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The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 2 of 4 by American Anti-Slavery Society

Part 13 out of 16

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The methods of discipline under which, as slaveholders, the Southrons
now place their human cattle, they with one consent and in great wrath,
forbid us to examine. The statesman and the priest unite in the
assurance, that these methods are none of our business. Nay, they give
us distinctly to understand, that if we come among them to take
observations, and make inquiries, and discuss questions, they will
dispose of us as outlaws. Nothing will avail to protect us from speedy
and deadly violence! What inference does all this warrant? Surely, not
that the methods which they employ are happy and worthy of universal
application. If so, why do they not take the praise, and give us the
benefit, of their wisdom, enterprise, and success? Who, that has nothing
to hide, practices concealment?--"He that doeth truth cometh to the
light, that his deeds may be manifest, that they are wrought in God." Is
this the way of slaveholders? Darkness they court--they will have
darkness. Doubtless "because their deeds are evil." Can we confide in
methods for the benefit of our enslaved brethren, which it is death for
us to examine? Whet good ever came, what good can we expect, from deeds
of darkness?

Did the influence of the masters contribute any thing in the West
Indies; to prepare the apprentices for enfranchisement? Nay, verily. All
the world knows better. They did what in them lay, to turn back the tide
of blessings, which through emancipation was pouring in upon the
famishing around them. Are not the best minds and hearts in England now
thoroughly convinced, that slavery, under no modification, can be a
school for freedom?

We say such things to the many who alledge, that slaves can not at once
be entrusted with the powers and privileges of self-government. However
this may be, they can not 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_?"[A] 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 defense, 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 practicing the
lessons which "nature teacheth."[B] These lessons, the Bible requires us
reverently to listen to, earnestly to appropriate, and most diligently
and faithfully to act upon in every direction and on all occasions.

[Footnote A: Luke xii. 67.]

[Footnote B: 1 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."[C] 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 principle. 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 C: 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
found, 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 equals_.

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"_ can not 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; 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 birth-right 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 birth-right,
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 can not 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 meshing 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
birth-right?--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_ ENTERS VITALLY INTO THE
RELATION ITSELF, _by which every slave_, AS A 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 alledge, 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 can not
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, sold, 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 A: 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."

Prof. Stuart 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 arrangements!

What must be the moral character of any institution which the Golden
Rule decides against?--which the second great command condemns? _It can
not 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 can not, 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 inquires 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 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 servant.

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 it
in 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 rest
of them should be a witness against them, and should eat their flesh as
it were fire; that, in one word, they had heaped treasure 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 admonition 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" whence they derived their wealth, 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 any thing 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 transgressors."

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 for 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 can not, without the greatest injustice, be held
responsible. It is to poison the very fountains of justice, by
confounding all moral distinctions. It is with a worse temper, and in
the way of inflicting infinitely greater injuries, to copy the kingly
folly of Xerxes, in chaining and scourging the Hellespont. What, then,
so far as the authority of the New Testament is concerned, becomes of
slavery, which can not 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 worshipers of a
dark complexion are to be shut up to the negro pew?[A]

[Footnote A: 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 every where. 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 can not 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, can not 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
rich 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 them 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."[A] 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_.

[Footnote A: Gal. iii. 23.]

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. Wherever 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 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?

"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 he 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,"[A] 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 forever.

[Footnote A: "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
can not 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,
comprehending offices the 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_, is it 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, 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 dunghill 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 sanction.

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[A]." Are these the men who practiced 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[B]," they would have made
but a sorry figure at the great-house or slave-market!

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

[Footnote B: 1 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."[A] Here we may well notice,

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

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.

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
this description applies to those who are crushed under the chattel

The reference which the apostle makes to the "deep poverty of the
churches of Macedonia,"[B] 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."[C] Thus it
appears, that Christians every where 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[D]!

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

[Footnote C: Rom. xv. 26.]

[Footnote D: 1 Cor. vi 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 far
the poor saints at Jerusalem!" Far otherwise--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._" [E]
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 E: 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[F], 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 shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me. On this
passage it is natural to suggest--

[Footnote F: Luke xvii 18-24]

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 can not 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 cooperation 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!

