity_. The
foolish and the weak, the base and the contemptible, in the
estimation of worldly pride and wisdom--these were they whose broken
hearts were reached, and moulded, and refreshed by the gospel; these
were they whom the apostle took to his bosom as his own brethren.

[Footnote 25: 1 Cor. i. 27, 28.]

That _slaves_ abounded at Corinth, may easily be admitted. _They_
have a place in the enumeration of elements of which, according to
the apostle, the church there was composed. The most remarkable
class found there, consisted of "THINGS WHICH ARE NOT"--mere nobodies,
not admitted to the privileges of men, but degraded to a level with
"goods and chattels;" of whom _no account_ was made in such
arrangements of society as subserved the improvement, and dignity,
and happiness of MANKIND. How accurately the description applies to
those who are crushed under the chattel principle!

The reference which the apostle makes to the "deep poverty of the
churches of Macedonia,"[26] and this to stir up the sluggish
liberality of his Corinthian brethren, naturally leaves the
impression, that the latter were by no means inferior to the former
in the gifts of Providence. But, pressed with want and pinched by
poverty as were the believers in "Macedonia and Achaia, it pleased
them to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which were
at Jerusalem."[27] Thus it appears, that Christians everywhere were
familiar with contempt and indigence, so much so, that the apostle
would dissuade such as had no families from assuming the
responsibilities of the conjugal relation![28]

[Footnote 26: 2 Cor. viii. 2.]

[Footnote 27: Rom. xviii. 18-25.]

[Footnote 28: Cor. vii. 26, 27.]

Now, how did these good people treat each other? Did the few among
them, who were esteemed wise, mighty, or noble, exert their
influence and employ their power in oppressing the weak, in disposing
of the "things that are not," as marketable commodities!--kneeling
with them in prayer in the evening, and putting them up at auction
the next morning! Did the church sell any of the members to swell
the "certain contribution for the poor saints at Jerusalem!" Far
other wise--as far as possible! In those Christian communities where
the influence of the apostles was most powerful, and where the
arrangements drew forth their highest commendations, believers
treated each other as _brethren_, in the strongest sense of that
sweet word. So warm was their mutual love, so strong the public
spirit, so open-handed and abundant the general liberality, that
they are set forth as "_having all things common_."[29] Slaves and
their holders here? Neither the one nor the other could, in that
relation to each other, have breathed such an atmosphere. The appeal
of the kneeling bondman, "Am I not a man and a brother," must here
have met with a prompt and powerful response.

[Footnote 29: Acts, iv. 32.]

The _tests_ by which our Savior tries the character of his professed
disciples, shed a strong light upon the genius of the gospel. In one
connection,[30] an inquirer demands of the Savior, "What good thing
shall I do that I may have eternal life?" After being reminded of the
obligations which his social nature imposed upon him, he ventured,
while claiming to be free from guilt in his relations to mankind, to
demand, "what lack I yet?" The radical deficiency under which his
character labored, the Savior was not long or obscure in pointing out.
"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the
poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me."
On this passage it is natural to suggest--

1. That we have here a _test of universal application_. The
rectitude and benevolence of our Savior's character forbid us to
suppose, that he would subject this inquirer, especially as he was
highly amiable, to a trial, where eternal life was at stake,
_peculiarly_ severe. Indeed, the test seems to have been only a fair
exposition of the second great command, and of course it must be
applicable to all who are placed under the obligations of that
precept. Those who cannot stand this test, as their character is
radically imperfect and unsound, must, with the inquirer to whom
our Lord applied it, be pronounced unfit for the kingdom of heaven.

2. The least that our Savior can in that passage be understood to
demand is, that we disinterestedly and heartily devote ourselves to
the welfare of mankind, "the poor" especially. We are to put
ourselves on a level with _them_, as we must do "in selling that we
have" for their benefit--in other words, in employing our powers and
resources to elevate their character, condition, and prospects. This
our Savior did; and if we refuse to enter into sympathy and
co-operation with him, how can we be his _followers_? Apply this
test to the slaveholder. Instead of "selling that he hath" for the
benefit of the poor, he BUYS THE POOR, and exacts their sweat with
stripes, to enable him to "clothe himself in purple and fine linen,
and fare sumptuously every day;" or, HE SELLS THE POOR to support
the gospel and convert the heathen!

[Footnote 30: Luke, xviii. 18-25.]

What, in describing the scenes of the final judgment, does our Savior
teach us? _By what standard_ must our character be estimated, and the
retributions of eternity be awarded? A standard, which both the
righteous and the wicked will be surprised to see erected. From the
"offscouring of all things," the meanest specimen of humanity will
be selected--a "stranger" in the hands of the oppressor, naked,
hungry, sickly; and this stranger, placed in the midst of the
assembled universe, by the side of the sovereign Judge, will be
openly acknowledged as his representative. "Glory, honor, and
immortality," will be the reward of those who had recognized and
cheered their Lord through his outraged poor. And tribulation,
anguish, and despair, will seize on "every soul of man" who had
neglected or despised them. But whom, within the limits of our
country, are we to regard especially as the representatives of our
final Judge? Every feature of the Savior's picture finds its
appropriate original in our enslaved countrymen.

1. They are the LEAST of his brethren.

2. They are subject to thirst and hunger, unable to command a cup
of water or a crumb of bread.

3. They are exposed to wasting sickness, without the ability to
procure a nurse or employ a physician.

4. They are emphatically "in prison," restrained by chains, goaded
with whips, tasked, and under keepers. Not a wretch groans in any
cell of the prisons of our country, who is exposed to a confinement
so vigorous and heartbreaking as the law allows theirs to be
continually and permanently.

5. And then they are emphatically, and peculiarly, and exclusively,
STRANGERS--_strangers_ in the land which gave them birth. Whom
else do we constrain to remain aliens in the midst of our free
institutions? The Welch, the Swiss, the Irish? The Jews even?
Alas, it is the _negro_ only, who may not strike his roots into
our soil. Every where we have conspired to treat him as a
stranger--every where he is forced to feel himself a stranger. In
the stage and steamboat, in the parlor and at our tables, in the
scenes of business and in the scenes of amusement--even in the
church of God and at the communion table, he is regarded as a
stranger. The intelligent and religious are generally disgusted
and horror-struck at the thought of his becoming identified with
the citizens of our republic--so much so, that thousands of them
have entered into a conspiracy to send him off "out of sight," to
find a home on a foreign shore!--and justify themselves by openly
alleging, that a "single drop" of his blood, in the veins of any
human creature, must make him hateful to his fellow
citizens!--That nothing but banishment from "our coasts," can
redeem him from the scorn and contempt to which his "stranger"
blood has reduced him among his own mother's children!

