La Roy Sunderland.

The testimony of God against slavery : a collection of passages from the Bible, which show the sin of holding and treating the human species as property : with notes : to which is added the testimony of the civilized world against slave online

. (page 1 of 12)
Online LibraryLa Roy SunderlandThe testimony of God against slavery : a collection of passages from the Bible, which show the sin of holding and treating the human species as property : with notes : to which is added the testimony of the civilized world against slave → online text (page 1 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


3 1151 02744 1090



1 — 4*- a




William Birney, E













How canst thou say, I am not polluted ? See thy way in the valiey ; know
what thou hast uoue. — In thy skirts is found the blood of the soils
of the poor innocents. — Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent,
surely his anger shall turn from me; behold, I will plead with thee, be-
cause thuu sayest, I have not sinned. Jer. ii. 23 — 35.



Office corner of Nassau and Spruce Streets, oppposite the City Hall.
Entrance, Ao. 3, Spruce Street .


z ^H(f


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1635, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.

Pr£=j cc D. K. Hitchcock.
l J Cornhill.


If Slavery is ever abolished from the world, it will be done
by the influence of the Christian Religion. Men never will
abandon slave-holding, till they feel it to be a sin against God :
and the reason why all who are now concerned in the support
of this system, do not feel and act under this conviction is,
because they have not examined it in the light of God's

It is a solemn fact, that there is scarcely any one sin de-
scribed in the inspired writings, in all its parts, features, and
consequences, so clearly and explicitly, as is the sin of holding
and treating the human species as property ; and scarcely any
other sin has been so frequently denounced in the Bible, with
the fearful maledictions of Heaven. Let the reader examine
the few passages quoted in the following pages, with a
prayerful and unprejudiced mind, and let him ask himself,
while doing this, what we may suppose God's design was, in
dictating so much which we find in the Scriptures against
oppression in all its forms, against man-stealing, against de-
frauding the poor of his right, and against keeping back the
hire which is due to those who reap down our fields ? Why
has he, in so many instances, enjoined it upon man to show
pity towards those of his species who are in distress, and to
extend relief to all who are in trouble and unable to help
themselves? Such passages, it will be perceived, makeup
no inconsiderable portion of the preceptive part of the Bible;
and must these all be thrown away ? Is there no sin com-
mitted by any of the human family now, against which they
were designed to bear? Are not these passages of Holy
Scripture now " -profitable for doctrine, for reproof , for cor-
rection, and for instruction in righteousness ? "

In a word, who does not see, that if no part of the Scrip-


tures may now be brought to bear, with the utmost propriety,
against the present system of oppression which prevails in
this nation, merely because the circumstances under which
this sin is now committed may differ, in some respects, from
those in which men sinned when the various parts of the
Bible were at first written, then it must follow, as an unde-
niable consequence, that no sins of any kind can be reproved,
at the present day, in Scripture language, nor from Scrip-
ture authority.

It is not pretended that all the passages in the Bible, which
relate to this subject, are brought forward in this little work,
but it has been the author's design to notice the most of those
which, it is believed, either directly or indirectly, show slave-
holding to be a sin; and to do justice to the subject, none of
those are omitted which have been so frequently quoted, and
so strangely tortured to prove that the Bible justifies the

The work is divided into chapters, and the different au-
thors or writers, from which the passages are quoted, are
named at the head of each chapter. The notes are numbered
to correspond with the texts upon which they are written.

This work has been prepared with the kindest of feelings,
both towards the enslaver and enslaved; and if it should be
the means of helping the friends of these two classes of our
fellow-citizens, in any degree, to the use of those heavenlij
veapons, by w r hich it is our duty to prosecute the great and
good work of delivering the oppressed from the hands of the
oppressor, the object will have been obtained. For the icea-
puns of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God ,
'. the pulling doicn of strong holds ; casting down imagina-
s, and every high tiling that exalteth itself against the
knoioledge of God.

September 4, 1836.


