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slaveholders. Why it is that slaveholders will not allow a word to be
breathed against slavery, I cannot, perhaps, correctly judge.
Abolitionists think that this unwillingness denotes that man is unfit
for absolute power over his fellow men. They think as unfavorably of the
influence of this power on the slaveholder, as your own Jefferson did.
They think that it tends to make him impatient of contradiction,
self-willed, supercilious, cruel, murderous, devilish; and they think
that they can establish this opinion, not by the soundest philosophy
only, but by the pages of many of your own writers, and by those daily
scenes of horrid brutality which make the Southern States, in the sight
both of God and man, one of the most frightful and loathsome portions of
the world - of the whole world - barbarous as well as civilized.

[Footnote A: I will relate an incident, to show what a fiend even woman,
gentle, lovely woman, may become, after she has fallen under the sway of
the demon of slavery. Said a lady of Savannah, on a visit in the city of
New York, "I wish he (Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Cox) would come to Savannah. I
should love to see him tarred and feathered, and his head cut off and
carried on a pole around Savannah." This lady is a professing Christian.
Her language stirs me up to retaliate upon her, and to express the wish
that she would come to the town, and even to the dwelling, in which Dr.
Cox resides. She would find that man of God - that man of sanctified
genius - as glad to get his enemies into his hands, as she would be to
get him into the hands of his enemies: - not, however, for the purpose of
disgracing and decapitating them, but, that he might pour out upon them
the forgiveness and love of his generous and _abolitionized_ heart. In
the city of New York there are thousands of whole-souled abolitionists.
What a striking testimony is it, in behalf of their meekness and
forbearance, when a southern fury is perfectly secure, in belching out
such words of wrath in the midst of them! We abolitionists never love
our principles better, than when we see the slaveholder feeling safe
amongst us. No man has been more abusive of us than Governor McDuffie;
and yet, were he to travel in the Northern States, he would meet with no
unkindness at the hands of any abolitionist. On the other hand, let it
be known to the governor, that he has within his jurisdiction a
prominent abolitionist - one, whose heart of burning love has made him
specially anxious to persuade the unfortunate slaveholder to be just to
himself, to his fellow men, and to his God, - and the governor, true to
the horrid sentiments of his famous message, would advise that he be
"put to death without benefit of clergy." Let slaveholders say what they
will about our blood-thirstiness, there is not one of them who fears to
put himself in our power. The many of them, who have been beneath my
roof, and the roofs of other abolitionists, have manifested their
confidence in our kindness. Were a stranger to the institution of
slavery to learn, in answer to his inquiries, that "an abolitionist" is
"an outlaw amongst slaveholders," and that "a slaveholder" is "the
kindly entertained guest of abolitionists," - here would be a puzzle
indeed. But the solution of it would not fail to be as honorable to the
persecuted man of peace, as it would be disgraceful to the bloody
advocate and executioner of Lynch law.]

I need not render any more reasons why the Apostles did not specifically
attack slavery; but I will reply to a question, which I am sure will be
upon your lips all the time you are reading those I have rendered. This
question is, "If the Apostles did not make such an attack on slavery,
why may the American abolitionists?" I answer, that the difference
between the course of the abolitionists and of the Apostles, in this
matter, is justified by the difference in their circumstances. Professor
Hodge properly says, that our course should be like theirs, "unless it
can be shown that their circumstances were so different from ours, as to
make the rule of duty different in the two cases." And he as properly
adds, "the obligation to point out and establish this difference rests
upon the abolitionists."

