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BIBLE AGAINST SLAVERY.
The spirit of slavery never seeks shelter in the Bible, of its own accord. It grasps the horns of the altar only in desperation-rushing from the terror of the avenger's arm. Like other unclean spirits, it “hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its deeds should be reproved.” Goaded to phrenzy in its conflicts with conscience and common sense, denied all quarter, and hunted from every covert, it vaults over the sacred inclosure and courses up and down the Bible, “seeking rest, and finding none.” The Law Of Love, glowing on every page, flashes around it an omnipresent anguish and despair. It shrinks from the hated light, and howls under the consuming touch, as demons quailed before the Son of God, and shrieked, “Torment us not.” At last, it slinks away under the types of the Mosaic system, and seeks tp burrow out of sight among their shadows. Vain hope ! Its asylum is its sepulchre ; its city of refuge, the city of destruction. It flies from light into the sun ; from heat, into devouring fire ; and from the voice of God into the thickest of His thunders.
DEFINITION OF SLAVERY.
If we would know whether the Bible sanctions slavery, we must determine what slavery is. A constituent element, is one thing; a relation, another; an appendage, another. Relations and appendages presuppose other things to which they belong. To regard them as the things themselves, or as constituent parts of them, leads to endless fallacies. A great variety of conditions, relations, and tenures,
indispensable to the social state, are confounded with slavery ; and thus slaveholding becomes quite harmless, if not virtuous. We will specify some of these.
1. Privation of suffrage. Then minors are slaves.
3. Taxation without representation. Then slaveholders in the District of Columbia are slaves.
4. Privation of one's oath in law. Then disbelievers in a future retribution are slaves.
5. Privation of trial by jury. Then all in France and Germany are slaves.
6. Being required to support a particular religion. Then the people of England are slaves. [To the preceding may be added all other disabilities, merely political.]
7. Cruelty and oppression. Wives, children, and hired domestics are often oppressed ; but these forms of cruelty are not slavery.
8. Apprenticeship. The rights and duties of master and apprentice are correlative and reciprocal. The claim of each upon the other results from his obligation to the other. Apprenticeship is based on the principle of equivalent for value received. The rights of the apprentice are secured, equally with those of the master. Indeed, while the law is just to the master, it is benevolent to the apprentice. Its main design is rather to benefit the apprentice than the master. It promotes the interests of the former, while in doing it, it guards from injury those of the latter. To the master it secures a mere legal compensation—to the apprentice, both a legal compensation and a virtual gratuity in addition, he being of the two the greatest gainer. The law not only recognizes the right of the apprentice to a reward for his labor, but appoints the wages, and enforces the payment. The master's claim covers only the services of the apprentice. The apprentice's claim covers equally the services of the master. Neither can hold the other as property ; but each holds property in the services of the other, and BOTH EQUALLY, Is this slavery ?
9. Filial subordination and parental claims. Both are nature's dictates and intrinsic elements of the social state; the natural affections which blend parent and child in one, excite each to discharge those offices incidental to the relation, and constitute a shield for mutual protection. The parent's legal claim to the child's services, while a minor, is a slight return for the care and toil of his rearing,
to say nothing of outlays for support and education. This provision is, with the mass of mankind, indispensable to the preservation of the family state. The child, in helping his parents, helps himself—increases a common stock, in which he has a share ; while his most faithful services do but acknowledge a debt that money cannot cancel.
10. Bondage for crime. Must innocence be punished because guilt suffers penalties? True, the criminal works for the government without pay; and well he may. He owes the government. A century's work would not pay its drafts on him. He is a public defaulter, and will die so. Because laws make men pay their debts, shall those be forced to pay who owe nothing ? The law makes no criminal, PROPERTY. It restrains his liberty, and makes him pay something, a mere penny in the pound, of his debt to the government; but it does not make him a chattel. Test it. To own property, is to own its product. Are children born of convicts, government property ? Besides, can property be guilty ? Are chattels punished ?
11. Restraints upon freedom. Children are restrained by parentspupils, by teachers-patients, by physicians—corporations, by charters—and legislatures, by constitutions. Embargoes, tariffs, quarantine, and all other laws, keep men from doing as they please. Restraints are the web of society, warp.and woof. Are they slavery? then civilized society is a giant slave—a government of Law, the. climax of slavery, and its executive, a king among slaveholders.
