« PreviousContinue »
The fact, however, is, that the only man who was doomed to labor for another on account of crime, was the thief who was too poor to make restitution, Ex. xxii. 3. We have often wondered that discerning and honest men could quote this as proof that the law of God approved slavery. With equal propriety they might quote the constitution and laws of Ohio as proof that they legalize slaveholding. It is a fundamental article in our constitution that no slavery or involuntary servitude shall be tolerated. Yet in our penitentiary we have hundreds of criminals doomed by our laws and the sentence of the judge, to hard labor as punishment for theft, and other crimes. Suppose another British Fiddler or Trollope were to pass through our land, and report this fact on the other side of the Atlantic. Would any but such a logician as Hamlet's grave digger infer that the state of Ohio is a slave state? Yet the premises in regard to the state of Ohio and the holy land are much alike.
This text is certainly an unfortunate one for the slaveholder. 1st. It proves that appropriating to one's own use a sheep or an ox belonging in the eyes of the law, to a neighbor, is in equity punished by the judges. Much more does it prove, that appropriating to our own use, the body and soul of a neighbor who has not forfeited the right to his own person by crime, is in equity to be punished by the judges. 2. It proves that dooming a man to labor for another is, in God's estimation a punishment a sufficient punishment for a thief and a punishment sufficient to deter others from stealing. It, therefore, proves that slaveholders are inflicting on innocent men and women the thief's punishment; and that those who say that the Africans are happy under it, and that it is favorable to their literary and religious improvement, profess to understand the matter better than their Maker. If the masters, however, are sure that the author of the law of Moses was mistaken, and that they are right, we would advise them to put their slaves through some of the higher grades of punishment, omitting hanging, except in cases where it seemed to be necessary to give the finish to their religious and literary education.
4. By birth. In other words, it was a part of the will of God that if the parents had fallen into the hands of thieves, and had chains on them when the children were born, the children ought to be slaves. We object to this, because it
would follow that all who were born under the political slavery against which our fathers rose in 1775, ought to have continued under it; because it is at war with the principle on which we claim our own freedom, viz :—that all men are created free and equal-and that the right to liberty is universal and inalienable; and because it would follow that those persons to whom the law of Moses was given, having been born of slave parents, were Pharaoh's lawful property, and that the Lord punished him for holding that which was his own according to "the eternal principles of morals." If the wrath of God and man awaits the villain who breaks into an African village, and seizes men and women, are there no stones in Heaven or earth for the wretch who breaks into the hut of a poor slave mother, and seizes her little babe before it opens its eyes?
In the name of all who feel an interest in the instruction of our future ministers and missionaries, we ask-do our professors believe that these five ways of slave making are a part of God's revealed will? That they do propogate such principles when contending with the abolitionists seems unquestionable. But that they consider them worthy of God, and therefore a part of his word, is not even probable. On the contrary the mind of the author of the pamphlet seems to have revolted at such a frightful picture of the law of Moses, and he thus apologizes, not for himself, but for his Maker.
"Moses finding this institution (slavery) among the Hebrews and all surrounding nations, did not abolish it. He enacted laws directing how slaves were to be treated, &c. &c."
This, with some slight alteration, is taken from Jahn; it is the same story by which the Jesuits defended the African slave trade, long ago. To persuade the world that the law of Moses harmonizes, in point of morality, with that nefarious traffic, they represented it as not being a pure law, but the result of a compromise between Moses and some Hebrew and pagan slaveholders. We almost rejoice that our author has copied so closely from Jahn, as scarcely to mention the name of God as concerned in the making of the Sinai covenant; it seems to have been all the work of Moses. But we can scarcely conceive how a Protestant divine could gravely give us this story, without supposing that in his admiration of the writings of the Jesuits, he had swallowed
that favorite dogma-shyness of the Scriptures is favorable to devotion. Let us analyze it.
1. Slaveholding was among the surrounding nations. This we can readily believe. Of course they would not easily consent to the existence of a system, in their neighborhood, calculated to excite discontent and insurrection among their slaves. They had heard that the Lord was angry with Pharaoh for the sin of enslaving; that he had executed judgment upon all the gods of Egypt; that he had emancipated his people by "showing signs and wonders, great and sore upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh and upon all his household," and that he had given to the Hebrews that passover as the pledge that his right arm, in all generations, should be made bare for all that are oppressed. If an abolition meeting, at a thousand miles distance, throws our slave states into confusion and alarm, what must have been the consternation of these nations when they heard that these emancipated slaves had reached Mount Sinai, and that the great and terrible God was about to give them a law which would be a transcript of his own perfections, and in harmony with eternal principles. But the God of Israel quiets their fears of any interference with their domestic institutions, by making slaveholding part of the religion of his own people. And he legalizes five ways of making slaves!--more ways, perhaps, than some of the pagans had ever heard of. Let the young gentlemen remember this when making sermons for the South.