Who, then, in this land "of milk and honey," is "hungry and athirst,"
but the man from whom the law takes away the last crumb of bread and
the smallest drop of water?

Who "naked," but the man whom the law strips of the last rag of

Who "sick," but the man whom the law deprives of the power of
procuring medicine or sending for a physician?

Who "in prison," but the man who, all his life, is under the control
of merciless masters and cruel keepers!

Who a "stranger," but the man who is scornfully denied the cheapest
courtesies of life--who is treated as an alien in his native country?

There is one point in this awful description which deserves
particular attention. Those who are doomed to the left hand of the
Judge, are not charged with inflicting _positive_ injuries on their
helpless, needy, and oppressed brother. Theirs was what is often
called _negative_ character. What they _had done_ is not described
in the indictment. Their _neglect_ of duty, what they _had_ NOT
_done_, was the ground of their "everlasting punishment." The
representative of their Judge, they had seen a hungered and they
gave him no meat, thirsty and they gave him no drink, a stranger and
they took him not in, naked and they clothed him not, sick and in
prison and they visited him not. In as much as they did NOT yield to
the claims of suffering humanity--did NOT exert themselves to bless
the meanest of the human family, they were driven away in their
wickedness. But what if the indictment had run thus: I was a
hungered and ye snatched away the crust which might have saved me
from starvation; I was thirsty and ye dashed to the ground the
"cup of cold water," which might have moistened my parched lips; I
was a stranger and ye drove me from the hovel which might have
sheltered me from the piercing wind; I was sick and ye scourged me
to my task; in prison and you sold me for my jail-fees--to what
depths of hell must not those who were convicted under such charges
be consigned! And what is the history of American slavery but one
long indictment, describing under ever-varying forms and hues just
such injuries!

Nor should it be forgotten, that those who incurred the displeasure
of their Judge, took far other views than he, of their own past
history. The charges which he brought against them, they heard with
great surprise. They were sure that they had never thus turned away
from his necessities. Indeed, when had they seen him thus subject to
poverty, insult, and oppression? Never. And as to that poor
friendless creature, whom they left unpitied and unhelped in the
hands of the oppressor, and whom their Judge now presented as his
own representative, they never once supposed, that _he_ had any
claims on their compassion and assistance. Had they known, that he
was destined to so prominent a place at the final judgment, they
would have treated him as a human being, in despite of any social,
pecuniary, or political considerations. But neither their _negative
virtue_ nor their _voluntary ignorance_ could shield them from the
penal fire which their selfishness had kindled.

Now amidst the general maxims, the leading principles, the "great
commandments" of the gospel; amidst its comprehensive descriptions
and authorized tests of Christian character, we should take our
position in disposing of any particular allusions to such forms and
usages of the primitive churches as are supported by divine authority.
The latter must be interpreted and understood in the light of the
former. But how do the apologists and defenders of slavery proceed?
Placing themselves amidst the arrangements and usages which grew out
of the _corruptions_ of Christianity, they make these the standard
by which the gospel is to be explained and understood! Some Recorder
or Justice. without the light of inquiry or the aid of a jury,
consigns the negro whom the kidnapper has dragged into his presence
to the horrors of slavery. As the poor wretch shrieks and faints,
Humanity shudders and demands why such atrocities are endured. Some
"priest" or "Levite," "passing by on the other side," quite
self-possessed and all complacent, reads in reply from his broad
phylactery, _Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon_! Yes, echoes the
negro-hating mob, made up of "gentlemen of property and standing"
together with equally gentle-men reeking from the gutter; _Yes--Paul
sent back Onesimus to Philemon_! And Humanity, brow-beaten, stunned
with noise and tumult, is pushed aside by the crowd! A fair specimen
this of the manner in which modern usages are made to interpret the
sacred Scriptures?

Of the particular passages in the New Testament on which the
apologists for slavery especially rely, the epistle to Philemon
first demands our attention.

1. This letter was written by the apostle Paul while a "prisoner of
Jesus Christ" at Rome.

2. Philemon was a benevolent and trustworthy member of the church at
Colosse, at whose house the disciples of Christ held their assemblies,
and who owed his conversion, under God, directly or indirectly to
the ministry of Paul.

3. Onesimus was the servant of Philemon; under a relation which it
is difficult with accuracy and certainty to define. His condition,
though servile, could not have been like that of an American slave;
as, in that case, however he might have "wronged" Philemon, he could
not also have "owed him ought."[31] The American slave is, according
to law, as much the property of his master as any other chattel; and
can no more "owe" his master than can a sheep or a horse. The basis
of all pecuniary obligations lies in some "value received." How can
"an article of merchandise" stand on this basis and sustain
commercial relations to its owner? There is no _person_ to offer or
promise. _Personality is swallowed up in American slavery_!

4. How Onesimus found his way to Rome it is not easy to determine.
He and Philemon appear to have parted from each other on ill terms.
The general character of Onesimus, certainly, in his relation to
Philemon, had been far from attractive, and he seems to have left
him without repairing the wrongs he had done him or paying the debts
which he owed him. At Rome, by the blessing of God upon the
exertions of the apostle, he was brought to reflection and repentance.

5. In reviewing his history in the light of Christian truth, he
became painfully aware of the injuries he had inflicted on Philemon.
He longed for an opportunity for frank confession and full
restitution. Having, however, parted with Philemon on ill terms, he
knew not how to appear in his presence. Under such embarrassments,
he naturally sought sympathy and advice of Paul. _His_ influence
upon Philemon, Onesimus knew must be powerful, especially as an

6. A letter in behalf of Onesimus was therefore written by the
apostle to Philemon. After such salutations, benedictions, and
thanksgiving as the good character and useful life of Philemon
naturally drew from the heart of Paul, he proceeds to the object of
the letter. He admits that Onesimus had behaved ill in the service
of Philemon; not in running away, for how they had parted with each
other is not explained; but in being unprofitable and in refusing to
pay the debts[32] which he had contracted. But his character had
undergone a radical change. Thenceforward fidelity and usefulness
would be his aim and mark his course. And as to any pecuniary
obligations which he had violated, the apostle authorized Philemon
to put them on his account.[33] Thus a way was fairly opened to the
heart of Philemon. And now what does the apostles ask?