12. Compulsory service. A juryman is empannelled against his will, and sit he must. A sheriff orders his posse ; bystanders must turn in. Men are compelled to remove nuisances, pay fines and taxes, support their families, and “turn to the right as the law directs," however much against their wills. Are they therefore slaves ? To confound slavery with involuntary service is absurd. Slavery is a condition. The slave's feelings toward it, are one thing; the condition itself, is another thing; his feelings cannot alter the nature of that condition. Whether he desires or detests it, the condition remains the same. The slave's willingness to be a slave is no palliation of the slaveholder's guilt. Suppose the slave should think himself a chattel, and consent to be so regarded by others, does that make him a chattel, or make those guiltless who hold him as such? I may be sick of life, and I tell the assassin so that stabs me; is he any the less a murderer? Does my consent to his crime, atone for it? my partnership in his guilt, blot out his part of it? The
Th. If Abraham's service was slavery, his servants had an easy method of emancipating themselves. It was but to refuse a compliance with some of the religious obligations which his family were required to observe, and they would at once be excluded from his family, and turned out of his house. No, they must have been substantially like the servants of whom the apostle speaks. "Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all.” Of course, the servant differs nothing from a child in his minority. But as a child in his minority is very different froin a slave, so also the servitude which is authorized by the Scriptures is very different from slavery,
Man But Moses found slavery in existence, and made laws to regulate it.
Th. Muses found a system of servitude in existence, not slavery, and made laws to regulate it which are not found in modern slave countries. Servants could make intermarriages with other members of the family, and become heirs with the children. “A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren.” Servants were not allowed to be separated from their wives and children; they were invited guests at all the national and family festivals of the household in which they resided; they were under the same religious instruction, and under the same civil laws with their masters. There was not one law for the master, and another for the servant, as in all slave countries. Servants might be parties to a suit at law for the recovery of their rights, and they could give testimony in courts of justice where masters were concerned.
Man. But Moses says: “Both thy bondmen and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids--they shall be your bondmen forever.” is not that authority to buy slaves?
Th. The word rendered bondmen signifies servants; the word rendered buy signifies procure. And we are not obliged by the language, when divested of the wrong ideas derived from our familiarity with slavery, to understand it as meaning any more than this: “ Both thy male and female servants, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; (and not of your Hebrew brethren;) of them shall ye procure men servants and maid servants-of such shall be your permanent servants in all ages.”
Ard. Did Moses authorize the buying and selling of slaves?
Th. The institutions of Moses provide for persons selling themselves to be servants, that is, hiring themselves out to be permanent servants, for a sum paid in advance; and also for fathers selling their daughters to be wives, and thus providing them with a dowry. But there seems to be no trace of any toleration of slave "trading. The possibility that such a thing might be atternpted, appears to be provided for. “He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.” Man. Were not the Israelites slaves in Egypt?”
Th. They were under great oppression there, for which their oppressors were severely punished; but not slaves according to your definition. They resided by themselves in the land of Goshen, in permanent dwellings, in their own distinct aud separate families. *They held their possessions independently, and owned a large amount of property, which does not appear to have been claimed by their masters. They kept arms, and were fully equipped when they left Egypt. They had their own government, and laws, and magistrates, They appear to have been called out, a given portion of the men at a time, to labor in the public works. And the great oppression consisted in their being required to perform too much labor for the king. They appear to have had time to learn and practise several of the fine arts. There is no complaint that their women were subject to any personal outrages, nor to any species of cruel treatment, save that which Pharaoh judged to be necessary for his own safety, the destruction of their male children. They were abundantly supplied with the necessaries and comforts of life, as they afterwards alleged in their complaints when in the wilderness. Instead ef being allowed “a quart of corn a day,” as some slave-holding states now provide, they “sat by the flesh pots, and did eat bread to the full.” They also did “eat fish freely, and cucumbers, and melons, and leeks, and onions, and garlic.” No restrictions seem to have been placed on their intellectnal and moral improvement, or the free exercise of their religion, till they asked leave to go away in a body three days' journey into the wilderness, with all they possessed. And then the king seems to have refused chiefly from the fear that they would not return. If such was the bondage of Egypt, so decidedly condemned, and so severely punished; if it was so mild, compared with modern slavery; is it credible that God would authorize any thing like modern slavery, among a people whom he so abundantly enjoins not to oppress the stranger, nor to forget that they had been strangers in the land of Egypt? I cannot think it credible.
Ard. And then, there was a year of jubilee, of which it is said: “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof."
Th. And there was another direction, which the modern advocates of slavery do not like to have us obey. "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee."
Man. You had better take care what you do, when you are within the reach of slaveholders.
Th. We mean to obey God, in relation !o this matter, as well as all others; and bear testimony against oppression and cruelty. And we do not think you have any right to complain of us for doing so.