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God, and being connected with wicked people ; while in the other instance, we see a young person who had been raised to the actual possession of the greatest advantages this world could bestow, yet ready to forego them all, and life itself, Est. iv. 16. rather than displease God and for. sake his people. These are useful and important lessons.
The custom of adoption is preserved among the Ma. hometans to the present day. When a Turk thus adopts a child it is passed through the shirt of its new father. This reminds us of Elijah adopting the prophet Elisha as his son in the faith, by throwing his mantle over him, 1 Kings xix. 19. and when Elijah was taken up into hea. ven, Elisha called after him, “ My father, my father ;" and having caught his mantle, proceeded to fulfil the duties performed by his spiritual father, 2 Kings ii. by succeeding to his office.
There are several texts in the New Testament, as Rom. xiii. 14. Gal. iii. 27. Eph. iv. 24. Col. iii. 10. in which the apostle speaks of believers in Christ having "put on the new man,” which may refer to this custom of the manner of adoption as sons. But St. Paul speaks still more plainly of the change thus effected in the believer, in Rom. viii. He there shows the obligation upon all who are made partakers of salvation through Christ, to forsake their former evil courses, and to live according to the Spirit of Christ : “ For as many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage (or slavery) again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together,” verses 14–17. Also Gal. iv. 4, 5. that “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
These passages are explained by referring to the customs relating to adoption, and show us most fully the great privileges of belonging to Christ.
Joseph seized by his brethren, and sold for a slave.
Most of the servants in ancient times were slaves ; that is, persons who are the property of others,—the same as their horses or cows, and other animals,—who must do all that they are ordered, and cannot leave their mas. ters. This kind of service, or slavery, as it is called, is very ancient, and exists even now among many nations ; my readers have no doubt often heard of the slaves in the West Indies. The slaves among the Jews and other ancient nations were as much the property of their mas. ters, though they were instructed in religion, and treated more kindly than the poor negroes are now.
People were made slaves in different ways.-1. When prisoners were taken in war, they became the slaves of the conquerors, Gen. xiv. 14. Deut. xx. 14. 2 Chron. xxviii. 8. Dan. i. 4. and many other places might be referred to.-2. Offenders, such as had committed thefts or other offences, were sold for slaves, Exod. xxij. 3.3. Also for debt. When persons owed more than they could pay, they became slaves to those to whom they were indebted, or they were sold to other people, 2 Kings iv. 1. Neh. v. 4,5. Matt. xviii. 25.-4. Others were kidnapped, or seized without any cause; such, in fact, was the case of Joseph.-5. Others were the chil. dren of slaves, and born in the master's family, Gen. xiv. 14. xv. 3. xvii. 23. xxi. 10. Ps. lxxxvi. 16. cxvi. 16. Jer. ii. 14. Slaves of this latter class were generally treated with more kindness than the others, but there was a great difference between them and the sons of the fami. ly, as the apostle describes, Rom. viii. 15. Gal. iv. 6. Yet their masters put confidence in them, and we find they were often armed in their service; see Gen. xiv. 14. xxxii. 6. xxxij. 1. From the words of Job, xxxi. 13. we may learn that there were some masters who treated their slaves kindly, some such we hope there are even now, but it is to be feared there are many who act otherwise. The honors bestowed upon Joseph and Daniel show that slaves were sometimes advanced to great authority, and it is singular to remark that in Egypt, at the present day, the beys, who rule that country, for the most part have been slaves.
In the law of Moses there are many precepts respecting the treatment of slaves, which show that the divine law was a law of mercy for them : see Exod. xx. 10. xxi. 20, 26, 27. Deut. v. 14. xii. 18. xvi. 11, &c. yet these pre. cepts also show us, that after all, the state of slavery is a hard bondage, and that slaves were often treated unkindly, or such laws would not have been needed.
Hebrews who had been compelled to becomes slaves, were to be set free at the seventh year, unless they chose to continue in the service of their master, Deut. xv. 12. and from Jer. xxxiv. 9, &c. we find that the neglect of this command, was one reason why the Lord delivered the Jewish nation into the hands of their enemies, v.
20. The condition of slaves among the Greeks and Romans was far worse than among
the Jews. There the master could treat them as he pleased, just as a cruel person may now treat any animal he possesses; nay worse, for in our country cruel people are not allowed to torture or injure even beasts. Surely this should show us how much happier it is to live in a land where the true God he says,
is really worshipped, than to live among heathens. At Rome, also, persons who could not pay their debts were sold for slaves, and were used as cruelly as the others.
The apostle Paul often refers to the state and condi. tion of slaves to explain bis meaning and to express it more strongly. Thus he speaks of believers as being the servants of Christ, bound to do the will of their Lord, and to exert themselves in his service. He says,
6 Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's,” 1 Cor. vi. 20. He also refers to the marks with which slaves were branded, when he speaks of the manner in which his body was marked with scars, or other tokens of his sufferings in the cause of Christ :
“I bear in my body the marks of the rd Jesus.”
But let no one suppose that slavery is authorized or approved of by God, because it is thus mentioned in the Bible. Slavery is quite opposed to the character and precepts of the gospel ; the text, 1 Thes. iv. 6. « Let no man go beyond and defraud (oppress or overreach) his brother in any matter,” is sufficient, even if there were no others, to show us that it is not lawful to treat our fel. low creatures as slaves. And in the law as given by Moses it is expressly commanded that man-stealers, those who kidnap others to sell them for slaves, should be put to death. But we also find various precepts addressed to those who were slaves, showing that they were to act as becometh the gospel, which spoke of pardon and salvation for them as well as their masters. Thus we read, 1 Peter ii. 18. “Servants be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle; but also to the froward.” The apostle Paul says, Eph. vi. 5–8. “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that whatsoever good thing any The price
man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, wheth. er he be bond or free.” Remember that these exhorta. tions were not addressed to the slaves of Christian or Jewish masters only, but also to those who were servants of heathens. Nor should christian masters forget the especial injunctions that servants, or slaves, should enjoy the rest of the sabbath, and religious instruction.
Many years since there were slaves in England; they were bought and sold just as the negroes in the West In. dies. A few hundred years ago, men, women, and chil. dren, were exposed for sale on the quay at Bristol, just like cattle or sheep. In the accounts of the abbey of Dun. stable for the year 1283, there is mention made of " our slave by birth, William Pike, and all his family,” being sold for a mark, that is, thirteen shillings and fourpence. It is noticed as any common occurrence. of this man and all his family was not more than about ten pounds sterling at the present day. But you probably have heard that there are no slaves now in England, and have been told that if a slave treads upon English ground he directly becomes free. This has been the case with some poor blacks who have at different times been brought to that country. They became free as soon as the ship arrived.
But, after all, I am sorry to say there ARE MANY SLAVES IN ENGLAND.
" How is this ?” you will exclaim, “ I never heard of any.”—Per. haps so, and yet after all, my reader, you may be a SLAVE YOURSELF. Are you surprised to hear this ?turn to Romans vi. 16. “ Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants (or slaves) ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?” and read on to the end of the chapter. Is there no evil passion or sinful practice to which you often give way or delight in ? Re. member, “No man can serve two masters,
” Matt. vi. 24. Satan is a hard master; turn then to Christ, whose “yoke is easy and whose burden is light,” wbose “com. mandments are not grievious ;” and remember the words of the psalmist, “I will walk at liberty ; FOR I seek thy precepts,” Matt. xi. 30. 1 John v. 3. Psal. cxix. 45.