« VorigeDoorgaan »
But it is said, that, in addition to foretold bondage, Ham and Canaan were individually cursed and enslaved. No proof of this is apparent; neither is there any record of their posterity having suffered punishment for more than four hundred years after. The Israelites, when in possession of the promised land, were forbidden to make peace with the seven nations; but were commanded to smite and destroy them. (Deut. vii. 1, et seq.) They were to take their land as an inheritance; to leave nothing alive that breathed, lest they should learn to do all their abominations; signifying that these people were slain for their own incorrigible wickedness—the land casting them out with loathing—and not for the sin of their ancestors ; according to what is said in Ezekiel (xvii. 20), “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son ;” and in 2 Kings xiv. 6, “ The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for their fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin.” The Amorites were not then to be destroyed, because their iniquity was not full (Gen. xv. 16). Of other nations far off, not given for an inheritance, the lives of such as made peace with them were to be spared, on condition of their becoming tributaries and servants (Deut. xx. 10–18). Farther, in Deut. xxiii. 7, 8, it is said, “ Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite, for he is thy brother : thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian, because thou wast a stranger in his land. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.” Now these were the descendants of Ham, not of Canaan; but, as attested both by sacred and profane history, of Cush and Mizraim, and who peopled Africa long before the Phænicians planted colonies on the coast of Barbary.
From the above premises it may be inferred, that, as a peculiar dispensation to the Israelites, they were commanded, not to enslave, but to exter. minate, the seven accursed nations of the Canaanites, as condemned criminals. In Ex. xxiii. 33 it is commanded, “ They shall not dwell in the land." The Israelites were enjoined to possess their country; and having repeatedly disobeyed this injunction, and made a number of captives, they were forewarned that they would prove as thorns in their sides ; and they themselves were, in fact, conquered and enslaved by the Canaanites (Judges ii. 14). They were to make servants of distant nations only; and their children, by a special grant, were to be taken as a possession for evernamely, till the year of Jubilee, when liberty was to be proclaimed to all . the inhabitants of the land, without exception. In fact, the year of Jubilee was practically the death-blow to perpetual servitude. Thus, though they were to remain as an inheritance to the Jewish nation, all were freed from their respective masters, even if born in the house, in the fiftieth year. Therefore they who were spared in these wars were favoured by the saving of their lives to a service of justice and mercy; the same law of love characterizing the Mosaic as the Christian code. The children of these nations were thus redeemed from the barbarisms and cruelty of the heathen world, and in many instances from becoming, as it is emphatically said, a sacri. fice to devils. The distinction appears to have been inconsiderable between a heathen bondman and a Hebrew hired servant. “A wise servant," says Solomon, « shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren” (Prov. xvii. 2). Nay, the advantage is greatly in favour of the bondmen, in their various privileges. Bondmen also were, in the third generation, entitled to a share in the inheritance. In the days of the Gospel, St. Paul also says, “ The heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all” (Gal. iv. 1). It is also to be especially observed, that, though the law enjoined the restoration of all strayed cattle, or other lost goods which
might be found, it was enacted that any servant who escaped from his master should not be delivered up, but might choose his own habitation, and dwell where he pleased (Deut. xxiii. 15, 16). Likewise, if personally injured by his master, as by the loss of an eye or a tooth, he was to go free (Ex. xxi. 26, 27). “ If a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself ” (Lev. xix. 33, 34). “ Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country” (Lev. xxiv. 22). Also, “ He that smiteth a man that he die, shall be put to death”—one exception only being allowed; and that was, if the injured man continued a day or two, the violence was not considered the cause of his death otherwise than as manslaughter. Besides all this, both Abraham and the Israelites were commanded to admit their servants when proselyted—which must be in one year from their entrance into servitude-into the covenant by circumcision.
