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'testimony?" First, the moral law. Just after the Israelites were emancipated from their bondage in Egypt, while they stood before Sinai to receive the law, as the trumpet waxed louder, and the mount quaked and blazed, God spake the ten commandments from the midst of clouds and thunderings. Two of those commandments deal death to slavery. "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL," or, "thou shalt not take from another what belongs to him." All man's powers are God's gift to him. That they are his own, is proved from the fact that God has given them to him alone,-that each of them is a part of himself, and all of them together constitute himself. All else that belongs to man, is acquired by the use of these powers. The interest belongs to him, because the principal does; the product is his, because he is the producer. Ownership of any thing, is ownership of its use. The right to use according to will, is itself ownership. The eighth commandment presupposes and assumes the right of every man to his powers, and their product. Slavery robs of both. A man's right to himself, is the only right absolutely original and intrinsic-his right to whatever else that belongs to him is merely relative to this, is derived from it, and held only by virtue of it. SELF-RIGHT is the foundation right—the post in the middle, to which all other rights are fastened. Slaveholders, when talking about their RIGHT to their slaves, always assume their own right to themselves. What slaveholder ever undertook to prove his right to himself? He knows it to be a self-evident proposition, that a man belongs to himself—that the right is intrinsic and absolute. In making out his own title, he makes out the title of every human being. As the fact of being a man is itself the title, the whole human family have one common title deed. If one man's title is valid, all are valid. If one is worthless, all are. To deny the validity of the slave's title is to deny the validity of his own; and yet in the act of making a man a slave, the slaveholder asserts the validity of his own title, while he seizes him as his property who has the same title. Further, in making him a slave, he does not merely disfranchise the humanity of one individual, but of UNIVERSAL MAN. He destroys the foundations. He annihilates all rights. He attacks not only the human race, but universal
such as polygamy and concubinage, are entered on the record without censure. Is that silent entry God's endorsement? Because the Bible in its catalogue of human actions, does not stamp on every crime its name and number, and write against it, this is a crime-does that wash out its guilt, and bleach into a virtue?
being, and rushes upon JEHOVAH. For rights are rights; God's are
no more-man's are no less.
The eighth commandment forbids the taking of any part of that which belongs to another. Slavery takes the whole. Does the same Bible which prohibits the taking of any thing from him, sanction the taking of every thing? Does it thunder wrath against him who robs his neighbor of a cent, yet bid God speed to him who robs his neighbor of himself? Slaveholding is the highest possible violation of the eighth commandment. To take from a man his earnings, is theft. But to take the earner, is a compound, life-long theft-supreme robbery, that vaults up the climax at a leap-the dread, terrific, giant robbery, that towers among other robberies a solitary horror, monarch of the realm. The eighth commandment forbids the taking away, and the tenth adds, THOU SHALT NOT COVET ANY THING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOR's;" thus guarding every man's right to himself and his property, by making not only the actual taking away a sin, but even that state of mind which would tempt to it. Who ever made human beings slaves, without coveting them? Why take from them their time, labor, liberty, right of self-preservation and improvement, their right to acquire property, to worship according to conscience, to search the Scriptures, to live with their families, and their right to their own bodies, if they do not desire them? They coVET them for purposes of gain, convenience, lust of dominion, of sensual gratification, of pride and ostentation. THEY BREAK THE TENTH COMMANDMENT, and pluck down upon their heads the plagues that are written in the book.Ten commandments constitute the brief compend of human duty.— Two of these brand slavery as sin.
The giving of the law at Sinai, immediately preceded the promulgation of that body of laws called the "Mosaic system." Over the gateway of that system, fearful words were written by the finger of God-"HE THAT STEALETH A MAN AND SELLETH HIM, OR IF HE BE FOUND IN HIS HAND, HE SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH." Ex. xxi. 16.
The oppression of the Israelites in Egypt, and the wonders wrought for their deliverance, proclaim the reason for such a law at such a time—when the body politic became a theocracy, and reverently waited for the will of God. They had just been emancipated. The tragedies of their house of bondage were the realities of yesterday, and peopled their memories with thronging horrors. They had just
witnessed God's testimony against oppression in the plagues of Egypt-the burning blains on man and beast-the dust quickened into loathsome life, and swarming upon every living thing-the streets, the palaces, the temples, and every house heaped up with the carcases of things abhorred-the kneading troughs and ovens, the secret chambers and the couches, reeking and dissolving with the putrid death-the pestilence walking in darkness at noonday, the devouring locusts, and hail mingled with fire, the first-born death-struck, and the waters blood, and last of all, that dread high hand and stretched-out arm, that whelmed the monarch and his hosts, and strewed their corpses on the sea. All this their eyes had looked upon,earth's proudest city, wasted and thunder-scarred, lying in desolation, and the doom of oppressors traced on her ruins in the hand writing of God, glaring in letters of fire mingled with blood—a blackened monument of wrath to the uttermost against the stealers of men. No wonder that God, in a code of laws prepared for such a people at such a time, should light up on its threshold a blazing beacon to flash terror on slaveholders. "He that stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." Ex. xxi. 16. Deut. xxiv. 7.* God's cherubim and flaming sword guarding the entrance to the Mosaic system!