7. He asks that Philemon would receive Onesimus, How? "Not as a
_servant_, but above a _servant_."[34] How much above? Philemon was
to receive him as "a son" of the apostle--"as a brother
beloved"--nay, if he counted Paul a partner, an equal, he was to
receive Onesimus as he would receive _the apostle himself_.[35] _So
much_ above a servant was he to receive him!

8. But was not this request to be so interpreted and complied with
as to put Onesimus in the hands of Philemon as "an article of
merchandise," CARNALLY, while it raised him to the dignity of a
"brother beloved," SPIRITUALLY? In other words, might not Philemon
consistently with the request of Paul have reduced Onesimus to a
chattel, as A MAN, while he admitted him fraternally to his bosom,
as a CHRISTIAN? Such gibberish in an apostolic epistle! Never. As if,
however to guard against such folly, the natural product of mist and
moonshine, the apostle would have Onesimus raised above a servant to
the dignity of a brother beloved, "BOTH IN THE FLESH AND IN THE
LORD;"[36] as a man and Christian, in all the relations,
circumstances, and responsibilities of life.

[Footnote 31: Philemon, 18.]

[Footnote 32: Verse 11, 18.]

[Footnote 33: Verse 18.]

[Footnote 34: Verse 16.]

[Footnote 35: Verse 10, 16, 17.]

[Footnote 36: Verse 16.]

It is easy now with definiteness and certainty to determine in what
sense the apostle in such connections uses the word "_brother_". It
describes a relation inconsistent with and opposite to the _servile_.
It is "NOT" the relation of a "SERVANT." It elevates its subject
"above" the servile condition. It raises him to full equality with
the master, to the same equality, on which Paul and Philemon stood
side by side as brothers; and this, not in some vague, undefined,
spiritual sense, affecting the soul and leaving the body in bonds,
but in every way, "both in the FLESH and in the Lord." This matter
deserves particular and earnest attention. It sheds a strong light
on other lessons of apostolic instruction.

9. It is greatly to our purpose, moreover, to observe that the
apostle clearly defines the _moral character_ of his request. It was
fit, proper, right, suited to the nature and relation of things--a
thing which _ought_ to be done.[37] On this account, he might have
urged it upon Philemon in the form of an _injunction_, on apostolic
authority and with great boldness.[38] _The very nature_ of the
request made it obligatory on Philemon. He was sacredly bound, out
of regard to the fitness of things, to admit Onesimus to full
equality with himself--to treat him as a brother both in the Lord
and as having flesh--as a fellow man. Thus were the inalienable
rights and birthright privileges of Onesimus, as a member of the
human family, defined and protected by apostolic authority.

10. The apostle preferred a request instead of imposing a command,
on the ground of CHARITY.[39] He would give Philemon an opportunity
of discharging his obligations under the impulse of love. To this
impulse, he was confident Philemon would promptly and fully yield.
How could he do otherwise? The thing itself was right. The request
respecting it came from a benefactor, to whom, under God, he was
under the highest obligations.[40] That benefactor, now an old man,
and in the hands of persecutors, manifested a deep and tender
interest in the matter and had the strongest persuasion that
Philemon was more ready to grant than himself to entreat. The result,
as he was soon to visit Collosse, and had commissioned Philemon to
prepare a lodging for him, must come under the eye of the apostle.
The request was so manifestly reasonable and obligatory, that the
apostle, after all, described a compliance with it, by the strong
word "_obedience_."[41]

[Footnote 37: Verse 8. To [Greek: anaekon]. See Robinson's New
Testament Lexicon; "_it is fit, proper, becoming, it ought_." In
what sense King James' translators used the word "convenient" any
one may see who will read Rom. i. 28 and Eph. v. 3, 4.]

[Footnote 38: Verse 8.]

[Footnote 39: Verse 9--[Greek: dia taen agapaen]]

[Footnote 40: Verse 19.]

[Footnote 41: Verse 21.]

Now, how must all this have been understood by the church at Colosse?
--a church, doubtless, made up of such materials as the church at
Corinth, that is, of members chiefly from the humblest walks of life.
Many of them had probably felt the degradation and tasted the
bitterness of the servile condition. Would they have been likely to
interpret the apostle's letter under the bias of feelings friendly to
slavery!--And put the slaveholder's construction on its contents!
Would their past experience or present sufferings--for doubtless
some of them were still "under the yoke"--have suggested to their
thoughts such glosses as some of our theological professors venture
to put upon the words of the apostle! Far otherwise. The Spirit of
the Lord was there, and the epistle was read in the light of
"_liberty_." It contained the principles of holy freedom, faithfully
and affectionately applied. This must have made it precious in the
eyes of such men "of low degree" as were most of the believers, and
welcome to a place in the sacred canon. There let it remain as a
luminous and powerful defence of the cause of emancipation!

But what saith Professor Stuart? "If any one doubts, let him take
the case of Paul's sending Onesimus back to Philemon, with an apology
for his running away, and sending him back to be his servant for

[Footnote 42: See his letter to Dr. Fisk, supra pp. 7, 8]

"Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon." By what process? Did the
apostle, a prisoner at Rome, seize upon the fugitive, and drag him
before some heartless and perfidious "Judge," for authority to send
him back to Colosse? Did he hurry his victim away from the presence
of the fat and supple magistrate, to be driven under chains and the
lash to the field of unrequited toil, whence he had escaped? Had the
apostle been like some teachers in the American churches, he might,
as a professor of sacred literature in one of our seminaries, or a
preacher of the gospel to the rich in some of our cities, have consented
thus to subserve the "peculiar" interests of a dear slaveholding brother.
But the venerable champion of truth and freedom was himself under
bonds in the imperial city, waiting for the crown of martyrdom. He
wrote a letter to the church a Colosse, which was accustomed to meet
at the house of Philemon, and another letter to that magnanimous
disciple, and sent them by the hand of Onesimus. So much for _the way_
in which Onesimus was sent back to his master.

