« PreviousContinue »
the sentence of a judge, by birth, but not by seizing those who were free, &c."
This with some verbal alteration, is the stereotyped account of the law of Moses, by the Jesuits, when the Pope piped "all hands" to his defence in making the African slave trade a divine institution. It is evidently taken from Jahn on Archeology, a favorite author in our seminaries, a thorough Papist, in whose writings are to be found the substance of nearly all the Scripture arguments advanced in favor of slavery by pope's and protestant divines, during the last four hundred years. We do not mention this as proof, or even presumption that the five ways are founded on a false exposition of the law of Moses. But in the prospect of being shortly constrained to renounce fellowship with Congregationalists, and some Presbyterians, to preserve our faith and morals in their purity; it is important the churches whom we wish to take with us, should know that there are others of different names and on different continents, with whom we agree. Mr. Jahn's ways of slaveholding are as follows.
1. By captivity in war. 2. Debts. 3. Thefts. 4. Manstealing. 5. Children of slaves. 6. By purchase. He insists that the laws against manstealing were restricted in their operations to those who made slaves of Hebrews.
We can hardly believe that Mr. Jahn and the Jesuits who preceded him, adopted these five ways of turning human beings into property, as the result of prayerful and successful study of the Word of God; for it seems they had just enough of Bible knowledge to spend their hours of devotion in counting beads and worshipping the Virgin Mary! The truth is, they are just so many props invented originally for the special purpose of supporting the African slave trade; and handed down to us as holy institutions given to the church at Mount Sinai. And we are indebted for them to the same kind of men who used to sell quills out of the wings of the angel Gabriel. As proof, we need only mention the fact that no exposition ever gave such a view of the law of Moses, prior to the commencement of the slave trade.
If this pamphlet be a fair sample of the instruction which our young men receive at Princeton; so far as servitude and human rights are concerned, they are not a hair's breadth
in advance of the morality which prevails on the coast of Guinea, and in all those petty kingdoms and hordes in Africa where the slave trade is in operation. No one will ask for the proof that in those regions, they enslave captives, and those who are born of slave parents. But there may be sceptics as to the other three ways. With all that we have heard of the brutalized condition of Africa, we may not all be prepared to believe that the poor man who cannot pay his debts, and he who has committed a crime and he whose neighbor is mean and wicked enough to sell him, are all punished with slavery. Any full history of Africa or the slave trade will furnish the proof. In the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, in the articles Ardrah, Dahomy, Angola, and Guinea, we find the following accounts.-" Persons who are insolvent are sold at the pleasure of their creditors-When a man is accused of crime he is condemned to slavery.During the continuance of the slave trade, the most trifling offences were every where examined with the utmost strictness, and almost every punishment was commuted into slavery. In all ages, and in all countries, slavery has been as fatal to virtue, as liberty is friendly to it. The day, says Homer, that makes a man a slave, takes away half his virtue. Husbands sell their wives, parents their children; friends and neighbors are tempted to betray each other for the trifling reward of a little brandy, or for a mere bauble. Not only do the avaricious governors exact, with the utmost rapacity, the severest tribute from the poor natives, but even make their inability to pay, a pretext for condemning the richest families to slavery.
How shall we account for it, that the untutored savages of Guinea have attained to the same perfection in the moral system of turning bodies and souls into property, as the Professors in our Theological seminaries with all the aids of revelation and science. Shall we ascribe it to the superiority of African intellect? No; our professors say they obtained theirs by diligently studying the Word of God. The Africans obtained theirs by intercourse with some worthless foreigners who taught them to make money by setting up a traffick in human bodies; and then the five ways became as necessary to its support as air is to breathing.
We have one question to ask of the author of the "view of slavery"; and unless it can be answered satisfactorily to
the churches it requires no spirit of prophecy to say, that the days of Princeton seminary are numbered. Does the Professor of Biblical Literature believe that these five ways of making men slaves are a part of the whole counsel of God as revealed in the law of God by Moses, and are they a part of the Biblical instruction by which he is preparing our Missionaries for foreign lands? If so-we may expect to hear that through their labors, the slave trade in Africa is reviving that the missionary and his wife are trading with kidnappers, and storming the towns and hamlets around them, in imitation of what they tell us was the example of Abraham and Sarah in Haran, when preparing to go to the promised land. We may soon hear that he is at the head of his 318 slaves, armed and trained to war, bidding defiance to the petty kings around him, and occasionally pursuing and slaughtering them for practicing the divine principle of slavery by captivity. But perhaps these five ways are not taught in the seminary as a part of the word God. Perhaps their publication was only a prudent maneuvre for the purpose of abashing the abolitionists, and preserving the union of northern and southern supporters of the institution. This is the most charitable supposition we can make. If so-how long will the Head of the church smile on a seminary which resorts to such measures to secure popularity. Let us examine these ways of making slaves.
