American Anti-Slavery Society.

The Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus online

. (page 225 of 236)
Online LibraryAmerican Anti-Slavery SocietyThe Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus → online text (page 225 of 236)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


their sorrows, and pour upon their hearts, and cherish there, the
spirit of liberty. "For he that is called in the Lord, being a
servant, is the Lord's freeman." In _him_, therefore, should they
cheerfully confide.

3. The apostle, however, forbids them so to acquiesce in the servile
relation, as to act inconsistently with their Christian obligations.
To their Savior they belonged. By his blood they had been purchased.
It should be their great object, therefore, to render _Him_ a hearty
and effective service. They should permit no man, whoever he might be,
to thrust in himself between them and their Redeemer. "_Ye are
bought with a price_; BE NOT YE THE SERVANTS OF MEN."

With his eye upon the passage just quoted and explained, the
Princeton professor asserts that "Paul represents this relation" - the
relation of slavery - "as of comparatively little account."[66]
And this he applies - otherwise it is nothing to his purpose - to
_American_ slavery. Does he then regard it as a small matter, a
mere trifle, to be thrown under the slave-laws of this republic,
grimly and fiercely excluding their victim from almost every means
of improvement, and field of usefulness, and source of comfort; and
making him, body and substance, with his wife and babes, "the
servant of men?" Could such a relation be acquiesced in consistently
with the instructions of the apostle?

[Footnote 66: Pittsburg pamphlet, p.10.]

To the Princeton professor we commend a practical trial of the
bearing of the passage in hand upon American slavery. His regard for
the unity and prosperity of the ecclesiastical organizations, which
in various forms and under different names, unite the southern with
the northern churches, will make the experiment grateful to his
feelings. Let him, then, as soon as his convenience will permit,
proceed to Georgia. No religious teacher [67] from any free State, can
be likely to receive so general and so warm a welcome there. To
allay the heat, which the doctrines and movements of the
abolitionists have occasioned in the southern mind, let him with as
much despatch as possible, collect, as he goes from place to place,
masters and their slaves. Now let all men, whom it may concern, see
and own that slavery is a Christian institution! With his Bible in his
hand and his eye upon the passage in question, he addresses himself
to the task of instructing the slaves around him. Let not your hearts,
my brethren, be overcharged with sorrow, or eaten up with anxiety. Your
servile condition cannot deprive you of the fatherly regards of Him
"who is no respecter of persons." Freedom you ought, indeed, to
prefer. If you can escape from "the yoke," throw it off. In the mean
time rejoice that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;"
that the gospel places slaves "on a perfect religious equality" with
their master; so that every Christian is "the Lord's freeman." And,
for your encouragement, remember that "Christianity has abolished
both political and domestic servitude wherever it has had free scope.
It enjoins a fair compensation for labor; it insists on the moral and
intellectual improvement of all classes of men; it condemns all
infractions of marital or parental rights; in short it requires not
only that free scope be allowed to human improvement, but that all
suitable means should be employed for the attainment of that end."
[68] Let your lives, then, be honorable to your relations to your
Savior. He bought you with his own blood; and is entitled to your
warmest love and most effective service. "Be not ye the servants of
men." Let no human arrangements prevent you, as citizens of the
kingdom of heaven, from making the most of your powers and
opportunities. Would such an effort, generally and heartily made,
allay excitement at the South, and quench the flames of discord,
every day rising higher and waxing hotter, in almost every part of
the republic, and cement "the Union?"

[Footnote 67: Rev. Mr. Savage, of Utica, New York, had, not very
long ago, a free conversation with a gentleman of high standing in
the literary and religious world from a slaveholding State, where
the "peculiar institution" is cherished with great warmth and
maintained with iron rigor. By him, Mr. Savage was assured, that the
Princeton professor had, through the Pittsburg pamphlet, contributed
most powerfully and effectually to bring the "whole South" under the
persuasion, _that slaveholding is in itself right_ - a system _to
which the Bible gives countenance and support_.

