Page images

tain, but owing to his extreme youth, he was permitted to go where he pleased without being exchanged or released. Is it true that we have exalted to the presidency, not a freeman, but an Englishman's slave? Suppose the soldier who took him prisoner should recognize him in the streets of Washington, and yoke him as his property, to some of the coffles that are driven by the capitol daily, to the tune of "Hail Columbia." Would the word of God, and the "eternal principles of morals" bear him through? It seems our seminaries are furnished with long lists of texts to defend such morality.

When we examine the moral tendency of a license to en slave captives we are equally puzzled to see why it should be given, unless we admit, as we are told in this pamphlet, that the existence of "this institution (slavery) among the surrounding nations," induced Moses not to abolish it. If the author of the Sinai Covenant was under the necessity of consulting the tastes of these pagan nations, the permission to enslave as many of them as they could capture, was well calculated to reconcile them to the existence of such a people, and such a religion in their neighborhood. And as the obvious tendency would be, to make the Hebrews fight desperately, it would go far towards recommending them to the favor of the pagan gods. Mars, the god of war, was supposed to look with supreme delight on the bully who could fight like a tiger. But we are sorry to see our author so soon abandon the ground that we must not "bring the Mosaic institutions into conflict with the eternal principles of morals."

2. By purchase. One would think, the lawfulness of holding men by purchase would depend on the questionwho sold them, and what right had he to do it? Our laws allow us to hold horses by purchase. But the man who buys a horse knowing him to be stolen, is, by the court of heaven, and by every court under heaven, classed with the thief. A minister who would preach that it is right to own bought horses, irrespective of the manner in which the seller obtained them, would soon find himself in want of a place. A congregation of horse-thieves would not employ him; for though they might be willing to be villains themselves, they would insist upon it, that the minister ought to be a decent

man. The punishment, by the law of Moses, for him who made property of a man, was death.

It is sometimes troublesome to prove a negative. Our author has given a list of texts, not one of which, has any connexion with slave selling. A thief could be sold by the sentence of a judge, but that is the fourth way of slave making, and must not be confounded with this second way by purchase. It is admitted that a father could sell his daughter to the man who betrothed her for a wife; that a Hebrew could sell himself for six years; and a pious stranger could sell himself until the jubilee. But this is nothing to the purpose. Abolitionists have in vain challenged the host of their opposers to produce the text which authorizes one man to sell another as a slave. It is insulting the understanding of the community by a most pitiful shuffle, to point to texts which authorized men voluntarily to sell their own services for a limited time. Such sales take place in every free country, and have been pronounced lawful without a dissenting voice from time immemorial. We have German servants in Ohio, at this moment, where slavery and involuntary servitude are not tolerated. Such servants, from Britain, bought with money, were to be found in all our states until slavery made such servitude disreputable. We take for granted, that, by slavery, our author does not mean voluntary and limited and requited servitude. This would be as unfortunate a blunder as that of the hero who fought with windmills and fulling mills, under the notion that he was battleing with giants.

We are willing to prove a negative. We shall show that it was contrary to the law of God by Moses, for one man to sell another as a slave. We shall not do it by an endless list of those texts which are utterly irreconcilable with such iniquity. Happily for our purpose God has recorded, with the proper judgment, a case which brings the principle fairly before us. We might search in vain the whole history of the traffic in human bodies, for a case conducted more fairly and honorably on both sides, than the sale of Joseph. The sellers were reasonable as to the price. He was a goodly child, yet they asked but twenty pieces of silver. They concealed none of his faults, not even his ugly habit of dreaming, The purchaser paid the money down. And as to apologies. they swarmed like the lice in Egypt. If being professors of

religion, and descended of pious parents, must screen the sellers from the charge of manstealing-if saving the person sold from hardships, and even death, will excuse the purchasers-if the fact that God overrules the whole transaction to the advancement of his glory, and the ultimate good of many will canonize the deed, the sale of Joseph was a very pious affair. But Joseph says-Indeed I was stolen. And God has recorded that judgment in his book, that he who reads may understand?

But let us take a case still more favorable to our opponents. Our missionaries tell us of a region in India where parents in a time of famine sold their children. The pious English families, to save them from destruction, bought them and established schools and hired teachers to instruct them in literature and religion. Suppose the next ship should bring us news that missionaries, initiated into the five ways, had convinced those benevolent families that making slaves by purchase is according to the word of God, and that they have resolved to hold these children as their property. A burst of indignation from the whole civilized world would be the result. Every church on earth, from which the glory has not departed, would pray with uplifted hands--"From all theological seminaries and from all missionaries who teach, we are taught to believe, that making slaves by purchase is right in the sight of Heaven, the good Lord deliver us." The Professors in the Seminary at Princeton would be the foremost to pronounce the report a base slander. And they would do it in the absence of all proof excepting the known piety of the missionaries. That is, they would say the young men had too much sense and piety to believe the instructions they had received from their teachers. Until those Professors shall announce that they are able to believe their own expositions of the word of God, when fairly applied, they must excuse us for not believing.