CHAPTER I. — What is Slavery ? - 7

CHAPTER II. — Extracts from the writings of Moses, 11
CHAPTER III. —Extracts from the writings of Moses, IS
CHAPTER IV. — Extracts from the writings of Joshua,
Job, and Ezra, - - - 45

CHAPTER V. — Extracts from the writings of David, 54

CHAPTER VI. —Extracts from the writings of Sol-
omon, - - - - 62

CHAPTER VII. — Extracts from the writings of Isaiah, 70

CHAPTER VIII. — Extracts from the writings of Jere-
miah, - - - -80

CHAPTER LX. — Extracts from the writings of Ezekiel,
Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Nahum,
Habbakkuk, Zechariah, and Malichi, - - 89

CHAPTER X.— Extracts from the writings of St. Mat-
thew, St. Mark, St. Luke, and St. John, con-
taining many of the sayings and precepts of Jesus
Christ, - - - 96

CHAPTER XI. — Extracts from the Epistles of St.

Paul, - - - 106

CHAPTER XII. — Extracts from the Epistles of St.

James, St. Peter, and St. John, - - 137

CHAPTEU XIII. —Testimony of the Civilized World, 150



The inquiry here is, not what was Roman or
Grecian slavery, but what is American slavery?
What is that slavery which has been created and
which is still sanctioned by law in these United

W 7 e answer, it is the condition of those of our spe-
cies who are held and treated as property. In
South Carolina, this state is described in the follow-
ing language; — "Slaves shall be deemed, sold,
taken, reputed and adjudged in law to be chattels,
personal, in the hands of their owners and possessors,
and their executors, administrators, and assigns, to
all intents, constructions and purposes whatsoever"

The law of Louisiana declares: —

" A slave is one who is in the power of the master
to whom he belongs. The master may sell him,
dispose of his person, his industry and labor ; he can
■do nothing, possess nothing, nor acquire anything,
but what must belong to his master."

An act of the State of Maryland, declares slaves
to be property, in these words : — -


" In case the personal property of a ward shall
consist of specific articles such as slaves, working

BEASTS, ANIMALS of ANY KIND, Stock, furniture,

plate, books, &c, the court, if it shall deem it ad-
vantageous for the ward, may, at any time, pass an
order for the sale thereof."

" Slaves shall always be reputed and considered
real estate ; shall be, as such, subject to be mort-
gaged, according to the rules prescribed by law, and
they shall be seized and sold as real estate." Act of

Hence it appears that the distinguishing principle
of slavery is this: slaves arc not to be ranked among
rational, immortal beings, but they are to be consid-
ered, held and treated as things, as articles of

Now, whether the Holy Scriptures afford any au-
thority for the assumption of that right or power, by
which the enslaved are held in this condition, and
subjected to the evils which directly or indirectly
flow from it, may be determined at once, when we
shall have seen how far this power extends.

From an examination of the slave laws, it will be
found that the master's authority over his slave is
as unlimited as it is over any other property.

He may at any time inflict any punishment upon
the person of his slave.

He may determine the kind and degree and time
of labor to which the slave shall be subjected.


He may supply the slave with such food and
clothing only, both as to quantity and quality, as
may suit his own pleasure or convenience. All the
power of the master over his slave may be exercised
not by himself, but only by any other person whom
he may appoint as his agent.

Slaves have no legal right of property, not even in
themselves, nor in anything else, real or personal,
but whatever they may acquire, by labor, belongs, in
point of law, to their masters.

The slave, being a personal chattel, is at all times
liable to be leased, mortgaged, or sold absolutely at
the mere will of his master; or he ma.y be sold by
process of law for the satisfaction of the debts of a
living, or the debts and bequests of a deceased mas-
ter, at the suit of creditors or legatees.

A slave cannot be a party before a judicial tribu-
nal, in any species of action against his master, no
matter how atrocious may have been the injury re-
ceived from him.

Slaves cannot redeem themselves, nor obtain a
change of masters, though the most cruel treatment
may have rendered such a change necessary for
their personal safety.

Slaves being objects of properly, if injured by third
persons, their owners may bring suit, and recover
damages for the injury.