A slave escapes from a patriarch in Georgia, and seeks a refuge in
the parish of the Connecticut doctor of Divinity, who once gave
public notice that he saw no reason for caring for the servitude of
his fellow men.[43] Under his influence, Caesar becomes a Christian
convert. Burning with love for the son whom he hath begotten in the
gospel, our doctor resolves to send him back to his master.
Accordingly, he writes a letter, gives it to Caesar, and bids him
return, staff in hand, to the "corner-stone of our republican
institutions." Now, what would my Caesar do, who had ever felt a
link of slavery's chain? As he left his _spiritual father_, should
we be surprised to hear him say to himself, What, return of my own
accord to the man who, with the hand of a robber, plucked me from my
mother's bosom!--for whom I have been so often drenched in the sweat
of unrequited toil!--whose violence so often cut my flesh and
scarred my limbs!--who shut out every ray of light from my mind!--who
laid claim to those honors to which my Creator and Redeemer only
are entitled! And for what am I to return? To be cursed, and
smitten, and sold! To be tempted, and torn, and destroyed! I cannot
thus throw myself away--thus rush upon my own destruction.

[Footnote 43: "Why should I care?"]

Who ever heard of the voluntary return of a fugitive from American
oppression? Do you think that the doctor and his friends could
persuade one to carry a letter to the patriarch from whom he had
escaped? And must we believe this of Onesimus?

"Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon." On what occasion?--"If,"
writes the apostle, "he hath wronged thee, or oweth the aught, put
that on my account." Alive to the claims of duty, Onesimus would
"restore" whatever he "had taken away." He would honestly pay his
debts. This resolution the apostle warmly approved. He was ready, at
whatever expense, to help his young disciple in carrying it into
full effect. Of this he assured Philemon, in language the most
explicit and emphatic. Here we find one reason for the conduct of
Paul in sending Onesimus to Philemon.

If a fugitive slave of the Rev. Dr. Smylie, of Mississippi, should
return to him with a letter from a doctor of divinity in New York,
containing such an assurance, how would the reverend slaveholder
dispose of it? What, he exclaims, have we here? "If Cato has not
been upright in his pecuniary intercourse with you--if he owes you
any thing--put that on my account." What ignorance of southern
institutions! What mockery, to talk of pecuniary intercourse between
a slave and his master! _The slave himself, with all he is and has,
is an article of merchandise_. What can _he_ owe his master? A
rustic may lay a wager with his mule, and give the creature the peck
of oats which he has permitted it to win. But who, in sober earnest,
would call this a pecuniary transaction?

"TO BE HIS SERVANT FOR LIFE!" From what part of the epistle could
the expositor have evolved a thought so soothing to tyrants--so
revolting to every man who loves his own nature? From this?
"For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldst
receive him for ever." Receive him how? _As a servant_, exclaims our
commentator. But what wrote the apostle? "NOT _now as a servant, but
above a servant_, a brother beloved, especially to me, but how much
more unto thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord." Who authorized
the professor to bereave the word "_not_" of its negative influence?
According to Paul, Philemon was to receive Onesimus "_not_ as a
servant;"--according to Stuart, he was to receive him "_as a
servant_!" If the professor will apply the same rules of exposition
to the writings of the abolitionists, all difference between him and
them must in his view presently vanish away. The harmonizing process
would be equally simple and effectual. He has only to understand
them as affirming what they deny, and as denying what they affirm.

Suppose that Professor Stuart had a son residing, at the South. His
slave, having stolen money of his master, effected his escape. He
fled to Andover, to find a refuge among the "sons of the prophets."
There he finds his way to Professor Stuart's house, and offers to
render any service which the professor, dangerously ill "of a typhus
fever," might require. He is soon found to be a most active, skilful,
faithful nurse. He spares no pains, night and day, to make himself
useful to the venerable sufferer. He anticipates every want. In the
most delicate and tender manner, he tries to sooth every pain. He
fastens himself strongly on the heart of the reverend object of his
care. Touched with the heavenly spirit, the meek demeanor, the
submissive frame, which the sick bed exhibits, Archy becomes a
Christian. A new bond now ties him and his convalescent teacher
together. As soon as he is able to write, the professor sends Archy
with the following letter to the South, to Isaac Stuart, Esq.:--

"MY DEAR SON,--With a hand enfeebled by a distressing and dangerous
illness, from which I am slowly recovering, I address you on a
subject which lies very near my heart. I have a request to urge,
which our mutual relation to each other, and your strong obligations
to me, will, I cannot doubt, make you eager fully to grant. I say a
request, though the thing I ask is, in its very nature and on the
principles of the gospel, obligatory upon you. I might, therefore,
boldly demand, what I earnestly entreat. But I know how generous,
magnanimous, and Christ-like you are, and how readily you will 'do
even more than I say'--I, your own father, an old man, almost
exhausted with multiplied exertions for the benefit of my family and
my country and now just rising, emaciated and broken, from the brink
of the grave. I write in behalf of Archy, whom I regard with the
affection of a father, and whom, indeed, 'I have forgotten in my
sickness.' Gladly would I have retained him, to be _an Isaac_ to me;
for how often did not his soothing voice, and skilful hand, and
unwearied attention to my wants remind me of you! But I chose to
give you an opportunity of manifesting, voluntarily, the goodness of
your heart; as, if I had retained him with me, you might seem to
have been forced to grant what you will gratefully bestow. His
temporary absence from you may have opened the way for his permanent
continuance with you. Not now as a slave. Heaven forbid! But
superior to a slave. Superior, did I say? Take him to your bosom, as
a beloved brother; for I own him as a son, and regard him as such,
in all the relations of life, both as a man and a Christian.
'Receive him as myself.' And that nothing may hinder you from
complying with my request at once, I hereby promise, without
adverting to your many and great obligations to me, to pay you every
cent which he took from your drawer. Any preparation which my
comfort with you may require, you will make without much delay, when
you learn, that I intend, as soon as I shall be able 'to perform the
journey,' to make you a visit."

And what if Dr. Baxter, in giving an account of this letter should
publicly declare that Professor Stuart, of Andover regarded
slaveholding as lawful; for that "he had sent Archy back to his son
Isaac, with an apology for his running away" to be held in perpetual
slavery? With what propriety might not the professor exclaim: False,
every syllable false. I sent him back, NOT TO BE HELD AS A SLAVE,
_but recognized as a dear brother, in all respects, under every
relation, civil and ecclesiastical_. I bade my son receive _Archy as
myself_. If this was not equivalent to a requisition to set him
fully and most honorably free, and that, too, on the ground of
natural obligation and Christian principle, then I know not how to
frame such a requisition.

I am well aware that my supposition is by no means strong enough
fully to illustrate the case to which it is applied. Professor Stuart
lacks apostolical authority. Isaac Stuart is not a leading member of
a church consisting, as the early churches chiefly consisted, of
what the world regard as the dregs of society--"the offscouring of
all things." Nor was slavery at Colosse, it seems, supported by such
barbarous usages, such horrid laws as disgrace the South.