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 rigorous and
heart-breaking as the law allows theirs to be continually and

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 alledging, 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 have 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 supposed 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 bread
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

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

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_."[A] 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_!

[Footnote A: Phil. 18.]

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 apostle.

6. A letter in behalf of Onesimus was therefore written by the apostle
to Philemon. After such salutations, benedictions, and thanks giving 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[B] 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.[C] Thus a way
was fairly opened to the heart of Philemon. And now what does the
apostles ask?

[Footnote B: Verse 11,18.]

[Footnote C: Verse 18.]

7. He asks that Philemon would receive Onesimus. How? "Not as a
_servant_, but _above_ a servant."[A] 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[B]. So much_ above a servant was he
to receive him!

[Footnote A: Verse 16.]

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

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;"[C] as a man and Christian, in all
the relations, circumstances, and responsibilities of life.

[Footnote C: 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

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 relations of things--a thing
which _ought_ to be done.[D] On this account, he might have urged it
upon Philemon in the form of an _injunction_, on apostolic authority and
with great boldness.[E] _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 birth-right privileges of
Onesimus, as a member of the human family, defined and protected by
apostolic authority.

[Footnote D: 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 E: Verse 8.]

10. The apostle preferred a request instead of imposing a command, on
the ground of CHARITY.[A] 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.[B] 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 Colosse, 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_."[C]

[Footnote A: Verse 9 [Greek: dia taen agapaen].]

[Footnote B: Verse 19.]

[Footnote C: 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 defense of the cause of

But what with Prof. 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 life."[A]

[Footnote A: See his letter to Dr. Fisk, supra p. 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 at 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, who once gave public notice that he
saw no reason for caring for the servitude of his fellow men.[B] 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 any Caesar do, who had ever
felt a link of slavery's chain? As he left his _spiritual father_,
should we be surprized 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 can not thus throw myself away--thus rush
upon my own destruction.

[Footnote B: "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 thee ought, 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. Mr. 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 had 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 shouldest 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 Prof. 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 Prof. 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, skillful, 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 by Archy 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 my
acquaintance with you, and your strong obligations to me, will, I can
not 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 begotten in my
sickness.' Gladly would I have retained him, to be an _Isaac_ to me; for
how often did not his soothing voice, and skillful 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 Prof. 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. Prof. 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."[A]

[Footnote A: 1 Tim. vi. 1, 2.]

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 Prof. 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[B] opening the path to heaven,
to that of washing "one another's feet."[C] A general term it is,
comprehending every office which belongs to human relations and
Christian character.[D]

[Footnote B: Cor. iv. 5.]

[Footnote C: John xiii. 14.]

[Footnote D: 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 Prof. 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. Is it his by sympathy with the oppressor?

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

[Footnote A: [Greek: Osoi.] See Passow's Schneider.]

[Footnote B: [Greek: De.] 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.[C] 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.[D] 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 withstand.

[Footnote C: See 1 Cor. vii. 21--[Greek: All ei kai d u n a s a i
eleutheros genesthai.]]

[Footnote D: 1 Cor. vii. 23--[Greek: Mae ginesthe douloi anthropon.]]

But all the servants whom the apostle addressed were not "_under the
yoke_"[E]--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,[F] 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.[G] Instead of this, they should be, as
emancipated slaves often have been,[H] models of enterprise, fidelity,
activity, and usefulness--especially as their masters were "worthy of
their confidence and love," their helpers in this well-doing.[I]

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

[Footnote F: Supra p. 47.]

[Footnote G: See Matt. vi. 24.]

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

[Footnote I: The following exposition 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, koinonountes], &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: antilambano] 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: euergesai] can not 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_."]

Such, then, is the relation between those who, in the view of Prof.
Stuart, were Christian masters and Christian slaves[A]--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's 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 A: 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_."[A] 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 do the Pittsburgh pamphlet,
make the experiment?