Slaves can make no contracts.


Slavery is hereditary and perpetual.*

Here, then, we see that Slavery is rot. servitude
merely, nor the right to the service of another, where
there is an equivalent, or considerations which render
the demand for service just; but it is the assump-
tion and exercise of that power which holds and
treats the human species as property.

It does not allow to the slave the rights of his
own reason and conscience.

It annihilates the family state; prevents the pa-
rents from obeying the command of God, with re-
gard to their children ; it prohibits, or nullifies, the
marriage rites, and prevents husbands and wives
from obeying the command of God with regard to
each other.

It enjoins, or sanctions, promiscuous intercourse
between the sexes, without the rites of marriage.

It holds all the religious privileges of the slave at
the mere mercy of his master, whether that master
be infidel, p »pist, or protestant.

It prevents the slaves from obeying that com-
mand of God which makes it the duty of all men
to "search the Scriptures"

Its direct tendency is to crush the mind of God's
intelligent creatures, by forbidding and preventing
all schools for " mental instruction."

It withholds the hire of the laborer.

• Stroud.


It sanctions and covers the breach of the eighth
commandment. It justifies the very same thing
which our laws and the laws of nations punish as
piracy, if committed on the coast of Africa, or on
the high seas. It originates and justifies what the
Bible calls " Man-stealing."

It denies to the slave adequate protection for his
character, his health and life, and more or less en-
dangers his present and eternal salvation.

Such, then, is the condition of millions of our spe-
cies in this Christian land ; and against that assumed
power which keeps them in this state, God has
left the instructions, warnings, and threatenings of
His unerring: word.



The bondage of the Israelites in Egypt, and the
measures ivhich God took to liberate them.

1. And the Lord said, I have surely seen the af-
fliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have
heard their cry by reason of their task-masters; for
I know their sorrows. Ex. iii, 7.


1. Now, therefore, behold, ihecry of the children of
Israel is come unto me ; and I have also seen the
oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
Ex. iii, 9.

3. And it came to pass, in process of time, that
the king" of Egypt died ; and the children of Israel
sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried,
and their cry came up unto God, by reason of the
bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God
remembered his covenant, and God looked upon the
children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.
Ex. ii, 23.

4. Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews,
let my people go, that they may serve me. Ex. ix, 1.

5. Thus saith the Lord God of the Hebrews,
H jw long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me?
let my people go that they may serve me Ex. x, 3.

6. And Pharaoh commanded, the same day, the
task-masters of the people, and their officers, saying,
Ye shall no more give the people straw to make
brick, as heretofore; let them go and gather straw
for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which
thej r did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them;
ye shall not diminish aught thereof; for they be
idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sac-
rifice to our God. Ex. v, 6.

7. So the people were scattered abroad through-
out all the land of Egypt to get their stubble instead
of straw. And the task-masters hasted them, saying.


Fulfill your works, your daily tasks, as when there
was straw. Ex. v, 12.

8. And the officers of the children of Israel,
which Pharaoh's task-masters had set over them,
wore b'-aten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not
fulfilled your task in making brick, both yesteid. y
and to-day, as heretofore? Ex. v, 14.

9. And the officers of the children of Israel did
see that they were in evil case, af;er it was said, Ye
shall not diminish aught from your bricks of your
daily task. And they met Moses and Aaron, who
stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh ;
and they said unto them, The Lokd look upon you,
and judge; because ye have made our savour to be
abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and m the eyes of
his servants to put a sword in their hand to slay us.
Ex. v, 19.

10. And Moses returned unto thp L f rd, and said,
Lord, when-fore hast thou so evil-entreated this
people? Why is it that thou hast sent me? For
since I come to Pharaoh to speak in ihy name, he
hath done ev 1 to this people: neither hast thou de-
livered thy people at all. Ex. v, 22.

11. And God spake unto Moses, and said unto
him, I am thr> Lord: I have also heard the groan-
ing of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians
keep in bondage; and I have remembered my cove-
nant. Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I


am the Lord, and [ will bring you out from under
the burdens of the Egyptians, and 1 will rid you out
of their bondage. Ex. yi, 2.