The reasons I have given, why the Apostles did not directly attack
slavery, do not apply to the abolitionists. The arm of civil power does
not restrain us from attacking it. To open our lips against the policy
and institutions of civil government is not certain death. A despotic
government restricted the efforts of the Apostles to do good. But we
live under governments which afford the widest scope for exertions to
bless our fellow men and honor God. Now, if we may not avail ourselves
of this advantage, simply because the Apostles did not have it to avail
themselves of, then whatever other interests may prosper under a
republican government, certain it is, that the cause of truth and
righteousness is not to be benefited by it. Far better never to have had
our boasted form of government, if, whilst it extends the freedom and
multiplies the facilities of the wicked, it relieves the righteous of
none of the restrictions of a despotic government. Again, there is a
religious conscience all over this land, and an enlightened and gospel
sense of right and wrong; on which we can and do (as in your
Introduction you concede is the fact) bring our arguments against
slavery to bear with mighty power. But, on the other hand, the creating
of such a conscience and such a sense, in the heathen and semi-heathen
amongst whom they lived and labored, was the first, and appropriate, and
principal work of the Apostles. To employ, therefore, no other methods
for the moral and religious improvement of the people of the United
States, than were employed by the Apostles for that of the people of the
Roman empire, is as absurd as it would be to put the highest and lowest
classes in a school to the same lessons; or a raw apprentice to those
higher branches of his trade which demand the skill of an experienced

I am here reminded of what Professor Hodge says were the means relied on
by the Saviour and Apostles for abolishing slavery. "It was," says he,
"by teaching the true nature, dignity, equality, and destiny of men; by
inculcating the principles of justice and love; and by leaving these
principles to produce their legitimate effects in ameliorating the
condition of all classes of society." I would not speak disparagingly of
such a course of instruction; so far from it, I am ready to admit that
it is indispensable for the removal of evils, in every age and among
every people. When general instructions of this character shall have
ceased to be given, then will all wholesome reforms have ceased also.
But, I cannot approve of the Professor's object in this remark. This
object is to induce his readers to believe, that these abstract and
general instructions are all that is needed to effect the termination of
slavery. Now, I maintain that one thing more is wanting; and that is,
the application of these instructions - of the principles contained in
them - to the evil in hand. As well may it be supposed, that the mechanic
can accomplish his work without the application, and by the mere
possession, of his tools, as that a given reformation can be effected by
unapplied general principles. Of these principles, American
philanthropists have been possessed from time immemorial; and yet all
the while American slavery has been flourishing and growing strong. Of
late, however, these principles have been brought to bear upon the
system, and it manifestly is already giving way. The groans of the
monster prove that those rays of truth, which did not disturb him whilst
they continued to move in the parallel lines of abstractions and
generalities, make it quite too hot for him since they are converged to
a burning focus upon his devoted head. Why is it, for example, that the
influence of the Boston Recorder and New-York Observer - why is it, that
the influence of most of our titled divines - is decidedly hostile to the
abolition of slavery? It is not because they are deficient in just
general sentiments and principles respecting man's duties to God and his
fellow man. It is simply because they stand opposed to the application
of these sentiments and principles to the evil in question; or, in other
words, stand opposed to the Anti-Slavery Society, which is the chosen
lens of Divine Providence for turning these sentiments and principles,
with all the burning, irresistible power of their concentration, against
a giant wickedness. What is the work of the Temperance Societies, but to
make a specific application of general truths and principles to the vice
of intemperance? And the fact, that from the time of Noah's
intoxication, until the organization of the American Temperance Society,
the desolating tide of intemperance had been continually swelling,
proves that this reliance on unapplied principles, however sound - this
"faith without works" - is utterly vain. Nathan found that nothing, short
of a specific application of the principles of righteousness, would
answer in the case of the sin of adultery. He had to abandon all
generalities and circuitousness, and come plump upon the royal sinner
with his "Thou art the man." Those divines, whose policy it is to handle
slaveholders "with gloves," if they must handle them at all, doubtless
regard Nathan as an exceedingly impolite preacher.