In an extract from an article in the Southern Christian Sentinel, a
new Presbyterian paper established in Charleston, South Carolina,
and inserted in the Christian Journal for March 21, 1839, we find
the following paragraphs from the pen of Rev. C.W. Howard, and,
according to Mr. Chester, ably and freely endorsed by the editor.
"There is scarcely any diversity of sentiment at the North upon this
subject. The great mass of the people, believing slavery to be sinful,
are clearly of the opinion that, as a system, it should be abolished
throughout this land and throughout the world. They differ as to the
time and mode of abolition. The abolitionists consistently argue,
that whatever is sinful should be instantly abandoned. The others,
_by a strange sort of reasoning for Christian men_, contend that
though slavery is sinful, _yet it may be allowed to exist until it
shall he expedient to abolish it_; or, if, in many cases, this
reasoning might be translated into plain English, the sense would be,
both in Church and State, _slavery, though sinful, may be allowed to
exist until our interest will suffer us to say that it must be
abolished_. This is not slander; it is simply a plain way of stating
a plain truth. It does seem the evident duty of every man to become
an abolitionist, who believes slavery to be sinful, for the Bible
allows no tampering with sin.

"To these remarks, there are some noble exceptions, to be found in
both parties in the church. _The South owes a debt of gratitude to
the Biblical Repertory, for the fearless argument in behalf of the
position, that slavery is not forbidden by the Bible_. The writer of
that article is said, without contradiction, to be _Professor Hodge,
of Princeton_ - HIS NAME OUGHT TO BE KNOWN AND REVERED AMONG YOU,
_my brethren, for in a land of anti-slavery men, he is the_ ONLY
ONE _who has dared to vindicate your character from the serious
charge of living in the habitual transgression of God's holy law_."]

[Footnote 68: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 31.]


"It is," affirms the Princeton professor, "on all hands acknowledged,
that, at the time of the advent of Jesus Christ, slavery in its
worst forms prevailed over the whole world. _The Savior found it
around him_ IN JUDEA."[69] To say that he found it _in Judea_, is to
speak ambiguously. Many things were to be found "_in_ Judea," which
neither belonged to, nor were characteristic of _the Jews_. It is
not denied that _the Gentiles_, who resided among them, might have
had slaves; _but of the Jews this is denied_. How could the
professor take that as granted, the proof of which entered vitally
into the argument and was essential to the soundness of the
conclusions to which he would conduct us? How could he take
advantage of an ambiguous expression to conduct his confiding
readers on to a position which, if his own eyes were open, he must
have known they could not hold in the light of open day!

[Footnote 69: The same, p. 9]


We do not charge the Savior with any want of wisdom, goodness, or
courage,[70] for refusing to "break down the wall of partition between
Jews and Gentiles" "before the time appointed." While this barrier
stood, he could not, consistently with the plan of redemption,
impart instruction freely to the Gentiles. To some extent, and on
extraordinary occasions, he might have done so. But his business
then was with "the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [71] The
propriety of this arrangement is not the matter of dispute between
the Princeton professor and ourselves.

[Footnote 70: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 10.]

[Footnote 71: Matt. xv. 24.]


In disposing of the question whether the Jews held slaves during our
Savior's incarnation among them, the following points deserve earnest
attention: -

1. Slaveholding is inconsistent with the Mosaic economy. For the
proof of this, we would refer our readers, among other arguments more
or less appropriate and powerful, to the tract already alluded
to.[72] In all the external relations and visible arrangements of
life, the Jews, during our Savior's ministry among them, seem to
have been scrupulously observant of the institutions and usages of
the "Old Dispensation." They stood far aloof from whatever was
characteristic of Samaritans and Gentiles. From idolatry and
slaveholding - those twin-vices which had always so greatly prevailed
among the heathen - they seem at length, as the result of a most
painful discipline, to have been effectually divorced.

[Footnote 72: "The Bible against Slavery."]


2. While, therefore, John the Baptist; with marked fidelity and
great power, acted among the Jews the part of a _reprover_, he found
no occasion to repeat and apply the language of his
predecessors,[73] in exposing and rebuking idolatry and
slaveholding. Could he, the greatest of the prophets, have been
less effectually aroused by the presence of "the yoke," than was
Isaiah? - or less intrepid and decisive in exposing and denouncing
the sin of oppression under its most hateful and injurious forms?