12. And Moses spake so unto the children of Is-
rael, but thej'' hearkened not unto Moses for anguish
of spirit and for cruel bondage. Ex. vi, 9,


1. I have surely seen the afflictions of my people. The
people of God, at this time, were held in slavery by the Egyp-
tians; and though the bondage which they were compelled to
endure was certainly not so cruel and severe as that which
nearly three millions of American citizens are now doomed to
suffer; yet the Infinite Being manifested the most feeling pity
for their sorrows. And how can a believer in the truth of the
Bible suppose, for one moment, that this same unchangeable
God is now an indifferent spectator merely, to the accumulated
wrongs which thousands of the poor slaves are forced to en-
dure in this Christian land, — thousands who are his people,
who love him, but who are not permitted to read his word, nor
to worship him according to the dictates of their own con-
sciences ?

2. I have also seen their oppression. Oppression is the
spoiling or taking another's goods, or the fruit of his own la-
bor, by constraint, terror, or force ; and men commit this
crime whenever they offer any violence to the persons, or es-
tates, or consciences of others. If the Israelites were op-
pressed by the Egyptians, what may be said of millions of the
human species in this land, who are every day robbed of the
fruit of their own labor ?


3. And God heard their groanings. And does lie not
now hear the groanings of the enslaved ? Has he no respect
unto the sighings of millions who now cry unto him by reason
of their chains?

4. Let my people go. And now, if God uttered his tes-
timony against the slavery which his people endured thou-
sands of years ago, and if he commanded their oppressors to
let them go free, how can it be made to appear that he does not
do this now?

5. And Pharaoh commanded the tavk-masters. The
persons who were placed over the slaves in Egypt, were de-
nominated " task-masters;" it was their office to appoint them
their work, and exact its daily performance. In the Hebrew,
they are called " princes of burdens," and in the Septuagint,
" overseers of the works ; " in the dialect of this land, these
officers are called "overseers," "masters," and "soul-
drivers "

6. Ye shall not diminish aught thereof. And how often
Pharaoh has been denounced as a most unmerciful tyrant, for
his having made this oppressive requisition ! And this, too, by
thousands who seem never to have thought that similar exac-
tions have been imposed upon the slaves of this land. Their
" masters " tell us the slaves must not, and cannot, and shall
not be set free, till they are fit, or prepared to make a good use
of their freedom ; and yet these very "masters" are con-
stantly devising means to strengthen the chains by which the
slaves have been, and still are, degraded and made incapable
(as they say) of taking care of themselves. Though these
same slaves now support themselves and their " masters " be-
sides, with their chains on, yet we are told that if their chains
were to be taken off, they could not and would not even take
care of themselves !

That the people of the south are really desirous of prepar-


ing their slaves to enjoy their liberty, if, indeed, they should
ever be favored with it, take the following in evidence ; it is
an act lately passed by the State of South Carolina, " To
amend the laws in relation to the slaves and free persons of

Sec. 2. Be it enacted by the Honorable, the Senate and
House of Representatives, now met and sitting in General
Assembly, and by the authority of the same ; if any person
shall hereafter teach any slave to read or write, or shall aid or
assist in teaching slaves to read or write ; or cause, or pro-
cure any slave to read or write ; such person, if a free
white person, upon conviction thereof, shall, for each and
every offence against this act, be fined not exceeding one hun-
dred dollars, and imprisoned not more than six months; or if a
free person of color, shall be whipped not exceeding fifty lashes,
and fined not exceeding fifty dollars, at the discretion of the
Court of Magistrates and free-holders before whom such free
person of color is tried ; and if a slave, shall be whipped at
the discretion of the Court, not exceeding fifty lashes ; the in-
former to be entitled to one half of the fine, and to be a com-
petent witness ; and if any free person of color or slave shall
keep any school or other place of instruction for teaching any
slave or free person of color to read or write, such free person
of color or slave, shall be liable to the same fine, imprison-
ment, or corporeal punishment, as are by this section imposed
and inflicted on free persons of color or slaves, for teaching
slaves to read or write."

