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masters and servants, just as to masters and apprentices, or parents and children, or kings and subjects. We believe that they reach every abuse of slavery; and condemn all intellectual, moral, and domestic injustice. But we do not believe that they make the relation itself sinful, or require, as they must do if it be a crime, its prompt dissolution. Such disruption might, and in some cases would, subvert society itself, and be real charity neither to the masters nor the slaves.
It will not do, then, for you to conduct the cause as if we had been proved guilty, and were put on our defence. This is the ground always taken at the North, and because Southern Christians reply with the Bible in their hands, they are misunderstood. Politically, and ethically, I have proved that despotism itself is not necessarily a sin. In appealing to the word of God, we are not required to prove a negative, and justify ourselves; but you, to make out your case, and prove us guilty. “Sin is a transgression of the law,” and you are bound to show the law we transgress. All will acknowledge this to be the fair position of the accuser and accused. Whereas I submit to you, that your Bible argument entirely overlooks our forensic rights, and is an examination of the question whether the Bible justifies slavery. Suppose the Bible does not justify it; still, unless condemned by the Bible, slavery may remain among things indifferent, and be classed with that large number of actions whose moral character depends on the peculiar circumstances of each case. Nor am I surprised that those who undertake your arduous office always pursue this line of reasoning, since the assertion that slavery is itself and always a sin, jars harshly with what appears to plain men as the unequivocal teaching of the Scriptures; and, therefore, it is felt, in the outset, that much explanation and ingenuity are indispensable; otherwise, not only must the charge fail, but the prosecutors themselves incur a serious impeach. ment.
The assertion just mentioned as to the inherent guilt of slavery, is the distinctive article with modern abolitionists. But after studying the subject in all its bearings, they have clearly perceived, that if the Hebrew and Greek terms rendered ser. vant in our Bibles really signify slave, there is an end either of their dogma or of submission to the Scriptures. Hence, after trying in vain the whole apparatus of exegetical torture, they have-with, I believe, much unanimity-set all philology and history at defiance, and resolutely deny that such is the import of those words.
When Paul says, “ We are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free,” the terms - Jew” and “ Gentile” mean something; but “ bond” and “free” imply no distinction at all! And to get rid of the Old Testament, various interpretations have been contrived, of which the latest is quite curious. While moving earth and heaven about the thraldom of the negro, the abolitionists refuse to the white man even liberty of speech, and wish to erect an inquisition over the mind. A very pious Presbyterian pastor has lately been arraigned by them, not for holding slaves, but for daring even to utter his honest convictions on the subject of slavery. And at that trial it was
declared (if the newspapers did no injustice to the orators) that slavery was not known in Abraham's day except among the heathen; that the patriarch was a prince, and the persons bought with his money were subjects, whom he purchased to improve their condition. So that, after all, the ob. jection is entirely to the name, and will at once be withdrawn if Southern masters only call themselves princes, and their slaves subjects—for assuredly, if we ourselves had purchased the African captives from their native masters, we might plead that their condition has been immeasurably improved.
You do but give vent to the pious indignation of a candid heart, when, speaking of such escapes from the dilemma, you say,
" I wonder that any one should have the hardihood to deny so plain a matter of record. I should almost as soon deny the delivery of the ten commandments to Moses. Yet these are good men, nor is their perfect sincerity to be questioned. The truth is, that when an opinion has been expressed, and pride of intellect and consistency thus enlisted for its support, no one can say to what lengths he may be carried by its blinding influence; and our opinions are not unfrequently defended with an obstinacy exactly proportioned to the precipitation with which they were adopted.
How it seems to others I know not, but to my mind one of the most lamentable effects of modern ultraism is the collision it is producing between Christians, and that volume to which all Christians profess to bow in reverence. God has revealed his whole will. The Scriptures are “able to make
us wise unto salvation," and these Scriptures have been purposely written by plain men, so that plain men may understand them. If we 6 wrest ihese Scriptures,” it is “to our own destruction ;” and most righteously, for what guilt half so aggravated and heaven-daring? Nevertheless it is becoming quite common in these days, for the authorized expounders of eternal truth to treat that truth as a thing which must pliantly adjust itself to any extravagance their enthusiasm may take up. I every day more and more admire and adore the fulness of the Bible; and I know that there is no form of human suffering to which it is not an antidote. But the Bible operates too slowly for our reformers. With them, as that brilliant ornament of American literature, Dr. Channing, remarked, “ whatever be the evil opposed, it is exaggerated as if no other evil existed, and no guilt could be compared with that of countenancing it.” Every disease they undertake, is to their fiery zeal and disordered imaginations a violent one, and demands a violent remedy. The gospel, however, works always as a corrective, and its precepts forbid vio. lence; those precepts must therefore be frittered away, or distorted; or if this cannot be done, there is still one course,—it is boldly to deny that the original Hebrew and Greek warrant the sense which the translation conveys.
And as their au. diences are generally, according to the testimony of Dr. Channing himself, old and young, pupils from schools, females hardly arrived at years of discretion, the ignorant, the excitable, and the impetuous,” this assertion is received with a credulity only surpassed by the hardihocd" with which it
was advanced. By this unhappy intemperance, how much has not the temperance cause suffered ! Nothing could satisfy the unbridled vehemence of the reformers, but such distortions of the word of God as would make all use of wine, even at the Lord's supper, a crime ; and the consequence has been unavoidable; the enemies of that great cause have been furnished with formidable weapons against it. The true interests of the slave have been retarded in the same way, and by the same reactions. And so it will be in every cause, when. ever excessive zeal runs counter to the manifest instructions of the holy oracles.
Discarding and rebuking the violent misconstruc. tion to which I have alluded, you still deny that slavery can be vindicated out of the Bible. I have already remarked on the utter irregularity of requiring me to take up this issue, when you ought from the Bible to make out your charge that slavery is a crime. But I pass this, and, waiving my clear logical rights, undertake to prove the negative, and to show that the Bible does, most explicitly, both by precept and example, bear me out in my assertion (the only assertion I ever made) that slavery is not necessarily, and always, and amidst all circumstances, a sin. This is the position to be established, and the entire reasoning (reasoning, which, if the premises be true, really seems to me to commend itself at once to every man's con. science) is this, What GOD SANCTIONED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT, AND PERMITTED IN THE NEW, CANNOT BE SIN.
In this proposition I assume that both Testaments constitute one entire canon, and that they furnish a