[Footnote 73: Psalm lxxxii; Isa. lviii. 1-12 Jer. xxii. 13-16.]


3. The Savior was not backward in applying his own principles plainly
and pointedly to such forms of oppression as appeared among the Jews.
These principles, whenever they have been freely acted on, the
Princeton professor admits, have abolished domestic bondage. Had
this prevailed within the sphere of our Savior's ministry, he could
not, consistently with his general character, have failed to expose
and condemn it. The oppression of the people by lordly ecclesiastics,
of parents by their selfish children, of widows by their ghostly
counsellors, drew from his lips scorching rebukes and terrible
denunciations.[74] How, then, must he have felt and spoke in the
presence of such tyranny, if _such tyranny had been within his
official sphere_, as should _have made widows_, by driving their
husbands to some flesh-market, and their children not orphans,
_but cattle_?

[Footnote 74: Matt. xxiii; Mark, vii. 1-13.]


4. Domestic slavery was manifestly inconsistent with the _industry_,
which, _in the form of manual labor_, so generally prevailed among
the Jews. In one connection, in the Acts of the Apostles, we are
informed, that, coming from Athens to Corinth, Paul "found a certain
Jew, named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his
wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to
depart from Rome;) and came unto them. And because he was of the
same craft, he abode with them and wrought: (for by their occupation
they were tent-makers.")[75] This passage has opened the way for
different commentators to refer us to the public sentiment and
general practice of the Jews respecting useful industry and manual
labor. According to _Lightfoot_, "it was their custom to bring up
their children to some trade, yea, though they gave them learning or
estates." According to Rabbi Judah, "He that teaches not his son a
trade, is as if he taught him to be a thief."[76] It was, _Kuinoel_
affirms, customary even for Jewish teachers to unite labor
(opificium) with the study of the law. This he confirms by the
highest Rabbinical authority.[77] _Heinrichs_ quotes a Rabbi as
teaching, that no man should by any means neglect to train his son
to honest industry.[78] Accordingly, the apostle Paul, though
brought up at the "feet of Gamaliel," the distinguished disciple of
a most illustrious teacher, practised the art of tent-making. His
own hands ministered to his necessities; and his example is so
doing, he commends to his Gentile brethren for their imitation.[79]
That Zebedee, the father of John the Evangelist, had wealth, various
hints in the New Testament render probable.[80] Yet how do we find
him and his sons, while prosecuting their appropriate business? In
the midst of the hired servants, "in the ship mending their
nets."[81]

[Footnote 75: Acts, xviii. 1-3.]

[Footnote 76: Henry on Acts, xviii. 1-3.]

[Footnote 77: Kuinoel on Acts.]

[Footnote 78: Heinrichs on Acts.]

[Footnote 79: Acts, xx. 34, 35; 1 Thess. iv. 11.]

[Footnote 80: See Kuinoel's Prolegom. to the Gospel of John.]

[Footnote 81: Mark, i. 19, 20.]


Slavery among a people who, from the highest to the lowest, were
used to manual labor! What occasion for slavery there? And how could
it be maintained? No place can be found for slavery among a people
generally inured to useful industry. With such, especially if
men of learning, wealth, and station, "labor, working with their
hands," such labor must be honorable. On this subject, let Jewish
maxims and Jewish habits be adopted at the South, and the "peculiar
institution" would vanish like a ghost at daybreak.

5. Another hint, here deserving particular attention, is furnished
in the allusions of the New Testament to the lowest casts and most
servile employments among the Jews. With profligates, _publicans_
were joined as depraved and contemptible. The outcasts of society
were described, not as fit to herd with slaves, but as deserving a
place among Samaritans and publicans. They were "_hired servants_,"
whom Zebedee employed. In the parable of the prodigal son we have a
wealthy Jewish family. Here servants seem to have abounded. The
prodigal, bitterly bewailing his wretchedness and folly, described
their condition as greatly superior to his own. How happy the change
which should place him by their side? His remorse, and shame, and
penitence made him willing to embrace the lot of the lowest of them
all. But these - what was their condition? They were HIRED SERVANTS.
"Make me as one of thy hired servants." Such he refers to as the
lowest menials known in Jewish life.