But, allowing that the servitude of the Jewish law were all which our opponents assert—that it might even be identified with the modern system of colonial slavery; and this is a concession quite enough to satisfy objectors—yet we are told that many evil practices such as concubinage, bigamy, polygamy, arbitrary divorce, ordeal for jealousy, the killing of witches, and stoning of rebellious children, the absolute power or despotism of kings, masters, husbands, and fathers ; all of which were sins against the universal law of love-were for a time connived at, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matt. xix. 8). “ The times of this ignorance God winked at ” (Acts xvii. 30). To this place may be referred the plea, that, Divine regulations having been given to servitude, therefore SLAVERY is divinely sanctioned. But, when the Israelites insisted upon having a king, and, as Samuel said, added this sin to their other offences; and though God warned them that he would be a tyrant and oppressor; yet He reserved to himself the nomination, and sent Samuel to anoint him, and gave laws for his conduct—all the while disapproving of what was in. deed essentially rebellion against Himself (1 Sam. viii.). But now, after a more extended and spiritual exposition of his will, he condemns every in. fringement of the law, even to what reaches to the thoughts and intents of the heart. He says to masters, “ Give to your servants that which is just and equal” (Col. iv. 1); and this, let it be observed, was an equality of right. The Lord Jesus thus condenses, as it were, the whole subject, “ All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the Law and the Prophets ;” as Moses had said (Lev. xix. 18), “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Jesus Christ came in all senses “ to preach deliverance to the captives....to set at liberty them that are bound." St. James also says, “ The hire of the labourers, which have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth; and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth " (v. 4). A Prophet had said before, “ Is not this the fast that I have chosen ? To undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke ?” (Isai. lviii. 6.) A law was also directly given (Ex. xxi, 16), “ He that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death." - What human statute can confer a right to bold children in slavery ?-It has been urged, that there is no express prohibition of slavery in the New Testament; neither is there against a plurality of wives, except in the case of bishops. If then an exception prove a rule, other men are permitted to have an unlimited number. The conclusion is, that slavery in the abstract is found in neither Testament; and the definition of slavery is
this, “ Forced service of any kind in perpetuity for another's benefit, and not as a lawful punishment for the individual's own crimes.”
To the opponent of the above statements it may be finally said, It is required of you, as an act of simple equity, to prove your affirmationnamely, that man may have a right of property in the person of another. Then, Who has this right ? When was it acquired ? How was it acquired ? It is demanded, in pure justice, that a slave possessor at this moment shew his claim to human property. Let him, on the margin of this paper, insert the references to his proofs, or, in legal language, the abstract of his title.
REJECTED LETTER TO THE RECORD NEWSPAPER ON SLAVERY.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. I sent the following letter to the Editor of the Record, being an answer to one, under the signature of“ A Bible Christian,” which appeared in his pages on the 2d of September. He has declined inserting my answer, and in the paper of the 19th, has closed his pages to any further discussion of antislavery matters *. If you have not seen the “ Bible Christian's " letter, I
• Yet in that very same number, September 19th, the Editor lends his paper to more than a column of pro-slavery matter in a new form; for, not content with having done all he could to embarrass, though happily in vain, the anti-slavery discussion in reference to the affairs of the West, by asserting the abstract Divine right of Slavery-nay, in that very number of his paper accusing the friends of the destitute outcast of being actuated by “false libero-religious sentiments,” and seeking to “rob” their fellow-creatures, just because, in substance, they assert that when a Barbary corsair seizes a helpless crew of Christian men, women, and children, this is not God's ordinance, and that the poor captives, and their children after them, are not held in bondage by a just and scriptural title ;-not content with this, and unable to spare another line for a refutation of such God-dishonouring doctrines in their direful application to one state of slavery, he loses no time in prostituting his columns to the defence of another; and though slavery, in spite of abstract principles, is to fall in the West, he hopes even yet to retain it in the East.