" Sec. 2. If any person shall employ or keep as a clerk,
any slave or free person of color, or shall permit any slave or
free person of color, to act as a clerk or salesman, in or about
any shop, store, or house, used for trading, such person shall
be liable to be indicted therefor, and upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined for each and every offence, not exceeding one
hundred dollars, and be imprisoned not exceeding six months ;


the informer to be a competent witness, and to be entitled to
one half of the fine "

7. They were in an evil case. Sure enough they were.
The slaves of this age cannot be set free, because, forsooth,
they are not properly instructed, and the above and many
other similar laws declare, under the penalties of whipping,
fine, imprisonment, and death, that the slaves must not,
and shall not be instructed, lest they should be set free, or by
this means obtain their liberty ! This is certainly an " evil

8. Ye have made our savour to be abhored in the eyes
of Pharaoh. So it seems those Israelites did really find
their bondage increased by the very efforts which God and his
servants were making to get them free. But Moses did not
consider this a sufficient reason why he should cease to plead
for their freedom. And shall we, of the present age, forbear
to preach the truth because some sinners will not repent ? Does
it alter the course of our duty, when some " harden their
hearts," and " wax worse and worse," after they " have re-
ceived the holy commandment delivered unto them?" If
not, why then should we be so often reproached with having
retarded the abolition of slavery in this land ? And this is
the strongest, and in fact about the only objection which many
serious and good people can bring against the Anti-Slavery
movements of the present day. We try to do something, —
they do nothing, except to denounce our means and measures,
yet we retard the abolition of slavery ! " The I ord be judge
between us and them.

There can be no doubt that the hearts of many " masters,"
in this nation, are now hardened in precisely the same way
that Pharaoh's was; and God has just as much agency in hard-
ening their hearts now, as he ever had in hardening the heart
of Pharaoh. God says now, as he has long been doing to


them, " Let these slaves go free ! " and they hear this voice of
God in the dictates of reason and humanity, they hear it in the
precepts of the Hible, and they acknowledge it in the great
charter of our national existence ; yet they refuse to obey it,
and iii doing so they harden their hearts.



The different kinds of servitude allowed among
the .Hebrews.

1. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he
shall serve; and in the seventh he shall go out free
for nothing-. Ex. xxi, 2.

2. And if a man sell his daughter to be a maid-
servant, she shall not go out as the men-servants do.
If she please not her master who hath betrothed her
unto himself, then shall he let her be redeemed; to
sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power,
seeing that he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if
he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal
with her after the manner of his daughters. If he
take him another wife, her food, her raiment, and


her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And
if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go
out free without money. Ex. xxi, 7.

3. If a thief be found breaking up — he should
make full restitution : if he have nothing, then he
shall be sold for his theft. Ex. xxii, 2.

4. And if a man smite his servant or his maid,
with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be
surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue
a day or two, he shall not le punished, for he is his
money. Ex. xxi, 20.

5. And he thatstealeth a man and selleth him, or I
if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to
death. Ex. xxi, ]6.

6. Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress
him ; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Ye shall not affl.ct any widow or fatherless child.
If thou afflict them in anywise, and they cry at all
unto me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath
shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword;
and your wives shall be widows and your children
fatherless. Ex. xxii, 21.

7. Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither
lie one t ) another. Lev. xix, 1 1.

8. Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither
rob him; the wages of him that is hired shall not
abide with thee all night until the morning. Lev.
xix, 13.



9. Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stum*
bling block before the blind, but shalt fear thy GocL
Lev. xix, 14.

10. Thou shalt not avenge nor bear any grudge
against the children of thy people, but thou shalt
love thy neighbor as thyself; 1 am the Lord. Lev.
xix, 18.

11. And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryLa Roy SunderlandThe testimony of God against slavery : a collection of passages from the Bible, which show the sin of holding and treating the human species as property : with notes : to which is added the testimony of the civilized world against slave → online text (page 1 of 12)