[Footnote A: Pittsburgh 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."[A]

[Footnote A: 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 violence.

"The relation of slavery," according to Prof. Stuart, is recognized in
"the precepts of the New Testament," as one which "may still exist
without violating the Christian faith or the church."[A] 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 Prof. 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 Prof. 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 justice!

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

"It is remarkable," with 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."[B] 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_.[C]
"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, soothe 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 B: Pittsburgh pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote C: Pittsburgh pamphlet, p. 10.]

The Princeton professor himself, in the very paper which the South has
so warmly welcomed and so loudly applauded as a scriptural defense of
"the peculiar institution," maintains, that the "GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF
THE GOSPEL _have_ DESTROYED SLAVERY _throughout out the greater part of
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._"[B] 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 fathers; 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
defense of slavery!

[Footnote A: Pittsburgh pamphlet p. 18. 19.]

[Footnote B: 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."[A]

[Footnote A: 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

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."[A] 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 A: Pittsburgh pamphlet p. 10.]

To the Princeton professor the 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[B] 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
whenever 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."[C] 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 B: 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 Pittsburgh 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 be 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 _Prof. Hodge of Princeton--HIS
NAME OUGHT TO BE KNOWN AND REVERED AMONG YOU, 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 C: Pittsburgh 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."[A] 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 A: Pittsburgh pamphlet p. 9.]

We do not charge the Savior with any want of wisdom, goodness, or
courage,[B] 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."[C] The propriety of this arrangement
is not the matter of dispute between the Princeton professor and

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

[Footnote C: 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.[A] 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

[Footnote A: "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 no
occasion to repeat and apply the language of his predecessors,[B] in
exposing and rebuking idolatry and slaveholding. Could he, the greatest
of the prophets, have been less effectually aroused by the presence of
"the yoke," than was Isaiah?--or less intrepid and decisive in exposing
and denouncing the sin of oppression under its most hateful and
injurious forms?

[Footnote B: Psalm lxxxii; Isa. lviii. 1-12; Jer. xxii. 13-16.]

3. The Savior was not backward in applying his own principles plainly
and pointedly to such forms of oppression as appeared among the Jews.
These principles, whenever they have been freely acted on, the Princeton
professor admits, have abolished domestic bondage. Had this prevailed
within the sphere of our Savior's ministry, he could not, consistently
with his general character, have failed to expose and condemn it. The
oppression of the people by lordly ecclesiastics, of parents by their
selfish children, of widows by their ghostly counsellors, drew from his
lips scorching rebukes and terrible denunciations.[C] How, then, must he
have felt and spoke in the presence of such tyranny, if _such tyranny
had been within his official sphere_, as should _have made widows_, by
driving their husbands to some flesh-market, and their children not
orphans, _but cattle_?

[Footnote C: Matt. xxiii; Mark vii. 1-13.]

4. Domestic slavery was manifestly inconsistent with the _industry_,
which, _in the form of manual labor_, so generally prevailed among the
Jews. In one connection, in the Acts of the Apostles, we are informed,
that, coming from Athens to Corinth, Paul "found a certain Jew named
Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla;
(because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome;) and
came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them
and wrought: (for by their occupation they were tent-makers.")[A] This
passage has opened the way for different commentators to refer us to the
public sentiment and general practice of the Jews respecting useful
industry and manual labor. According to _Lightfoot_, "it was their
custom to bring up their children to some trade, yea, though they gave
them learning or estates." According to Rabbi Judah, "He that teaches
not his son a trade, is as if he taught him to be a thief."[B] It was,
_Kuinoel_ affirms, customary even for Jewish teachers to unite labor
(opificium) with the study of the law. This he confirms by the highest
Rabbinical authority.[C] _Heinrichs_ quotes a Rabbi as teaching, that no
man should by any means neglect to train his son to honest industry.[D]
Accordingly, the apostle Paul, though brought up at the "feet of
Gamaliel," the distinguished disciple of a most illustrious teacher,
practiced the art of tent-making. His own hands ministered to his
necessities; and his example in so doing, he commends to his Gentile
brethren for their imitation.[E] That Zebedee, the father of John the
Evangelist, had wealth, various hints in the New Testament render
probable.[F] Yet how do we find him and his sons, while prosecuting
their appropriate business? In the midst of the hired servants, "in the
ship mending their nets."[G]

[Footnote A: Acts xviii. 1-3.]