Lay such hints as have now been suggested together; let it be
remembered, that slavery was inconsistent with the Mosaic economy;
that John the Baptist in preparing the way for the Messiah makes no
reference "to the yoke" which, had it been before him, he would, like
Isaiah, have condemned; that the Savior, while he took the part of
the poor and sympathized with the oppressed, was evidently spared the
pain of witnessing within the sphere of his ministry, the presence,
of the chattel principle, that it was the habit of the Jews, whoever
they might be, high or low, rich or poor, learned or rude, "to labor,
working with their hands;" and that where reference was had to the
most menial employments, in families, they were described as carried
on by hired servants; and the question of slavery "in Judea," so far
as the seed of Abraham were concerned, is very easily disposed of.
With every phase and form of society among them slavery was
inconsistent.

The position which, in the article so often referred to in this paper,
the Princeton professor takes, is sufficiently remarkable. Northern
abolitionists he saw in an earnest struggle with southern
slaveholders. The present welfare and future happiness of myriads of
the human family were at stake in this contest. In the heat of the
battle, he throws himself between the belligerent powers. He gives
the abolitionists to understand, that they are quite mistaken in the
character of the objections they have set themselves so openly and
sternly against. Slaveholding is not, as they suppose, contrary to
the law of God. It was witnessed by the Savior "in its worst
forms"[82] without extorting from his laps a syllable of rebuke. "The
sacred writers did not condemn it." [83] And why should they? By a
definition[84] sufficiently ambiguous and slippery, he undertakes to
set forth a form of slavery which he looks upon as consistent with the
law of Righteousness. From this definition he infers that the
abolitionists are greatly to blame for maintaining that American
slavery is inherently and essentially sinful, and for insisting that
it ought at once to be abolished. For this labor of love the
slaveholding South is warmly grateful and applauds its reverend ally,
as if a very Daniel had come as their advocate to judgment.[85]

[Footnote 82: Pittsburg pamphlet, p. 9.]

[Footnote 83: The same, p. 13.]

[Footnote 84: The same, p. 12.]

[Footnote 85: Supra, p. 58.]


A few questions, briefly put, may not here be inappropriate.

1. Was the form of slavery which our professor pronounces innocent
_the form_ witnessed by our Savior "in Judea?" That, _he_ will by
no means admit. The slavery there was, he affirms, of the "worst"
kind. _How then does he account for the alleged silence of the
Savior? - a silence covering the essence and the form - the
institution and its "worst" abuses_?

2. Is the slaveholding, which, according to the Princeton professor,
Christianity justifies, the same as that which the abolitionists so
earnestly wish to see abolished? Let us see.


_Christianity in supporting Slavery, _The American system for
according to Professor Hodge_, supporting Slavery_,

"Enjoins a fair compensation for Makes compensation
labor" impossible by reducing the
laborer to a chattel.

"It insists on the moral and It sternly forbids its
intellectual improvement of all victim to learn to read
classes of men" even the name of his
Creator and Redeemer.

"It condemns all infractions of It outlaws the conjugal
marital or parental rights." and parental relations.

"It requires that free scope It forbids any effort, on
should be allowed to human the part of myriads of the
improvement." human family, to improve
their character,
condition, and prospects.

"It requires that all suitable It inflicts heavy
means should be employed to improve penalties for teaching
mankind" letters to the poorest of
the poor.

"Wherever it has had free scope, Wherever it has free
it has abolished domestic bondage." scope, it perpetuates
domestic bondage.


_Now it is slavery according to the American system_ that the
abolitionists are set against. _Of the existence of any_ such form
of slavery as is consistent with Professor Hodge's account of the
requisitions of Christianity, they know nothing. It has never met
their notice, and of course, has never roused their feelings or
called forth their exertions. What, then, have _they_ to do with the
censures and reproaches which the Princeton professor deals around?
Let those who have leisure and good nature protect the man of
_straw_ he is so hot against. The abolitionists have other business.
It is not the figment of some sickly brain; but that system of
oppression which in theory is corrupting, and in practice destroying
both Church and State; - it is this that they feel pledged to do
battle upon, till by the just judgment of Almighty God it is thrown,
dead and damned, into the bottomless abyss.