The paper alluded to cites nearly a column of extracts from an official document inserted in the late Mr. Harington's Analysis of the Laws of Bengal, containing an account of the state of slavery in India under Hindoo and Mohammedan law. These passages give so appalling a view of the horrors of slavery, even in its modified form in the East Indies, that the reader naturally concludes that the object for which allusion is made to them in a “ religious newspaper," is to urge the religious part of the community to exert themselves to put down the evil. But no; precisely the contrary: the Record is only labouring in its usual vocation; the writer being exceedingly grieved and displeased that under the East-India Company's new charter the sacred and divine rights of slavery are not duly recognised, and Hindoo and Mohammedan barbarities made the standard of British legislation. Nay, what is even worse, the atrocity is pleaded for on the express ground that it is a part of “the religious system” of India--(religious!!!);—so that widow-burning, Juggernaut, and every other form of wickedness, may now be upheld as a “religious " institution. Every conscientious reader of that publication must have expected to see, in the very next number, an indignant reprobation of such an argument, with the most penitential regrets of the Editor that he had stained his paper with such ungodly pleadings. But nothing of the kind has appeared : anti-slavery discussions are consigned to the bureau of “ Rejected Addresses ; " and the poison is made to work without an antidote. The writers for the Record can be quarrelsome enough where they entertain a difference of opinion; but they are unanimous in not weakening the defence of EastIndia slavery.
As citation may be thought necessary to justify the severity of the foregoing remarks, the passage animadverted upon shall be given. The writer had first quoted the following description of slavery under Hindoo law :
“ It treats the slave as the absolute property of his master; familiarly speaking of this species of property, in association with cattle, under the contemptuous designation of bipeds' and quadrupeds.' It makes no provision for the protection of the slave from the cruelty and ill-treatment of an unfeeling master; nor defines the
Christ. OBSERV. No. 384.
recommend it to your notice, as a curiosity of its kind seldom met with ; and I send you a copy of my answer, in case you think proper to insert it in the Christian Observer. There is an answer to the “ Bible Christian” in the Record of the 19th, under the signature G. A.
I remain, &c. S. F. “ TO THE EDITOR OF THE RECORD. “Sir,-I beg to offer a few remarks on the letter of a · Bible Christian ’in the Record of the 2d of September.-It commences with an account of an Anti-slavery meeting, with which he is much displeased on account of the liberalism he heard there. I am no more a friend than yourself to liberalism, and am grieved that so righteous a cause as that of the WestIndian slaves should have been treated as a mere political question, and taken up, as it has been, by those who were glad of any pretext to rave and rant about freedom, without really caring at all for the wretched Negro: but I would ask, does a bad man advocating a good cause make that cause bad, even though he takes it up on wrong grounds, and supports it on wrong principles and with bad motives ? Surely not : the cause remains the same : if it be good, it remains good, whoever may oppose or support
master's power over the person of his slave; neither prescribing distinct limits to that power, nor declaring it to extend to life or limb. It allows to the slave no right of property, even in his own acquisition, unless by the indulgence of his master. It affords no opening to his redemption and emancipation (especially if he be a slave by birth or purchase), unless by the voluntary manumission of him by his master;" with the exception of a few special cases, which are mentioned.
Next follows the character of slavery under Mohammedan law; of which it is said, “ The property is so absolute and complete, that it is assigned as a reason for subjecting an owner to no worldly punishment or penalty for the murder of his slave : he has, of course, entire power over his person, being restrained by no provisions of the law, adapted to protect the slave from ill-treatment."
One of the purposes to which this blessed institution of slavery is consecrated is described as follows ;-but the Record is too much enamoured of the whole system to waste a word of indignation at the immorality of the reasoning; which, be it remembered, is not Mr. Harington's, any more than the defence of slavery, but of the official document quoted by him, and now made the ground of argument in a religious newspaper.
“ Every opulent person, every one raised above the condition of the simplest mediocrity, is provided with household slaves; and from this class, chiefly, are taken the concubines of Mussulmans and Hindoos; in regard to whom, it is to be remembered, that concubinage is not, among people of those religions, an immoral state, but a relation which both law and custom recognise without apprehension; and its prevalence is liable only to the same objection as polygamy, with which it has a near and almost necessary connexion.”