3. By the right of creditorship. In other words, if a poor man, or widow, or fatherless child were, through imprudence or affliction, involved in debt and unable to pay, it was the privilege of the creditor to sieze and enslave that poor man, or widow, or fatherless child. To the honor of the author, we notice that he has quoted no text as proof; but we think it would have been still more to his credit had he omitted the doctrine itself. As it is taken, however, from

Jahn, who has quoted two texts as proof, we feel bound to examine them.

Mr. Jahn, and the Jesuits who preceded him, quote 2 Kings, iv. 1—a case which occurred among the apostate ten tribes under the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. A pious prophet, who had been driven from his post to make way for more convenient tools in wickedness, had died in debt. And just as Elisha arrived at the house of his widow, directed thither by the unseen hand of God, in perfect keeping with the spirit of those ungodly times, the creditor arrived to tear from her two fatherless children to doom them to slavery. Could Jezebel have found a professor of Biblical literature willing to hold up such diabolical cruelty, as a sample of the law of Moses, she would have established seminaries in every corner of the land, and entertained the professors by the thousand at her own table. The other text quoted is. Matt. xviii. 25. Our Saviour alludes for illustration, not to the law of Moses, but to the conduct of a certain king who commnded a poor creditor to be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had. To make it bear on the law of Moses it is assumed that those characters to whom our Saviour alludes for illustration, must be such as the law approves! in face of the fact that he sometimes quotes for illustration, a steward who was unjust, and a judge who feared not God neither regarded man. And the doctrine which they wish thus to establish is one which no righteous man can think of without horror. Historians say that such morality, in reference to poor creditors, is considered infamous on the coast of Guinea. "Another oppressive law peculiar to the Fantee country deserves to be noticed as demonstrating the baneful effect of the same odious trade in human beings. If a person became involved in debt, and either unable or unwilling to pay, the creditor was at liberty to 'panyar;' that is, to sieze and confine any person or persons belonging to the family, or the town, or even the country of the debtor; and these captives, if opportunity offered, were sold as slaves without any delay or ceremony."-Encyclo. Art. Guinea. Should our missionaries be trained to believe in slavery by the right of creditorship, such a custom will not long be peculiar to Fantee.

Had any intelligent farmer asserted, as the result of his examination of the law of Moses, that it licensed making

slaves of poor men because they were unable to pay their debts, we should not have known how to excuse him. But we have learned to make great allowance for professors in theological seminaries. The truth is, they are so busily engaged in teaching the young men theology, that they have not time to study their Bibles. On no other principle can we account for the ignorance betrayed in this pamphlet, of the following regulations, by the law of Moses, all of which are utterly irreconcilable with distressing a poor creditor. Every seventh year the atonement released all the poor, foreigners excepted, from debt, Deut. xv. 1-12. If a brother, yea though he be a stranger, had fallen into decay, the nation were required to relieve him with money and victuals without increase, Lev. xxv. 35-39. Under pain of God's displeasure, they were forbidden to refuse lending through fear of having to forgive the debt in the seventh year. "Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart saying, the seventh year, the year of release is at hand," &c. Deut. xv. 9, 10.

We have only to apply the principle, in question, to be frightened with it. Suppose that the present war by our theological professors on the abolitionists, contrary to all calculation, should be unsuccessful, and that the funds of semi naries should fail, and the professors become unable to pay their debts, would it harmonize with "the eternal principles of morals" to seize them as property? We question whether it would be possible to conduct a drove of them through the state of Virginia without an insurrection. Even the slaves of Southampton would rise again at the sight of such injustice and cruelty. Again, suppose that some of our missionaries educated at Princeton, should write home that they are acting on the principle of slavery by right of creditorship; and that in consequence of many of their neighbors being unable to pay for food and clothing obtained in a time of great scarcity, they have become the owners of many slaves. Would our professors be willing to own it as the fruit of their instructions? Would they not say that such conduct was at war with the eternal principles of rectitude as revealed in the word of God?

4. By the sentence of a judge. This phrase seems to say that men for several crimes were doomed to slavery; and that, so far, the holy land was like the coast of Guinea.

« PreviousContinue »