Nathan Lewis Rice Jonathan Blanchard.

A debate on slavery: held in the city of Cincinnati,on the first ..., Part 4 online

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dence, I called upon him to tell us what word in the
Greek language does mean slave, if this word does not.
He has not given us the information. A similar question
was asked concerning the Hebrew eved ; but the gentle-
man could find no other word signifying slave. Indeed he
told^us, virtually, that there is no word either in 'the He-
brew or Greek language, which does' definitely signify
i^ave ! a statement contradicted by every Greek Lexicon,
by classic usage, by Bible usage, and by all Greek and
Hebrew scholars. Stuarit, McNight, Barnei^ and a host of
others, commentators, critics and theologians, say unhesi-
tatingly, that the literal and proper meaning of doulos, is
slave.

But Mr. B. presents a supposed case which he regards as
entirely conclusive. *• Suppose,'' says he, " a church
member had come to one of those churches and claimed as
his servant a man who had run from hira, and had become
pious and had married in the place. Which relation
would the church regard, the conjugal or the property
Irelation V* How this supposed case proves, that there were
no slave-holders in the apostolic churches, I know not It
is not difficult, however, to answer the question. The
church, so far as it had authority, would, of coUri^e, sacredly
regard the marriage relation, and so would every pious
master. It would not be difficult, however, if the master
were not pious, to satisfy him, if he were a reasonable man,
by paying him what his slave was worth. Precisely in
this way did primitive Christians liberate the slaves of men,
when they liberated them at all. Instead of combining to
run them off from their masters, as do many modem
abolitionists, they united to purch£(se them. Our abolition-



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ists, however, are quite too ccmscientious to i
example !

Having now answered so much of the' gentler
as required notice, I proceed very briefly to reca
the audience may have distinctly before them
over which I have travelled.

Thie question before us, as I have repeatedly i
whether it is wrong to force a free man mto
whether all the particular laws by which, at d
and in different countries, it has been regulated
righteous ; nor whether it is right or wrong for :
his slaves cruelly, to separate husbands and w
whether a man may rightly regard and trea
mere chattels personal, not as rational, accoui
tal beings ; nor whether a great amount of sin
ally committed in this relation ; nor whethei
system, is an evil, the removal of which shouh
all proper means ; nor whether it is the true p
duty of the- sevchral slave States to Polish si
ately oi; gradually ; nor whether " the syisteir
slavery," or any other system, is right, hut .
ihe relation^ divested of all abuses, is in itselj

To prove, that slave-holding is not in itself
there have been, and may be circumstances
have advanced the following arguments :

1. The great principles of the moral law
the human heart'; and, when presented, th<
themselves to the understandings and const
The truth of this proposition is universally a
it is a notorious fact, that the doctrine that i
in itself sinful, has not commended itself to
ings and consciences of even the great body <
the good. Therefore it is hot true. The fe
by the gentleman to reply to this argument
unanswerable.

2. The history of the church and of th
furnish one instance of a man or a society (




gle



on one fundamental principle of morality, or article of Chris-
tian faith, and yet sound on all others. But it is admitted,
that the ministers and churches in the slave-holding States
are as orthodox on all the principles of morality. and doc]
trin^s of Christianity, as blameless in their lives, as be*
nevolent, and in all respects, except the matter of slavery,
as exemplary -Christians as any in the world. If, then, the '
doctrine of abolitionism is true, we have presented before as
two spectacles, such as the world never before . saw, viz: 1*
The great body of eminently wise and good men pronouncing
one of the very grossest violations of the moral law, such
as kidnapping, man stealing and robbery, not in itself sinfuL
2. A large number of Christians and Christian churches
rotten on one fundamental point of morality, and perfectly
sound and conscientious on all others ! The gentleman at-
tempted to answer this argyment by giving the Pharisees as
an instahce of men sound on all points of faith and morality,
except one ! But this he soon abandoned. Then he re-
ferred us tQ John Newton, just at the time when his mind
was emerging from the midnight gloom of ignorance and
deep depravity ! Such are his only answers !

S. It is a fact, admitted even by (the gentleman himselij
that there are Christian slave-holders, and Christian churches,
whose members are involved in slave-holding*, accepted and
blessed of God, often enjoying seasons of the outpouring of
the Holy Spirit. And it is a fact, that many of the best
ministers in the free States, if converted at all, were con-
verted in those churches, in answer to the prayers of those
Christians. Nay, it is a fact, that all, or nearly all, our
older churches were organized in States where slavery then
existed, and admitted slave-holders to their communion.
Now one of two things is true, viz. : either God hears the
prayers and blesses the labors of the most scandalous sin-
ners, or abolitionism is not true. The gentleman attempted
to evade the force of this argument, by saying — 1. That
those revivals are granted in answer to the prayers of thoise
who ar^ not actually slave-holders. But the reply is obvi-



ON SLAVBRT. 477

ous — that those who countenance slave-holding Christians,

and hold fellowship with them, are no better than they.