The word Ganabh here rendered stealeth, means the taking what belongs to another, whether by violence or fraud; the same word is used in the eighth commandment, and prohibits both robbery and theft.
The crime specified, is that of depriving SOMEBODY of the ownership of a man. Is this somebody a master? and is the crime that of depriving a master of his servant? Then it would have been "he that stealeth" a servant, not “he that stealeth a man." If the crime had been the taking an individual from another, then the term used would have been expressive of that relation, and most especially if it was the relation of property and proprietor !
The crime is stated in a three-fold form-man stealing, selling, and
* Jarchi, the most eminent of the Jewish Commentators, who wrote seven hundred years ago, in his comment on this stealing and making merchandize of men, gives the meaning thus :-"Using a man against his will, as a servant lawfully purchased; yea, though he should use his services ever so little, only to the value of a farthing, or use but his arm to lean on to support him, if he be forced so to act as a servant, the person compelling him but once to do so shall die as a thief, whether he has sold him or not."
holding. All are put on a level, and whelmed under one penaltyDEATH. This somebody deprived of the ownership of a man, is the man himself, robbed of personal ownership. Joseph said, "Indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews." Gen. xl. 15. How stolen? His brethren sold him as an article of merchandize. Contrast this penalty for man-stealing with that for propertystealing, Ex. xxii. If a man had stolen an ox and killed or sold it, he was to restore five oxen; if he had neither sold nor killed it, two exen. But in the case of stealing a man, the first act drew down the utmost power of punishment; however often repeated, or aggravated the crime, human penalty could do no more. The fact that the penalty for man-stealing was death, and the penalty for property-stealing, the mere restoration of double, shows that the two cases were adjudicated on totally different principles. The man stolen might be past labor, and his support a burden, yet death was the penalty, though not a cent's worth of property value was taken. The penalty for stealing property was a mere property penalty. However large the theft, the payment of double wiped out the score. It might have a greater money value than a thousand men, yet death was not the penalty, nor maiming, nor branding, nor even stripes, but double of the same kind. Why was not the rule uniform? When a man was stolen why was not the thief required to restore double of the same kindtwo men, or if he had sold him, five men? Do you say that the man-thief might not have them? So the ex-thief might not have two oxen, or if he had killed it, five. But if God permitted men to hold men as property, equally with oxen, the man-thief could get men with whom to pay the penalty, as well as the ox-thief, oxen. Further, when property was stolen, the legal penalty was a compensation to the person injured. But when a man was stolen, no property compensation was offered. To tender money as an equivalent, would have been to repeat the outrage with intolerable aggravations. Compute the value of a MAN in money ! Throw dust into the scale against immortality! The law recoiled from such supreme insult and impiety. To have permitted the man-thief to expiate his crime by restoring double, would have been making the repetition of crime its atonement. But the infliction of death for man-stealing exacted the utmost possibility of reparation. It wrung from the guilty wretch as he gave up the ghost, a testimony in blood, and death-groans, to the infinite dignity and worth of man,-a proclamation to the universe,
voiced in mortal agony, MAN IS INVIOLABLE."-a confession shrieked in phrenzy at the grave's mouth-"I die accursed, and God is just."
If God permitted man to hold man as property, why did he punish for stealing that kind of property infinitely more than for stealing any other kind of property? Why did he punish with death for stealing a very little of that sort of property, and make a mere fine, the penalty for stealing a thousand times as much, of any other sort of property-especially if God did by his own act annihilate the difference between man and property, by putting him on a level with it?
The atrociousness of a crime, depends much upon the nature, character, and condition of the victim. To steal is a crime, whoever the thief, or whatever the plunder. To steal bread from a full man, is theft; to steal it from a starving man, is both theft and murder. If I steal my neighbor's property, the crime consists not in altering the nature of the article, but in shifting its relation from him to me. But when I take my neighbor himself, and first make him property, and then my property, the latter act, which was the sole crime in the former case, dwindles to nothing. The sin in stealing a man, is not the transfer from its owner to another of that which is already property, but the turning of personality into property. True, the attributes of man remain, but the rights and immunities which grow out of them are annihilated. It is the first law both of reason and revelation to regard things and beings as they are; and the sum of religion, to feel and act toward them according to their value. Knowingly to treat them otherwise is sin; and the degree of violence done to their nature, relations, and value, measures its guilt. When things are sundered which God has indissolubly joined, or confounded in one, which he has separated by infinite extremes; when sacred and eternal distinctions, which he has garnished with glory, are derided and set at nought, then, if ever, sin reddens to its "scarlet dye." The sin specified in the passage, is that of doing violence to the nature of a man-to his intrinsic value as a rational being, and blotting out the exalted distinction stamped upon him by his Maker. In the verse preceding, and in that which follows, the same principle is laid down. Verse 15, "He that smiteth his father or his mother shall surely be put to death." V. 17, " He that curseth his father or his mother, shall surely be put to death." If a Jew smote his neighbor, the law merely smote him in return; but if the blow was given to a parent, it