But, not only is it far less difficult to instruct the people of the
United States than it was the people of the Roman Empire, in the sin of
slavery; it is also - for the reason that the sin is ours, to a far
greater extent, than it was theirs - much more important for us than for
them to be instructed in it. They had no share in the government which
upheld it. They could not abolish it by law. But, on the other hand, the
people of the United States are themselves the government of their
country. They are the co-sovereigns of their nation. They uphold slavery
by law, and they can put it down by law. In this point of view,
therefore, slavery is an incomparably greater sin in us, than it was in

Only one other reason will be given why it is more needful to overthrow
American, than it was to overthrow Roman slavery. The Church was then
but a handful of "strangers scattered throughout" the heathen world. It
was made up of those who had little influence, and who were esteemed
"the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things." It had,
probably, little, if any thing, to do with slavery, except to suffer its
rigors in the persons of many of its members. But here, the Church,
comprising no very small proportion of the whole population, and
exerting a mighty influence for good or ill on the residue, is tainted,
yes, rotten with slavery. In this contrast, we not only see another
reason why the destruction of American slavery is more important than
was that of Roman slavery; but we also see, that the Apostles could have
been little, if at all, actuated by that motive, which is more urgent
than any other in the breasts of the American abolitionists - the motive
of purging the Church of slavery.

To return to what you say of the abominations and horrors of Greek and
Roman slavery: - I should be doing you great injustice, were I to convey
the idea that you approve of them. It is admitted that you disapprove of
them; and, it is also admitted, that no responsibility for them rests on
the relation of slaveholder and slave, if that relation have, as you
labor to show, the stamp of Divine approbation. You say, that slavery,
like marriage, is an institution sanctioned by the New Testament; and
that, therefore, neither for the evils which attend it, nor for any
other cause, is it to be argued against. This is sound reasoning, on
your part; and, if your premises are correct, there is no resisting your
deduction. We are, in that case, not only not to complain of the
institution of slavery, but we are to be thankful for it. Considering,
however, that the whole fabric of your argument, in the principal or New
Testament division of your book, is based on the alleged fact that the
New Testament approves of slavery, it seems to me that you have
contented yourself, and sought to make your readers contented, with very
slender evidences of the truth of this proposition. These evidences are,
mainly - that the New Testament does not declare slavery to be a sin:
and, that the Apostles enjoin upon masters and servants their respective
duties; and this, too, in the same connexion in which they make similar
injunctions upon those who stand in the confessedly proper relations of
life - the husband and wife, the parent and child. Your other evidences,
that the New Testament approves of slavery, unimportant as they are,
will not be left unnoticed.

I have attempted to show, that the omission of the New Testament to
declare slavery to be a sin, is not proof that it is not a sin. I pass
on to show, that the Apostolic injunction of duties upon masters and
servants does not prove that slavery is sinless.

I have now reached another grand fallacy in your book. It is also found
in Professor Hodge's article. You, gentlemen, take the liberty to depart
from our standard English translation of the Bible, and to substitute
"slaveholder" for "master" - "slave" for "servant" - and, in substance,
"emperor" for "ruler" - and "subject of an imperial government" for
"subject of civil government generally." I know that this substitution
well suits your purposes: but, I know not by what right you make it.
Professor Hodge tells the abolitionists, certainly without much respect
for either their intelligence or piety, that "it will do no good (for
them) to attempt to tear the Bible to pieces." There is but too much
evidence, that he himself has not entirely refrained from the folly and
crime, which he is so ready to impute to others.

I will proceed to offer some reasons for the belief, that when the
Apostles enjoined on masters and servants their respective duties, they
had reference to servitude in general, and not to any modification of