Now, could any man have believed, that in any creditable publication, much less in one calling itself religious, such a system as the above should be pleaded for, and the British legislature be exhibited as revolutionists and robbers for wishing to subvert it? Yet such is the case ; for the writer deprecates what he calls “ rash interference” with “ the rights of millions”—(rather the wrongs of millions for the advantage of a few)-adding : “ It will be well to remember, when proceeding to legislate, as it is proposed to do, for the abolition of slavery in India, that the laws of the Hindoos and Mohammedans are completely interwoven with, and in fact form component parts of, their religious systems; and that, therefore, it has been the policy of the Legislature, up to this moment, to provide—' That the principles of the British Government, on which the natives of India have hitherto relied for the free exercise of their religion, be invariably maintained.””
It is enough, then, in the view of Christian journalists, that “the religious systems * of Hindoos and Mohammedans countenance any wickedness, to render it imperative upon Great Britain to uphold it. There is nothing in the John Bull or Examiner Sunday newspapers more anti-christian than such a sentiment as this ; and, indeed, the conductors of the Record themselves feel it to be accursed in the case of the burning of widows, or the practice of infanticide, and probably in any instance which does not involve the darling rights of slavery or despotism.
it. Yet I am ashamed to say, there are many who in their hearts agree that the cause of the Negro is good, and yet are so afraid of their own party, so dread its being supposed that they have joined the Liberals, that they have stood back, and refused in any way to aid the injured and helpless Negro. This I call rank cowardice.
“ But to return to the • Bible Christian :' he boldly asserts that slavery did not originate with man, but with God;' and to support this assertion brings up that old story of slavery originating in God's curse upon Ham and his posterity. Now I beg to refer the Bible Christian, who is in a state of such indignation at the ignorance of the word of God shewn by the anti-slavery speakers of the meeting he attended, to the ixth chap. of Genesis, 5th verse, where he will perceive that the curse pronounced by Noah was not on Ham, but on Canaan. I also refer him to the xth of Genesis, vers. 15 and 19, where he will find that the descendants of Canaan were those inhabitants of the land of Canaan who were destroyed or made bondsmen by the children of Israel; and, as if to prevent the possibility of any mistake, the boundaries of their country are mentioned in the 19th verse: * And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest unto Sodom and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. What now becomes of the curse on Ham (which was never pronounced), and which the Bible Christian affirms is being fulfilled in the present day by the cruelties exercised on the Negroes by our enlightened countrymen? Alas! I agree with him that we have no immediate prospect of an universal abolition of slavery, any more than we have of the abolition of any other of the sins and abominations with which this earth abounds ; but is this a cause of rejoicing? does its prevalence, and its existence from the earliest ages, prove it to be right? But further: our Bible Christian goes on to quote the instance of Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and Zilpah, and concludes, that, because these patriarchs were possessed of bondwomen, we do well to follow their example, and hold the Negroes in slavery. He might just as well hold up to our imitation the patriarchal practice of polygamy, and justify the gross violation of morality and decency so prevalent among the Whites in the West Indies with regard to the Negro bondwomen; or excuse deceit and lying because Abraham was twice guilty of it, and Jacob by subtlety obtained his father's blessing. Abraham lived 338 years after the Flood, and Jacob 595 ; and surely that was time enough for sin to have made considerable inroads among a people naturally prone to wickedness : and may we not account for the existence of slavery, and any other sinful practice which was then in use, from the wickedness of man, without being guilty of the impiety of calling God its author? God's commanding Hagar to submit to her mistress, when she had dealt hardly with her for her insolence and contempt, is no justification of slavery, any more than her and her son being cast out of the family, which was a punishment for Ishmael's insolent mocking at Isaac as a younger son. Why these circumstances, so foreign to the subject, should be mentioned when advocating slavery, I know not. The impatience of Sarah and the sinful compliance of Abraham, mentioned in the beginning of the xvith of Genesis, was succeeded by vexation and punishment; and for fourteen years afterwards all personal manifestations of the Almighty to his faithful but erring servant were suspended. From this we may learn many useful lessons, but surely no proof can be drawn from it that slavery was of God's institution.
“A Bible Christian goes on to say, ' I do not find that God any where censures this prescriptive claim to property in others, except so far as cruelty and oppression are involved '-(let us keep to the point, and bear in mind that it is West-Indian slavery we are discussing)—and refer to Exodus