1. By captivity. It is passing strange that men devoted to the study of the Scriptures should be so far in the rear as to imagine that making slaves of captives in war, was licensed in the Jewish church; and that such a license should be placed among the institutions in harmony with the "eternal principles of morals." The Jews were not permitted to make prisoners of any of the seven nations whose land was given them for a possession "Of the cities of these people which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth; but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely the Hittites and the Amorites, &c." Deut. xx. 16. Fond as some men are of slaves, they would not have such as could not breathe. The remaining question is, how were they to treat the other nations called the "nations round about" and the "nations afar off." When they came nigh to a city they were to proclaim peace to it.
If peace were accepted, they were to serve Israel as tributaries. If not they were to smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword, and take home the women and little ones. Deut. xx, 10, 11. It was to blast in the bud every thing like a disposition to enslave them, that God said, "Ye shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." From the simple fact that they might take home those widows and children, some theolologians infer that they were to be slaves. The inference supposes that in a land governed by a divine law, where God himself is the chief magistrate, there can be no alternative for the widow and her fatherless children, but starvation or slavery! It also betrays gross ignorance of the laws of Moses. We can hardly excuse a professor of Biblical literature for not knowing that a tythe was taken up every third year for their relief and the support of the Levites; and the gleanings of every harvest and vintage, and the privilege of going into any field or vineyard to eat when hungry, were secured to them expressly by law.
But the question is expressly decided by two inspired men, one under the old dispensation, the other under the new. When Obed, a prophet of the Lord, heard that the Israelites were bringing home captives for slaves, he met them and convinced them that it was such a flagrant viola tion of the law as would unquestionably bring the wrath of Heaven upon them. And with all the wickedness of these apostate ten tribes, they were stricken with remorse, and after clothing and treating the persons most kindly, they sent them home to their brethren, 2 Chron. xxviii. 8-15. Tell us not that the captives in this instance were their brethren, and that if they had been strangers God would have approved it. That maxim-the heathen are nobody-is the chief corner stone on which the Pope built the African slave trade; but it is equally at war with humanity and those terrible threatenings of the law against those who vex the stranger. The other decision is by the apostle Paul. The name, in Xenophon and other Greek writers, for the slave by captivity is Andrapodon. Of course, andrapodistes is the name of the enslaver. But the apostle classes the an
drapodistes (translated manstealer) with murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers and others, for whose punishment the law of Moses expressly provides, 1 Tim. i. 10.
Let no one say that although the Jews could not take captives and enslave them without sinning, they might hire their neighbors to do it for them. Our professors are not prepared to defend such morality, even when they find it in Jahn. It would suit the meridian of Madrid, where no gentleman need keep a stiletto because he can at any time hire an assassin to take a neighbor's life for a mere bauble. Besides, if the slave, while the bargain was in making, should raise the cry for help, the whole nation was bound to protect him against his master, (Deut. xxiii. 15,) and see to his freedom. It is evident also that the statute which required every servant bought with money to be circumcised and admitted to the passover, (Gen. xvii. 13; Ex. xii. 44,) never contemplated the erection of shambles in the Holy Land for the sale of heathens who had experienced no conversion to fit them for holy ordinances, excepting that of being beaten in a military fight.
This slavery by captivity is as shocking to humanity and common sense, as it is contrary to the word of God. It is admitted in the paragraph under consideration that "seizing on those who were free was an offence punished with death." Suppose then that the two parties are equally free when they join battle; and the strong man, of course, overpowers the weak. Now what wizard influence is there, in such a process, which strips the weak man of his inalienable rights, and justifies the other in doing that for which, one hour before, he would have been condemned by the laws of both God and men to be hanged by the neck till he was dead? Unless we can find a command of God for it, we must pronounce it absurd. Have any of the nations of Europe acted on this principle in their wars during the century past? The truth is, there is not a christian on earth who ever pretends to believe it to be right, excepting when the freedom of the African is opposed.
Let us apply the principle to a case during our revolutinoary war, of which, the following is believed to be in substance a correct history. Our venerable President Andrew Jackson was taken prisoner at the battle of King's moun