2. But he told us, those revivals were granted in answer to
the prayers of goodly men who were opposed to slavery,
such as David Rice, of Kentucky. But the reply is no less
obvious — ^that he was not an abolitionist; and if he had
been, the Bible affords not an instance in which God has,
for the sake of the pious dead, poured out spiritual blessings
upon professors of religion who were grosfi sinners, and con-
tinued in their sin. All seasons of revival recorded in the
Bible, were seasons of general reformation.

4. The faith of the abolitionists -induces them to pursue a
course widely difierent from that pursued by the apostles of
Christ, in regard to prevailing sins, particularly in regard to
slavery. Abolitionists stand at a distance, and denounce: and
villify all slave-hdlders ; the apostles never did so. On the
contrary, they prei^ched the gospel both to masters and
slaves, enjoining on each the faithful discharge of their re-
spective duties. , Abolitionists seek to render the slaves dis-
contented, and to induce them to leave the service of their
masters; the apostles pursued an opposite course. In a
word — ^the apostles, though assailed with many odious
charges, were never represented as abolitionists, or as seeking
to interfere with the relation of master and slave. They, in,
their epistles and discourses, so far as they are recorded in
the Bible, never denounced the relation itself as sinfuL
They sought to reform men, not by abusing and denouncing
them in papers, pamphlets and public meetings, but by
going amongst them, and kindly reasoning with them.
The course of the abolitionists is precisely opposite to this.
Now if It be true, as the apostle James teaches, that men
show their faith hy their toorks^^ii follows, that, since the
works of abolitionists are widely different from those of the
apostles, and opposed to them, their faith is equally different
from the faith of the apostles.

6. The tendency and necessary effects of abolitionism
prove it false. What are its tendency and its effects ? They



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are the following : — 1. To irritate slave-holders to the highest
degree, and thus to rivet the chains on the slave, and make his
condition far worse than it would he ; 9. To take from slave-
holders, the preached gospel, the only influence by which
they ever will be induced to liberate their slaves. The
abolitionists will not go and preach the gospel to them. If
they hear it, therefore, they must hear it from the mouths
of ministers who are denounced and calumniated by aboli-
tionists. 3. The tendency of abolitionism ia to take from the
slaves, as well as their Inasters, the glorious gospel, which only
can elevate theit character, 9iake them happy even in bond-
age, and make them eternally free and happy in heaven. The
abolitionists will not go and preach the gospel to them. If
they ever hear it, then, they must hear it from ministers
denounced and villified by these pretended reformers. For
whom, r again ask, will the millions of Christian slaves
before the throne of God, thank the Judge on the great
day — for the ministers who went and preached to them the
word of life in their bonds ; or for those who, at a safe dis-
tancci; abused and calumniated their masters 1 If such is
the tendency of abolitionism, (and facts already stated prove
that it is,) mid if we are to judge of the principles of men
by their fruits, what shall we think of it ?

6. The golden rtUe — ^'^ whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them"-*as I have said,
requires us to improve the condition of all our fellow-men,
so &r as we can do so, without disregarding other para-
mount duties. But inasimuch as, in a multitude of instances,
it is impossible for masters to liberate their slaves, without
neglecting paramount duties - «nd in other instances the
only way in which they can consistently improve the condi-
tion of a slave, is to buy him and hold him as a slave— it is
clear that the golden rule does not prove slave-holding in
itself sinful, does not require masters to liberate their slaves
without regard to circumstances, but in some instances,
makes men slave-holders.

7. The truth is self-evident, that God never did, and never




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ON SLAVERY. 479

eottld give any man pennlssion to do that which is in itself
sinful, or to form a sinful relation. But it is a fact, clearly
proved by the express language of the Old Testament, that
He not only recognized the relation of master and slave as
lawful amongst the patriarchs, but did give express permis-
sion to the Jews to buy boi^dmen and bondmaids from the
gentilesj and 'from strangers dwelling amongst them. There-
fore, slave-holding is not in itself sinful. Amongst the Jews,
as I proved, there were several classes of servants-^4is hired
servants, whose wages were 4o be regularly paid ; Jews who
had become poor, and sold themselves for six years, who
were to be treated as hired servants ; the bondmen and bond-
maids, owned by the patriarchs, or bought by the Jews, from
the heathen, who were slaves during, life.

To this lagst class I directejd your attention particularly.
That they were slaves, I proved by several arguments: 1. They
were bought with money, 2. They were the ^'possession"
of their masters. The word possession^ is one of the strongest
words in the Hebrew language, to denote that which really
belongs to a man. 3. They descended as an inheritance to
the children of the niaster, just as did ordinary possession^.

4. The itiaster claimed their labor, and could enforce their
obedience by chastisement ; and the reason why, if a ser-
vant died, after a day or two, when he had been chastised,
the master was not to be punished, vmi^-^that he ioas his money.

5. The word evcd^ translated bondman, is the proper Hebrew
word to signify slwoe, and stailds in contrast with sakir, the
hired servant. The gentleman himself has not been able
to find any other word in the Hebrew language, which does
signify slave.^ The conclusion: is inevitable, that God did give
express permission^to the Jews to buy and hold slaves ; and so
is the language of the Bible understood by all respectable
commentators, critics and tiieologians. Consequently, one
of two things is true, viz: either God gave the Jews ex-
press permission to commit sin, or slave^holding is not in
itself sinful.

