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It has been asserted with great confidence, that nothing is mentioned in Scripture against Slavery; this is taking a very high position, and one which cannot be well defended, as St. Paul certainly did indirectly oppose it, for what is the meaning else, of his speaking against Men-stealers, (1st Timothy, Chap. i.) and coupling them with murderers, thieves, liars, &c. whose portion, he tells us, will be the lake of fire? Men are generally stolen, or seized, for the purpose of being enslaved, and I should imagine that the stealer and the buyer (at least the buyer in the first instance) are nearly upon a par, and equally guilty in the sight of God; the accessory is just as bad as the thief, and particularly as in the first stage of Negro Slavery, where the buyer, or accessory, has been one great cause, the existing cause of the theft; they are therefore great sinners, and against all who are Christians, engaged in this inhuman traffic, the Bible is strong, express and unqualified. The Jewish Code of Laws, ceremonial and civil is abolished, (as respects Christians,) and nothing but the divine laws (or holy commandments) remain binding on them; for our Lord and Saviour tells the Jews, (Matt. chap. v.)
"Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, (he adds by way of command,) swear not at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool."
Again" It hath been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement; but I say unto you, whosoever shall put away his wife, save for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery."
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an
eye, and a tooth for a tooth; but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him thy other also."
These clauses, with numerous others, of the Levitical or civil law, as established, or given by Moses, were completely annulled by Christ, and in particular, he said, "Call no one, Lord or Master, for one is your master-even God!" Consequently the pretended support of Negro Slavery, from the book of truth, can be no longer defended; for unless the Europeans can shew that the Africans are unworthy to be admitted into the Covenant of Grace, as brethren with themselves, of the common faith as it is in Jesus, they have not only no right to cause them to be hunted down as beasts, and buy and enslave them in the infamous manner they do, but will, most assuredly, be called to a strict account for it at the bar of an omniscient and just God, who respects not the persons or colour of men, and hath made of the same blood, all nations of the earth.
Some respectable authors have also doubted, whether the Slavery of strangers amongst the Jews, was perpetual, and think it was only for a certain time; and certainly the Greek word aiov, (which is the authority quoted from the Septuagint, for perpetuity,) does at times, and in some authors, signify a certain space of time, life itself, or the time of human life.
Thus Homer, speaking of Simoisius, slain in the Trojan war by Ajax, the son of Telamon,
μινυνθάδιος δέ οἱ αἰὼν, Επλεθ ̓, ὑπ ̓ Αἴονος μεγαθύμου δουρι δαμένοι.
Ilias, lib. 4.
Short was his life! by dreadful Ajax slain,
Sarpedon also says to Hector,
“ ἀλλ ̓ ἑπάμυνον, ἔπειτά με και λίποι αἰὼν
Ilias, lib. 5.
Help, Hector, help; the great Sarpedon calls,
And again, in Priam's address to Hector, before the gates of Troy,
μηδὲ μέγα κῦδος ὀρέξης
Πηλείδη, αὐτὸς δὲ φίλης αἰῶνος ἀμερθῆς.”
Ilias, lib. 22.
Nor thy future happy years
Resign, but to enhance Achilles' fame.
Xenophon and Herodotus also use the word in the
But even if it can be proved that the Slavery of strangers bought with money, was perpetual amongst the Jews, I think I have shewn, that we Europeans, have no claim to the same privileges that they had, as God's chosen people, and moreover that the whole of the ceremonial, and a considerable part of the civil law, as given by Moses, was done away by Christ.
To this may be added, the difference in the treatment of the Hebrew-bond-Slaves, and the Negro Slaves in our West Indian islands; for the children of Israel were strictly commanded not to oppress the bond-Slaves, nor defraud them of their hire. They were to pay them their hire, every evening, and not to leave them unpaid till the following day, Leviticus, chap. xiii.; Deuteronomy, chap. xxiv. But the Negroes have no wages or hire allowed them. The Jewish Slaves were not to be overworked, but the Negro is compelled to labour every day, under
fear of the whip, and during one half of the year, a great part of the nights also.
The Hebrew bond-Slave was by no means, to work on the Sabbath, but was to keep it holy as well as his master; nay, even the beasts were to rest on that day.
The Negro Slave is compelled to work on the Sabbath, or starve, so that he cannot rest like the Jewish beast, much less can he keep the Sabbath holy, for if he had time, he knows not the way; nor can one out of ten of them get instructed.
The Jewish Slave, having regular wages, or living in the same house, could live on the same kind of food as his master, and could acquire and hold property; for we find in the Scriptures that many Slaves had considerable property; Ziba, in the days of David, King of Israel, is mentioned as having lands and servants; and Abraham had intended making Eliezer, a slave, his heir.
But the Negro Slave, having no wages, is constrained to live on the coarsest food, scarcely ever tasting meat, being liable to severe punishment if twenty pounds weight, should be found in his hut; and as to holding property, that is out of the question, unless it be a trifling sum of money.
The Hebrew Slaves, were often largely entrusted, and armed for the defence of their masters; whilst the Negroes are not thought worthy of any confidence or trust, but are looked upon as insensible brutes, who thirst for their masters' lives; and as to their being armed-if a musket, sword, or cutlass, be found in their houses, they may be seized and punished with death or transportation.
These unspeakable differences might be carried on, ad infinitum; but enough has been said to shew, that Slavery in the British colonies can in no shape be justified,
or at all countenanced by the Slavery that existed (by God's permission) among the then peculiarly favoured Israelites. The Negroes are our brethren, and the Bible tells us, "that the Hebrews could not hold any of their brethren as Slaves, for more than six years, as they were to go out free on the seventh (or sabbatical) year: and if they had become Slaves but two or three years (or even one) before the year of jubilee, they were then to be emancipated."
If Slavery cannot be defended from Scripture, neither can it from the law of nature, for as all men are born equal and free, some offence against established laws, some crime must be committed, before a human being can justly be deprived of that liberty in which God created him and sent him into the world. Many public writers of high authority assert this.
Montesquieu De L'Esprit des loix, says, comme tous les hommes naissent égaux, il faut dire que l'esclavage est contre la nature." Again he says, droit de gens a voulu que les prisonniers fussent esclaves pour qu'on ne les tuât pas. Le droit civil des Romains permit à des débiteurs qui leurs créanciers pouvoient maltraiter de se vendre eux-mêmes; et le droit naturel à voulu que des enfans, qu'un père esclave ne pouvoit plus nourrir fussent dans l'esclavage comme leur père."-He then justly observes, "Ces raisons des Juris-consultes ne sont point sensées. Il est faux qu'il soit permis de tuer dans la guerre autrement que dans le cas de nécessité :— Il n'est pas vrai qu'un homme libre puisse se vendre. La troisieme manière, c'est la naissance. Celle-ci, tombe avec les deux autres. Car si un homme n'a pu se vendre, encore moins a-t-il a-t-il pu vendre son fils qui n'étoit pas né: si un prisonnier de guerre ne peut être réduit en servitude, encore moins ses enfans." Upon the effects of Slavery