But it is time to turn to another passage which, in its bearing on
the subject in hand, is, in our view, as well as in the view of
Dr. Fisk. and Prof. Stuart, in the highest degree authoritative and
instructive. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their
own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his
doctrines be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters,
let them not despise them because they are brethren; but rather do
them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of
the benefit." [44]

[Footnote 44: 1 Tim. vi. 1. 2. The following exposition of this
passage is from the pen of ELIZUR WRIGHT, JR.:--

"This word [Greek: antilambanesthai] in our humble opinion, has been
so unfairly used by the commentators, that we feel constrained to
take its part. Our excellent translators, in rendering the clause
'partakers of the benefit,' evidently lost sight of the component
preposition, which expresses the _opposition of reciprocity_, rather
than the _connection of participation_. They have given it exactly
the sense of [Greek: metalambanein], (2 Tim. ii. 6.) Had the apostle
intended such a sense, he would have used the latter verb, or one of
the more common words, [Greek: metochoi, koinonomtes, &c.] (See Heb.
iii. 1, and 1 Tim. v. 22, where the latter word is used in the clause,
'neither be partaker of other men's sins.' Had the verb in our text
been used, it might have been rendered, 'neither be the _part-taker_
of other men's sins.') The primary sense of [Greek: antilambans] is
_to take in return_--_to take instead of, &c._ Hence, in the middle
with the genitive, it signifies _assist_, or _do one's part towards_
the person or thing expressed by that genitive. In this sense only
is the word used in the New Testament,--(See Luke i. 54, and Acts, xx.
35.) If this be true, the word [Greek: emsgesai] cannot signify the
benefit conferred by the gospel, as our common version would make it,
but the _well doing_ of the servants, who should continue to serve
their believing masters, while they were no longer under the _yoke_
of compulsion. This word is used elsewhere in the New Testament but
once (Acts. iv. 3.) in relation to the '_good deed_' done to the
impotent man. The plain import of the clause, unmystified by the
commentators, is, that believing masters would not fail to do
their part towards, or encourage by suitable returns, the free
service of those who had once been under the yoke."]

1. The apostle addresses himself here to two classes of servants,
with instructions to each respectively appropriate. Both the one
class and the other, in Professor Stuart's eye, were slaves. This
he assumes, and thus begs the very question in dispute. The term
servant is generic, as used by the sacred writers. It comprehends
all the various offices which men discharge for the benefit of each
other, however honorable, or however menial; from that of an
apostle[45] opening the path to heaven, to that of washing "one
another's feet."[46] A general term it is, comprehending every
office which belongs to human relations and Christian character.[47]

[Footnote 45: Cor. iv. 5.]

[Footnote 46: John, xiii, 14.]

[Footnote 47: Mat, xx, 26-28.]

A leading signification gives us the manual laborer, to whom, in
the division of labor, muscular exertion was allotted. As in his
exertions the bodily powers are especially employed--such powers as
belong to man in common with mere animals--his sphere has generally
been considered low and humble. And as intellectual power is
superior to bodily, the manual laborer has always been exposed in
very numerous ways and in various degrees to oppression. Cunning,
intrigue, the oily tongue, have, through extended and powerful
conspiracies, brought the resources of society under the control of
the few, who stood aloof from his homely toil. Hence his dependence
upon them. Hence the multiplied injuries which have fallen so
heavily upon him. Hence the reduction of his wages from one degree
to another, till at length, in the case of millions, fraud and
violence strip him of his all, blot his name from the record of
_mankind_, and, putting a yoke upon his neck, drive him away
to toil among the cattle. _Here you find the slave_. To reduce
the servant to his condition, requires abuses altogether
monstrous--injuries reaching the very vitals of man--stabs upon the
very heart of humanity. Now, what right has Professor Stuart to make
the word "_servants_," comprehending, even as manual laborers, so
many and such various meanings, signify "_slaves_," especially where
different classes are concerned? Such a right he could never have
derived from humanity, or philosophy, or hermeneutics. It is his by
sympathy with the oppressor?

Yes, different classes. This is implied in the term "as many,"[48]
which sets apart the class now to be addressed. From these he
proceeds to others, who are introduced by a particle,[49] whose
natural meaning indicates the presence of another and a different

[Footnote 48: [Greek: Ochli] See Passow's Schneider.]

[Footnote 49: [Greek: Dd.] See Passow.]

2. The first class are described as "_under the yoke_"--a yoke from
which they were, according to the apostle, to make their escape if
possible.[50] If not, they must in every way regard the master with
respect--bowing to his authority, working his will, subserving his
interests so far as might be consistent with Christian
character.[51] And this, to prevent blasphemy--to prevent the pagan
master from heaping profane reproaches upon the name of God and the
doctrines of the gospel. They should beware of rousing his passions,
which, as his helpless victims, they might be unable to allay or

[Footnote 50: See 1 Cor. vii, 21--[Greek: All' ei kai dunasai
eleuphoros genesthai].]

[Footnote 51: See 1 Cor. vii, 23--[Greek: Mae ginesthe doulos

But all the servants whom the apostle addressed were not "_under the
yoke_"[52]--an instrument appropriate to cattle and to slaves. These
he distinguishes from another class, who instead of a "yoke"--the
badge of a slave--had "_believing masters_." _To have a "believing
master," then, was equivalent to freedom from "the yoke_." These
servants were exhorted not _to despise_ their masters. What need of
such an exhortation, if their masters had been slaveholders, holding
them as property, wielding them as mere instruments, disposing of
them as "articles of merchandise." But this was not consistent with
believing. Faith, "breaking every yoke," united master and servants
in the bonds of brotherhood. Brethren they were, joined in a
relation which, excluding the yoke,[53] placed them side by side on
the ground of equality, where, each in his appropriate sphere, they
might exert themselves freely and usefully, to the mutual benefit of
each other. Here, servants might need to be cautioned against getting
above their appropriate business, putting on airs, despising their
masters, and thus declining or neglecting their service. [54]
Instead of this, they should be, as emancipated slaves often
have been, [55] models of enterprise, fidelity, activity, and
usefulness--especially as their masters were "worthy of their
confidence and love," their helpers in this well-doing.

[Footnote 52: See Lev. xxvi. 13; Isa lviii. 6, 9.]

[Footnote 53: Supra p. 44.]