1st. You find passages in the New Testament, where you think _despotes_
refers to a person who is a slaveholder, and _doulos_ to a person who is
a slave. Admit that you are right: but this (which seems to be your only
ground for it) does not justify you in translating these words
"slaveholder" and "slave," whenever it may be advantageous to your side
of the question to have them thus translated. These words, have a great
variety of meanings. For instance, there are passages in the New
Testament where _despotes_ means "God" - Jesus Christ" - Head of a
family:" and where _doulos_ means "a minister or agent" - a subject of a
king" - a disciple or follower of Christ." _Despotes_ and _doulos_ are
the words used in the original of the expression: "Lord, now lettest
thou thy servant depart in peace:" _doulos_ in that of the expressions,
"servant of Christ," and "let him be servant of all." Profane writers
also use these words in various senses. My full belief is, that these
words were used in both a generic and special sense, as is the word
corn, which denotes bread-stuffs in general, and also a particular kind
of them; as is the word meat, the meaning of which is, sometimes,
confined to flesh that is eaten, and, at other times, as is frequently
the case in the Scriptures, extends to food in general; and, as is the
word servant, which is suitable, either in reference to a particular
form of servitude, or to servitude in general. There is a passage in the
second chapter of Acts, which is, of itself, perhaps, sufficient to
convince an unbiased mind, that the Apostles used the word _doulos_ in
a, generic, as well as in a special sense. _Doulos_ and _doule_ are the
words in the phrase: "And on my servants and on my handmaidens." A
reference to the prophecy as it stands; in Joel 2: 28, 29, makes it more
obvious, that persons in servitude are referred to under the words
_doulos_ and _doule_; and, that the predicted blessing was to be shed
upon persons of all ages, classes, and conditions - upon old men and
young men - upon sons and daughters - and upon man-servants and
maid-servants. But, under the interpretation of those, who, like
Professor Hodge and yourself, confine the meaning of _doulos_ and
_doule_ to a species of servants, the prophecy would have reference to
persons of all ages, classes, and conditions - _excepting certain
descriptions of servants_. Under this interpretation, we are brought to
the absurd conclusion, that the spirit is to be poured out upon the
master and his slaves - _but not upon his hired servants_.

I trust that enough has been said, under this my first head, to show
that the various senses in which the words _despotes_ and _doulos_ are
employed, justify me in taking the position, that whenever we meet with
them, we are to determine, from the nature of the case, and from the
connexion in which they are used, whether they refer to servitude in
general, or to a species of it.

2d. The confinement of the meaning of the words in question supposes,
what neither religion nor common sense allows us to suppose, that
slaveholders and slaves, despots and those in subjection to them, were
such especial favorites of the Apostles, as to obtain from them specific
instructions in respect to their relative duties, whilst all other
masters and servants, and all other rulers and subjects, throughout all
future time, were left unprovided with such instructions. According to
this supposition, when slavery and despotism shall, agreeably to
Professor Hodge's expectations, have entirely ceased, there will be not
one master nor servant, not one ruler nor subject in the whole earth, to
fall, as such, under the Apostolic injunctions.

3d. You admit that there were hirelings, in a community of primitive
believers; and I admit, for the moment, that there were slaves in it.
Now, under my interpretation of the Apostolic injunction, all husbands,
all wives, all parents, all children, and all servants, in this
community, are told their respective duties: but, under yours, these
duties are enjoined on all husbands, all wives, all parents, all
children, and a _part of the servants_. May we not reasonably complain
of your interpretation, that it violates analogy?

Imagine the scene, in which a father, in the Apostolic age, assembles
his family to listen to a letter from the glowing Peter, or "such an one
as Paul the aged." The letter contains instructions respecting the
relative duties of life. The venerable pair, who stand in the conjugal
and parental relations, receive, with calm thankfulness, what is
addressed to themselves; - the bright-eyed little ones are eager to know
what the Apostle says to children - a poor slave blesses God for his
portion of the Apostolic counsel; - and the scene would be one of
unmingled joy, if the writer had but addressed hired servants, as well
as slaves. One of the group goes away to weep, because the Apostle had
remembered the necessities of all other classes of men, and forgotten
those of the hireling. Sir, do you believe that the Apostle was guilty
of such an omission? I rejoice that my side of the question between us,
does not call for the belief of what is so improbable and
unnatural - and, withal, so dishonoring to the memory of the Apostle.

4th. Another reason for believing, that the Apostles intended no such
limitation as that which you impose upon their words, is, that their
injunctions are as applicable to the other classes of persons occupying
these relations, as they are to the particular class to which you
confine them. The hired servant, as well as the slave, needs to be
admonished of the sins of "eye service" and "purloining;" and the master
of voluntary, as well as involuntary servants, needs to be admonished to
"give that which is just and equal." The ruler in a republic, or, in a
limited monarchy, as well as the despot, requires to be reminded, that
he is to be "a minister of God for good." So the subject of one kind of
civil government, as well as that of another, needs to be told to be
"subject unto the higher powers."

