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slave. And with frightful consistency, he assures us that the phrase, (Rom. vi. 22,) “Become servants to God," ought to be, become slaves to God! To keep the South in good spirits, we must believe not only that Abraham kept slaves, but that our blessed Saviour was a slaveholder! Of course heaven must be, on a larger scale, like one of those establishments which line the shores of the Mississippi. When they find a text which recognizes masters or servants, they consider it triumphant.
First. It will prove that every country in Christendom is a slave region. On every farm in Great Britain there are servants. Every statute and every instrument of writing which obligates tenants, and keepers of cattle, &c., calls them servants, and their landlord or employer master. Is Great Britain a slave region? And in our own country every white apprentice is, in his indenture, called a servant. Is he a slave ?
Second. It will prove that slavery is the only kind of servitude which the Scriptures approve. At one "fell swoop," it would unchurch the professors at Princeton, and every master and servant in our free states. If the term servant, of itself, and necessarily, signifies a slave, it follows not only that the kingdom of God has always been like the kingdom of the devil, in regard to servitude and personal rights, but that voluntary and requited servitude is a modern innovation, for which there is neither precedent nor example in Holy Writ; and therefore it is at least doubtful whether a voluntary servant and the master, who pays him wages, ought to be received into the Church. For if inspired men always passed them by unnoticed-if those whom they instruct and recognize as believers were slaves and slavemasters exclusively, where shall we find example for admitting the voluntary servant and his master, till they qualify themselves by slavery? Thus the assumption in question leads to the conclusion, not that God tolerated slavery, but that he tolerated nothing else.
On the other hand, to assume that the term servant never means a slave would be equally absurd. It would suppose that either there were no slaves in the neighborhood of the Church, or that the inspired writers never had occasion to speak of them-either of which would be contrary to fact.
The same word (obed) properly rendered a servant, (and sometimes very improperly translated bondmen and bondservant) is the term used to express either a servant or a slave.
Here the important inquiry arises, How shall we know when the term servant means a servant in the good sense, and when it means a slave? The rule is simple, and easily applied. When it is used in reference to one in the Church or kingdom of God, under his law of love, it means one who labors voluntarily for wages; but when it is used in reference to the kingdom of Satan, where the law of love has no place it means a slave. The fact that the law of Moses uses the word servant only; and that there was no necessity for one which of itself means a slave, is important. It shows that both slaves and servants never were allowed in God's kingdom. The history of our own country illustrates this matter.
In one half of our states we have slaves, in the other servants only. The consequence is, many persons have ceased to use the term slaves, both in writing and conversation. It is not necessary. When we hear of the servants in Virginia, and the servants in Pennsylvania, every body understands it. But a little more than half a century since it was otherwise. In Virginia, besides slaves, there were also servants-poor men from Germany and Britain, who, to pay their passage across the ocean, and procure something to commence business with, had sold themselves for a term of years, for what they considered a fair compensation for their services. In the meantime both slavery and servitude existed in Pennsylvania. In this state of things there was necessity for the term slaves, as well as servants. No two neighbors could understand each other without them both. But slavery, (as it does in every country where it exists,) soon banished voluntary servitude from Virginia and other states, principally by making it disreputable. In the mean time, through the labors of such Abolitionists as Dr. Franklin, slavery was banished from Pennsylvania and some other states. The result was, the word slave began to be laid aside.. It now creates no difficulty or confusion to hear of the servants in any part of the Union provided we know to what state the speaker has reference.
So it was in the Holy Land, and the region round about. There were but two kingdoms-the kingdom of God, including the house of Israel in the Holy Land, and the kingdom of Satan, embracing all the heathen nations on earth. These kingdoms were separated by a line more deep and broad than that which separates Ohio and Kentucky. On one side God was the chief magistrate; on the other the prince of darkness. The principles and laws by which these kingdoms were governed were as unlike and opposite as heaven and hell. Where inspired writers, therefore, speak of servants, there is no difficulty in understanding them, provided we know to which of these kingdoms they have reference.