[Footnote 54: See Mat. vi. 24.]

[Footnote 55: Those, for instance, set free by that "believing master"
James G. Birney.]

Such, then, is the relation between those who, in the view of
Professor Stuart, were Christian masters and Christian slaves
[56]--the relation of "brethren," which, excluding "the yoke," and of
course conferring freedom, placed them side by side on the common
ground of mutual service, both retaining, for convenience sake, the
one while giving and the other while receiving employment, the
correlative name, _as is usual in such cases_, under which they had
been known. Such was the instruction which Timothy was required, as
a Christian minister, to give. Was it friendly to slaveholding?

[Footnote 56: Letter to Dr. Fisk, supra, p. 7.]

And on what ground, according to the Princeton professor, did these
masters and these servants stand in their relation to each other? On
that _of a "perfect religious equality."_[57] In all the relations,
duties, and privileges--in all the objects, interests, and prospects,
which belong to the province of Christianity, servants were as free
as their master. The powers of the one, were allowed as wide a range
and as free an exercise, with as warm encouragements, as active aids,
and as high results, as the other. Here, the relation of a servant
to his master imposed no restrictions, involved no embarrassments,
occasioned no injury. All this, clearly and certainly, is implied in
"_perfect religious equality_," which the Princeton professor
accords to servants in relation to their master. Might the _master_,
then, in order more fully to attain the great ends for which he was
created and redeemed, freely exert himself to increase his
acquaintance with his own powers, and relations, and resources--with
his prospects, opportunities, and advantages? So might his _servants_.
Was _he_ at liberty to "study to approve himself to God," to submit
to his will and bow to his authority, as the sole standard of
affection and exertion? So were _they_. Was _he_ at liberty to
sanctify the Sabbath, and frequent the "solemn assembly?" So were
_they_. Was _he_ at liberty so to honor the filial, conjugal, and
paternal relations, as to find in them that spring of activity and
that source of enjoyment, which they are capable of yielding? So
were _they_. In every department of interest and exertion, they
might use their capacities, and wield their powers, and improve
their opportunities, and employ their resources, as freely as he, in
glorifying God, in blessing mankind, and in laying up imperishable
treasures for themselves! Give perfect religious equality to the
American slave, and the most eager abolitionist must be satisfied.
Such equality would, like the breath of the Almighty, dissolve the
last link of the chain of servitude. Dare those who, for the benefit
of slavery, have given so wide and active a circulation to the
Pittsburg pamphlet, make the experiment?

[Footnote 57: Pittsburg Pamphlet, p. 9.]

In the epistle to the Colossians, the following passage deserves
earnest attention:--"Servants, obey in all things your masters
according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but
in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it
heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing, that of the
Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve
the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong
which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.--Masters,
give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that
ye have a Master in heaven."[58]

[Footnote 58: Col. iii. 22 to iv. 1.]

Here it is natural to remark--

1. That in maintaining the relation, which mutually united them,
both masters and servants were to act in conformity with the
principles of the divine government. Whatever _they_ did, servants
were to do in hearty obedience to the Lord, by whose authority they
were to be controlled and by whose hand they were to be rewarded. To
the same Lord, and according to the same law, was the _master_ to
hold himself responsible. _Both the one and the other were of course
equally at liberty and alike required to study and apply the standard,
by which they were to be governed and judged_.

2. The basis of the government under which they thus were placed,
was _righteousness_--strict, stern, impartial. Nothing here of bias
or antipathy. Birth, wealth, station,--the dust of the balance not
so light! Both master and servants were hastening to a tribunal,
where nothing of "respect of persons" could be feared or hoped for.
There the wrong-doer, whoever he might be, and whether from the top
or bottom of society, must be dealt with according to his deservings.

3. Under this government, servants were to be universally and
heartily obedient; and both in the presence and absence of the master,
faithfully to discharge their obligations. The master on his part,
in his relations to the servants, was to make JUSTICE AND EQUALITY
the _standard of his conduct_. Under the authority of such
instructions, slavery falls discountenanced, condemned, abhorred. It
is flagrantly at war with the government of God, consists in
"respect of persons" the most shameless and outrageous, treads
justice and equality under foot, and in its natural tendency and
practical effects is nothing else than a system of wrong-doing. What
have _they_ to do with the just and the equal who in their "respect
of persons" proceed to such a pitch as to treat one brother as a
thing because he is a servant, and place him, without the least
regard to his welfare here, or his prospects hereafter, absolutely
at the disposal of another brother, under the name of master, in
the relation of owner to property? Justice and equality on the one
hand, and the chattel principle on the other, are naturally
subversive of each other--proof clear and decisive that the
correlates, masters and servants, cannot here be rendered slaves
and owners, without the grossest absurdity and the greatest

"Servants, be obedient to them that are _your_ masters according
to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart,
as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the
servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good
will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that
whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the
Lord, whether _he be_ bond or free. And, ye masters, do the same
things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master
also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with

[Footnote 59: Ephesians, vi. 5-9.]

Without repeating here what has already been offered in exposition
of kindred passages, it may be sufficient to say:--

1. That the relation of the servants here addressed, to their master,
was adapted to make him the object of their heart-felt attachment.
Otherwise they could not have been required to render him an
affectionate service.

2. This relation demanded a perfect reciprocity of benefits. It had
its soul in _good-will_, mutually cherished and properly expressed.
Hence "THE SAME THINGS," the same in principle, the same in
substance, the same in their mutual bearing upon the welfare of
the master and the servants, was to be rendered back and forth
by the one and the other. It was clearly the relation of mutual
service. Do we here find the chattel principle?

3. Of course, the servants might not be slack, time-serving,
unfaithful. Of course, the master must "FORBEAR THREATENING."
Slavery without threatening! Impossible. Wherever maintained, it is
of necessity a _system of threatening_, injecting into the bosom of
the slave such terrors, as never cease for a moment to haunt and
torment him. Take from the chattel principle the support, which it
derives from "threatening," and you annihilate it at once and

4. This relation was to be maintained in accordance with the
principles of the divine government, where "RESPECT OF PERSONS"
could not be admitted. It was, therefore, totally inconsistent with,
and submissive of, the chattel principle, which in American slavery
is developed in a system of "respect of persons," equally gross and
hurtful. No Abolitionist, however eager and determined in his
opposition to slavery, could ask for more than these precepts, once
obeyed, would be sure to confer.