[Footnote B: Henry on Acts xviii, 1-3.]

[Footnote C: Kuinoel on Acts.]

[Footnote D: Heinrichs on Acts.]

[Footnote E: Acts xx. 34, 35; 1 Thess. iv. 11]

[Footnote F: See Kuinoel's Prolegom. to the Gospel of John.]

[Footnote G: Mark i. 19, 20.]

Slavery among a people who, from the highest to the lowest, were used to
manual labor! What occasion for slavery there? And how could it be
maintained? No place can be found for slavery among a people generally
inured to useful industry. With such, especially if men of learning,
wealth, and station "labor, working with their hands," such labor must
be honorable. On this subject, let Jewish maxims and Jewish habits be
adopted at the South, and the "peculiar institution" would vanish like a
ghost at daybreak.

5. Another hint, here deserving particular attention, is furnished in
the allusions of the New Testament to the lowest casts and most servile
employments among the Jews. With profligates, _publicans_ were joined as
depraved and contemptible. The outcasts of society were described, not
as fit to herd with slaves, but as deserving a place among Samaritans
and publicans. They were "_hired servants_," whom Zebedee employed. In
the parable of the prodigal son we have a wealthy Jewish family. Here
servants seem to have abounded. The prodigal, bitterly bewailing his
wretchedness and folly, described their condition as greatly superior to
his own. How happy the change which should place him by their side! His
remorse, and shame, and penitence made him willing to embrace the lot of
the lowest of them all. But these--what was their condition? They were
HIRED SERVANTS. "Make me as one of thy hired servants." Such he refers
to as the lowest menials known in Jewish life.

Lay such hints as have now been suggested together; let it be
remembered, that slavery was inconsistent with the Mosaic economy; that
John the Baptist in preparing the way for the Messiah makes no reference
"to the yoke" which, had it been before him, he would, like Isaiah, have
condemned; that the Savior, while he took the part of the poor and
sympathized with the oppressed; was evidently spared the pain of
witnessing within the sphere of his ministry, the presence of the
chattel principle; that it was the habit of the Jews, whoever they might
be, high or low, rich or poor, learned or rude, "to labor, working with
their hands;" and that where reference was had to the most menial
employments, in families, they were described as carried on by hired
servants; and the question of slavery "in Judea," so far as the seed of
Abraham were concerned, is very easily disposed of. With every phase and
form of society among them slavery was inconsistent.

The position which, in the article so often referred to in this paper,
the Princeton professor takes, is sufficiently remarkable. Northern
abolitionists he saw in an earnest struggle with southern slaveholders.
The present welfare and future happiness of myriads of the human family
were at stake in this contest. In the heat of the battle, he throws
himself between the belligerent powers. He gives the abolitionists to
understand, that they are quite mistaken in the character of the object
they have set themselves so openly and sternly against. Slaveholding is
not, as they suppose, contrary to the law of God. It was witnessed by
the Savior "in its worst form,"[A] without extorting from his lips a
syllable of rebuke. "The sacred writers did not condemn it."[B] And why
should they? By a definition[C] sufficiently ambiguous and slippery, he
undertakes to set forth a form of slavery which he looks upon as
consistent with the law of Righteousness. From this definition he infers
that the abolitionists are greatly to blame for maintaining that
American slavery is inherently and essentially sinful, and for insisting
that it ought at once to be abolished. For this labor of love the
slaveholding South is warmly grateful and applauds its reverend ally, as
if a very Daniel had come as their advocate to judgment.[D]

[Footnote A: Pittsburgh pamphlet p. 9.]

[Footnote B: The same p. 13.]

[Footnote C: The same p. 12.]

[Footnote D: Supra p. 61.]

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