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you ; of them shall ye buy bond-men and bond. maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land : and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bond-men for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigor.” If any one will take the trouble to turn to the chapter and read from the beginning, he will perceive that its general intention is to inculcate the duty of kindness to their Jewish brethren as distinguished from the heathen. The verses above quoted are a particular exemplification of a general law. They really say no more than that the Hebrews might hold slaves for life of the Canaanites, but not of the Hebrews. I know that the word “ shalt" is used when speaking of this subject, but it is clearly used as prophetic and not as mandatory ; it tells what would or what might be, and not what should or must be. No one can for a moment confound this use of it with that in the ten command. ments ; nor can any one suppose it to impose any obligation on the Hebrews to hold slayes, either of their own brethren or of strangers. As this is the strongest passage in the Old Testament in favor of the view which we are examining, I do not know that it is necessary to extend this part of the discussion any farther.
Let us now review the ground which we have passed over. I have supposed that the argument by which slavery is justified from the Old Testament is properly expressed by the following syllo. gism.
1. Whatever God sanctioned among the Hebrews he sanctioned for all men and at all times.
2. God sanctioned slavery among the Hebrews. Therefore,
3. God sanctioned slavery among all men and at all times. I
suppose myself to have shown that the first of these propositions is at variance with reason and the Scriptures, whether the word sanction mean tolerate or enact ; that the second proposition is un. true, if the word sanction mean any thing more than tolerate ; and as with this meaning it can at the present day afford no justification of slavery, therefore the conclusion that God in the Old Tes. tament sanctions slavery to all men, that is, to us, is without foundation.
I merely use this technical formality, as I have said before, because I wish to expose my views in the clearest light, so that if I err, I
the more easily be corrected. There is no one, my dear brother, who is more capable of detecting my error, if it exist, than yourself; and there is no man living before whom I would more willingly stand corrected.
I am, my dear brother, yours with every sen. timent of Christian affection,
THE AUTHOR OF THE MORAL SCIENCE.
MY DEAR BROTHER
In my last letter I attempted an examination of the argument derived from the Old Testament in favor of slavery. It becomes me next to consider the manner in which this institution is treated in the New Testament. Before, however, I do this, it will be proper to offer a few suggestions on the subject of expediency. This topic, as I am aware, is introduced only incidentally into the discussion. Nevertheless, as it is liable to embarrass our judg. ments, in the further prosecution of this inquiry, I propose briefly to consider it in this place.
It gives me great pleasure to declare that I cheerfully and heartily coincide with you in the spirit and intention of your remarks on this subject. I admire the indignation with which you repel the suspicion that the Saviour or his apostles would, for the sake of escaping persecution, shun to declare the whole counsel of God. I sympathize in the scorn with which you contemplate that craven spirit, which, while it “speaks great swell. ing words,” yet has“ men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. I know of nothing more utterly contemptible. Disgraceful, however, as it is everywhere, it is specially so in the Christian church, and more than all in the Christian ministry. We have all seen the evils of this sort of expediency. It has too frequently brought the ministry of the gospel into contempt in the eyes of
all honorable and high-minded men. Holding these views, I should be thoroughly ashamed if any thing that I have ever said or written, has justly led any one to suppose that I consider our Lord or his apostles capable of so unmanly a wickedness. I am, therefore, gratified with your allusion to the subject, as it will enable me to explain my views more explicitly. I hope that I may be able so to illustrate them, that on this point at least there may be no difference of opinion between us. The word “ expedient'' means,
“ fitness or suit. ableness to effect some end, or purpose intended.” In this sense it is morally neutral, being in itself neither good nor bad, but deriving its moral quality from some circumstance extraneous to itself. I have said that it is morally neutral. _This, how: ever, expresses not the whole truth. Expediency, that is, the use of means suitable or fitted to accomplish an end, is the simple and universal dic. tate of intelligence. A man would scarcely be deemed of sound mind unless he obeyed the dictates of such an expediency. Nay, if he failed to avail himself of such means, he might be mor. ally delinquent. For instance, if a man were charged with the accomplishment of some good design, and neglected to use the means suited to effect it, or still more if he used means of a directly opposite tendency, we should all declare him culpable. His conduct would show that his interest in the good work was not sufficient to prompt him to the use of the proper means to insure his suc
We see then, clearly, that simple expediency, that is, the use of the means suitable to accomplish an end, is in itself innocent, that it may be commendable, and that the want of it may justly expose us to censure. On the other hand, it is equally evident that expediency may be mean, contemptible, cowardly, and wicked. In what manner, then, may these two cases be distinguished from each other.
The end which we desire to accomplish may be either bad or good. As, however, no means which we use to accomplish a bad end can be innocent, we may at once dismiss this class of cases from our consideration. The question then will be reduced to the following : Under what circumstances is expediency in the accomplishment of a good end wicked, and under what circumstances is it innocent?
We have seen that expediency, in itself, is not only innocent, but that it may be even commend. able. When it is wicked, the wickedness must arise, therefore, from some cause aside from the fact that the act seems to be expedient. In other words, then, expediency is wicked either when the act which we deem expedient is in itself wicked; or when the act itself is performed from a wicked motive. When neither of these is the case, when the act violates no moral law, either in act or in motive, it is as innocent an act as any other. And moreover, we see that these two qualities of the act are entirely distinct from each other. Let an act seem ever so expedient, this does not affect its moral character. If it be wicked, it is just as wicked as if it did not seem expedient; if it be virtuous, it is just as virtuous whether it seem to be expedient or otherwise.