2. Slavery existed among the Hebrews. Now our chil dren in the Sabbath school know that the Israelites received the law fifty days after they had celebrated the passover. They reached Mount Sinai in about forty-seven days after they had left Egypt, escaping from slavery, and a part of the time hotly pursued by their masters. But our young men must believe that they had been so successful in stealing children by the way, or in trading with kidnappers, that when they stood before the Mount to receive the law, they were such inveterate slaveholders that the holy God considered it imprudent to abolish that institution. And to satisfy them that nothing serious against the sin of slavery was meant by the plagues of Egypt, and that in the many threatenings of his law against oppression, more was said than was seriously intended. He declared it to be his holy
will that slaveholding and slavemaking should be continued in five ways! His people had sufficient experience of that domestic institution in the country they had just left; and the prospect which was to cheer up their spirits under all the hardships of the wilderness, was that of soon being in a land where they could have as many slaves as Pharaoh had; or become slaves themselves in five ways--whereas, in Egypt they had enjoyed but one way, by birth.*
Seriously, we ask, is it not high time for all the churches to arise and put away a sin which cannot be defended without such blasphemy of God and his word? Is it not passing strange that with the approbation of those who are most loud in the cry against error and heresy, sentiments should be uttered from our high places, of such infidel and corrupting tendency, leaving out of view the dishonor done to the name of God. Were a Presbyterian minister, intentionally, to prepare his sermons so as to accord with the existing morals of a corrupt church, and the vicious tastes and habits of their ungodly neighbors, he would be solemnly deposed as unworthy of the ministerial office, and as a scandal to the Presbyterian church. What then should we think of imputing such iniquity to the most high God? The truth is defending slavery is a levelling business. Let any man employ himself in degrading to a level with the brutes his fellow men, including some whom the Son of God is not ashamed to call his brethren, and he can soon impute to his Maker things which he would be very unwilling himself to bear. But we do not charge the author of this pamphlet with any intentional impropriety. There is this apology
* Just at the time this pamphlet made its appearance in Pittsburgh, a company of slaves arrived there on their way to Liberia. Various reasons have been assigned for the elopement of a number of them during the night. Some ascribed it to their having imbibed abolition principles from some of the members of the Assembly. Perhaps some of the opposite party had been reading this pamphlet to them. If any of them had taken up the idea that these five ways would be considered sound Biblical literature in Liberia, it is not surprising that fourteen of them decamped during the night. The wonder is that a single soul was remaining by the morning light, excepting the poor old blind woman who could tell nothing about her age, only that she was sixteen years old when Braddock was defeated. We can clear the manager, who had the care of them, of all knowledge of their having seen this defence of slavery. He would have considered it in vain to terrify the community with the threat that they should be ferretted out, and sent back to end their days in slavery. For he must have known that, after such a fright, the most expert man-hunter in Mississippi, with his best pack of bloodhounds, could not catch them till they reached Canada.
for which he will not thank us to write a book to prove that slaveholding is justified by the Bible, without blaspheming God and his word, is among the impossibilities.
In our next, we propose to examine the author's list of
[To be continued.]
ABOLITION, A RELIGIOUS ENTERPRISE.
BY REV. HENRY COWLES, PROFESSOR OF LANGUAGES IN OBERLIN COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE, OHIO.
THE abolition of slavery has a legitimate claim to be regarded as a great religious enterprise. It savors not of fanaticism or intolerance; and the effort to brand it as if it did, is extremely misguided and unjust. It savors not of the selfishness and ambition of a political party scheme-it has no sympathy with such motives--it disdains such measures, and partakes not at all of that spirit. Nor does it hold communion with the wildness of maniac folly or of reckless desperation. It seeks to accomplish a great religious object purely by religious and moral means. It has, of course, a righteous claim to be regarded as a great religious entesprise, and ought to have a place amongst the most purely Christian and Godlike enterprises that have ever called forth the sympathies and energies of the people of God. This may seem to some like bare and bold assertion. Such are invited to the proof. It lies-
1. In the fact that American Slavery is sin. The system of American Slavery is fraught with sin against God and against man. This sin is not merely incidental to it, happening occasionally as an unfortunate perversion of a thing good enough in itself, but it is inwrought into its very nature;-American Slavery cannot exist without sin.What is slavery? Not merely involuntary servitude,-a thing which the law of God may in some circumstances tolerate; but something far beyond this. It is unmaking man hurling an immortal being from his high rank as man down to the rank of a brute, a thing—a mere article of sale and