I need not extend my remarks to prove, that _despotes_ and _doulos_ are,
in the case before us, to be taken in their comprehensive sense of
master and servant: and, clearly, therefore, the abolitionist is not
guilty of violating your rule, "not to interfere with a civil relation
(in another place, you say, 'any of the existing relations of life') for
which, and to regulate which, either Christ or his Apostles have
prescribed regulations." He believes, as fully as yourself, that the
relation of master and servant is approved of God. It is the slavery
modification of it - the slaveholder's abuse and perversion of the
relation, in reducing the servant to a chattel - which, he believes, is
not approved of God.

For the sake of the argument, I will admit, that the slave alone, of all
classes of servants, was favored with specific instructions from the
Apostles: and then, how should we account for the selection? In no other
way, can I conceive, than, on the ground, that his lot is so peculiarly
hard - so much harder than that of persons under other forms of
servitude - that he needs, whilst they do not, Apostolic counsel and
advice to keep him just, and patient, and submissive. Let me be spared
from the sin of reducing a brother man to such a lot. Your doctrine,
therefore, that the Apostles addressed slaves only, and not servants in
general, would not, were its correctness admitted, lift you out of all
the difficulties in your argument.

Again, does it necessarily follow from this admission, that the relation
of slaveholder and slave is sinless? Was the despotism of the Roman
government sinless? I do not ask whether the _abuses_ of civil
government, in that instance, were sinless. But, I ask, was a
government, despotic in its constitution, depriving all its subjects of
political power, and extending absolute control over their property and
persons - was such a government, independently of the consideration of
its _abuses_, (if indeed we may speak of the abuses of what is in itself
an _abuse_,) sinless? I am aware, that Prof. Hodge says, that it was so:
and, when he classes despotism and slavery with _adiaphora_, "things
indifferent;" and allows no more moral character to them than to a table
or a broomstick, I trust no good man envies his optics. May I not hope
that you, Mr. Smylie, perceive a difference between despotism and an
"indifferent thing." May I not hope, that you will, both as a Republican
and a Christian, take the ground, that despotism has a moral character,
and a bad one? When our fathers prayed, and toiled, and bled, to obtain
for themselves and their children the right of self-government, and to
effect their liberation from a power, which, in the extent and rigor of
its despotism, is no more to be compared to the Roman government, than
the "little finger" to the "loins," I doubt not, that they felt that
despotism had a moral, and a very bad moral character. And so would
Prof. Hodge have felt, had he stood by their side, instead of being one
of their ungrateful sons. I say ungrateful - for, who more so, than he
who publishes doctrines that disparage the holy cause in which they were
embarked, and exhibits them, as contending for straws, rather than for
principles? Tell me, how long will this Republic endure after our people
shall have imbibed the doctrine, that the _nature_ of civil government
is an indifferent thing: and that the poet was right when he said,

"For forms of government let _fools_ contest?"

This, however, is but one of many doctrines of ruinous tendency to the
cause of civil liberty, advanced by pro-slavery writers to sustain their
system of oppression.

It would surely be superfluous to go into proofs, that the Roman
government was vicious and wicked in its constitution and nature.
Nevertheless, the Apostle enjoined submission to it, and taught its
subjects how to demean themselves under it. Here, then, we have an
instance, in which we cannot argue the sinlessness of a relation, from
the fact of Apostolic injunctions on those standing in it. Take another
instance. The Chaldeans went to a foreign land, and enslaved its
people - as members of your guilty partnership have done for some of the
slaves you now own, and for the ancestors of others. And God destroyed
the Chaldeans expressly "for all their evil that they had done in Zion."
But, wicked as they were, for having instituted this relation between
themselves and the Jews, God, nevertheless, tells the Jews to submit to

Online LibraryAmerican Anti-Slavery SocietyThe Anti-Slavery Examiner, Part 1 of 4 → online text (page 14 of 59)