"The relation of slavery," according to Professor Stuart, is
recognized in "the precepts of the New Testament," as one which "may
still exist without violating the Christian faith or the church."[60]
Slavery and the chattel principle! So our professor thinks;
otherwise his reference has nothing to do with the subject--with the
slavery which the abolitionist, whom he derides, stands opposed to.
How gross and hurtful is the mistake into which he allows himself to
fall. The relation recognized in the precepts of the New Testament
had its basis and support in "justice and equality;" the very
opposite of the chattel principle; a relation which may exist as
long as justice and equality remain, and thus escape the destruction
to which, in the view of Professor Stuart, slavery is doomed. The
description of Paul obliterates every feature of American slavery,
raising the servant to equality with his master, and placing his
rights under the protection of justice; yet the eye of Professor
Stuart can see nothing in his master and servant but a slave and his
owner. With this relation he is so thoroughly possessed, that, like
an evil angel, it haunts him even when he enters the temple of

[Footnote 60: Letter to Dr. Fisk, supra p. 7.]

"It is remarkable," saith the Princeton professor, "that there is
not even an exhortation" in the writings of the apostles "to masters
to liberate their slaves, much less is it urged as an imperative and
immediate duty."[61] It would be remarkable, indeed, if they were
chargeable with a defect so great and glaring. And so they have
nothing to say upon the subject? _That_ not even the Princeton
professor has the assurance to affirm. He admits that KINDNESS, MERCY,
AND JUSTICE, were enjoined with a _distinct reference to the
government of God_.[62] "Without respect of persons," they were to be
God-like in doing justice. They were to act the part of kind and
merciful "brethren." And whither would this lead them? Could they
stop short of restoring to every man his natural, inalienable
rights?--of doing what they could to redress the wrongs, sooth the
sorrows, improve the character, and raise the condition of the
degraded and oppressed? Especially, if oppressed and degraded by any
agency of theirs. Could it be kind, merciful, or just to keep the
chains of slavery on their helpless, unoffending brother? Would this
be to honor the Golden Rule, or obey the second great command of
"their Master in Heaven?" Could the apostles have subserved the cause
of freedom more directly, intelligibly, and effectually, than _to
enjoin the principles, and sentiments, and habits, in which
freedom consists--constituting its living root and fruitful germ_!

[Footnote 61: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 62: The same, p. 10.]

The Princeton professor himself, in the very paper which the South
has so warmly welcomed and so loudly applauded as a scriptural
defence of "the peculiar institution," maintains, that the "GENERAL
greater part of Christendom_"[63]--"THAT CHRISTIANITY HAS ABOLISHED
SCOPE--_that it_ ENJOINS _a fair compensation for labor; insists on
the mental and intellectual improvement of_ ALL _classes of men;
condemns_ ALL _infractions of marital or parental rights; requires, in
short, not only that_ FREE SCOPE _should be allowed to human
improvement, but that_ ALL SUITABLE MEANS _should be employed for the
attainment of that end_."[64] It is indeed "remarkable," that while
neither Christ nor his apostles ever gave "an exhortation to masters
to liberate their slaves," they enjoined such "general principles as
have destroyed domestic slavery throughout the greater part of
Christendom;" that while Christianity forbears "to urge"
emancipation "as an imperative and immediate duty," it throws a
barrier, heaven high, around every domestic circle; protects all the
rights of the husband and the father; gives every laborer a fair
compensation; and makes the moral and intellectual improvement of
all classes, with free scope and all suitable means, the object
of its tender solicitude and high authority. This is not only
"remarkable," but inexplicable. Yes and no--hot and cold, in one and
the same breath! And yet these things stand prominent in what is
reckoned an acute, ingenious, effective defence of slavery!

[Footnote 63: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 18, 19.]

[Footnote 64: The same, p. 31.]

In his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul furnishes
another lesson of instruction, expressive of his views and feelings
on the subject of slavery. "Let every man abide in the same calling
wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for
it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is
called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise
also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant. Ye are
bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men." [65]

[Footnote 65: 1 Cor. vii. 20-23.]

In explaining and applying this passage, it is proper to suggest:

1. That it _could_ not have been the object of the apostle to bind
the Corinthian converts to the stations and employments in which the
gospel found them. For he exhorts some of them to escape, if possible,
from their present condition. In the servile state, "under the yoke,"
they ought not to remain unless impelled by stern necessity.
"If thou canst be free, use it rather." If they ought to prefer
freedom to bondage and to exert themselves to escape from the latter
for the sake of the former, could their master consistently with the
claims and spirit of the gospel have hindered or discouraged them in
so doing? Their "brother" could _he_ be, who kept "the yoke" upon
their neck, which the apostle would have them shake off if possible?
And had such masters been members of the Corinthian church, what
inferences must they have drawn from this exhortation to their
servants? That the apostle regarded slavery as a Christian
institution?--or could look complacently on any efforts to introduce
or maintain it in the church? Could they have expected less from him
than a stern rebuke, if they refused to exert themselves in the
cause of freedom?

2. But while they were to use their freedom, if they could obtain it,
they should not, even on such a subject, give themselves up to
ceaseless anxiety. "The Lord was no respecter of persons." They need
not fear, that the "low estate," to which they had been wickedly
reduced, would prevent them from enjoying the gifts of his hand or
the light of his countenance. _He_ would respect their rights, sooth
their sorrows, and pour upon their hearts, and cherish there, the
spirit of liberty. "For he that is called in the Lord, being a
servant, is the Lord's freeman." In _him_, therefore, should they
cheerfully confide.

3. The apostle, however, forbids them so to acquiesce in the servile
relation, as to act inconsistently with their Christian obligations.
To their Savior they belonged. By his blood they had been purchased.
It should be their great object, therefore, to render _Him_ a hearty
and effective service. They should permit no man, whoever he might be,
to thrust in himself between them and their Redeemer. "_Ye are
bought with a price_; BE NOT YE THE SERVANTS OF MEN."

With his eye upon the passage just quoted and explained, the
Princeton professor asserts that "Paul represents this relation"--the
relation of slavery--"as of comparatively little account."[66]
And this he applies--otherwise it is nothing to his purpose--to
_American_ slavery. Does he then regard it as a small matter, a
mere trifle, to be thrown under the slave-laws of this republic,
grimly and fiercely excluding their victim from almost every means
of improvement, and field of usefulness, and source of comfort; and
making him, body and substance, with his wife and babes, "the
servant of men?" Could such a relation be acquiesced in consistently
with the instructions of the apostle?