8. I have proved, as I think, the fact that the apostles



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^



of Christ did receive slave-holders into the churches organ-
ized by them. That they did so, I proved by several argu-
ments, viz: 1. The word kurios, translated master, sig^nifies
an ovmer, master, or — and as applieid to designate the rela-
tion between master and servant, signifies a slave-holder.
2. The word despotes, also translated master^ is admitted to
mean properly a holder of slaves ; and we read of believing
despotaij (masters,) " faithful and beloved, partakers of the
benefit," of" good and gentle" despotai, 3. The word doidoSj
translated servant^ means literally and properly, a slave.
This is proved — 1st, by the lexicons, which uniformly so
define it ; 2d, by classic usage — ^the Greek writers themselves
80 used it; '3d, by Bible usage — ^the word doulos being there
constantly used in contrast with the word dmtheros — ^frea
4. Exhortations are addressed by the apos(tles to masters
and servants, which are not applicable to employers and
hired servants, but are precisely applicable to masters and
slaves.

5. I have not asked you to depend upon my assertions,
touching these important points, but have referred you to a
number of the best commentators, critics, and theologians,
such as Poole, Scott, Henry, Home, Bush, Barnes, Stuart,
McNight, Doddridge, aAd others ; and I have challenged the
gentleman to produce one respectable commentatoi^ critic, or
theologian, who agrees with him in his views of the scrip-
tures quoted, or who gives a difierent exposition of them, from
that whi^h I have given. He has not done it, because he
cannot.

You have heard his replies, so far as he has attempted to
reply \o these arguments; and you have observed how care-
fully he, from the very commencement of this debate, shun-
ned the Bible, as if deeply conscious that it would condemn
the principles he was advocating. . He, felt that an apology
to the audience for pursuing such a course, was necessary;
and he tells you, he avoided the Bible, because he know, if
he went into a scriptural argument, we should be troubled
with cwJ and e?(wZo5, lexicons, commentators and critics;-



ON SLAVERT. 481

and he very much feared I would confuse the minds of the
people in this wayl ! !

[Mr. Blanchard rose to explain. I said I did so be-
cause if you took the brother from the slaveholders' texts
in the Bible, you put him out of his track.]

The gentleman is right It is true, that I dannot discuss
great moral and religious questions, without the Bible — ^the
only infallible rule of right. On such subjects my ^ track"
takes me directly to the '< Blessed Book," the fountain of
truth 1

I repeat, I did not ask you to depend on my assertions
concerning the meaning of that book, I gave the gentleman
standard authorities in great abundance. Poole, Henry,
Scott, Gill, and many other eminently, wise and good men,
who, if they were here now, would be denounced and
excommunicated, because they were not abolitionists ! But
the gentleman, though bold in his assertions concerning the
Bible, has not one sound spholar to agree with him.

If Poole, and Henry, and Scott, and Gill, and Home,
and l)ick, and Chalmers, and Cunningham, and Woods,
a^d Staart, and Tyler, and Spring, and Wayland, and
Bacon, and the whole Church of Scotland, are ignorant of
the Bible, and all in error concerning the facts there recorded
about slavery and slave-holders ; I am quite content to be
denounced in such company ; and I am clearly of opinion,
that if they, and such as they have failed to understand
the Bible on this subject, we cannot expect much light
from the gentleman and his coadjutors. ,

I repeat what I have said before, that I oppose abolition- 1
ism, not because it tends to abolish slavery, and improve the con-
dition of the slave, but because it tends to perpetuate it, and ag-
gravate all its evils. Never as I firmly believe, will slavery be
abolished by your abolition lectures, ydur newspaper te;i
pamphlet denunciations . of slave-holders, without regard
to the character or circumstances; or by attempting to .
exclude them from the Christian church. In New York,
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, it has been abo-
31



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lished, bat not by the principles of abolitionists. So long
as the system continued, masters and slaves were members
of the same churches, and sat at the same table of the Lord.
Ministers of the Gospel, faithful to their high commission,such
pen as many who are now denounced by abolitionists as pro*
slavery, proclaimed the Gospel both to masters and slaves ;
and through its elevating and purifying influence upon
the public mind, slavery was gradually abolished. And
thus it must be abolished, if abolished at all, in the present
slave-holding States.

But my time has es^ired ; and now, in closing this dis-
cussion, I cannot but exprei^ my gratification in view of
the patient and respectful attention which has been paid to
this discussion by so large a portion of my fellow citizens,
who have heard it . I leave you to determine in view of
your responsibility to God, on which side of this import-
ant question the truth is fbund.

And to you. Gentlemen Moderatoxs, my thanks are due,
for the time you have been willing to spend in presiding
over this discussion.



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Online LibraryNathan Lewis Rice Jonathan BlanchardA debate on slavery: held in the city of Cincinnati,on the first ..., Part 4 → online text (page 42 of 46)