Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

its connexion with the principles of God's moral and providential government, should see some difficulties hanging about it, is to be looked for on this as well as all other subjects that do not lie on the surface, so as to be fully scanned and comprehended at one glance of their self-supposed flaming penetration. But, that men of sound judgment and patient thought should be led away by first appearances, has been to us a matter of some surprise, and which has led us to inquire after the reasons in the premises. And the result of our cogitations is, that a remark we read, in the days of our youth, in the works of Mr. Fletcher, on another subject, is true of this subject :-" That nothing is more common than for men, under the plausible pretence of avoiding an extreme, rushing into the other, or opposite extreme.” Now, we fear, it has been too generally taken for granted, that if we admit that those Scriptures really do, and especially the gospel dispensation, endorse the Christian character of a master in the relation, we are thereby compelled to recognize the Divine right of slavery, as an institution specially appointed by God, as the Moral Governor of the universe.

We, however, as we shall endeavour to prove in the sequel, to the satisfaction of the attentive reader, do not think this conclusion necessarily follows.

[blocks in formation]

In our last sections we briefly reviewed those passages of Scripture, found in the Old and New Testaments, which involve the slavery relation, and, as we claim, were given for its regulation; and have endeavoured, by a variety of critical and argumentative remarks, to sustain the correctness of our position; and which, to our own mind, we have made clear beyond reasonable doubt. We will next present to the reader's attention the views of several of the most distinguished and learned commentators, theologians, and lexicographers the Church and the world have produced for centuries. Indeed, had we time and space, we might collate the whole tribe of them; for we believe there is not a single author extant, of properly accredited and acknowledged critical ability in biblical and literary acquirements, who materially differs from their general views on this grave subject. Hence our recent reformers discard their authority; with what propriety, let a sober and candid public decide. And the more so, inasmuch as, if our present translation be incorrect, language has its laws of evidence, by which the true import of these several passages can be fairly tried and decided, and the question in this way satisfactorily adjusted.

We will first quote from the notes of Macknight.

Eph. vi, 5: “Servants, obey your masters," &c. As the Gospel does not cancel the civil rights of mankind, I say to bond-servants, Obey your masters, who have the property of your body, “with fear and trem

bling," as liable to be punished by them for disobedience.

Colos. iii, 22: "Servants, obey in all things,” &c. Though the word in the original properly signifies a slave, our English translators, in all places where the duties of slaves are inculcated, have justly translated it servant; because anciently the Greeks and Romans had scarce any servants but slaves; and because the duties of the hired servant, during the time of his service, are the same as those with the slave. So that what the apostle said to the slave, was in effect said to the hired servant. Upon these principles, in translations of the Scriptures designed for countries where slavery is abolished, and servants are freemen, the word in the original may with truth be translated servant. In this and the parallel passage, Eph. vi, 5, the apostle is very particular in his precepts to slaves and lords; because in all the countries where slavery was established, many of the slaves were exceedingly addicted to fraud, lying, and stealing; and many of the masters were tyrannical and cruel to their slaves. Perhaps, also, he was thus particular in his precepts to slaves, because the Jews held perpetual slavery to be unlawful, and because the Judaizing teachers propagated that doctrine in the Church. But from the apostle's precepts it may

be inferred, that if slaves are justly acquired, they may be lawfully retained; as the gospel does not make void any of the civil rights of mankind.

1 Tim. vi, 1, 2: Let whatever Christian slaves are under the yoke of unbelievers pay their own masters all respect and obedience, &c.

2. And those Christian slaves who have believing masters, let them not despise them, fancying that they

[ocr errors]

are equals because they are brethren in Christ; for though all Christians are equal as to religious privileges, slaves are inferior to their masters as to station.

Titus ii, 9: “Exhort servants to be obedient," &c. Slaves exhort to be subject to their own masters, and in all things lawful, to be careful to please them, &c.

1 Pet. ii, 18: Household slaves, be subject to your own lords with all reverence, although they be unbelievers ; and give obedience not only to the humane and gentle, but also to the ill-natured and severe.

We quote next from Burkitt.

1 Tim. vi, 1: Christianity frees persons from sinful slavery or bondage, but not from civil servitude and subjection. Observe the general duty required of all servants towards their masters. 1. Their infidel or unbelieving masters; they are required to carry it dutifully and respectfully toward them. 2. Their believing and Christian masters; they should not despise them because they are brethren.

Tit. ii, 9: “Exhort servants," &c. The souls of the poorest servants, or slaves, for whom Christ died, must be of precious account with him, &c.

1 Pet. ii, 18: “Servants, be subject," &c. Thus let Christian servants be subject to their masters, whether Christian or heathen, giving due reverence

and respect.

The following is from Thomas Scott's Notes and Observations:

Lev. xxv, 44-46: The Israelites were permitted to keep slaves of other nations, perhaps in order to typify that none but the true Israel of God participate of that liberty with which Christ has made his people free. But it was also allowed, that in this manner

the Gentiles might become acquainted with the truc religion: and when the Israelites copied the example of their pious progenitors, there can be no reasonable doubt that it was overruled to the eternal salvation of many souls.

1 Cor. vii, 21, 22: If then any one had been converted in a state of slavery, (which was the common case of servants in those days, that is, of a very large majority, in many cities and countries,) and he was the property of a heathen master, let him be less solicitous about his liberty, than about glorifying God in that trying situation. But if he was able, or had a fair opportunity of obtaining his liberty, he would do well to embrace it. The converted slave, however, was called to the noblest liberty as a freedman of Christ, and emancipated from Satan's yoke.

Eph. vi, 5-9: The apostle next exhorts servants, who had embraced Christianity, to be obedient unto their own masters according to the flesh, that is, to whom they were subjected in temporal matters. In general, the servants at that time were slaves, the property of their masters; and were often treated with great severity, though seldom with that systematic cruelty which commonly attends slavery in these days. But the apostles were ministers of religion, not politicians; they had not that influence among legislators and rulers, which would have been requisite for the abolition of slavery. Indeed, in that state of society as to other things, this would not have been expedient; God did not please miraculously to interpose in this case; and they were not required to exasperate their persecutors, by expressly contending against the lawfulness of slavery. Yet both the law of love, and the gospel of grace, tend to its abolition

« FöregåendeFortsätt »