[Footnote 66: Pittsburg pamphlet, p.10.]

To the Princeton professor we commend a practical trial of the
bearing of the passage in hand upon American slavery. His regard for
the unity and prosperity of the ecclesiastical organizations, which
in various forms and under different names, unite the southern with
the northern churches, will make the experiment grateful to his
feelings. Let him, then, as soon as his convenience will permit,
proceed to Georgia. No religious teacher [67] from any free State, can
be likely to receive so general and so warm a welcome there. To
allay the heat, which the doctrines and movements of the
abolitionists have occasioned in the southern mind, let him with as
much despatch as possible, collect, as he goes from place to place,
masters and their slaves. Now let all men, whom it may concern, see
and own that slavery is a Christian institution! With his Bible in his
hand and his eye upon the passage in question, he addresses himself
to the task of instructing the slaves around him. Let not your hearts,
my brethren, be overcharged with sorrow, or eaten up with anxiety. Your
servile condition cannot deprive you of the fatherly regards of Him
"who is no respecter of persons." Freedom you ought, indeed, to
prefer. If you can escape from "the yoke," throw it off. In the mean
time rejoice that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;"
that the gospel places slaves "on a perfect religious equality" with
their master; so that every Christian is "the Lord's freeman." And,
for your encouragement, remember that "Christianity has abolished
both political and domestic servitude wherever it has had free scope.
It enjoins a fair compensation for labor; it insists on the moral and
intellectual improvement of all classes of men; it condemns all
infractions of marital or parental rights; in short it requires not
only that free scope be allowed to human improvement, but that all
suitable means should be employed for the attainment of that end."
[68] Let your lives, then, be honorable to your relations to your
Savior. He bought you with his own blood; and is entitled to your
warmest love and most effective service. "Be not ye the servants of
men." Let no human arrangements prevent you, as citizens of the
kingdom of heaven, from making the most of your powers and
opportunities. Would such an effort, generally and heartily made,
allay excitement at the South, and quench the flames of discord,
every day rising higher and waxing hotter, in almost every part of
the republic, and cement "the Union?"

[Footnote 67: Rev. Mr. Savage, of Utica, New York, had, not very
long ago, a free conversation with a gentleman of high standing in
the literary and religious world from a slaveholding State, where
the "peculiar institution" is cherished with great warmth and
maintained with iron rigor. By him, Mr. Savage was assured, that the
Princeton professor had, through the Pittsburg pamphlet, contributed
most powerfully and effectually to bring the "whole South" under the
persuasion, _that slaveholding is in itself right_--a system _to
which the Bible gives countenance and support_.

In an extract from an article in the Southern Christian Sentinel, a
new Presbyterian paper established in Charleston, South Carolina,
and inserted in the Christian Journal for March 21, 1839, we find
the following paragraphs from the pen of Rev. C.W. Howard, and,
according to Mr. Chester, ably and freely endorsed by the editor.
"There is scarcely any diversity of sentiment at the North upon this
subject. The great mass of the people, believing slavery to be sinful,
are clearly of the opinion that, as a system, it should be abolished
throughout this land and throughout the world. They differ as to the
time and mode of abolition. The abolitionists consistently argue,
that whatever is sinful should be instantly abandoned. The others,
_by a strange sort of reasoning for Christian men_, contend that
though slavery is sinful, _yet it may be allowed to exist until it
shall he expedient to abolish it_; or, if, in many cases, this
reasoning might be translated into plain English, the sense would be,
both in Church and State, _slavery, though sinful, may be allowed to
exist until our interest will suffer us to say that it must be
abolished_. This is not slander; it is simply a plain way of stating
a plain truth. It does seem the evident duty of every man to become
an abolitionist, who believes slavery to be sinful, for the Bible
allows no tampering with sin.

"To these remarks, there are some noble exceptions, to be found in
both parties in the church. _The South owes a debt of gratitude to
the Biblical Repertory, for the fearless argument in behalf of the
position, that slavery is not forbidden by the Bible_. The writer of
that article is said, without contradiction, to be _Professor Hodge,
_my brethren, for in a land of anti-slavery men, he is the_ ONLY
ONE _who has dared to vindicate your character from the serious
charge of living in the habitual transgression of God's holy law_."]

[Footnote 68: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 31.]

"It is," affirms the Princeton professor, "on all hands acknowledged,
that, at the time of the advent of Jesus Christ, slavery in its
worst forms prevailed over the whole world. _The Savior found it
around him_ IN JUDEA."[69] To say that he found it _in Judea_, is to
speak ambiguously. Many things were to be found "_in_ Judea," which
neither belonged to, nor were characteristic of _the Jews_. It is
not denied that _the Gentiles_, who resided among them, might have
had slaves; _but of the Jews this is denied_. How could the
professor take that as granted, the proof of which entered vitally
into the argument and was essential to the soundness of the
conclusions to which he would conduct us? How could he take
advantage of an ambiguous expression to conduct his confiding
readers on to a position which, if his own eyes were open, he must
have known they could not hold in the light of open day!

[Footnote 69: The same, p. 9]

We do not charge the Savior with any want of wisdom, goodness, or
courage,[70] for refusing to "break down the wall of partition between
Jews and Gentiles" "before the time appointed." While this barrier
stood, he could not, consistently with the plan of redemption,
impart instruction freely to the Gentiles. To some extent, and on
extraordinary occasions, he might have done so. But his business
then was with "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [71] The
propriety of this arrangement is not the matter of dispute between
the Princeton professor and ourselves.

[Footnote 70: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 10.]

[Footnote 71: Matt. xv. 24.]

In disposing of the question whether the Jews held slaves during our
Savior's incarnation among them, the following points deserve earnest

1. Slaveholding is inconsistent with the Mosaic economy. For the
proof of this, we would refer our readers, among other arguments more
or less appropriate and powerful, to the tract already alluded
to.[72] In all the external relations and visible arrangements of
life, the Jews, during our Savior's ministry among them, seem to
have been scrupulously observant of the institutions and usages of
the "Old Dispensation." They stood far aloof from whatever was
characteristic of Samaritans and Gentiles. From idolatry and
slaveholding--those twin-vices which had always so greatly prevailed
among the heathen--they seem at length, as the result of a most
painful discipline, to have been effectually divorced.

[Footnote 72: "The Bible against Slavery."]

2. While, therefore, John the Baptist; with marked fidelity and
great power, acted among the Jews the part of a _reprover_, he found

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