We shall illustrate this by disposing of one of the texts quoted, "as to the manner of treating slaves." It is Exod. xx. 10, where the Lord, in the fourth commandment, forbids masters to require or permit their servants to profane the Sabbath. Let us place by the side of it Deut. xxiii. 15, where Israelites are required to protect every servant escaping to them from his master. The man whom the Lord allows an Israelite to hold is (obed) a servant; so is the man, escaping from his master, whom the nation is to protect at all hazards. From the mere fact that the one is in the kingdom of God, under a law framed in heaven, and calculated to promote his present and eternal happiness, we know that he is a servant laboring voluntarily for a man who is bound to give him just wages. Here God approves the relation. But from the mere fact that the other is from the devil, where present rights are disregarded, and where the regulations of servitude are as wicked as devils and bad men would have them, we know that he was a slave. Hence the nation is required to protect him. The same God who required them to restore to an enemy a stray ox or an ass (Exod. xxiii. 4,) forbade them to restore a runaway slave. An ox or ass is lawful property. But to hold a man as property is a damning sin; and Israel must not wink at it, though it should involve them in war with their slaveholding neighbors.*
*A man found guilty of assisting a slaveholder to catch a runaway, or refusing to assist him to escape from his master, would have been excommunicated from the Jewish Church. The same man, remaining impenitent, will be excluded from the Christian Church, just as soon as "the Mosaic institutions are recognized as in harmony with eternal principles."
Were we to hear from such Biblical scholars as some of our southern governors that in the word servant there is sufficient proof that the Holy Land was a slave region; and that the fourth commandment requires and regulates slavery, we could bear it. But woe worth the day! is this the Biblical instruction which our youth are drinking in at Princeton?
But we are told—Abraham bought his servants. True; and in no other way can a man lawfully become the master of servants-all that has been said about the "five ways" to the contrary notwithstanding. Many good men have bought servants, who for "all the kingdoms of the world. and the glory of them," would not be concerned in the sale or purchase of a slave.
Here again another absurd principle is assumed, viz :— that buying a man, necessarily means, not buying him of himself as Jacob was bought by Laban, or as Joseph bought the Egyptians for servants to Pharaoh, but buying him of some third person as Potiphar bought Joseph of the Ishmaelites. Even if this were true, it would not lead to the conclusion that God tolerated slavery; but to the tremendous conclusion that slavery is the only kind of servitude for which there is example in the Bible. Of course those farmers who used to buy servants from Europe, sinned against God and their neighbor. But slave-buyers in the south are sustained by the example of the purest men in the Old Testament church.
He must be remarkably unacquainted with his Bible, who does not know that buying a man sometimes means, securing a right to his services for a limited time by paying him a price; and sometimes it means buying him of some neighbor who claims the right to dispose of him as property. In other words, sometimes it means buying a servant in the good sense of the term; and sometimes it means buying a slave. And the meaning of the phrase is always to be determined by the simple question, Who sold him? In this way we decide whether buying any thing is right. We are told in the book of Psalms that Jacob served; and that Joseph was sold for a servant. They were both bought, and they both served. It was not necessary to tell us which was a servant, and which the slave; for we all know that Jacob sold himself; and Joseph was sold by others without
his consent. To buy corn of its lawful owners is right. But to buy it of thieves is to partake with them in the guilt of stealing. Jacob sent his sons into Egypt to buy corn. His character and the fact that God approved it rebukes the insinuation that he sent his children to trade with thieves. Abraham bought the services of men and women; and the advocates of slavery take it for granted that he did not buy them of themselves, and that God approved it. How does it come that Jacob and Abraham fare so differently? Happily for Jacob, we have no legalized system of cornstealing, for the defence of which it is necessary to sacrifice his character. But unhappily for Abraham, we have a system of manstealing which cannot be sustained without libels on his character, and the character of the God whom he served.
There are two ways of buying servants. Let us look at them, and see which comports best with the revealed will of the Holy One.
1. They are sometimes bought of some neighbor who for a certain sum gives the purchaser a license to make them work without wages. Thus they are bought on the coast of Guinea, and all those dark regions where devil worship prevails. Thus Potiphar obtained his Hebrew slave. God has recorded that he was stolen; and when he gave his law by Moses, he required that every manstealer should be put to death.
2. Servants are sometimes bought by paying them what they consider a fair compensation for their services, and taking their obligation to serve for a limited term. In this way Jacob, and the Egyptians were bought; and this is the way contemplated by the law of Moses. Hence we hear incidentally the phrase, If thy brother wax poor and sell himself, Lev. xxv. 47. This way of buying servants has this great convenience there is no fraud, no injustice, no cruelty, no oppression connected with it. All parties are pleased; all are partakers of the benefit. It is a transaction which the purest mind in the universe can contemplate with pleasure.
We have two questions to ask the author of the article in the Repertory. Which of these ways does the devil most approve? Your knowledge of the elevation of that wicked one, and of the whole history of his reign, compels you to say the first. Again-which of these ways comports best