3. _How can the South feel itself protected by any shield which may
be thrown over_ SUCH SLAVERY, _as may be consistent with what the
Princeton professor describes as the requisitions of Christianity_?
Is _this_ THE _slavery_ which their laws describe, and their hands
maintain? "Fair compensation for labor" - "marital and parental
rights" - "free scope" and "all suitable means" for the "improvement,
moral and intellectual, of all classes of men;" - are these,
according to the statutes of the South, among the objects of
slaveholding legislation? Every body knows that any such
requisitions and American slavery are flatly opposed to and directly
subversive of each other. What service, then, has the Princeton
professor, with all his ingenuity and all his zeal, rendered the
"peculiar institution?" Their gratitude must be of a stamp and
complexion quite peculiar, if they can thank him for throwing their
"domestic system" under the weight of such Christian requisitions as
must at once crush its snaky head "and grind it to powder."

And what, moreover, is the bearing of the Christian requisitions,
which Professor Hodge quotes, upon the definition of slavery which
he has elaborated? "All the ideas which necessarily enter into the
definition of slavery are, deprivation of personal liberty,
obligation of service at the discretion of another, and the
transferable character of the authority and claim of service of the
master."[86]

[Footnote 86: Pittsburg pamphlet p. 12.]


_According to Professor Hodge's _According to Professor Hodge's
account of the definition of Slavery_,
requisitions of Christianity_,

The spring of effort in the The laborer must serve at the
laborer is a fair compensation. discretion of another.

Free scope must be given for He is deprived of personal
his moral and intellectual liberty - the necessary condition,
improvement. and living soul of improvement,
without which he has no control
of either intellect or morals.



His rights as a husband and The authority and claims of the
a father are to be protected. master may throw an ocean between
him and his family, and separate
them from each other's presence
at any moment and forever.



Christianity, then, requires such slavery as Professor Hodge so
cunningly defines, to be abolished. It was well provided for the
peace of the respective parties, that he placed _his definition_ so
far from _the requisitions of Christianity_. Had he brought them
into each other's presence, their natural and invincible antipathy
to each other would have broken out into open and exterminating
warfare. But why should we delay longer upon an argument which is
based on gross and monstrous sophistry? It can mislead only such as
_wish_ to be misled. The lovers of sunlight are in little danger
of rushing into the professor's dungeon. Those who, having something
to conceal, covet darkness, can find it there, to their heart's
content. The hour cannot be far away, when upright and reflective
minds at the South will be astonished at the blindness which could
welcome such protection as the Princeton argument offers to the
slaveholder.

But _Professor Stuart_ must not be forgotten. In his celebrated
letter to Dr. Fisk, he affirms that "_Paul did not expect slavery to
be ousted in a day_."[87] _Did not_ EXPECT! What then! Are the
_requisitions_ of Christianity adapted to any EXPECTATIONS which
in any quarter and on any ground might have risen to human
consciousness? And are we to interpret the _precepts_ of the gospel
by the expectations of Paul? The Savior commanded all men every
where to repent, and this, though "Paul did not expect" that human
wickedness, in its ten thousand forms would in any community
"be ousted in a day." Expectations are one thing; requisitions quite
another.

[Footnote 87: Supra, p. 7.]


In the mean time, while expectation waited, Paul, the professor adds,
"gave precepts to Christians respecting their demeanor." _That_ he
did. Of what character were these precepts? Must they not have been
in harmony with the Golden Rule? But this, according to Professor
Stuart, "decides against the righteousness of slavery" even as a
"theory." Accordingly, Christians were required, _without respect of
persons_, to do each other justice - to maintain equality as common
ground for all to stand upon - to cherish and express in all their
intercourse that tender love and disinterested charity which one



Online LibraryAmerican Anti-Slavery SocietyThe Anti-Slavery Examiner, Omnibus → online text (page 225 of 236)